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Saturday, May 16

Music: The big fat gay collab

There's a disgusting amount of hate on the internet (especially on youtube) directed at minority groups (especially the LGBT community) so the creator of this viral was inspired to organize this collab video. Never set out to "change the world", simply wanted to make something light hearted to put a smile on the face of any hate-victim watching.

The song is f#ck you by Lily Allen, originally written about George Bush.

youtubers in this video mum! snaps for my awesome mum!

if you missed the bandwagon to join the collab, feel free to make a video response!

Friday, May 15

MPs Expenses - A Musical Guide

Climate change in the abstract

This chart is adopted from a survey, conducted by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication. It reveals that Americans are concerned about global warming in the abstract.

The further we get out from the individual, the more impactful people think climate change will tend to be.

These beliefs are not necessarily irrational - climate change probably will have more impact on the developing world than the developed one, and it almost certainly will have more impact on our children than it does on ourselves.

Conclusion? Climate change advocates need to find ways to personalise the terms of the debate.

The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer.

HT: FiveThirtyEight

BBC Question Time, as seen from Twitterland

Is Ben Brogan the bastard child of Lady Penelope and Parker?

Is Ben Brogan the bastard child of Lady Penelope and Parker?

I managed to be asleep during what was the year’s TV highlight it appears - and the iplayer won’t have it available until tomorrow.

So how to read the mood on the other side of the screen (in Grimsby it was obviously ‘burn the witch!’)? Twitter of course and - what’s this? - it’s ‘trending’? It’s number one trending?!

Thousands of tweets it appears and after sifting through the spam - oh yes, just add #bbcqt for attention for your eco-funerals or whatever - here are some highlights (going backwards, as is the twitway).

bengoldacre: #bbcqt can we have some kind of air raid siren for the next time something that good is on telly please?

jonreed of course, people in Grimsby are always that angry. The #bbcqt cameras just happened to be on them this evening.

barneygale @RhysT #bbcqt Did the irony of the McDonalds CEO talking about the elite few exploiting the weak not strike you? I’d laugh if I wasn’t cryin

stephenpglenn RT @steevbishop: #bbcqt The final question will be about the change to Twitter replies and the audience then burn the hall down.

adlopa I’m voting with my feet at the next election. I have a weeping bunion that I can mark the ballot paper with. #bbcqt

alexchafer #bbcqt, they didnt say it exactly as “it was withn the rules” but it was suggested 8 times in total using different terminology

jjaron And now it’s time to switch over to Question Time: You’re Fired #bbcqt

AndySawford #bbcqt none of the panellists happy chatter in the closing credits, they all looked stunned

gift_of_the_fab #bbcqt Arghh… they didn’t get to the bash Michael Martin question. Fail.

dancohen243 RT @craigmcgill Dear Mrs Beckett, journos have always found stories via leaks Don’t whine now or try & bring your staff in as victims #bbcqt

siliconglen #bbcqt And another “one rule for them and another for us”, how come House of Commons bar is exempt from smoking ban? MPs need to get real.

mathewhulbert @doktorb How dare Ming Campbell lecture Ben Brogan? #bbcqt.

andrewl No Ming, no transparency required - the DT are using *private* money - you’re wasting my money away. #bbcqt

KerryMP @doktorb Why - because I’m accusing Ming of being sanctimonious and desperately scrambling for moral high ground? #bbcqt

mutantsounds #bbcqt Sheesh, Margaret, seriously - just shut up and try to look sorry for the rest of the show. It’s working for Theresa May.

petermoore “The first rule of journalism: don’t discuss your sources.” (Ben Brogan of The Telegraph on the expenses ‘disc’) #bbcqt

mattwardman RT @KerryMP: #bbcqt Is Ben Brogan the bastard child of Lady Penelope and Parker?

antagonise Margaret Beckett, #tool of the DNA/data storing gov’t, is worried about personal data of #State employees. The #irony! #bbcqt #questiontime

siwhitehouse #bbcqt Telegraph a “receiver of stolen goods” . . . think I can guess the next audience comment

simonbarrow Good grief, someone on BBC QT wants to ‘knight’ the Telegraph. The kangaroo court’s rage blinds it to other forms of vested interest. #bbcqt

stephenpearne #bbcqt Presumably Beckett is wearing a bright red jacket to conceal the fact that she has been red in the face whenever she’s been speaking.

