Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's All Hallows Eve!

Or Halloween, or Samhain, whichever you'd like to call it.  I like All Hallows Eve, it sounds a bit fancier than Halloween but not as pretentious as Samhain.

Anyway, today is the end of the pagan year, as the months move into Winter and things start withering and dying.  All I can say is thank fuck the year's ended because so far this year has been pretty bloody awful.  Roll on the new one.

Halloween has it's spooky reputation as it's meant to be the night when the dead walk the earth as ghosts - this is because pagans believed that Samhain marked a boundary between one year and the next, and that where boundaries exist the veils between the worlds are thin, making it easier for ghosts and other mythological beings to come through.  We use pumpkins at this time because a) they are in season, and b) they were sacred to the druids.

Whatever you believe, whatever you celebrate, have a great day!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Norwich's Sensory Support Unit is at risk of closure

The Unit supports Deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind and visually impaired people.
For Deaf and hard of hearing folks they help with:
Transport to the Deaf centre
Equipment for the house (e.g. flashing fire alarms, doorbells etc)
Funding an advocacy and open door service where Deaf people can get help with a wide range of issues
Funding a deaf social worker

They also do a lot of work for people with visual impairments.  It's a bloody disgrace that closure of the unit is even an option.  Information on the proposed budget cuts for Norfolk County Council is to be found here, and I believe it covers the Sensory Support Unit.

If you've got any networks that have an interest in this please let them know that there will be a Public Meeting on Monday November 1st @ 7.00pm at City Hall Norwich.  Thank you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I bought the best t shirt

Or possibly the most fun one.  From ebay, it's cheap, it's a knock off but I love it.

 It's mah new Super Bat Girls t-shirt!

Well I'm pleased.  I was having a crap week then I saw this and bought it, and now I have it.  Gods bless ebay,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coming out day

Coming out day is a yearly thing occurring on October 11th.  It's meant to promote awareness of gay/bisexual people, increase tolerance and increase visibility of queer folk.  Wikipedia calls it a civil awareness day.

I missed commemorating it this year but I would hope that I do enough year round to promote awareness and visibility.  My reason for the late post is that aroundabout Oct 11th I saw some people declaring that they thought a National Coming Out day was a bad thing as it would push or force people into coming out, when they weren't ready for it and/or when it may not be safe for them to do so.

I disagree with this interpretation of the day - as I see it the designation of Coming Out day is more for those who are already out and able to show their colours so to speak.  It should be a day when those who are comfortable enough to do so discuss LGB (and trans) issues and provide a visible presence and become a role model of sorts tho those folk who aren't out, for whatever reason.

It may be a day to tell your coming out story, it may be a day to say why you're proud to be queer (or the descriptor of your choice), it may be a day to talk about your life in general and just make the most fleeting reference to not being heterosexual.  Nobody should be pushed into coming out.  It's not always an easy thing to do, it can be very stressful and for a lot of people it can be dangerous.  the least the rest of us can do is be open and show the bigots that we're here, we're varied and we ain't going anywhere.

Maybe that will help those who are still in the closet.

If you want to read more about what I've said on the subject click on the LGB and coming out tags beneath this post.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Runaways is building up to something

And I reckon it's Karoline and Nico getting together*.  From the Truth or Dare story, collected in Roock Zombies vol 10 (and reviewed by yours truly here) I give you:

Throughout the previous 9 volumes there have been a fair few other hints that Nico is going to realise she's in love with Karolina.  I don't think Karolina's going to reciprocate, because she's now got Xavin, and Karolain's a one woman kind of girl.  The above panel is very sweet tho.  Apart from Victor in the background there, he's leering.  There's always one isn't there?  Spoiling your photos, playing the fool.. I don't know...

*Yes I know I'm probably about a year behind everyone else.  But i've only read as far as vol 10.  Give me a break.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Learn to Sign week - resources!

So, you've started signing.  You've had a few lessons, you've perhaps met some Deaf BSL users.  You're keen on the language and you want to learn more.  What's next?

