Monday, May 31, 2010

War of the Supermen, JLA (again), Supes/Bats, Brightest Day, GA preview (again)

War of the Supermen #1 and 3, JLA #45 (again), Superman/Batman #72, Brightest Day, GA preview (again).  Spoilers ahead!
War of the Supermen #1 and 3
Hmm, looking at these covers I would be led to believe that each one is meant to mirror the other.
So, #1.  Zod wants to obliterate earth.  Haven't we seen something similar in Kingdom Come and other future stories?  Haven't we seen how this completey destroys Superman?  You'd think Zod would have more brains.  Anyway, I think this issue reinforces how Supes should have go a blue ring in Blackest Night.

Kara is very grown up in this issue, taking responsibility for Reactorn (without prompting), and understanding the politics of everything.  Give it a few more years and she could really be the icon that Superman is.  I say a few years because I don't quite want her rushed into that godlike status yet.  I'm enoying reading about the impetuousness and I want to see how she evolves into someone better.

The scenes where Reactron reveals the masterplan and New Krytpon is blown up are very powerful.  I think I will scan and post them at a later date, as an example of how sequential art can work really well.

After this we switch to Jimmy and Lois telling other Superman related heroes what's been going on.  And Krypto is there!  I cannot express how much this makes me smile.

The art isn't perfect in this, it;s not delicate or the work of a masterpiece but it works really well nontheless.  It conveys the information that we need, and the scenes in space are really effective.

#3 opens with the Kryptonians in space, suffocating under a red sun.  Thara'Flamebird sacrifces herself to change the sun back to a yellow one.  Out of all possibe ways to save the Kryptonians I did not see that one coming.  It made me very sad.  It seems that there is an awful lot of wasted potential in this series.

JLA #45 (again)
You know one of the worst things about this cover?  Kara and Karen aren't even looking at each other.  Instead, it appears that their eye gaze is positioend downwards, maybe in an attempt to steady themselves for the unnatural poses they are fighting in.  Yes yes I know this is probably happening in mid air, it doesn't make it any less stupid.

And once you get inside and start reading the darn ugly thing, you realise there are too many characters featured.  Gods this comic was crap.

Superman/Batman #72
This was a kind of compare and contrast story.  Supes is off saving distant planets whislt Lois gets attacked on earth.  The art is bizzare - it looks like someone is experimenting with a photo relastic style.  The overall effect is odd.

Kudos to the penciller who drew alien women without making them sexy seductresses.  Yah boo sucks to the penciller who then decided it made sense for Lois's shirt to be pulled aside to reveal a pink bra, whilst she's being burnt at the stake.  Earlier on she was being all kick ass and fighting her attackers off.  So what, did the penciller decide she had to be demeaned and shown her place?  Because that's how the narrative reads.

In fact, the whole imagery of burnings at the stake thing is pretty misogynist.  It was mostly women who got burned as witches, accused of witchcraft for being differnet, or old, or practising herbology without the consent of the church, or having sex outside marriage, or pissing off the wrong people.  Now you putting Lois in that position and revealing her breasts?  The cult that has her isn't remotely conerned with sex! This has damn well better be corrected and dealt with in the next issue.

Brightest Day 2
I miss Kendra.  Arthur was the subject of this rather lovely cover but sadly didn't appear within the pages much.  Ronnie and Jason aren't getting on and then their face explodes.  Hmmmm.

I have a theory and a somewhat basic understanding about this new Firestorm duo.  It goes, Jason, the black guy, is the disembodied head, that only the white guy, Ronnie, can hear.  So, nominally Jason is an important character but in reality his character and personality is silenced.  Cos that's never happened in real life..

I can see how this may have played out at DC.  They wanted to bring the old Firestorm back (nostalgia of the all white silver age!) bu they want to remain modenr and edgy, so they combine Firestorm 1 and 2.  They kill Gen (cos killing women is tragic, innit), and they don't give a thought to the active portrayal of silencing one of the few black characters they have.  There's no reason for Jason to be the invisible one - both him and Gen were clever and both brought something to the Firestorm pairing.  Jason could be the visible one here with Ronie being a disembodied floating head, but oh no.  I sense a bit of white privelege being exercised here.  This stuff doesn't offend or effect powers that be at DC, so they don;t think how it could effect their readership. They probably think they're being progressive by keeping the black guy around.  Well, I don't to scrabble for crumbs and i'm pretty sure the non white comics readers don't want the scraps either.

This could all be turned around and improved.  It's a year long series, lets hope some of this stuff is dealt with.

GA preview (again)
I'm now thoroughly sick of this preview.  I was going to buy it, but now I'm so bloody tired of being confronted with yet more bloody rape scenes I don't think I can stomach the actual issue.  If you want to see what I'm talking about, go here.  I'd be happy for a return to Mike Grell esque days, I like the comparisons with Robin Hood, but this isn't the way to do it.  (Nearly) Every time I come to the last page of a comic and I'm faced with that fecking women make men work for it scene.  Ugh.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow covers

I've had this post in mind for a while, and then saw that DC have been releasing special 75th anniversary homages of their greatest covers, so this seems about the right time to post something.

It all started with this cover:

This was the start of new direction for the Green Lantern comics, with more of a social conscience, (abley reviewed here).  Green Lantern (Hal) and Green Arrow (Ollie) had been teaming up for years and it was already well established that they were mates, but this run really cemented their relationship.  Sure, some of it's a bit cheesey, but it is also a pretty good read.  Thsi run also brought us this now infamous cover:

To my mind, this arc dealt less with the evils of drugs and more with the Roy's strength of character and Ollie's crapness as a dad.

