28 December 2012

How To Blog Anonymously (and how not to) by Dr Magnanti


         I recently finished reading Little Brother from Cory Doctrow, it was one of those books that you read that mirrors what is happening now and projects a rather worrying trend forward. It shows how much we are slipping towards a surveillance society and, yes, the title is a nod to Big Brother by George Orwell.

Recent news that the FDA in the US is now licencing drones to fly over the USA is somewhat troublesome. Personally I can't wait until some unknown citizen launches their own counter-drone to bring one down.
 This is the text of a post from Dr Brooke Magnanti it has some good tips, there are certainly other things that you can do, such as VPNs / proxies / Tor, or as I do, meet up with people in Second Life.

She is also going to be in the BBC Radio to talk about this very topic starting 13:45 Mon 31 Dec 2012 It should be worth a listen! 

How To Blog Anonymously (and how not to)

Further to yesterday's post, this is a list of thoughts prompted by a request from Linkmachinego on the topic of being an anonymous writer and blogger. Maybe not exactly a how-to (since the outcome is not guaranteed) as a post on things I did, things I should have done, and things I learned.

It's not up to me to decide if you "deserve" to be anonymous. My feeling is, if you're starting out as a writer and do not yet feel comfortable writing under your own name, that is your business and not mine. I also think sex workers should consider starting from a position of anonymity and decide later if they want to be out, please don't be naive. Statistics I made up right now show 99 out of 100 people who claim 'if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' are talking out of their arses.

The items in the list fall into three general categories: internet-based, legal and real-world tips, and interpersonal. Many straddle more than one of these categories. All three are important.

This is written for a general audience because most people who blog now do not have extensive technical knowledge, they just want to write and be read. That's a good thing by the way. If you already know all of this, then great, but many people won't. Don't be sneery about their lack of prior knowledge. Bringing everyone up to speed on the technology is not the goal: clear steps you can use to help protect your identity from being discovered are.

Disclaimer: I'm no longer anonymous so these steps are clearly not airtight. Also there are other sources of information on the Web, some of which are more comprehensive and more current than my advice. I accept no responsibility for any outcome of following this advice. Please don't use it to do illegal or highly sensitive things. Also please don't use pseudonyms to be a dick.
This is also a work in progress. As I remember things or particular details, I'll amend this post. If you have suggestions of things that should be added, let me know.

1. Don't use Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail et al. for your mail.

You will need an email address to do things like register for blog accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and more. This email will have to be something entirely separate from your "real" email addresses. There are a lot of free options out there, but be aware that sending an email from many of them also sends information in the headers that could help identify you.

When I started blogging, I set up an email address for the blog with Hotmail. Don't do this. Someone quickly pointed out the headers revealed where I worked (a very large place with lots of people and even more computers, but still more information than I was comfortable with). They suggested I use Hushmail instead, which I still use. Hushmail has a free option (though the inbox allocation is modest), strips out headers, and worked for me.

A caveat with this: if you are, say, a sex worker working in a place where that is not legal and using Hushmail, you could be vulnerable to them handing over your details to a third party investigating crimes. If you're handling information some governments might consider embarrassing or sensitive, same. Google some alternatives: you're looking for something secure and encrypted.

There are a few common-sense tips you can follow to make it even safer. If you have to bring people you know in real life in on the secret, don't use this email address for communicating with them even if only about matters related to your secret (and don't use your existing addresses for that either). Example: I have one address for press and general interactions, one for things related to my accountant and money, and one for communicating with my agent, publisher, and solicitor. I've also closed and opened new accounts over the years when it seems "too many" people are getting hold of a particular address. Use different passwords for each, don't make these passwords related to your personal information, and so on.

I unwisely left the Hotmail address going, and while I did not use it to send mail, I continued to read things that arrived there. That led to this failed attempt by the Sunday Times to out me. It was an easily dodged attempt but something I would have preferred to avoid.

People can and do register internet domains while staying anonymous but I never did. Some people registered domains for me (people I didn't know in person). This led to a couple of instances of them receiving harassment when the press suspected they were me. In particular Ian Shircore got a bit of unwanted attention this way.

Because all I was ever doing was a straight-up blog, not having a registered domain that I had control over was fine. Your needs may be different. I am not a good source for advice on how to do that. But just in case you might be thinking "who would bother looking there?" read about how faux escort Alexa DiCarlo was unmasked. This is what happens when you don't cover your tracks.