Well, there's a whole load of online resources you can use.  Bristol University has the fabulous Centre for Deaf Studies (I blogged about it here) and they have a whole host of resources for you:

Deafstation - for people fluent in BSL, providing daily news and information (in BSL) - if you're just starting to learn and you watch this don't get too worried if you don't understand it all.  You'll get there I promise!
Signstation - For people learning BSL.  It has video, pictures and information about BSL, Deaf people at work and Deaf awareness.  A really useful resource for people at level 1 and level 2.
Mobile Sign - a video dictionary with over 5000 signs.  For people who work with Deaf people, have Deaf customers or want to learn how to sign.  You access the dictionary from a mobile phone phone and download the signs required.
Deafresource - Provides information on the Deaf Community, sign language and Deaf Studies.
VOGS - It provides guides for working with Deaf people covering topics such as using Interpreters, facts about Deaf people and sign language and frequently asked questions.  VOGS means 'Vocational Guidance Standard Model for Deaf People'.

VOGS is more of a professional resource, but have a look round them all and see if you think anything's useful.

But wait! There's more!
Signs of God - Signs for use in a Christian setting
Christain Signs - as above.  There is a Deaf church, would ya believe it.
Science Signs - for a science education

Signhealth - the healthcare charity for deaf people
Forest Books - selling all sorts of books about the Ddeaf and hard of hearing world.  Fiction, academic theories, language books, help for professionals working with Ddeaf people, technology. journals, teaching aids, loads of stuff.  It's fabulous.
Deafread - the best of deaf blogs and vlogs from around the world.

Surrounding Deaf culture, there's the Deaf poet Dorothy Miles, who creates and performs poems in BSL, the Deaf comedian John Smith, performing routines in BSL, and Lee's BSL Songs.

You can also check out my Deaf sites and resources post for more links.

I hope this has all been helpful to you and that you've enjoyed the series.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Learn to Sign week

Hmm, yes I never did finish off those series of posts did I?  Well, let's have a go at finishing them now shall we.

If you are in a workplace or a learning centre (like a school, college or university) where you are likely to work with or alongside a Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing person, you will need to think about your communication methods and whether it's appropriate to bring in additional communication support.
How do you decide this?  You ask the Deaf/deaf/hard of hearing person if they want extra support, and what they want.  You do not assume what they need.

Examples of support may be an interpreter or communication support worker, a lipspeaker or a notetaker.  Notetakers can use different types of equipment or different methods to record what is being said.

As for the difference between an interpreter and a communication support worker (csw), well the main difference is qualifications.  Note that qualifications and experience are not the same thing.  I jokingly say that terps are better qualified, better paid and get more respect..but it's not always that way!  CSWs generally work in educational settings whereas terps will work in medical settings, in the workplace, in the courts, loads of places.  When you see someone signing at a conference they may be a terp or a CSW.  At the end of the day we all facilitate communication between the Deaf world and the hearing world.  And we all do our best.

Note: when using terps or csws please remember to look at the Deaf person, and not the terp/csw.  All the terp/csw is doing is interpreting the information, they are not speaking for the Deaf person.

For more information about finding a language service professional you can start by looking at the NRCPD website - National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people.  You won't find CSWs on there - if you do specifically want a CSW try your local Deaf club who should have information on how to find one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comprehensive spending review

I write this post on the 20th October, the day when the details of the comprehensive spending review came out.  This is the government's plan to get us out the recession.

I understand there's no money.  I understand that Labour's method of getting us out of the recession was to borrow more and spend more.  I understand that we are in near unprecedented levels of debt.  I understand that the Conservative's methods of fixing this problem is to cut back on all spending.

I know we've got a problem.

But, as per the key points of the review listed here, I cannot help but feel that the optimal way out is not to cut 7 billion from the welfare budget (most folk on welfare are pretty damn skint to start with, why punish them?  Is it cos they don't vote for you?)
It's not to cut 490,000 public sector jobs (although I'm amazed the figure isn't higher)
It shouldn't involve a 19% four year cut in departmental budgets (money was tight beforehand).