Also in this run was this cover:

They may be mates but they don't always get on.

Anyway, the GL/GA relationship has been revisited a number of times over the years and this famous stage in their histories has been homaged and referenced over and over.  As such, I bring you some of the better images.

To start, here are the direct references of that first image:

That's Kyle and Connor, as Legacy heroes, and Hal and Ollie in Blackest Night.

And here's a recent mock cover created for Fringe (which is apparently an American tv show):
Covers featuring the the next generation of heroes in various guises:

I tell you what, I never expected that second cover!  Btw, Jen never gets it on with Connor in the comic.

When Hal and Ollie each returned we got an inevitable mix up between legacy and original characters:

I like the continuation of the relationship, even if one side or the other didn't always see eye to eye.

But I'll end on a high note, and give you some more images showing Hal and Ollie at their tightest:

The left hand image is by Alex Ross, the right hand one is by Neal Adams.  Isn't it lovely?

Next we have some cosplay.  I appreciate the dedication to comic book lore here:

And finally, some more covers showing the two heroes as best friends forever:

You gotta love that last image, especially their dozy expressions.  Those two will chat up anything!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In defence of Lois Lane

I just found this rather good blog post about why Lois Lane isn't an idiot, and is in fact awesome.  It;s by Sindeloke.  Now go read it.

(I found it while on Twitter.  Twitter is a nice resource, if anyone wants to follow me my username is sarangacomics.  Follow me and I'll follow you and it will all be a big following party.  Yeah).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How I learned to despise a JLA story

Reviews, better late than never.  Spoilers ahead for JLA #45.
JLA #45
Oh god this was horrible.  Lets start with the cover.  There is this beautiful rendition of Supergirl available as an alternate cover:

Except, my shop, like many others I think, couldn't get it in.  So I was stuck with this monstrosity:

That has to be one of the ugliest covers ever.  It's comparable with 90s comic art, at it's worst.

Let's compare those images again:

Beautiful!  And ugh, ugh, ugh.

That wasn't a good start.

Now, I used to love the JLA.  The version with Kyle, Wally, Martian Manhunter, Diana, Bats, Supes, Aquaman and Plastic Man is my favourite.  But tbh, I like the whole JLA dynamic and feel.  That's why I read so much of JLE and JLI.  Having said that, I bought this book primarily cos it has Kara in it, and I was excited about seeing her mesh with the JLA.

Utill I opened the book, I'd forgotten that this isn't the JLA, it's a bunch of D lister wannabes.

In less inflammatory speech, it's full of legacy characters.  Amd Congofuckingrilla.  And some blue skinned dude of whom I know not his name, despite him featuring heavily in Cry for Justice.

So, D listers then.  I'd like Kara in the JLA, but this ain't the JLA, it's a bunch of Titans who don't command the respect or awe in the populace of the DCU and are way more serious than they really should be.  They haven't earnt the mantle of the JLA.  The JLA should be icons.  These guys aren't.  At all.  Supergirl could be, if she was placed amongst other icons.

And on top of that, you've got the JSA in it.  A selection of characters who while interesting individually bore me to tears when placed in a group setting.  I just think each JSA member shines better when not in a JSA title.  Jay Garrick is wonderful with the Flash family.  Alan Scott is great with the Green Lanterns.  Wildcat is awesome with Dinah.  Jesse Quick is just awesome all the time.

You see, I don't think this book was ever gonna sit well with me.  Well maybe it could have, but there's far too much exposition, far too many monologues and back history included.  Pages 2 and 3 are really boring splash pages firstly of Alan Scott and then of Jade - they are just standing there surrounded by green.  4 pages later you have a double splash of Power Girl.  It's dull art layout.  It's not dramatic, it's boring.  And then there's 2 more splash pages.  You shouldn't have 5 in one comic book!  And the anatomy, gah the anatomy is terrible.

Dick!Batman sounds out of character - far too surprised, unaware of what is going on and not in control.  I realise he's not Bruce but from my reading of him in Red Robin and Batgirl he's a lot tougher and on the ball than shown here.

And Jade - this isn't the Jade I read in the Kyle's run of GL.  She's boring, and a bit stupid.  Jade should never be stupid.  She's smart and sharp.

So, it's ugly to look at and it's terrible to read.  I'm quite tempted to throw it in the bin.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Brightest Day and Bristol Uni

I've been wasting far too much time on twitter and not enough time blogging.  I was going to write somethign about Brightest Day and tokenism but I've wasted too much time on Twitter.  On the whole, I liked Brightest Day, altho owning a White Power ring is now making me really embaressed.  If you're not sure what I'm on about, go check out WFA's links roundup.

News on Bristol Univeristy's proposed closure of the Deaf Studies degree.  Basically they've postponed the final decision, as they want to have a committe discussion about redundancies first.  Altho it now seems the whole department is being considered for closure, not just the Deaf Studies course.  I was chatting to someone today who's sister is at Bristol, doing the second year of her Deaf Studies course.  Apparently she may have to go to Wolverhampton to do the final year.

Thanks to all who have signed the campaign's petition and/or forwarded the links.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Super Powered Krytonian Reviews!

Spoilers ahead for Power Girl # 11, Supergirl # 52, War of the Superman 0 and 2 and the Green Arrow preview.
Power Girl #11
I decided to get the issues I'd missed, but will be dropping this after #12 as Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti are leaving, and as much as I love Judd Winick, I just don't think I'll enjoy it even half as much without Connor drawing it.

