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Archive for August, 2010

Vegan Cream Tea

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Who says vegans can't have a traditional English cream tea when they want one?

The Hastings Vegan Dining Club met on August Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon to host our first traditional English Cream Tea!

About 18 vegans got together to feast on scones with whipped cream and jam, scrambled egg and watercress sandwiches, pizza squares, chocolate cake with peanut butter and banana filing, ginger cake, apple tart, flapjacks and much more. You could even pick an iced cup cake from the cup cake tower!

The theme of comfort food continues in September when we get together later this month for a bangers and mash evening. Then, we have a scary Halloween lunch to look forward to in October.

Vegans don’t know how to enjoy themselves?

Don’t you believe it!

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Britain’s Future?

August 25th, 2010 No comments

You know Britain is seriously at risk from a slash-and-burn and shock-and-awe ConDem coalition government when even the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds runs a campaign to protest against spending cuts. As good as the RSPB is it can hardly be characterised as an organisation which you would expect to see at the barricades, is it?

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Modern culture = animal welfare culture, says sociologist Giddens

August 23rd, 2010 No comments

Sociologist Anthony Giddens writes about the Catalan Parliament’s recent ban to outlaw bullfights and the British Government’s recent ban on hunting.

Whilst short-term political manoeuvring is part of any explanation of the timing of such bans, for sociologists there has been a discernible long-term modern trend or social process towards the appreciation and conservation of nature and increasing concern with the welfare of animals. Modern cultures are generally animal welfare cultures. From the sixteenth century onwards, but gathering pace during eighteenth-century industrialization and nineteenth-century urbanization, as more people became less directly involved in working with animals in agriculture, a more detached view of human–animal relations emerged that spread across social groups and classes. With the growth in power of the modern state and its monopolization of the means of violence also came a revulsion at the use of violence against both humans and animals so that previously enjoyable animal ‘sports’ came to be re-classified as just so many instances of intolerable cruelty. Gradually, animals became the subject of increasing moral concern and any social practices which harmed or injured them were called into question. Similarly, the mass slaughter of animals for food had to be hidden out of sight behind the scenes of everyday life. Adopting this long-term perspective helps us to better understand why we remain so much more disturbed by animal cruelty than people were in previous times. But whether that makes us ‘better people’ is an entirely different matter.

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Hastings beach late Friday afternoon

August 23rd, 2010 No comments

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Remembering Tyke

August 20th, 2010 No comments

Remembering Tyke.

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BBC’s In Their Own Words

August 18th, 2010 No comments

Really excellent telly program produced by BBC 4 called “In Their Own Words,” which is, as the Beeb describes it, ‘the story of the British novel in the 20th century told by those who know it best – the authors themselves.’ It’s a three-part series. The first is up now at iPlayer. So, you’ve got to act quickly while it’s still there and, then, keep an eye out for the remaining two parts.

The first episode includes the voice of God (should it be Goddess?): Virginia Woolf. Here, you can listen to the entire talk she gave along with other novelists of not as much importance but, nonetheless, fascinating and relevant to understanding the world in which we live.

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Animal Dharma Podcast 1 “Camberley Kate Ward”

August 16th, 2010 No comments

Camberley Kate Ward

My forthcoming book, Animal Dharma, explores what it means to care deeply about animals and discovers how we can live peacefully with ourselves and others by proposing four key values: truth, compassion, nonviolence and interbeing–the interrelatedness of all.

This is the first in a series of podcasts in which I read out brief extracts from Animal Dharma. The first is called “Camberley Kate Ward.” I recall from my childhood an elderly woman, Camberley Kate Ward, who rescued dogs. Did she plant the seed of compassion into my heart?

Camberley Kate Ward

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Power

August 16th, 2010 No comments

Power: A Radical View by Steven Lukes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, second edition)

Anyone read Power: A Radical View by Steven Lukes? I’m quick reading it. One point stood out, which now seems so obvious, but never occurred to me before: Power is at its most effective when it is invisible. A good case in point is the power of speciesism–the ideology by which humans exert power over other species. Speciesism isn’t discussed by Lukes but I’m enjoying exploring his book nonetheless.

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The Built Environment Makes Us

August 15th, 2010 No comments

Guardian columnist George Monbiot writes about how the “built environment makes us.” I know from my experiences that the place where I am greatly affects the mood I become. I link the version of the article on his Web site because it includes the references. Here’s a quote to inspire you to read it all.