In more detail, with my comments in bold (text taken from the above link):

Communities and local government, Annual budget: £33.6bn
What's being cut: Councils will see a 7.1% annual fall in their budgets. But ring-fencing of local authority revenue grants will end and councils will have freedom to borrow against their assets (I thought borrowing got us into a lot of these problems?  Well, that and investing in Iceland). Funding for social housing to be cut by more than 60%, with new tenants having to pay higher rents (That will really help lift people out of poverty [edit - that was a saracastic comment, I don't think it's a good idea, I think it's terrible!!)). But the government hopes these changes will free up funds to build 150,000 new affordable homes over the next four years.(To bring in more income for central or local government?  what rate will the rents be fixed at?)

Home Office, Annual budget: £10.2bn
What's being cut: Budget cut of 6% a year, equivalent to 24% fall over the period.
Police budget cut by 4% a year, focused on bureaucracy rather than manpower (but with all the paperwork coppers have to do how will reducing bureaucracy make the police more efficient?  will they reduce the forms and reports?). Aim to maintain "visibility and availability" of officers on beat. But some experts believe 18,000 police jobs could be lost. UK Border Agency budget to fall 20%. Counter-intelligence budget to fall 10%.

Justice, Annual budget: £9.7bn
What's being cut: Budget to fall by 6% a year, equivalent to 23% over the period.
Plan for new 1,500-place prison to be dropped. 3,000 fewer prison places expected by 2015. (But our prisons are already overflowing.  I assume more folk will be put on electronic tag then).  £1.3bn capital investment in prison estate.

Work and Pensions
Winter fuel allowance, free bus passes and TV licences for 75-year-olds protected. (Thank fuck for that!) Cuts to child benefit for higher rate taxpayers to generate £2.5bn. (Cuts based on your rate of tax? I'm amazed.  I'd like to see the thresholds though) £2bn investment in new universal credit.(Oh gods, I have a terrible feeling about this) Weekly child element on child tax credit to rise by £30 in 2012 and £50 by 2012. (I'm not quite sure what the difference between a child tax credit and a child benefit is).

What's being cut?: A further £7bn in welfare savings planned on top of £11bn already announced. A new 12-month time limit for the one million people on employment and support allowance to find work or face benefit cut. (I wonder if benefit cut means no more benefits or reduced benefits.  What happens when there's just no work?)  10% cut in council tax benefit budget. New threshold on housing benefit. Maximum savings award in pension credit to be frozen for four years. Increased working hours threshold for working tax credits for couples with children(Now this is a good idea No it's not!  I completley misunderstood what this meant  - read the comments for more info). New total benefits cap per family. (I have mixed feelings about this.  It depends what the level of capping is).

The Guardian reports that the spending review includes " the withdrawal of £50 a week from the million people claiming incapacity benefit for more than a year".  People on Incapacity Benefit are too ill to work.  That's why they get it.  Do they then switch to this new universal benefit?  Are they not entitled to claim anything after a year?  What will they live on?  Housing Benefit is getting cut.  The councils (who provide all those important support services) are getting their budgets and staff numbers slashed.

The support for social housing will be halved.  £350 million will be taken from the legal aid budget.

Discussing the impact on women, the F Word posts a statement from Ceri Goddard of the Fawcett Society, who labels the new budget a disastrous blow for women's equality.

About the Lib Dems:
"Nick Clegg. the deputy prime minister, held a teleconference with hundreds of Lib Dem parliamentary candidates and faced tough questions on why he had reneged on the Lib Dem pledge not to raise university tuition fees. He told the callers that he felt wretched about signing the pledge and then reneging on it."
When you're in a coalition government you can't go through with everything you promised.  That's the crapper.

I ask, why aren't the rich getting taxed more?  Why are the poor getting the shit end of the deal?
Oh right, cos the poor don't count and their votes don't matter.

Now y'all go read Feminist Avatar's comment and reflect on why she's awesome.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Phantom zone mural!

How good is this?

Pretty damn good I reckon.  The description confirms that it's not an actual image from the film, but a composite image.  Still good tho.

(I did try to post the pic on this post, but it won't let me.  Nevermind, go see the greatness on the link).