Anyway, this issue has brain swapping, underground cities, talking badgers, tigers and gorillas, amateur surgery and adorableness from Terra.  Like the other issues, it's of a very high quality and I will miss this creative team when they go.

Supergirl #52
Fun cover:

Yet again I forgot to look for the alternate cover, which was tres stupid of me:
I'm didn't follow Last Stand of New Krypton so have no idea how this fits in with the rest of the story arc, but thankfully this had enough character stuff in it to keep it interesting.  Namely Kara and Brainy's interaction.  A pretty good crossover issue.

War Of The Supermen #s 0 + 2
Issue # 1 is on order.  I've got no fucking clue how Krypton got out of the bottle, or how it was destroyed, or why some people survived.  I'm guessing that the short answer to why is there an army of Kryptonians heading towards Earth is that Zod and General Lane are both maniacs.

One thing that really pissed me off about this was Ursa being given a sexual dimension to her evilness.  Enough already.  We're not all saints or sinners you know.  Judging by current output, I'm gonna blame James Hack Robinson for this one.

Number 0 was a fine recap issue and it reintroduced Jimmy Olsen.  I'd forgotten he was dead.  No one mourned him.

#2 was frenetic and packed with so many different happenings.  I think this draws us into the confllict and lets us experience events from the characters point of view - I think I read somewhere that this is meant to be a 100 minute war.  If that's the case I *want* this mini to feel fast paced and rushed.

Connor mentions something about being inside Mount Rushmore before.  I have a feeling I should remember where this occured.  I don't.  Anyone able to help me out?

Lex's use of what I presume is Rao the Sun God's body, to turn out yellow sun to a red one, thereby decimatin the Kryptonian space army, is an intriguing proposition.  I am curious as to how the Kryptonians will get out of this.  My guess is the JLA, GL Corps or similar turns up to save some of them, or there's a glitch adn the sun reverts back to yellow pronto.

GA preview
OK, so Cry for Justice was absolute crap.  What has followed on from that has also been a bit rubbihs, so far as I can tell.  But this looks to be about a hooded, tunic-ed Ollie prowling the woods at night, fighting bad guys.  This is right up my street.  So this will be put on standing order.  And, I love Ollie.  That scene where he shoots through the guy's septum ring and takes off the end of his nose?  To use a sportslike Americanism, that was brutal.  It was probably violence for violence sake, but, I like gore.

What isn't up my street is the woman as potential rape victim trope.  Enough already!  Can we really only be imagined in relation to sex and sexual violence?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Comic reviews - Gotham City Edition

Spoilers ahead for Gotham City Sirens #10 + 11 and Red Robin # 12.
I had cancelled Gotham City Sirens, but with a job comes a steady wage, so I've put it straight back on the pull list.  I couldn't get # 9 tho so will have to find that elsewhere.  Anyway, onwards with the babbling.

I really really enjoy this book.  The cover for #10 is especially lovely:

I don't care that it's making the sale on sex.  The characters are so distinct and solid, the way they're drawn doesn't detract from this.  Poison Ivy in particular has always been about sex, the other two less so, but this book is so much more than wank fodder.  Having said that, it's a pity that the art inside seems to have changed.  There's not so much going on in the characters faces in these 2 issues.

In #10, the Riddler has been taken capture by a mad old coot named Dr Aesop (I believe).  The Dr has 3 women he terms muses, a menagerie of animals, and a proclivity towards his criminal activites around Aesop's fables.

I love comics.

Anyway, our 3 Sirens burst in, start a fight, get knocked out a lot and then Harley's Hyenas take Dr Aesop out.  There's also some nice slice of life stuff which takes us neatly into issue 11.

Where Ivy starts hew new job.  She's a mean boss.  She fires 2 senior people in her first 5 minutes of working there (hint - this doesn't turn out so great in the long run).

Meanwhile, Harley and Selina are out searching for missing dogs.  It turns out that Harley's Hyenas have been escaping at night and eating all the neighbourhood dogs.  Ha.

Finally, Ivy is trapped in a dehydrating chamber by a digruntled former employee (told you this was a bad idea).  Hasn't the dehydration thing been done before?  Either ina Christmas special or in the Batman 80 page giant out last year?  Anyway, it's a nice cliffhanger.

Red Robin #12
Timmmmmmy! successully takes down Ra's.  Unlike Batman he risks death by pucnhing to do this, and he enlists help from his friends.  This is one reason why Tim is a likeable character and Batman isn't.  Anyway, Cass is instructured to rescue babs, only to arrive and find that Babs has done all the rescuing herself.  Because she's badass.  Bart is uncharacteristically skeeving on Selina (something I'd expect from Conner), which makes me think how his experiences as an adult has affected him.

He got laid as an adult, he has his first girlfriend.  Before his accelerated maturity and his time as the Flash he had no knowledge of girls.  Now he does and he's got all the impulsiveness and hormones surging inside him that his normal teenage self has, and maybe this is why he's skeeving?  Ir maybe it's just bad writing.

Huntress is wearing the awful cropped version of her costume and Damian is delightfully rude, as usual.

It irks me that Tim is still obsessed with making Bruce proud - I have never liked this aspect of his character because I cannot see why he is so hopelessly devoted to Bruce.  Also his new costume has managed to lose the few good aspects of his last costume whilst also keeping all the crap bits.  Rubbish.