ComeOnYouReds Ming - afghanistan casulaties overshadowed by expenses debacle - 7 on the clapometer. #bbcqt

wardmanwire #bbcqt Where does one get a tool to manage 50-60 tweets a minute?

patricksmyth That fat guy in the blue shirt has heckled Beckett from the start,when she answers him he says ‘don’t talk to me like that’.Hilarious #bbcqt

crishawes #bbcqt Ming “It’s out job to clean it up”… yeah, like asking an arsonist to put out the fire.

KerronCross “Throw the bums out, on their ear.” I wonder if Ben Brogan is being anatomically correct there? #bbcqt

IanDouglas Margaret Beckett giving Ben Brogan the look of death #bbcqt

kcorrick Ronald McDonald is coming across very well #bbcqt Although is in slightly nicer position. Good point about potential apathy.

EbA Love the guy who said we want action but not spin then went on to talk about David Cameron. You been spun fool. #bbcqt

norock Ah. Beckett now suggesting that EVERYONE is too busy being good MPs to look after the details of claiming millions… #bbcqt

liambillington #bbcqt Theresa May sounds as if she is about to burst into tears.

doktorb #bbcqt - “You’re not trusted!” “You’re too busy fiddling expenses” “Don’t lecture me!” cries audience members.

lexij #bbcqt Margaret Beckett “people are at risk of losing their jobs” Hmmm. Indeed.

StephenMullen Audience member worried that because of the expenses issue, that the BNP may get elected. #bbcqt #votetostopthebnp

norock Wow - where did they find the ‘can’t we just say something nice about politicians’ woman for the #bbcqt audience?

Tweetolla #bbcqt String quartet now playing in background for Menzies Campbell’s 73 hours travelling a week ‘woe is me’ plea.

DarrellGoodliff #bbcqt surprising smattering of applause for attack on the media

KerryMP #bbcqt ‘Cameron showed leadership when he found out what MPs were up to’… Such as claiming £680 to remove wisteria from their chimneys?

doktorb #bbcqt - “Brown is a donkey” calls man from crowd.

ydue impressive fail-off from ming and beckett #bbcqt WHYYYYYYY AM I ONLY PAID 3X THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. WHYYYYYYY DO I HAVE TO WORK SO MANY HOURS

radioproducer The #bbcqt discussion on twitter would appear to be, unplanned, unmanaged, unmoderated, free, and very successful.

.. and that’s where search twitter etc. stop as it goes way over 1000 tweets and my browser blows up …

Postscript: having now watched it I don't see the residents of Grimsby lynching Margaret Beckett. Compared to historical, riotous reaction to the-powers-that-be this was incredibly tame. Twitterland gave its own, quite different, perspective on last night's events.

Thursday, May 14

Cute animals: Suryia and Roscoe - Friends at First Sight

Smile alert!

Music: Boops (Here We Go)

Sly and Robbie may well be the most prolific recording artists ever. One staggering estimate is that they have played on or produced some 200,000 songs.

Sly and Robbie are reggae’s longest lasting production team. The rhythm section of drummer Lowell Dunbar (nicknamed Sly after Sly Stone, one of his favorite musicians) and bass guitarist Robert Shakespeare started working together in the mid 1970s, after having established themselves separately on the Jamaican music scene.

They changed the face of Reggae several times: in 1976, they introduced a harder beat called “Rockers”, which quickly replaced the then prevalent “One drop” style, then introduced the “rub a dub” sound in the early 1980s. Sly and Robbie were important in developing the trend towards computer assisted music and programmming in the mid 1980s.