2. Don't use a home internet connection, work internet connection, etc.

Email won't be the only way you might want to communicate with people. You may also want to leave comments on other blogs and so forth. Doing this and other ways of using the Web potentially exposes your IP address, which could be unique and be used to locate you.

Even if you don't leave comments just visiting a site can leave traces behind. Tim Ireland recently used a simple method to confirm his suspicion of who the "Tabloid Troll" twitter account belonged to. By comparing the IP address of someone who clicked on to a link going to the Bloggerheads site with the IP address of an email Dennis Rice sent, a link was made. If you go to the trouble of not using your own connection, also make sure you're not using the same connection for different identities just minutes apart. Don't mix the streams.

The timing of everything as it happened was key to why the papers did not immediately find out who I was. The old blog started in 2003, when most press still had to explain to their audience what a blog actually was. It took a while for people to notice the writing, so the mistakes I made early on (blogging from home and work, using Hotmail) had long been corrected by the time the press became interested.

Today, no writer who aims to stay anonymous should ever assume a grace period like that. It also helped that once the press did become interested, they were so convinced not only that Belle was not really a hooker but also that she was one of their own - a previously published author or even journalist - that they never looked in the right place. If they'd just gone to a London blogmeet and asked a few questions about who had pissed off a lot of people and was fairly promiscuous, they'd have had a plausible shortlist in minutes.

After I moved from Kilburn to Putney, I was no longer using a home internet connection - something I should have done right from the beginning. I started to use internet cafes for posting and other activities as Belle. This offers some security... but be wary of using these places too often if there is a reason to think someone is actively looking for you. It's not perfect.

Also be wary if you are using a laptop or other machine provided by your workplace, or use your own laptop to log in to work servers ("work remotely"). I've not been in that situation and am not in any way an expert on VPNs, but you may want to start reading about it here and do some googling for starters. As a general principle, it's probably wise not to do anything on a work laptop that could get you fired, and don't do anything that could get you fired while also connected to work remotely on your own machine.

3. There is software available that can mask your IP address. There are helpful add-ons that can block tracking software.

I didn't use this when I was anonymous, but if I was starting as an anonymous blogger now, I would download Tor and browse the Web and check email through their tools.

If you do use Tor or other software to mask your IP address, don't then go on tweeting about where your IP address is coming from today! I've seen people do this. Discretion fail.

I also use Ghostery now to block certain tracking scripts from web pages. You will want to look into something similar. Also useful are Adblocker, pop-up blockers, things like that. They are simple to download and use and you might like to use them anyway even if you're not an anonymous blogger. A lot of sites track your movements and you clearly don't want that.

4. Take the usual at-home precautions.

Is your computer password-protected with a password only you know? Do you clear your browser history regularly? Use different passwords for different accounts? Threats to anonymity can come from people close to you. Log out of your blog and email accounts when you're finished using them, every time. Have a secure and remote backup of your writing. Buy a shredder and use it. Standard stuff.

Another thing I would do is install a keystroke logger on your own machine. By doing this I found out in 2004 that someone close to me was spying on me when they were left alone with my computer. In retrospect what I did about it was not the right approach. See also item 7.

5. Be careful what you post.

Are you posting photos? Exif data can tell people, among other things, where and when a picture was taken, what it was taken with, and more. I never had call to use it because I never posted photos or sound, but am told there are loads of tools that can wipe this Exif data from your pictures (here's one).

The content of what you post can be a giveaway as well. Are you linking to people you know in real life? Are you making in-jokes or references to things only a small group of people will know about? Don't do that.

If possible, cover your tracks. Do you have a previous blog under a known name? Are you a contributor to forums where your preferred content and writing style are well-known? Can you edit or delete these things? Good, do that.

Personally, I did not delete everything. Partly this was because the world of British weblogging was so small at the time - a few hundred popular users, maybe a couple thousand people blogging tops? - that I thought the sudden disappearance of my old blog coinciding with the appearance of an unrelated new one might be too much of a coincidence. But I did let the old site go quiet for a bit before deleting it, and edited archived entries.