While you're here, go check out the adventures of epic box.  Turn your sound on and tell me who the music's by.  It sounds like one of my battle metal bands, but it's probably a really famous composer and i'm just too uncultured to recognise it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I think I'm going to a comic con

London MCM Expo to be exact.

Guess who's gonna be there?  Bernard Chang.  The new artist on Supergirl.  Got anything you think I should ask him?  I don't know what day I'm going yet, or what day he will be there, but fingers crossed the days will match up.  I'm going on the Saturday and he'll be there all weekend.  There's also a good chance I'll get all squealy and either stammer or try to be cool and end up being rude.  I'm not good with meeting famous folk.

My main problem is I can't find a bloody programme on the website.  I have no idea how Expo works so I don't know if Chang will be on a panel, or signing something, or doing commissions or what.
I emailed him on facebook and he said he'd be there all weekend and possibly doing some activites, I don't know what these will be.

I do know that I'll be going in a stealth Supergirl costume.  Which will probably not be all that stealthy.  Depends on if I wear the headband or not.

Anyone else gonna be going?

PS: Reckon should I bring up the pink Supergirl logo?  News has been out about it for about 6 hours, and already the internet has exploded.  Or at least, twitter has.  Opinions are divided.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Translated epics

Dear Hearts,

I would like to take the time to share with you a few stories I have particularly enjoyed recently.

These stories are of the prose variety, with nary a picture in sight.  Would you ever have believed it?  All of the books are recognised as epics, from days gone by.  They feature heroes and heroines galore, the Brave and the Bold, the Fearsome and sometimes Fearful.

Read The Tain, translated by Ciaran Carson.  Revel in the deeds of Cú Chulainn, legendary hero of Ulster!  The wicked Queen Maeve is possessed by an unbecoming greed and determines to seize the Brown Bull of Cooley.  The Ulstermen have been laid low by a monstrous curse and so Cú Chulainn comes to their rescue!  He has the strength of ten men, can leap might rivers, twist his body into inhuman shapes and recover from nearly all bodily wounds!  No man is safe from him - he has even bested the Scald Crow, Morrigan!

In turns vulgar, in turns gentle, this is a lusty, war loving, comedic interpretation of one of Eire's greatest tales.

Ursula Le Guin tackles the Aenid to supply us with Lavinia.  Lavinia refused to be sold and set about taking control of her destiny.  Told with grace and patience, this Lavinia is headstrong, devout and pious.  She accepts responsibility for the outcomes of her actions and manoeuvres into a position where she can retain her independence.  She has strength and poise.  This was a more welcome read after the francticness of The Tain.

Tales of the Tricksters is a veritable treasure trove of liars and cheats from around the world. Read this and meet the cunning and wily Fox, Hare, Spider, Cockerel and Rat.  There's some beautiful illustrations included too.

Lastly, I read David Wright's prose adaption of Beowulf.  For an unenlightened Philistine like yours truly, the move away form poetry to prose was most welcome.  This Beowulf is a warrior: bloody, prideful, absolutely certain of his God, offensive and rude.  He doesn't waste words and he gets straight to the point of the matter,  Ever convinced of his righteousness you may find his attitude a little off putting.

And that, dear readers, brings you up to date with my non comic readings.

(Edited to add: I'm not quite sure what style I was going for when I wrote this.  See I write things in my note book then type them up.  It's long winded but it feels more satisfactory.  Sometimes it leads to confusion about my choice of words)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The local comic book shop goes online!

Well, it's had a website for ages, but it's recently been revamped and it's now MUCH better.  You can now search the back issue list, have a wish list, and view upcoming releases.  Genius!  Anyway I thought I'd give it a bit of a plug, cos I like them and I think you should give them your money.

The shop is called Abstract Sprocket.  You can now order online and choose to have the books delivered or to pick them up in store. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of trades on there yet, but I'm guessing they'll be put on later, as will more and more back issues.