They produced three of Grace Jones' albums: Living my Life, Nightclubbing and Warm Leatherette.

Boops is their sole UK hit.

Postscript: 'It's the economy faggot' - Dan Savage on Obama and LGBT rights

Savage also points out in his column how Obama made a joke of the progress on gay marriage at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday.

The more I think about the joke Obama told at the WHCD the more ticked off I get. We're witnessing rapid and historic progress in the fight for gay equality and Barack Obama, who campaigned on our issues and described himself as a "fierce advocate" of gay and lesbian equality, hasn't acknowledged the breakthroughs in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in a setting or a with comments that are in any way equal to the significance of this historic moment. The best he can do—all he's willing to do—is toss off an Adam-Sandler-level joke.

'It's The Economy, Faggot'

Brilliant blog post by Andrew Sullivan, the influential conservative American blogger, about his sinking feeling about Obama and LGBT rights. It includes the shock news that a deadline looms for his US residency - he may have to return to the UK due to lack of federal gay relationship recognition and anti-HIV immigration rules.

'It's The Economy, Faggot' was a proposed book title related to him by Bob Hattoy, who was a gay and HIV+ Bill Clinton staffer.

He was going to write a memoir of working with people who thought of homosexual rights as wonderful things to say you support (especially if you're fundraising or at a Hollywood dinner party) but far, far too controversial to ever do anything about, let alone risk anything for. In the end, of course, the Clintons enacted a slew of brutally anti-gay measures - passing DOMA [Defence of marriage act], doubling the rate of gay discharges from the military, signing the ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants - and expected standing ovations as pioneers of civil rights. The pathetic gay rights leaders gave it to them, so delighted were they to have their checks cashed. The proposed title of Bob's book was a summary of the priorities of the Clinton years.

[Hattoy died before the memoir was written and published.]

Sullivan relates how he immensely impressed with Obama during the campaign and how Obama had stood up for LGBT rights in unlikely places, such as from the bully pulpit at Martin Luther King's church in the face of homophobic black preachers.

I listened to him in the early days and found him sincere

In this he had the same experience as myself. In this post I explored how:

On the trail he consistently mentioned the word and often.

This was in stark contrast to Hillary.

But nearly four months into Obama in power Sullivan has "a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach".

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada. We're firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won't recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they're, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There's a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry [leaders of the biggest national LGBT organisations in the USA] for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.

Yesterday, [White House Press Secretary] Robert Gibbs gave non-answer after non-answer on civil unions and Obama's clear campaign pledge to grant equal federal rights for gay couples; non-answer after non-answer on the military's remaining ban on honest service members. What was once a categorical pledge is now - well let's call it the toilet paper that it is. I spent yesterday trying to get a better idea of what's intended on all fronts, and the overwhelming sense - apart from a terror of saying anything about gay people on the record - is that we are in the same spot as in every Democratic administration: the well-paid leaders of the established groups get jobs and invites, and that's about it. Worse: we will get a purely symbolic, practically useless hate crimes bill that they will then wave in our faces to prove they need do nothing more.

I would add to this that the pogram against LGBT in Iraq, which is believed to be being supported by the Iraqi Interior Ministry, has seen absolutely no action from either the President or Hillary Clinton's State Department.

Sullivan's attitude to Obama mirrors my increasing distaste with the Labour Party on LGBT rights. See 'Brown opposes Prop. 8, refuses to act on homophobic Home Office' for more on that. Although Blair, like Clinton and Obama, spoke visibly of supporting LGBT rights, the reality with Blair was that most of New Labour's legal changes came about due to pressure from Europe. Brown, although voting the right way, has almost no record of visible support prior to becoming PM.

In one of his farewell speeches, Blair also sounded like Clinton is praising the 'nice gays':

What actually matters enormously is that the people from outside politics that you are trying to do it with have a sufficient intelligence and sensitivity, which I think has really defined the Stonewall campaign, I define it as a polite determination.