Keep in mind however that The Wayback Machine means everything you have written on the web that has been indexed still exists. And it's searchable. Someone who already has half an idea where to start looking for you won't have too much trouble finding your writing history. (UPDATE: someone alerted me that it's possible to get your own sites off Wayback by altering the robots.txt file - and even prevent them appearing there in the first place - and to make a formal request for removal using reasons listed here. This does not seem to apply to sites you personally have no control over unless copyright issues are involved.) If you can put one more step between them and you... do it.

6. Resist temptation to let too many people in.

If your writing goes well, people may want to meet you. They could want to buy you drinks, give you free tickets to an opening. Don't say yes. While most people are honest in their intentions, some are not. And even the ones who are may not have taken the security you have to keep your details safe. Remember, no one is as interested in protecting your anonymity as you will be.

Friends and family were almost all unaware of my secret - both the sex work and the writing. Even my best friend (A4 from the books) didn't know. 

I met very few people "as" Belle. There were some who had to meet me: agent, accountant, editor. I never went to the Orion offices until after my identity became known. I met Billie Piper, Lucy Prebble, and a couple of writers during the pre-production of Secret Diary at someone's house, but met almost no one else involved with the show. Paul Duane and Avril MacRory met me and were absolutely discreet. I went to the agent's office a few times but never made an appointment as Belle or in my real name. Most of the staff there had no idea who I was. Of these people who did meet me almost none knew my real name, where I lived, where I was from, my occupation. Only one (the accountant) knew all of that - explained below under point 9. And if I could have gotten away with him never seeing a copy of my passport, I damn well would have done.

The idea was that if people don't know anything they can't inadvertently give it away. I know that all of the people listed above were absolutely trustworthy. I still didn't tell them anything a journalist would have considered useful.

When I started blogging someone once commented that my blog was a "missed opportunity" because it didn't link to an agency website or any way of booking my services. Well, duh. I didn't want clients to meet me through the blog! If you are a sex worker who wants to preserve a level of pseudonymity and link your public profile to your work, Amanda Brooks has the advice you need. Not me.

Other sources like JJ Luna write about how to do things like get and use credit cards not tied to your name and address. I've heard Entropay offer 'virtual' credit cards that are not tied to your credit history, although they can't be used with any system that requires address verification. This could be useful even for people who are not involved in sex work.

Resisting temptation sometimes means turning down something you'd really like to do. The short-term gain of giving up details for a writing prize or some immediate work may not be worth the long-term loss of privacy. I heard about one formerly anonymous blogger who was outed after giving their full name and address to a journalist who asked for it when they entered a competition. File under: how not to stay anonymous.

7. Trust your intuition.

I have to be careful what I say here. In short, my identity became known to a tabloid paper and someone whom I had good reason not to trust (see item 4) gave them a lot of information about me.

When your intuition tells you not to trust someone, LISTEN TO IT. The best security in the world fails if someone props open a door, leaves a letter on the table, or mentally overrides the concern that someone who betrayed you before could do so again. People you don't trust should be ejected from your life firmly and without compromise. A "let them down easy" approach only prolongs any revenge they might carry out and probably makes it worse. The irony is that as a call girl I relied on intuition and having strong personal boundaries all the time... but failed to carry that ability over into my private life. If there is one thing in my life I regret, the failure to act on my intuition is it.

As an aside if you have not read The Gift of Fear already, get it and read it.

See also point 9: if and when you need people to help you keep the secret don't make it people already involved in your private life. Relationships can cloud good judgement in business decisions.

There is a very droll saying "Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead." It's not wrong. I know, I know. Paranoid. Hard not to be when journos a few years later are digging through the rubbish of folks who met you exactly once when you were sixteen. Them's the breaks.

8. Consider the consequences of success.

If you find yourself being offered book deals or similar, think it through. Simply by publishing anonymously you will become a target. Some people assume all anonymous writers "want" to be found, and the media in particular will jump through some very interesting hurdles to "prove" anything they write about you is in the public interest.

In particular, if you are a sex worker, and especially if you are a sex worker who is visible/bookable through your site, please give careful consideration to moving out of that sphere. Even where sex for money is legal it is still a very stigmatised activity. There are a number of people who do not seem to have realised this, and the loss of a career when they left the "sex-pos" bubble was probably something of a shock. I'm not saying don't do it - but please think long and hard about the potential this has to change your life and whether you are fully prepared to be identified this way forever. For every Diablo Cody there are probably dozens of Melissa Petros. For every Melissa Petro there are probably hundreds more people with a sex industry past who get quietly fired and we don't ever hear from them.