We are, to a surprising extent, what the built environment makes us. Academic papers show that many of the problems we blame on individual behaviour are caused in part by the places in which we live. People are more likely to help their neighbours in quiet areas, for example, than in noisy ones. A long series of studies across several countries, beginning in San Francisco in 1969, shows unequivocally that communities become weaker as the volume of traffic on their streets increases.

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Life in the Old Town in August

August 12th, 2010 Comments off

Not quite Jack Sparrow but more like the drunken fool in Captain Pugwash.

Life in the Old Town is nothing if not interesting. For example, I chronicled over the last few months the growth of a group of five baby Herring gull chicks who I watched from the back of my house. We know one didn’t survive and as the other four have gone I presume they all made it. But we’ll never know for sure. From time to time, a fledged gull will sit on the same roof and an adult gull will be with her. It’s difficult to tell but I assume that’s one of the four with one of their parents. Most of the gulls are fledged now but there’s still the occasional one or two on rooftops around and about. Their unmistakable cry like a squeaky wheel is omnipresent. The babies will be recognisable through to next year because their plumage doesn’t become fully white until after their first birthday. The gulls still kick up a racket all day and night. They’re at their noisiest now but as we approach the autumn their numbers begin to decrease and all the hyper-activity of rearing a family diminishes. So, they quieten down but their cries are part of the audio soundtrack of living in the Old Town. Frankly, I love hearing them and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else now without their banter and chit chat to catch up on daily goings-on.

The Old Town comes into its own three times a year when it’s Jack in the Green in May, the Carnival in August and Bonfire Night in October. These phenomenal events are community driven and organised as well as fundraising events for local charities. Talk about the Big Society! David Cameron would learn a lesson or two from the big-hearted folks who live in the Old Town and its environs.

Anyway, we’ve just had Carnival Week, which is basically a traditional English seaside summer celebration with a busy programme of various activities. One of the highlights this year was the attempt to break the world record of the greatest number of people dressed as pirates in one place. Apparently the record was held by somewhere with an unpronounceable name on the European mainland with some 1,500 people. The good people of Hastings couldn’t have that and smashed the world record with more than 6,000 people dressed as pirates in one place.

Jamie is in the blue shirt. I felt sorry for the young actress who had to pick up and look at with interest a Sainsbury's pork pie at least nine times.

If that wasn’t enough excitement in one lifetime this week telly chef Jamie Oliver was in the Old Town filming an ad for Sainsbury’s, the supermarket company, which recently won an award from Compassion In World Farming for its policy in support of higher welfare systems for broiler (meat) chickens. I believe in acknowledging people like Jamie and company’s like Sainsbury’s when they take steps away from animal cruelty. Sure, I wish Jamie and Sainsbury’s would go vegan; however, they are no indications that this is going to happen in the foreseeable future. So, I believe, we thank them for the steps they’ve taken and encourage them to do more.

Anyway, Jamie and what seemed like a crew and extras (local residents) combined of more than one hundred plus loads of equipment packed into the small garden outside my home to film some of the ad. While trying to work from my home office I periodically went to the front of the house to take photos. My interest in such things is not necessarily the “glamour of show business” which, frankly, leaves me cold, but more to do with observing the organisation and effort that goes into producing a film albeit an ad for the telly. It was equally astonishing and frightening. All that expense for a telly ad?! There’s no telly in our house.  They’re evil machines that keep people stupid. I doubt whether I will ever see the ad, which is fine by me. Nonetheless, the experience was interesting if for no other reason than seeing a film production company behave like a monolith invading and then disappearing as quickly.

A telly series based in Hastings and filmed quite a bit here is Foyle’s War. (Carnival Week includes Foyle’s War Walks.) This is one of those British costume dramas which marry nostalgia and a not-too-challenging plot line. It is based around the character of Christopher Foyle, a Detective Chief Superintendent, and set during and after World War Two. It’s in stark contrast to where I used to live and the detective series filmed there! I’m speaking of Baltimore and Homicide: Life on the Streets. As interesting as it was to watch Jamie et al filming, it was nice to see them leave so that the Old Town and its residents, including the gulls, can have the place back to ourselves.

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