As soon as I saw the new site I did a quick search and came away with 3 Impulse issues I've been after.  This might prove expensive...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gearing up for Halloween

I figure it's time for another plug.  Over at New readers... we're having a Halloween themed month.  We'll be featuring books that are a it spooky, scary, gory or maybe just weird.  I know for sure that we've got books with zombies, vampires and replicating schoolchildren coming up (not necessarily all at once).  There's some shit hot manga in the queue and even a few superheroes.  We've also got a list of other books that might appeal, if you're after a seasonal read.

Come on by, have a read, leave a comment.  And recommend us some stuff!  We like recommendations!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not my cat

This is completely off topic, but as i've just spent a good hour and a half trying to sort out photos and tags on a New readers.. post, picture sof kittys is all you're likely to get today.

My dad took these pictures, they are of his neighbour's cats.  I think they are particualrly good shots, but I can't decide which ones I like best.

Today I like the last one best, I think because of the juxtaposition of the dark clouds, lights apples and the blue sky.  The cats are called Pixel and Google - proof that we live in a technological age, I think.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jamal Igle comments on leaving Supergirl

See his blog post here.

Specifically, he comments that:

"It's going to sound cliche' but the truth is, at least for myself , I chose to leave. I approached Matt Idelson about 4 months ago right after we finished War of the Superman and let him know I wanted to move on.

wo years on a series as an artist is a long time creatively, and like any artist, you feel the need to stretch and do new things.

There was no malice, no secret agenda on DC's part. There were discussions of what I may do next but nothing finalized, including Birds of Prey."

I'm sad he chose to leave, but very gald he wasn't pushed out.  After all the rumours about Igle moving to BoP it occured to me that leaked info like that can have a negative impact on a person's career.  So, I'm glad that that isn't what has happened here.

I'm also *so* relieved that Igle and Benes aren't simply swapping books.  can you imagine a modenr Benes on a Sterling Gates written Supergirl?  The mind boggles.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Oops, meant to post something on wednesday.

It basically said 'life got really busy - new job, lots of things to do in the evenings and lots of things to learn. Back in a week.'

I'll stick to it. Back in a week - I got new readers stuff to do that takes priority.  But before I go, I will leave you with the news that Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle will be off Supergirl as of January.  This news makes me really sad.  You will all probably have picked up on the fact that I'm a massive Supergirl fan and I have really loved Gates and Igle's run on the title.  My only wish is that they had had more standalone issues and less crossover.  I'm gutted they are going.

Nick Spencer and Bernard Chang are taking over.  I think I like Chang.  I don't know Spencer.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Where to learn BSL and what to expect

There are a lot of places you can learn BSL.  To locate a course you can contact your local deaf club (google the name of a major town near you and deaf club), look at the adult education prospectus or look on Signature's website for a list of all all accredited training providers.

What can you expect when learning BSL?

Well, typically, you will start by doing a level 1 course and you will learn the basics - fingerspelling, places, things in the house, work vocabulary, colours, weather, holidays, animals, and basic grammar.  You may be taught by a Deaf BSL user or by a hearing person with a good knowledge of BSL.  In the classes you can expect to go over new vocabulary each week, produce stories, and chat with others in your class.  All this should be done in BSL with your voice turned off.

You may then do a bridging course, which will improve your skills to nearer that of a level 2 class.  After that you can take the level 2 qualification, this will build upon your vocabulary learnt in previous courses, expand your knowledge and ability to use BSL grammar, try to move you away from using Sign Supported English (BSL signs produced in English word order), improve your receptive skills and increase your confidence.  It now becomes more important to turn your voice off and to use BSL in each class.  Once you have your level 2 you will be able to hold a conversation with a BSL user.

Once you have achieved your level 2, you need to use your BSL regularly and try to mix with Deaf people in order to improve your productive and receptive skills.  The next stage is a level 3, and typically you will have spent at least one year if not two practicing your skills and using them regularly.  There is a huge jump between the level 2 and level 3 and to help you improve your knowledge you may want to consider doing a pre level 3 course.  This is where I am at now, and I can honestly say that the pre level 3 course I took was invaluable and worth every penny I spent.  Without being in a formal classroom situation you won't realise what bad habits you have picked up and what it is that you don't know.

