Friday, March 28, 2008


I may not have a vagina or have to deal with the monthly visit from Aunt Flo, but still you cannot tell me that collecting your menstrual blood in a cup lodge in your nether regions is actually better than using soaking it up with a pad or tampon.

The Mooncup is a reusable menstrual cup around two inches long and made from soft silicone rubber. It is worn internally like a tampon but collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing. Unlike tampons the Mooncup is not a disposable product, so you only need to buy one.

The Mooncup will hold 30ml of fluid, which is roughly one third of the average total produced each period. A light seal is formed with your vaginal walls allowing your menstrual fluid to pass into the Mooncup without leakage or odour. You will probably find that you need to empty your Mooncup less frequently than you currently replace towels or tampons.

As a sexual health professional I need to be informed about these things. As a gay man I am grossed out by the thought of women walking around with little cups of menstrual blood sloshing around that that they need to dump and rinse their cups before sticking back in.

For some reason I don't think that women who do go through this are all smiles and giggles during the process.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm a muslim cartoon!

Comic strip heroes take on al Qaeda

By Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - As European authorities grope for ways of combating the appeal of militant Islamism, one German security agency has hit on a novel idea: cartoon comics.

Officials in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) had run a well received comic strip campaign against right-wing extremism in 2004 starring Andi, a schoolboy hero who stands up against xenophobia and racism.

Drawing on that experience, they launched Andi last October into a second adventure featuring his Muslim girlfriend Ayshe and her brother Murat, who comes under the influence of a radical friend and an Islamist "hate preacher".

The comic -- printed in 100,000 copies and distributed to every secondary school in Germany's most populous state -- aims to show young people the difference between peaceful mainstream Islam and the violent, intolerant version peddled by militants.

"We were always careful not to hurt feelings and anger people by painting a caricature of Islam," said Hartwig Moeller, head of the NRW interior ministry's department for protection of the constitution, responsible for intelligence gathering.

"We had to make clear we weren't aiming against Muslims, but only those people who want to misuse Islam for political aims," added Moeller, who despite his intelligence role says 50 to 60 percent of his work is educating the public about threats.

The cartoon, featuring boldly drawn Manga-style figures, is designed to be used in citizenship and religion lessons for schoolchildren aged 12 to 16.

"We have learned from our opponents. This is exactly the age at which the Islamists are trying, through Koranic schools and other means, to fill young people with other values," Moeller told Reuters.


The unusual initiative is one example of how countries around the world are searching for new ways to prevent young people being drawn into Islamist violence.

Many security analysts speak of the need to counter the "narrative" of al Qaeda -- the message that the West is waging war on Islam in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and that young Muslims must fight back, including if necessary by sacrificing themselves as 'martyrs'.

To some youngsters, experts say, al Qaeda offers a sense of identity, belonging and justice -- not to mention adventure and an aura of 'coolness'. The question is how to compete with that allure.

Police and governments in most West European countries have developed outreach programmes to build dialogue with Muslim communities, but some believe a bolder approach is called for.

At a conference this month in Stockholm, Swedish terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp cited the example of Ahmad Dhani, an Indonesian rock star who challenged militant ideology in a massively popular album called "Warriors of Love".

"I'm not suggesting that we need a musical jihad against extremism in Europe, or that we employ MTV in our efforts," Ranstorp said. But he raised the question: "How do we harness humor, soap opera and our tremendous public relations industries in these efforts to disarm the extremists' messages and influence over young people?"


Richard Barrett, a United Nations official who heads a task force studying counter-radicalization and rehabilitation initiatives around the world, said role models such as singers, actors or sport stars could play an important part.

"I think that is something we should be looking at -- trying to identify these alternative influences and have them speak out against terrorism ... Being cool is a very important part of it all," he said.

That is also the approach of the German cartoon strip -- by using a medium that grabs children's imagination, it seeks to get its message across more effectively.