If I knew going in to the first book deal what would happen, I probably would have said no. I'm glad I didn't by the way - but realistically, my life was stressful enough at that point and I did not fully understand what publishing would add to that. Not many bloggers had mainstream books at that point (arguably none in the UK) so I didn't have anyone else's experience to rely on. I really had no idea about what was going to happen. The things people wrote about me then were mainly untrue and usually horrendous. Not a lot has changed even now. I'd be lying if I said that didn't have an emotional effect.

Writing anonymously and being outed has happened often enough that people going into it should consider the consequences. I'm not saying don't do it if you risk something, but be honest with yourself about the worst possible outcome and whether you would be okay with that.

9.  Enlist professional help to get paid and sign contracts.

Having decided to write a book, I needed an agent. The irony of being anonymous was that while I let as few people in on it as possible, at some point I was going to have to take a leap of faith and let in more. Mil Millington emailed me to recommend Patrick Walsh, saying he was one of the few people in London who can be trusted. Mil was right.

Patrick put me on to my accountant (who had experience of clients with, shall we say, unusual sources of income). From there we cooked up a plan so that contracts could be signed without my name ever gracing a piece of paper. Asking someone to keep a secret when there's a paper trail sounds like it should be possible but rarely is. Don't kid yourself, there is no such thing as a unbreakable confidentiality agreement. Asking journalists and reviewers to sign one about your book is like waving a red rag to a bull. What we needed was a few buffers between me and the press.

With Patrick and Michael acting as directors, a company was set up - Bizrealm. I was not on the paperwork as a director so my name never went on file with Companies House. Rather, with the others acting as directors, signing necessary paperwork, etc., Patrick held a share in trust for me off of which dividends were drawn and this is how I got paid. I may have got some of these details wrong, by the way - keep in mind, I don't deal with Bizrealm's day-to-day at all.

There are drawbacks to doing things this way: you pay for someone's time, in this case the accountant, to create and administer the company. You can not avoid tax and lots of it. (Granted, drawing dividends is more tax-efficient, but still.) You have to trust a couple of people ABSOLUTELY. I'd underline this a thousand times if I could. Michael for instance is the one person who always knew, and continues to know, everything about my financial and personal affairs. Even Patrick doesn't know everything.

There are benefits though, as well. Because the money stays mainly in the company and is not paid to me, it gets eked out over time, making tax bills manageable, investment more constant, and keeping me from the temptation to go mad and spend it.

I can't stress enough that you might trust your friends and family to the ends of the earth, but they should not be the people who do this for you. Firstly, because they can be traced to you (they know you in a non-professional way). Secondly, because this is a very stressful setup and you need the people handling it to be on the ball. As great as friends and family are that is probably not the kind of stress you want to add to your relationship. I have heard far too many stories of sex workers and others being betrayed by ex-partners who knew the details of their business dealings to ever think that's a good idea.

So how do you know you can trust these people? We've all heard stories of musicians and other artists getting ripped off by management, right? All I can say is instinct. It would not have been in Patrick's interest to grass me, since as my agent he took a portion of my earnings anyway, and therefore had financial as well as personal interest in protecting that. If he betrayed me he would also have suffered a loss of reputation that potentially outweighed any gain. Also, as most people who know him will agree, he's a really nice and sane human being. Same with Michael.

If this setup sounds weirdly paranoid, let me assure you that journalists absolutely did go to Michael's office and ask to see the Bizrealm paperwork, and Patrick absolutely did have people going through his bins, trying to infiltrate his office as interns, and so on. Without the protection of being a silent partner in the company those attempts to uncover me might have worked.

I communicate with some writers and would-be writers who do not seem to have agents. If you are serious about writing, and if you are serious about staying anonymous, get an agent. Shop around, follow your instinct, and make sure it's someone you can trust. Don't be afraid to dump an agent, lawyer, or anyone else if you don't trust them utterly. They're professionals and shouldn't take it personally.

10. Don't break the (tax) law.

Journalists being interested in your identity is one thing. What you really don't want is the police or worse, the tax man, after you. Pay your taxes and try not to break the law if it can be helped. If you're a sex worker blogging about it, get an accountant who has worked with sex workers before - this is applicable even if you live somewhere sex work is not strictly legal. Remember, Al Capone went down for tax evasion. Don't be like Al. If you are a non-sex-work blogger who is earning money from clickthroughs and affiliates on your site, declare this income.