There is another parallel between the US and UK as the current gay legal interest here by groups like Stonewall is also with a hate crimes bill - rather than, say, the more politically difficult homophobia located in the Home Office or the failure to act in any way on the Iragi gay pogram.

Fortunately, LGBT Labour have a resolution on LGBT asylum and immigration up for debate at their AGM so it is to be hoped that Labour supporters will finally exert some pressure on that issue.

If Andrew Sullivan does have to - effectively - go into exile I can't think of a better symbol of how far the realities of LGBT life in America would be from the rhetoric exposed by the politician many enthusiastic voted for on November 5.

Wednesday, May 13

Did no one qualified want to be the government’s digital director?

The Cabinet Office announced this morning - via Twitter - that Whitehall insider Andrew Stott, Deputy Government Chief Information Officer, is the new £120k/yr Director of Digital Engagement.

This job excited much skepticism when announced at the beginning of the year. The Daily Mail accused them, via an obliging Tory backbencher, of:

A ‘grotesque waste of public money’ … a senior civil servant is to be paid up to £160,000 a year to encourage colleagues and Ministers to use social networking sites such as Facebook.

However many insiders were optimistic and Minister Tom Watson even invited comment on the job description - some of which was used.

Early reaction to the appintment has ranged from simply celebrating the existance of the post - one tweet from Sweden asking ‘why can’t we have one?’ - to ‘give the bloke a chance’ - Nick Booth asking Can I help Andrew Stott? - to much cynicism.

Insider Simon Dickson noted that this is:

An appointment from the government IT angle, rather than the social media angle.

And that:

The Cabinet Office press release plays up his Whitehall seniority and experience, but rather neglects the more ’social web’ aspects of the appointment.

He pointed out that the job description said the following:


  • Is a highly credible individual in digital communications
  • Has run a public facing web site of significant size, for example for a broadcaster or newspaper; or has been a leading figure in getting a large organisation to engage through digital channels.
  • Has innovated in web, beyond ‘web publishing’ and can demonstrate concrete personal examples of changing how organisations carry out their core functions using digital channels
  • Understands the technology and software that enable excellent web development, and has experience of advising on its procurement and deployment
  • Has experience of achieving change through influence, especially with policy and delivery officials
  • Has the authority to be credible with Ministers and senior officials


  • Has experience of the workings of Government

The job is the baby of Tom Watson, Minister for Digital Engagement at the Cabinet Office, and the press release focussed on the implementation of the government’s Power Of Information strategy [pdf] - another of Tom’s babies.

The job’s Twitter account starts off following only one person - Tom Watson.

So it’s not surprising that the PR quotes Watson saying:

I am delighted that Andrew Stott will be leading on these vital programmes for government. His personal involvement in the development of the strategy and his Whitehall experience will be complemented by the new external high level advisory panel which will succeed the Taskforce.

Together we will transform the way that government engages with citizens through the internet and free up government data, so that people can use public services more effectively.

Again this underlines his Whitehall experience rather than his web 2.0 experience.

However another insider confirmed to me privately that the real reason Stott may have the appointment is simply that strong candidates from outside Whitehall with web 2.0 experience didn’t apply.

This was also the suspicion of many twitterers

Certainly, why Andrew Stott? Does the UK lack an obvious choice? Or someone with at least a Facebook profile to take the job?

Very surprising choice - weren’t they looking for someone with web 2.0 credibility?

Jimmy Leach in the Independent also suggests that they failed to get the sort of applicant that the job description suggested.

The conversations I’d had had indicated a rather radical appointment. Not so, it seems. it’s gone to a safe pair of hands

Other insiders with recent experience of Stott suggest that he is a master of Whitehall blandspeak. Last year he produced the government’s much anticipated information and knowledge strategy.