After you have achieved your level 3, you will definitely have a good handle on the language and be able to explain and communicate complex ideas in BSL, not SSE.  Next up is the level 6 which will take you to interpreter standard.

When you are learning it is important to practice outside the classroom as much as you can.  You can do this with friends on your course, or go to coffee mornings or other practice sessions at your local deaf club.  You may want to go to interpreted theatre performances to improve your receptive skills, or you can watch the BSL interpreted news on BBC news 24 at 8.30 am and 1pm (I think).  See Hear is a good programme about the Deaf Community that is viewable both on BBC 2 and the i-player, if like me you don't watch TV.  Like any other language, it is important to learn about the culture of the people who use BSL as it will help you to understand ideas and structure within the language.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Learn to Sign week

It's Learn to Sign week!  Organised by the BDA (British Deaf Association) there should be lots of stuff going on throughout the country aimed at encouraging people to learn to how to sign.  So, I think I shall be getting in on this and doing a series of posts about BSL (British Sign Language).

The week runs from 4th to the 10th October and you can find out more at the BDA page here.  Approximately 90,000 people have BSL as their first language.  It is a living language evolving as Deaf people use it and it not artifically created.  It is Deaf people's own language and is not devised by hearing people.  Each sign language throughout the world (and there areaas many as there are spoken languages) is distinct and they are not based upon spoken languages.  There is an International Sign language used at international conferences and this is in turn distinct from countries own sign languages.

BSL is not a series of gestures or mime.  It has it's own vocabulary, not all of which can be translated into English, it's own syntax and grammar and it's own rules.  Used fluently, it is incredibly graceful and beautiful to watch.

Yet the UK only officially recognised BSL as a language in 2003.  Seems bizzare huh?  In Scotland there is currently a consultation period occuring that will be used to decide if BSL should be recognised as language in Scotland, (for more information see here).  Scotland is part of the UK but sometimes has different laws, I'm not quite sure how or why this is the case, maybe a reader can enlighten me?

You can read more about the history of BSL here.  Stay tuned this week as I blather more about this.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Birds of Prey get musical

On Batman: The Brave and the Bold tv show the Birds of Prey got a little musical number.  It's full of inneuendo, it's a bit silly, but it's a darn catchy song.  You can view it here.  Go watch it, I'll wait.

Now you've watched it, here's a transcript of the words (found here):

Hit It
(music starts)
Good evening all you gentlemen
mobsters creeps and crooks
Men in tights come after you and still your off the hook
for those who scare and terrorize it's the dawn of a brand new day
You scum can simply call us the one and only Birds of Prey

Green Lantern has his special ring
Pretty strong that little thing
Blue Beetle's deed's are really swell
but who will bring him out of his shell?
Flash's Foe's they finish last
Too bad sometimes he's just too fast!

While all the boys can always save the day
No one does it better then the Birds of Prey
The one and only Birds of Prey

While all the boys can always save the day
No one does it better
No one does it better then the birds of prey

Green Arrow has Heroic traits
That is when he's shooting straight
I'm just saying!
Aquaman's always courageous!
His little fish, less outrageous!
Plastic man can expand
becomes putty in a hand

While all the boys can keep you punks at bay
No one does it better then the birds of prey
the one and only birds of prey

While all the boys can always save the day
No one does it better
No one does it better then the birds of prey

Batman throws his batarang
what a weapon, what a bang
check out that utility belt
sure can make a girls heart melt
He's always right there for the save
I'd like to see his secret cave

While Batman does things in his special way
He'd do it better with the birds of prey
While Batman always seems to save the day
No one does it better
No one does it better then the birds of prey
birds of prey


Well I don't know about you, but that wasn't quite what I was expecting from a kid's cartoon!  saucy enough to make you laugh but innocent enough to go over kids heads.

I'm not quite sure which hero I feel sorry for the most..probably Aquaman or Green Arrow.  Poor ducks.

I wonder how the other heros match up.  What do you reckon the Birds would say about Mr Miracle, Hawkman, Booster or Superman?

In completely unrelated news, I just discovered this dramatic chipmunk clip and this clip of someone taking badgers on a walk.  It's adorable.  You need sound.