In summer 2010 the HMRC started a serious fraud investigation of me. It has been almost two years and is only just wrapping up, with the Revenue finally satisfied that not only did I declare (and possibly overdeclare) my income as a call girl, but that there were no other sources of income hidden from them. They have turned my life and financial history upside down to discover next to nothing new about me. This has been an expensive and tedious process. I can't even imagine what it would have been like had I not filed the relevant forms, paid the appropriate taxes, and most of all had an accountant to deal with them!

Bottom line, you may be smart - I'm pretty good with numbers myself - but people whose job it is to know about tax law, negotiating contracts, and so on will be better at that than you are. Let them do it. They are worth every penny.

11. Do interviews with care.

Early interviews were all conducted one of two ways: over email (encrypted) or over an IRC chatroom from an anonymising server (I used xs4all). This was not ideal from their point of view, and I had to coach a lot of people in IRC which most of them had never heard of. But again, it's worth it, since no one in the press will be as interested in protecting your identity as you are. I hope it goes without saying, don't give out your phone number.

12. Know when les jeux sont faits.

In November 2009 - 6 years after I first started blogging anonymously - my identity was revealed.

As has been documented elsewhere, I had a few heads-ups that something was coming, that it was not going to be nice, and that it was not going to go away. We did what we could to put off the inevitable but it became clear I only had one of two choices: let the Mail on Sunday have first crack at running their sordid little tales, or pre-empt them.

While going to the Sunday Times - the same paper that had forcibly outed Zoe Margolis a few years earlier, tried to get my details through that old Hotmail address, and incorrectly fingered Sarah Champion as me - was perhaps not the most sensitive choice, it was for me the right move. Patrick recommended that we contact an interviewer who had not been a Belle-believer: if things were going to be hard, best get that out of the way up front.
So that is that. It's a bit odd how quickly things have changed. When I started blogging I little imagined I would be writing books, much less something like this. Being a kind of elder statesman of blogging (or cantankerous old grump if you prefer) is not an entirely comfortable position and one that is still new to me. But it is also interesting to note how little has changed: things that worked in the early 2000s have value today. The field expanded rapidly but the technology has not yet changed all that much.

As before, these ideas do not constitute a foolproof way to protect your identity. All writers - whether writing under their own names or not - should be aware of the risks they may incur by hitting 'publish'. I hope this post at least goes some way to making people think about how they might be identified, and starts them on a path of taking necessary (and in many cases straightforward) precautions, should they choose to be anonymous.


Thanks Dr Magnanti.

Here are some hints from the EFA on defensive technology

You might also like this from Wikipedia about anonymous blogging

And how some bloggers have been caught 

 If you have the attention of a reasonably competent state agency, then it will probably only be a short time before you are found out.

“If you wish another to keep your secret, first keep it to yourself.”--Seneca

26 December 2012

Mensink inspired Comic (NSFW)

One of my favorite artists is Franz Mensink, he does that erotic artwork that just looks so amazingly real.

 It was this image that gave me the inspiration for the following comic:-

Some of the commissions I have had from Deviant Art, have been absolutely fantastic, and some..well...not exactly what I had expected...

"Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed." William Blake

25 December 2012

Single Frame Stories week 21 (no week 20) "Time"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday (or Sunday) we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Time" 

Last week or two ago it was "Black and White", you can see the entries here:

Ok, so this week I have used a big frame, and I'm cheating a bit.  I was motivated by the death of a dear friend, someone who will be severely missed by those who knew him.

“Time is what we want most,but what we use worst.”  ― William Penn

21 December 2012

Are we still here? Did the doomsayers get it right?

Are we still here?

Just to be sure I wore the Red Shirt Dress, just as Gene Roddenberry would have wanted. 

“We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing, all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” ― Gene Roddenberry

18 December 2012

Happy Newtonmas 2013

Merry Christmas or Solstice, Newtonmas or whatever.

December 25th in the old Calender was the date of birth on Issac Newton, seems as good as anything to celebrate on the Winter Solstice.

I'm sure Spitfire will be fine...that apple was a bit mushy

All the best of luck for 2013, I think we are going to need all the luck we can get from now on. 