Still the book itself was good, of course.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Does anyone know..

of any books/blogs/articles that deal with race theory and the representation of pidgin english in fiction?  Whether that be comics, films, books or tv shows.

Or can anyone suggest any books, films or tv shows that feature characters that speak pidgin english?

I am trying to research something but don't have the language or knowledge to put the right words into google search.  I'm not interested in real people who speak pidgin languages, i'm interested in their representations in fiction and popular culture.

Thanks for any help anyone can give.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Save Deaf Studies at Uni of Bristol - please read

I blogged about this a few days ago, here.  You've got until about 8am tomorrow morning to make a difference and sign the petition here.  That's about 8 hours from now.  Please, please, please sign it.

(I'm saying 8am tomorrow morning because they are making the deicison Friday so I figure getting signatures on before the working day starts would be a good idea.  By all means continue to sign it after that date if it's still open).

Thank you for reading.  Please sign the petition.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Got a job!  Back at one of my old employers, pretty much doing what I did before.  This has it's good and bad points but on the whole I'm pretty relieved to be somewhere that I know, and getting a reasonable wage.  So hurrah for me.  We've all spent the past 2 days bitching about the election result.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Tories are in power.

In a Lib Dem coalition.

I feel sickened.  The party that brought in Section 28, the poll tax, closed all the mines, fucked the trade unions, want to lower the abortion limit, want to repeal the Human Rights Act and are only out to protect rich white men are in power.  And all because the fucking Liberal Democrats have got into bed with them.

They aren't even going to get a bloody change in electoral system out of it.  The Tories have promised a referendum on inplementing the Alternative Vote system, but Labour said they wodul implement AV immediately and do a referendum on Proportioanl Representation.

I feel sickened.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Liberal Democrats and their position now

One bad thing about this election result that I didn't mention in my last election post is that the Lib Dems did not experience a big gain in seats - they only got an extra 8. EDIT: they actually lost 5 seats overall (I should pay more attention to how tables work.)  I was bowled over by the thought that maybe, finally, we'd cracked open this ridiculous 2 party system and that people could see that the Lib Dems were a viable third choice.

Now it seems that this is not so much the case.  Part of this is the electoral system - if we had a true Proportional Representation (PR) system the Lib Dems would have 149 seats, not 57.  The Tories would have 233 seats, not 306 and Labour would have 188 seats, not 258 (all approx figures).

Clegg and the rest of his team of merry politicians are now in the positionof being able to pick and chose who they want to side with.  And surprise surprise, they are actually consulting their party members about the way forward - democracy in action, who'da thunk it!  Whoever they form a coalition with - and I'm guessing Labour are now in with a chance as Brown has just announced he is stepping down - the Liberal Democrats will finally get some effectvie power.

If they form a coalition with the Tories, (which with the Tories getting the biggest percentage of the vote at 36.1%, I can undertand why Clegg feels morally bound to start discussions with them first, even if I loathe the idea of the Conservatives having power again), then hopefully the Lib Dems will block the more extreme Tory measures and policies.  This can only be a good thing.

I wonder what a coalition would mean in terms of the parties following through on their manifetso policies?  Does anyone know?  How do we (theoretically) hold them accountable when they don't have the majority with which to pass the laws?

Whoever the Lib Dems work with they have got to push through a change in voting system.  What remains to be seen is how long this takes and what form.  Referendums are ridiculous because you can skew the results according to the type of question you ask.  For example, would you prefer Alternative Vote (AV) or First Past The Post (FPTP)?
Actually I want PR, but that's not an option and if I really don't want AV I may vote for FPTP, but that doesn't mean I actually want FPTP.  It means I didn't get a decent choice at the ballot.*

Of course, we are likely to have extensive government enquiries first, before we see any proposed referenda.  This could take years.

I suspect that if Clegg forms a coalition with the Tories his party members will view him as selling out.  I agree.  But what I think is most important is to get some form of stable government settled, that represents over 50% of the votes cast at the election.  Even if 36% of that is represented by the Tories.  Just because I hate what my fellow citizens have voted for doesn't mean I can declare the government invalid.

One problem the government will face is that over the next few years the recession and associated issues are probably going to get worse before they get better.  This could mean that whoever is in charge sees their popularity plummeting and are therefore screwed over for the next ten years or so.

*All theoretical.  In all liklihood, given this choice, I'd vote AV, but that doesn't mean I really want it.

Deaf Studies at Bristol Uni under threat

Crossposted from here:

The University of Bristol is currently considering plans to close the CDS’ long-running BSc degree in Deaf Studies and other parts of CDS’ work.
This is said to be for financial and academic reasons, that it is expensive and does not fit faculty priorities.
What would this mean?
Around 75 % of CDS staff will lose their jobs, including most Deaf staff.  It will reduce CDS to a ‘rump’. We believe the consequences of these proposals will have a disastrous impact on Deaf and hearing people in many ways. These include :
  • exacerbating the existing crisis in the UK Deaf community caused by the acute shortage of interpreters,
  • negative effects on the present students,
  • severe reduction of CDS’s ability to continue its 30 year tradition of initiating and supporting progressive academic and other Deaf-related developments, including lobbying for Deaf rights and achieving equality with hearing people,
  • retardation of the global development of quality Deaf Studies work,
  • negative impact on Deaf people’s access to a wide range of vital information.
Under UK law, the University is required to carry out an assessment of the effect of its planned actions on Deaf/disabled people, and on the community in general.  It is clear that you, the wider community have not been consulted in this way.
Your help is needed
So we ask if you can help this campaign.  Please as soon as possible send a letter to the University decision makers.  To express your own views about the value of CDS’s work. You would need to do this in the next few days, a decision is being made this week.
Please feel free to use headed paper from your own organisations if appropriate. Please also circulate this email widely and ask others to do so.
If you need detail about CDS history and list of achievements to help you write your letter of support, you can download them here: CDS History and CDS History: Detailed
In your letter, please do not mention individual CDS staff by name, as this may have a negative effect.
People to contact
Professor Eric Thomas
Vice Chancellor
University of Bristol
Senate House
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol  BS8 1TH
Professor David Clarke
Deputy Vice Chancellor
(at the same address)
E mail:
Please copy any letters to: so we can monitor correspondence.
Thank you for your help. Together we can try and protect the global development of Deaf Studies from other similar threats in the coming wider financial crises.
Also, you can sign the petition, keep up to date with our Twitter stream and add a Twibbon to Your Twitter Avatar.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A round up of election thoughts

The good things:
The Tories didn't win by a landslide.
We have our first Green MP
The BNP didn't get any seats
The gay tory vote dropped from 39% to 6%, because in the days before the election the twitterverse was alive with reports of homophobic Conservative candidates.  However the Murdoch press refused to cover the topic.  (See Cruithen's comment on this Shakesville post.)
Phillip Stroud, who has tried to cure gay people of their sexuality using prayer, didn't win her seat.
My local MP is public about how she's a feminist.
A Lib/Con coalition would mean the LibDems could prevent the Tories most right wing policies going through.
A Lib/Lab coalition would ensure some hint of leftwingedness and progression in the Commons.
There are now approximately 21.5% of women MPs in the Commons, up from 19.5%.
The Lib Dems could use this opportunity to force a change of electoral system.
The Tories only got one seat in Scotland.

The bad things:
The Tories got more seats than Labour.
My local MP is a Tory, despite calling herself a feminist.
A Con/Lib coalition would give the Tories power.
Blind voters and Ddeaf voters were disenfranchised and excluded from this election.
The BNP consistently got more votes than the Greens in a large number of seats (although not in my area).
The seats won are grossly disproportional to the votes cast.
The turnout was only 65.1%
Lots of people weren't allowed to vote because the polling stations didn't have enough staff on.
A hung parliament is going to cause all sorts of trouble.

Anything I've missed?

Friday, May 07, 2010

and i;ve got a tory mp again

wankers.  screw this.

hell yeah the greens won a seat!!

In Brighton Pavillon!! Fuck yeah!  In (very) bad news, the rest of the country is overwhelmingly blue.

And Norwich North still hasn't been announced. *gets twitchy*

And now to bed.

At 5.20.  I was intending to go to bed about 2am.  Ah well.  The Tories have got the most seats, we're all fucked.

Lib Dems win Labour seat!

In Norwich South!  woo yeah!! best news of the night! :D

Nick Griffin says the Labour party has organised it's immigration policies to keep Labour out

Nick Griffin, you are a fucking twat.  You are talking absolute shit.  The radio interviewer cannot believe what he is hearing.  Neither can I.  Griffin, you are an utter, utter, fuckwit.

Voters turned away from polls

Story on the bbc here.

i take back what is said earlier.  people turned up in plenty of time.  there should have been more staff working to take their votes.

Cross post: A blind woman's experience at the polls today

From Jady_lady:

Disenfranchisement at its Worst
this evening I went to my local polling station, as did many other UK citizens, to cast my vote in the 2010 General Election. Unlike most others though, because I am blind I had to use a tactile template to lay over the ballot paper to enable me to cast my vote independently.

For those who have never seen one of these templates, I will do my best to describe it. It is a long, narrow plastic sheet with numbered flaps down the right hand side. Each flap has a tactile number and can be hinged back on itself. Each flap also comes to a point. The template has a sticky back which can be stuck to the form, in a similar way to a post-it note. the idea is that the template is placed with the flaps laying over the boxes on the form. the blind voter peals back the relevant flap and marks the form directly between the flap above and the flap below. Here is where the problem lies in my opinion: the template is only about a third of the width of the ballot paper and open to error.

On arrival at the polling station, it appeared that the member of staff who helped me, had no experience of the template and hadn't read the instructions that came with it. He wasn't even aware that the back was sticky, I had to peel off the paper that covered it. He first tried to take me to the end of the table where he had been sitting for me to cast my vote there, in full view of everyone else. I explained that this was not acceptable so he reluctantly took me to a booth. After trying to just lay the template over the form without sticking it, he eventually stuck it down and left. I marked my paper, put it in the box and left.

It was only whilst walking home with my partner that we compared notes. It appeared that my template had been placed fairly close to the left hand edge of the form, and my partner's had been nearer the middle of the form. We phoned a friend and asked where the boxes appear on the ballot paper and were told that they are down the right hand side.

It would therefore appear that both our bballot papers are spoilt and we haven't had a vote in this very important election.

If I never campaign for anything else in my life, I'm determined to get my voice heard on this one.

If you read this, I would urge you, please circulate it as widely as possible. I want as many people to realise how open to error the voting system is for blind people.

Our right to independence relies wholly on a sighted person to line the template up for us, and we have no way of checking that the vote has been cast properly.

I wonder how many other blind people's ballot papers have been unknowingly spoilt today?