The 33 page document took nearly two years to appear as the first output of the Knowledge Council, a senior Whitehall group established in April 2007 and chaired by Stott to provide ’strategic leadership’ on pan-government information and knowledge policy issues.

It contained such homilies as ‘Government needs information to function’ (p.15), ’There is much to be gained from sharing information – but there are also risks’ (p.7) and that departments must ensure information they hold ‘is used appropriately’ (p.6).

As usual it wanted to do it’s own thang and ‘explore the creation of a single ‘portal’ for government knowledge sharing’ (p.8) - despite them (plural) already existing. A good example would the extremely well received and independently organised BarCampUKGovweb - which the Knowledge Council seemed oblivious to.

Update: Another insider and former colleague of Stott Emma Mulqueeny has a different view on his appointment.

Update: Harry Metcalfe says that Stott writes XML.

Update: Other insiders writing positively about the appointment: Neil Williams; Andrew Lewin. Others weighing in: Demsoc; Davepress.

Sunday, May 10

Cute animal: Dobry monta signora anziana

Never fails to amuse ...

Support the safe houses project for lgbt people in Iraq

Projects to fund for:
IRAQ: Emergency Shelter, Human Services and Protection For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: The Safe Houses Project

started to establish a network of safe houses inside Iraq in March 2006.

As of today, we have only one safe house, we had to consider closing down three of them in the last couple of months, because we are unable to keep paying the rent and other expenses.

The members of our group inside Iraq urgently need funds to open at least five safe houses. These funds will allow us to keep the five safe houses running, and provide safety, shelter, food and many other needs for our LGBT friends inside Iraq. Any funds we receive that go beyond what we need for these five safe houses could be used to open more safe houses in the near future. We desperately need to add more because we have so many urgent cases in other cities. We receive requests for shelter every day, but we are not able to help yet.

Every safe house has around 200 square meters of living space, but harbours 10 to 12 people, so is very overcrowded. The residents are struggling badly because of the shortages of almost all the basic necessities in Iraq.

  • Rent: We have paid three months rent in advance. The most recent payments were in April. The average rent per safe house per month is $ 600 US Dollar.
  • Security: We paid the salaries of two guards per house, at $ 200 US Dollar per guard per month.
  • Other expenses of each house: We have paid $ 600 a month for EACH HOUSE approximately for natural gas and kerosene for cooking, and for food, fuel for generators which provide the electricity supply.
Urgent priority needs

Our priorities at this stage are: natural gas or kerosene for cooking and heating; fuel for generating electricity; food; mobile phones and calling cards; money for transportation to allow residents some freedom of movement; beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillows; cameras; printers; two computers; house supplies, such as cooking pans, dishes, and flatware; some furniture; clean water for drinking and bathing; soap for washing and bathing, tooth paste, razors and of course housing, guards etc.

Amount needed and how it would be spent (per month):
  • Natural gas or kerosene for cooking and heating - 50 GBP
  • Fuel for generating electricity – $ 300
  • Food - $ 600
  • Mobile phones, calling cards, and internet charges - $ 450 etc.
  • Transportation – $ 250
  • Beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillows – $ 1,300 – onetime payment
  • Cameras – $ 100 – onetime payment
  • Printers – $ 100 - onetime payment
  • Two computers – $ 1,200 - onetime payment
  • Kitchen supplies, such as cooking pans, dishes, and flatware – $ 400 – onetime payment
  • Some furniture – $ 500– onetime payment
  • Clean water for drinking and bathing; $ 250
  • Toiletries (soap for washing and bathing, tooth paste, razors etc.) – $ 150
We also need to pay for medicines for the members of our group, doctors will come and have a home visit monthly for all members their cost is $ 400 US Dollar each month.

Thanks to everyone who has taken mercy on us for this cause to help people stay alive during this trying period.

Pleople can send payments through our paypal account email address:

Or send cheques made payable to 'Iraqi Lgbt' and send to 22 Notting Hill Gate, Unit 111, London W11 3JE , United Kingdom.