"To me there has never been a higher source of earthly honor or distinction than that connected with advances in science." - Isaac Newton

13 December 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 19 "Black and White"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday (or Sunday) we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Black and White" 

Last week it was "Secret", you can see the entries here

This was taken in the 1920s Berlin sim, back in a time when photography was only black and white. So I'm wearing a typical "Flapper" outfit typical of the times. 

I have the first of the Phryne Fisher books Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood on my table to read, I suspect that was some sort of subconscious influence on my choice of picture this week.

I'm all covered up for a change, much to Whiskey Days surprise I'm sure.

"Wir wollen, dass Berlin reicher wird und sexy bleibt." (“We want Berlin to become richer and stay sexy.”) - Klaus Wowereit,

11 December 2012

Comic Mayan Apocalypse 2012

      I think this is about the 14th end of the world I have been through, but then again I knew some weird people when I was young, and every one or two years there would be some warning of world wide disaster, or the end of the world was nigh.

Usually it was foretold by astrological means, or some channeller, or even via Nostradamus.  The year 2000 was a good one for when Jesus was supposed to return (he didn't), when the planets lined up (they weren't), or some other made up new age rubbish.  Most people would never have heard of these events as they usually circulated in various new age writings only.

Here we go again. Now it's the completion of the Mayan long count 13th b'ak'tun.

Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and yes there have been a few extinctions caused by meteor strikes, volcanism and the odd Ice Age. Millennial cults abound, and silly apocalypse theology is everywhere. I used to think this was the Bible's fault via Revelation, but recently I have been suspecting  it's just a reflection of a deeper issue in the human mind. This sometimes manifests in the recent extreme cases like Heaven Gate and Order of the Solar Temple .
In the recent past the Millerites were founded in the belief the end of the world was coming (still didn't happen), this was called the Great Disappointment.

 Is it likely that the world will end on the 21 of December 22? Seeing that the Earth has been here for nearly 4.5Billion years old. No, but then you have to remember the logic behind most of these disasters theories is they are supernatural events, so there is way they can be disproved.

But!! I have found notes from my dear cousin, the famous explorer Dr Victoria Smith. I have edited them to reproduce a slightly more accurate series of events to her notes, on how she lost the second Mayan calender tablet to looters on site.

I have put her notes under her pictures. (with some comments from me)
(She really should  get a better lock on her door, filing cabinet, and secure box)

Its little known that Dr Victoria Smith discovered the original Mayan calendar after she spent much time searching for it in the jungles of South America.

She writes:-

1) I arrived in good time, and I decided to travel light, as I wanted to move fast. I had my target, and the only beings to see me, were the monkeys.
2)The jungle is wonderful place once you get to know it, the deep green foliage, and the way the sun peeks through the canopy. The canoe was able to take me to almost the exact spot I wanted to go. After 4 days travel I was almost there.


1) I left my canoe after some days of paddling down the river. A days walk and a small hill climb and I should be there.
2) There are good reasons to come in by boat, airplanes quite often don't fair very well. Landings can be a little rough, they never found the crew and passengers. The fog and the cloud..very deceptive and sudden.

1) Still, there are the odd animal trails, and water run offs that make it easier to walk though the jungle.
2)Hopefully no flash floods will come though, hopefully I am alone here.

1) Climbing above the tree line I was able to see the water falls and the extent of the foliage, while wondering what else there was to be discovered under the greenery.
2) Just about had enough of this climbing..how long until I get to the top?

1) Why are there always rope bridges? WHY? WHY? WHY?
2) Don't ever look down!
3) Just pretend your walking on the cracks in the footpath, make it no big deal, then it will be  just like walking across the street.
     *Editors Notes* Looks like Victoria meant walking home from the Pub

1) always carry extra knickers in the Jungle..always helpful, I did mention it was a long way down, didn't I?
2) Phewww  Glad that's over
3) Damn, Looters are here!
                     Ed Notes ( Looters = People with out a Ph.d taking things)

1) Don't see them anywhere, maybe they drunk to much and fell off the edge.
        Ed notes (I hope you left those bottles alone Victoria)
2) Searching for an entrance to the internal structures, They're certainly built well.
3)  Not keen on going back with a great big stone tablet across that bridge

1) See me? See how big the Mayans could build, amazing.
Ed notes I bet the planning permission to get an extension was a nightmare
2) I had pretty much given up, when I noticed a great big hole in the roof of one of the sub temples (Note to self) Get new glasses
3)Now  to carefully climb down.