So.  this election fails both Deaf and blind people?  there's a surprise.  There's soem bloody stupid people in charge of these things and we should be angry about it.


the bbc has the tories 5 ahead of labour.  fuck.

*hopes for a hung parliament to keep the tory bastards in check*

I never thought I;d see the day that the Lib Dems were a viable alternative to the 2 main parties.


they make my ear hurt.  must be all the earrings.

anyway, it;s 3.17 and I'm awaiting the results for my constituency.  i was thinking earlier about how Deaf people are somewhatexcluded from this election. on some facebook groups for Deaf in my area various people commented that they thought the election was interesting but they knew nothing about the parties so wouldn't vote.

why is this?  presumably it's linked to the utter failure of MPs to use BSL Interpreters on the campaign trail.  And I reckon it's pretty disgusting that a large group of society is excluded from this major, important event in the country.

Elected officials, get some terps in!

god damn my region

the guardian is listing all 10 declared seats as tory.  fucking farmers.  *is hoping that the greens get at least 1 seat*

and they've lost one

woo-hoo, the tories have lost a seat!  bring it on!

Exeter has a Labour win

and labour are still ahead. that's good.  still, anything can happen.  currently, labour have 35 seats with 30% of the vote and the tories have 19 seats with 27% of the vote.

and that's why our electoral system is fucked.  we need a Proportional Representation system.  First past the post is bollocks.

Fuck. 1 Tory MP. Kinsgwood.

How the effing hell did the BNP get more votes than the Greens?

There are a lot of stupid fucks in this country.

If the Tories get in I will be crying.  Lots.

Belfast East seat goes to the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Peter Robinson, a mate of the Tories, has lost his seat to Naomi Long...


Queues to long to allow people to vote?

They should have got there earlier.

One friend of mine not on the electoral roll despite registering in plenty of time?

Fuck this.

Live election blogging

Ok, I'm set up and ready for some live election blogging.  I cannot guarantee that these posts will be coherent or spelt well.  However I do have:
earphones on the radio
some tobacco remnants
blankets and gloves to keep me warm
the day off work tomorrow

I am not putting the heating on as it will wake the boyfriend up.  I do not have a tv licence so am listening to radio4.
R4 have just said 3 seats are declared (all labour!! - sunderland south, central and west) and by 2 or 3 we will only have about 56 seats declared..
There were rumours earlier today that they will not announce the government till tomorrow afternoon...

This is an exciting election... I never thought I'd see the day where the Lib Demswere viewed as a viable candidate for government..

Exit polls suggest that there will be a hung parliament with the Tories getting the most seats.. oh fuck...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Massacre in the Phillippines

(Crossposted from Heroine In Training)


Major trigger warnings.

This is "old news" I suppose; truthfully I haven't had the strength to post about it until now. I kept getting too upset and not being about to write.

On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines on November 23rd last year, in the approaching Maguindanao provincial election (part of the national elections in the Philippines), vice mayor of Buluan town Esmael Mangudadatu was attempting to file a certificate of candidacy. Mangudadatu was politically challenging mayor of Datu Unsay, Andal Ampatuan Jr., running for governor and patriarch of the powerful Ampatuan family. After death threats from the Ampatuan family, Mangudadatu organised a convey of female family members, lawyers, aides and journalists to file the certificate for him, believing the women would not be harmed and that the strong media presence would be an added protection.

57 members of Mangudadatu's convey were butchered, murdered and buried in mass graves after an ambush by 100 armed men.

Of the 57 massacred, 22 Filipina women suffered brutal rapes and sexual torture before their murders. Some had their genitals slashed and bullets fired into their private parts. Mangudadatu's wife, three sisters, female cousin and aunt, died in this way. Two female human rights defenders, Attorney Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and Attorney Cynthia Oquendo, were among the victims, as well journalists and one woman whose car was mistaken as part of the convoy.

The massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao goes beyond a rido
or clan war. The sheer scope of barbarity, the brazenness of the murders betrays the perpetrators’ belief in being beyond the reach of the law. Women, lawyers and journalists – no one escaped the butchers’ wrath. Fifty-seven people killed in broad daylight. The murderers had planned the deed, down to the mass burial of victims. That is the mark of the untouchable.

"Untouchable"? Oh, we'll see about that, murderers. I might just be an angry little Filipino-Australian woman on her computer, while you might be an evil monster with a thousand faces and thousands of arms and legs, used to brutalising women like they're extensions of your enemies in your clan wars, supported by firearms, rich families and a culture where you enjoy raw power. I might just be getting started in this world, while you've been festering and growing and terrorising for generations. But I will find a way to fight you.

Starting with raising awareness outside of your world, where you can't silence me or those I love.

Show your indignation and protest by signing an online petition on Strike against Impunity, Strike for Peace and Democracy.

I condemn the brutality of the Maguindanao Massacre. I will NOT let this pass. I want the whole the world to know, especially the Arroyo government that we will not stop until justice is delivered to the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre (otherwise known as Maguindanao massacre) . I grieve for all the women, journalists and other innocent victims who suffered extreme violence and the brutal slaying.

I will make sure you did not die in vain. We should not let allow this to happen again and we cannot allow this climate of impunity to reign.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

In which I give some thoughts on Fallen Angel vol1 (DC run)

Well, I finally bought Fallen Angel vol 1.  I really liked it, especially if you read it as the successor to the Linda Danvers Supergirl run.  It's moody, it's dirty, the art is wonderful, it's mature, the story is good and it' basically right up my street, except for one character.

