cloudsinvenice: Screencap from an old vampire-hunting video game. It says, "The morning sun has vanquished the horrible night." (Castlevania II: Simon's Quest)
Quiet week post-wise because country slipping (hurtling joyfully, truth be told) into fascism. Always awkward when that happens. Shitposting on my new Tumblr created for the purpose of alternately venting and cheering myself up will continue until morale improves. And we made major headway with the application this week, which has kept us sane.

Meanwhile, I started the annual push to keep The October Country running smoothly for the duration of autumn and particularly October, and as usual Now Winter Comes Slowly is quietly ramping up as well. I'm always fascinated by trying to get under the skin of what works and what doesn't on there - sometimes you can feel like you have your finger on its pulse, other times, it's a mystery why something does or does not appeal.

It's getting me into the Hallowe'en mood, anyway, as is the fact that in the last couple of days I've actually been able to smell that it's autumn, which is no small thing when you're nearly always congested...

Budget 2015

Jul. 8th, 2015 11:30 pm
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (woman thinking (Joseph Kleitsch)
Well, today was the Budget. I've been very lucky today; the changes they're making don't shaft me, though they do a hell of a lot of other people. I've got friends who aren't sure yet how they're going to be affected - we're still trying to clarify, for example, whether contribution-based ESA will behave in the same way as regular ESA under the changes, or whether it'll be eliminated as has previously been discussed. I talked to a lot of friends today and people are variously bemused, scared, despairing - and that's just the disabled people I know.

Maintenance grants for low-income students are being abolished and replaced with loans (because students aren't in enough debt, apparently). And while the Chancellor huffed and puffed a lot about how great the Tories are and how much they value the institutions of the BBC and the NHS, when you read below the lines, they are notably undermining them and still working towards their privatisation. The National Living Wage, meanwhile, is a joke - it'll be lower than the existing minimum wage. Correction: very much to my surprise and pleasure, this is wrong: it will in fact be higher, which just shows the need not to report stuff without checking. Details of this, and further fact-checking of the Budget claims, can be found here: https://fullfact.org/factcheck/economy/budget_summer_2015_osborne_harman-46357

It's not all bad news - Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) mounted a courageous action in which they completely blocked Westminster Bridge and the front of Parliament, ensuring that George Osborne had to be taken to deliver his speech via an underground route. I don't know how well covered this been in the mainstream media, but I urge you to share the YouTube videos wherever you can online - it is so, so psychologically important that people, both disabled and able-bodied, see resistance; that they see ordinary people like them occupying public spaces and communicating our message. Chunkymark, the Artist Taxi Driver, has various bits of footage of DPAC: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGThM-ZZBba1Zl9rU-XeR-A

Something I've been thinking about for the last couple of years is the fact that we're living through history, but history is often recorded in a biased way. We have to make sure that this doesn't happen - yes, we have to fight austerity and prejudice now, but we also need to look to posterity and record our experiences and observations in every way possible. I'm not just talking about the internet - if you've spent long enough online, then you've seen a lot of websites come and go. What I'm saying is, don't leave our cultural repository of these events to any one ephemeral medium or platform. Get the message out every way you can.

Please note that this is a public post. I welcome your comments but wanted to highlight this because I know this affects some of you in very personal ways and I wanted you to be aware in case you are sharing personal details.
cloudsinvenice: woman resting her head on her hand, thinking (semyaza snail)
Reposted from [personal profile] peachpai, with permission. Also, you don't need to be in the US to sign the petition:

Some members of the US House of Reps are trying to cut NSF (and NEH) public funding for archaeology and other social science projects because of some bullshit excuse about relevancy. Please consider signing this official Society for Historical Archaeology petition to tell them to stop this nonsense: https://www.change.org/petitions/us-representatives-eric-cantor-and-lamar-smith-continue-to-support-publicly-funded-archaeological-research-2

There's more info about what's going on at the link, and even more at the SHA blog here. Guys, this is a really big deal. NSF is a huge source of funding for archaeological science and it would be a major blow if we lost it. It's hard enough to get historical archaeology money out of them as it is. NEH is also facing huge cuts, and you can sign another petition by the National Humanities Alliance here.
cloudsinvenice: Tree silhouetted against a twilight sky, with full moon behind it (Twilight tree/moon)
If you're a government body in Northern Ireland,  this question may have a surprising answer.

I had a big, rambly, ranty post about how the Roads Service is destroying a medieval archaeological site of rare extent, preservation and value. About how despite its existence being well documented (mapped since the 19th century! listed! known!), the decision was made to build a road through it to facilitate Fermanagh's hosting of the G8 conference. About how often Northern Ireland's heritage and tourist sectors between them drop the ball at valuing, preserving and promoting the ancient Irish heritage which fascinates the rest of the world. But I'd rather you hear from people with cooler heads, greater eloquence, and expertise in the field of archaeology. To kick off, here's today's news:

"'No-go zone' imposed around Enniskillen crannog" - BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19053339
Staggeringly, archaeologists haven't just had to fight the Roads Service on this - no, they've had opposition from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. You know, the umbrella body which contains the heritage service? And you can read about the social media campaign to preserve the site, along with a fantastic evocation of its archaeological value, here:

Saving Northern Ireland's Noble Bog - Archaeology.org
http://www.archaeology.org/issues/81-1303/trenches/531-northern-ireland-bog-crannog

For a revealing perspective on the deeper problems within Northern Irish commercial archaeology, let's hear from Robert M. Chapple, the archaeologist who got fired for alerting the media and public to this nonsense:

Empire of Dirt: time to call time on commercial archaeology in Northern Ireland?
http://rmchapple.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/empire-of-dirt-time-to-call-time-on.html
He wrote this two weeks ago, and I'd guess his prediction about not being consulted has come true - he certainly wasn't mentioned by name in this morning's Good Morning Ulster coverage of what he rightly calls the crannog fiasco. 

I admire him both for his shedding light on a wretched state of affairs AND the fact that he works in quotes from Conan the Barbarian, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Die Hard and Watchmen. Clearly, he is of our people.

--------------

I know I owe you guys replies to comments on my last post - I'm on the run at the moment, but just had to get the above off my chest...

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