"If you're serious about getting through to young people, you have to choose a style that they'll take in their hands and accept, that's how the comic came about," said Thomas Grumke, the NRW official who thought up the original Andi idea.

"A comic can go much further than a normal text. There's a great deal more room to play with, more room for interpretation."

Muslim reaction to Andi has been mostly positive, albeit with some reservations.

"We found the basic approach was right and good, we only regretted (the authorities) didn't tell us about this initiative in advance, then it could have been made much better," said Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany.

He said the portrayal of the Islamist hate preacher was "a bit overdone", but added: "There are people like that, I can't say there aren't." He said copies of the comic have been distributed in mosques.

Another regional government, Hamburg, is also using the Andi story, and there has been interest from Austria, Denmark, Japan and the United States.

Moeller said he believed the comic -- which cost just 30,000 euros ($47,440) for the artist and the print run -- could help some Muslim youngsters to recognize and resist Islamist recruitment attempts.

"If I get through to someone this way, and it makes him more critical of people who want to make him a jihadist, then I've stopped him at some point committing terrorist attacks or going to a terrorist camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan," he said. "Maybe he won't slide off into this milieu -- that's the idea."

(Editing by Clar Ni Chonghaile)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's Freaking Snowing!

I'm no meteorologist, but is it suppose to snow in London this late into March?

for London, UK
Heavy Snow
Wind: SW at 19 km/h
Humidity: 87%
4°C | 1°C
Mostly Sunny
5°C | 2°C
Mostly Sunny
6°C | 2°C

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring is in the air


It's butt freezing cold in London!!

Weather for London
Light Rain
Wind: N at 13 km/h
Humidity: 81%
Chance of Rain
6°C | 1°C
4°C | 1°C
Mostly Sunny
5°C | 2°C
Mostly Sunny
6°C | 2°C

Where are the blooming flowers!? And the birds singing!? And the sun shining and shite!? :-(

And I have I mentioned the hail we have been pelted with for the past 2 days!? It's SO not cute.

These pics were from our day out today on Blackheath, so not pretty.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

London From the sky

On one of my trips I was able to fly into London City Airport. As the name states its actually within London itself as oppose to the trek one normally takes to Heathrow or Gatwick.

What's really cool about is the view of the city. Sadly in my half dazed, sleep deprived state by the time it occurred to me to take out the camera most of the city had gone by. Yet, I was able to take a couple of decent pics (if I am allowed to compliment myself), they would have been better if the plane had not had skanky windows.

Monday, March 10, 2008

And another thing I hate

When I was living in India I complained about the tightness of men’s trousers and how little they left to the imagination. Now while in the UK I find myself with a new fashion-based rant – What is up with this trend of men having their trousers half way down their asses!?

A significant proportion of men in London are purposefully lowering their trousers to show of their underwear and I truly do not understand why. None of them ever wear cute undies and few of them actually have an ass to show. So what is the freaking point?

It particularly bothers me when I see it in restaurants and other business – That is just unhygenic. And when I see men pull them up just to lower them to the “right” level, ugh!

And as you can see here I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Care Packages Rock!

Alan picked up on my subtle hints craving for Peeps and he was a total doll and sent me like 6 boxes of the sugarcoated darlings. Yey! BUT he also sent me southern treat, a jar of green pepper jelly - which I have not had since my days of living in Tallahassee – it’s piquant flavour bringing back many fond memories. AND he also sent me an incredibly fun Peeps book! For those of you who claim to not even know what Peeps are – they have a whole book, how can they be unknown!?

My deepest appreciation to Alan’s thoughtful generosity.

And peeps make a delicious addition to hot chocolate!
Except it's really sad when they start to melt in and turn into a gooey blob

At the same time my father surprised me by sending me one of my old photo albums - of my first trip to the UK 12 years ago, when I was naïve, young and untraveled. Sweet, sweet memories.

Thank you so much dad for your caring foresight.