There's this dude called Asia Minor in it.  Yeah he's Asian, of course.  His real name is Cu Ba Mynah.   (Because Asian folks have funny names which should be anglicised and mocked, doncha know).  He's a drug lord.  (But most folks in this book are bad guys, be they drug dealers, thugs, or other types of criminals).  He speaks in broken English -  but it has been established that he can speak fluent English, he just puts on the broken accent for the image.

I wince when I read about Asia Minor.  Because I can't help thinking it's a somewhat othering, reductionist form of a character, built up around their race and not a lot else.

I'd like to invite a discussion here.  Is there more to him?  Does the character get more depth and are these issues addressed later in the series (I haven't yet read any more of the trades)?  Does it matter that this character is on the side of the stereotype?  Does the presence of other characters of colour mean that the presentation of this one is less offensive?

Thoughts and ideas welcomed.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cosplay fun!

Quick post showing some recent Blackest Night themed cosplay fun:

From the DCU Source blog:

One of the things I love about cosplay, or fancy dress as we used to call it in England, is that all shapes, sizes and colours can be whoever they want - you aren't restricted to characters who resemble you in body type.  You're successful so long as the costume looks good, well made and authentic.

From Scans Daily:

From this Flicker photostream:

I like the Black Lantern Martian Manhunter a lot.  I also like the Power Girl  - but note how she's wearing either a corset or a basque, and note the shape of her breasts.  Although it is possible to look your ideal cominc superheroine, it kinda comes at a price.  No one is gonna fight crime in a corset and breasts aren't unnaturally floaty!  Oftentimes I wish artists would pay more attention to cosplay and draw based on what we the fans come up with and look like.

(Links first found on The Idol-Head of Diabolu)

For more cosplay fun, go see Costume Checklist.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Lets cut benefits for those who refuse work

Oh look it's another bullshit Tory poster:

You know what?  We already do!  *prepares to use previous experiences as an example*

Having been recently made unemployed I have now had 1st hand experience of our nation's delightful JobCentres.  Some advisers were helpful, some weren't. When I rang up to register so that I could sign on and claim my benefits I was told I could claim contribution based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).  This means that because I have been working for the past two years and have been paying National Insurance (NI) I have been contributing to the system so am entitled to claim JSA.

I got approx £64 a week.
I am not entitled to Housing or Council Tax benefit because the boyfriend (who I live with and own a hosue with) works more than 24 hours a week - what he earnt was, I believe, irrelevant.  They also aksed about our savings, and again, we had too much.  But I'm not sure what benefits this 'too much' related to.

£64 a week will not pay the mortgage or the bills (and remember that I didn't get any redundancy money).
I was given 13 weeks to look for a job on the same salary and of the same type as I was earning when employed.  After that period I would have to broaden my search.
If I didn't carry out 3 job search activites a week, my JSA would be stopped or reduced.
If I didn't approach at least one company a week to ask for a job (by application form or CV) my JSA would be affected.
If I refused any job I was offered my JSA would be stopped.
After 6 months my JSA woudl be stopped outright and I would only be able to get my NI paid.

You can also claim income based JSA - for those who haven't paid enough in NI and are on a low income.  The same rules for job searching apply to incoem based and contribution based JSA.

So you see, when you claim JSA, if you refuse to work you get your benefits stopped.

Maybe he's talking about other benefits?
Incapacity Benefit is for those who are too ill or disabled to work.  This began to be phased out a few years ago - new claimants can now only get Employment Support Allowance (ESA).  To get this you must go through a health assessment, which is pretty difficult and is not done by your doctor.  Then you get 6 months of support to find a job, if you don't attend the required job search meetings/activities your benefits get stopped.   After these 6 months you then don't have to attend any more meetings and your benefit continues for life - but remember these are people too sick or disabled to work.

Maybe he means Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?  This ranges from about £18.95 to £71.40 a week and has two components - care and mobility.  It's designed to help with the expense of adjustments you may need to make for your disability, e.g. a carer, or a flashing smoke alarm.  You can still receive this even when you work, so I don't think Cameron means DLA.

Maybe he means Income Support?  This is designed for those on a low income, with less than £16,000 in savings, working less than 16 hours a week, are lone parents, refugees, carers or on maternity/paternity leave.  So it's not really linked to job seekers.

So, I believe that Tory poster is spreading disinformation and playing on people's fears.  If you are able to work it is actually really difficult to get money for doing nothing and that which you do get is pretty much fuck all.

Incidentally, when I went to register in person for the first time I asked for confirmation of what I would be paid.  The adviser I saw couldn't tell me and said I'd have to ask the benefits department about that.  I was under the impression the Job Centre was the benefits department.
I have also heard of terminally ill people being forced to attend job search appointments.

Our welfare system is not as generous or easy to play as people would have you think.  Don't be fooled by Tory propaganda and bullshit.  Vote Labour, Liberal, Green, SNP or Plaid Cymru on Thursday.  Please.

Currently listening to: Manic Street Preachers - Lipstick Traces

So, Gordon Brown called somebody a bigot.

For international readers - Gordon Brown is our PM and is hot on the campaign trail for next week's general election.

A few days ago he met with a Labour voter, had a discussion, then forgot to turn his microphone off when he got in the car to leave.  His private conversation was then broadcast and we heard him call her "a sort of bigoted woman".  The media are having a field day with this. Incidentally (or not) it was a Sky news mic he was hooked up to.  Sky news, owned by Rupert Murdoch, the biggest Tory supporter there is.  Owner of the Sun newspaper, widely credited with giving us several Tory victories and the 1997 Labour victory.  Influential man, hates the Labour party.  What a surprise his company leaked the private conversation.