1) When I regained consciousness after I fell my eyes adjusted to the dark I could see I hit the jackpot!

Ed Notes The plaque is of K'inich Janaab' Pakal (March 603 – August 683) believed by some to have been the ruler at the time the carving of the calender that is the cause of the current apocalyptic idiocy. If you have ever read any Von Dankin, then you would have seen the lid of his coffin as being so called proof of ancient astronauts.
2) Now to get this damn thing out of here
3) Carefully wrapping it for transport with the rope from my bag.
  Ed Notes I sometime get the feeling Victoria didn't pay much attention in Archeology class on caring for your finds

Ed Notes We seem to be missing the pictures on how she smashed her way into the stormwater run off tunnels

 1) Getting sick dragging the damn thing thought the storm water drains under the temples, in's it carefully packaged state. Tunnels are full of dirt, rats and snakes. At least there are no spiders!
2) I could just roll the thing, what could go wrong?  Ed Notes I suspect lots of things
3) Oh dear, it's rolling quite fast! hey! Damn...

 1) SHIT!! Spiders!! Get it off! aarggghhhh!!!! YUK.....webs everywhere..  Ed Notes OMG!
2) Glad I'm out of there finally..bugger where has it gone?  

1) Where has it gone? Where? Where did it go? 
2) OH GOD! Nooooooooo   Umm Damn Looters! Yeah, the looters stole it from me! Bastards!

Ed Notes So, it looks like the calendar was smashed to bits after falling from a height of 12 or so stories. Good one Vic, no wonder you had your notes locked away! 
Don't Panic then everyone, the calendar just rolls over, nothing to see here.

Tateru Nino wrote on the 11/1/2012 how often the End of The World has occurred for her. Still relevant and better written than me.

For the run down on 2012 wackiness

General info on Apocalypticism

Check how much time is left until the Mayan Apocalypse? check here here

Religious prophecies failed again? Don't they all ?

 "I say we all wear red shirts on December 21, 2012. So at least if we die, we die as Mr. Gene Roddenberry intended." - Via Twitter

03 December 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 18 "Secret"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday (or Sunday) we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Secret"

Thanks to Shyntae Demonista  for the inspiration for this week SFS. I mean with this absolutely gorgeous picture here  Also please don't infer anything about her sex life in regard to supernatural beings.

“Some secrets are better left at that -as secrets.” ― Candace Bushnell

30 November 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 17 "Easy"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday (or Sunday) we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Easy"

I get a letter:-

Dear Shockwave, 
Please take this ring to Mordor, as I've twisted my ankle. 
It should be easy.
PS It's perfectly safe
PPS Take a sword.

 “There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

24 November 2012

Holy Redundant Rebooted


The Holy Redundant Campaign has kicked off again due to the recent vote by the Church of England over the ordination of woman bishops.eg In case you hadn't heard they said "No Thanks".

This of course was big news, it also highlighted that the Church has reserved seats in the House of Lords, and these seats an now confirmed as men only.

 Could this happen in any other first world country?  Don't think so.  Past time for the Lords Spiritual to go.

There is a new petition to remove the Bishops from the Lords

You can also email your local MP from the Holy Redundant website. Personally I think it's better to not to send an email from a website, but to use the same arguments and sent it personally. 

My Lords temporal, today is the day to rise up against the regiment of Lords spiritual and proclaim the values of enlightenment, compassion and common sense. Polly Toynbee

17 November 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 16 "Humility"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Humility"

I'm a small speck of dust, in the infinity of the Universe.

This is a part of the Hubble Space Telescopes "Deep Field". The entire picture shows over 3000 Galaxies, do you think that's a lot? It isn't, not even close..

I'm an atheist, quite often we (as a group) are called arrogant, usually by those who believe they have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. We usually say prove it. That's it..you have a GOD....The Creator of the Entire Universe on your side, your best friend forever, and we just ask for proof

The universe is 13 billion years old, 83 Billion light years across, it contains at least 2000 galaxies for each human being alive right now. Each galaxy containing billion and billions of stars, and this was created just for Christians to look at.

Think about it....your god..created all this just for YOU! 

I think that's just silly,  especially for a god who is only capable of appearing in a piece toast on occasion .

We are born, we live, and we die, game over, sorry.