A full transcript of the conversation is here.  An edited version is here but it includes some of Brown's reactions and speeches after the conversation.  A clip showing Brown and Duffy's conversation is here.  A clip showing her response to Brown's comments is here.

It's taken me a few days to collect my thoughts on this .  From the transcript (emphasis mine):


We had it drummed in when I was a child with mine … it was education, health service and looking after the people who are vulnerable. But there's too many people now who are vulnerable but they can claim and people who are vulnerable can't get claim, can't get it.
But they shouldn't be doing that, there is no life on the dole for people any more. If you are unemployed you've got to go back to work. It's six months.
You can't say anything about the immigrants because you're saying that you're … but all these eastern European what are coming in, where are they flocking from?

A million people come from Europe but a maillion have gone into Europe.  You do know that there's a lot of British people staying in Europe as well.

I'm not quite certain why she brought up Eastern European Immigrants in this conversation - it seems that she is blaming them for some of society's ills, given that she is discussing them in the same context as other societal problems.  Use of the word 'flocking' is provides and emotive, somewhat charged feeling to her comments.  Flocking is a word usually associated with animals (bird migration) and is on a par with words like 'flood' and 'stampede', also often used when discussing immigrants and immigration policies.  It is racist language and is used to other and dehumanise the subject.

Now, I think that Brown was absolutely right to describe her as a bigot.  She expressed bigoted views.  As many other commentators have said, lots of people in Britain think the same way as her, use the same language and express similar views.  The thing is, that doesn't make the comments any less racist.  It is very difficult in this country to have a conversation about immigration that doesn't use racist language and imagery.  Because we see it so often, because the media repeat it, because these views are accepted as standard and ok.  Because people who express these views are otherwise decent citizens and 'good people'.

But you can be an otherwise good person and still hold racist views.  You can be a 'good person' and not think about what you are saying.  You can be generally racist and specifically very liberal (disliking immigrants in general but defending your immigrant neighbours and friends).  This doesn't mean that your racism is ok.

I was very proud of Brown when he said that Duffy was a bigot.  It's so fucking rare that we get to see people in politics or in positions of power actually call someone out for talking crap.  I am now much more likely to vote for the Labour candidats in my area now that I know the party leader takes an active stand on this shit and can recognise petty racism when he sees it.

More from the second transcript:

On BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show
Vine: Is she not allowed to express her views?
Brown: Of course she's allowed to express a view, and I was saying that.

I really do not understand Vine's question there.  Nowhere in the whole conversation (with Duffy and with the aide), did anyone suggest that Brown wanted to stop Duffy speaking or censor her.  The thing about free speech is that you can say what you want.  But so can anyone who disagrees with you.  Censorship is not the same as disparaging or criticising someone else's views or arguing and disagreeing with them.

Duffy's response to Brown's comments:
After hearing of Brown's comments
Duffy: He's an educated person, why has he come out with words like that? He's supposed to lead this country and he's calling an ordinary woman who's just come up and asked questions what most people would ask him – he's not doing anything about the national debt and it's going to be tax, tax, tax for another 20 years to get out of this mess – and he's calling me a bigot. I thought he was understanding – but he wasn't, was he, the way he's come out with the comments.

I think Mrs Duffy is conflating educated with agreement.  I would say that it is precisely because he is educated* that he can use the word bigot accurately.  I feel that she is also missing the reason why Brown labelled her a bigot, but she seemed to be rather hurt by the comment (understandably, it's not a nice word, but that doesn't mean it's not true) and be rather distressed by it.  Mind you, I also think she is upset because it is job to listen to what the voters want and propose ways to improve the country, not insult them.  She has a valid point.

On the other hand he didn't insult her to her face, it was a mistake that the conversation was broadcast and anyone who thinks people (including politicians) don't bitch about their job and the people they meet behind their back, is incredibly naeive.

So, I'm now more likely to vote Labour, I have a great deal more respect for Gordon Brown and I am yet again pissed off with the generic public's attitudes to immigration and foreigners.

While we were watching this news unfold at lunch one of the twats in the office declared that all Labour voters were illegal immigrants and criminals.  I want to go back to the third sector please, I prefer their politics.

*By educated I don't mean to infer that only Uniersity education is worthwhile,  You can educate yourself through discussions with friends or reading blogs.  Each method is equally worthwhile to me.  However, I recognise that Duffy was probably referring to University education.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


It is Beltane today.  A fact I nearly missed as I was convinced that Mayday was Monday.  Probably because Monday is a bank holiday.  This led to some hurried flower and food buying yesterday.  On Beltane eve they used to light fires on the hills and people would fuck.  Cattle would be driven through the ashes of the fire to promote fertility in the coming year.  Inanna's Festival has this to say about Beltane:

"1st May marks the turning point of the Magical Year which began at Hallowe'en - this Fire Festival of joy, sexuality, energy rising, blossoming and expansion is honoured with an image of the smiling Green Man who is the living seasonal manifestation of the sap in the tree, the breath of our planet and our hope for continued life on Earth..."

I've spent the afternoon at a craft fair with a friend who was selling things, come away witha lot of ribbon and also got free comics as it's free comic day!  So far the Iron Man/Thor one looks terrible and the DC Kids one clearly isn't intended for me.

Enjoy the clement weather and the blossoming flowers everyone :)