I used to believe in reincarnation, karma, spirit guides, and the collective unconscious, but I never found any good evidence for it. The more I learn, the more I see how good humans are at fooling themselves.

Indeed, this is what our conscious mind does best, the best book I read on this is from Prof Bruce Hood, the Self Illusion . Our sense of our self, is just part of the processing of our minds, strange how it works, but the delusion is so complete, most people will do anything to avoid this realization, indeed I suspect we are built this way.

So we are over intelligent risen apes, that know to much, die far to young, and we should be using our time to build a better world for ourselves and our descendants. Too many people on this planet are obsessed with the immortality fable, and this may be the reason we will go extinct.

  (I also can't believe I hit the publish button 3 days early  :-(  )

“No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday. ” - Alexander Pope

14 November 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 15 "Critique"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Critique"

At the Gallery I asked "What do you think of my artwork?" and "What future do you think I have in art?"  They were quite a tough crowd.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle

08 November 2012

NSW Police allege Catholic Church cover up child abuse

Australian TV station the ABC has Current affairs show called Lateline, and tonight Lateline has a story  (internationally viewable) on NSW Detective Peter Fox and his battles with the Catholic church. Also his call for a Royal Commission to do a wide ranging investigation of the Church.

From the Transcript :-

PETER FOX, NSW POLICE (Sept. 2012): I've been on the police force for 34 years. I'm not a kid that just joined yesterday. I've been involved in investigating the clergy for about 20 of those. There are very good reasons, let me tell you, that we need a Royal Commission.

SUZANNE SMITH: To understand the enormity of the abuse in this one small area of NSW, you need only to look at the statistics for the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese:

Newcastle-Maitland has 400 known victims of child sexual abuse by clergy.

11 clergy have been charged and convicted since 1995.

Six catholic teachers have been convicted.

Three priests on trial at the moment.

For the first time ever a priest was charged this year with concealing the crimes of another.

12 priests involved in substantial compensation claims.

And, it had the highest known compensation payout to a victim, the amount of $3 million.

And today, two police strike forces are investigating whether Church officials were involved in covering up crimes.

Not all the clergy are fully cooperating with police

Explosive stuff...

Didn't we see the exact same issues with the Catholic Church in Victoria a month or so ago?

 He has also written an open letter to the State Premier Barry O'Farrell to highlight the problems the police are facing.

Don't forget, it was this current Pope that decided that Child abuse investigations are to be kept inside the church. You can read the 2001 letter here

EDIT 9/11/2012

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell on Friday announced a special commission of inquiry into police investigations of alleged paedophile priests in the Hunter region.

Not good enough...we need an investigation into the Catholic Church on an Australia wide basis.

The Vatican, and its vast network of dioceses, has in the past decade alone been forced to admit complicity in a huge racket of child rape and child torture, mainly but by no means exclusively homosexual, in which known pederasts and sadists were shielded from the law and reassigned to parishes where the pickings of the innocent and defenseless were often richer. In Ireland alone — once an unquestioning disciple of Holy Mother Church — it is now estimated that the unmolested children of religious schools were probably the minority. -Hitchens

07 November 2012

Say goodbye to UK NHS

Britain has had a universal healthcare system since 1948, and whatever  faults it has, it serves most of the people well enough.

It's now on the verge of being privatised, you know... Americanised..and we know how well that works. If you have ever taken a trip to the USA you will probably notice that you have to pay much extra for health Insurance. 

For a run down of how this has happened I suggest reading this blogpost by Marcus Chown. Then to keep up with what is happening on a daily basis Eoin Clarke has it covered.

Recently Channel 4 did an in depth investigation on the sell off of the NHS, and this can be watched if your in the UK here

How could this happen you ask, could there be some sort of conflict of interest with sitting members in the Government? Funny you ask that. Seems lots have some sort of interest in Heath Care. Social Investigations have a story on that as well.

More blatant corruption...unbelievable.

  "This underlines what the government is actually about, it's nothing at all to do with restoring the economy, it's about smashing the public sector..." John Lister

06 November 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 14 "A Shot in the Dark"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "A Shot in the Dark"... I think A Shop in the Dark would be so much easier... 

I shot my heart into the dark, I didn't need it any more, I was told it landed in a park, somewhere over in Gor.

“When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.”  ― Ursula K. Le Guin

02 November 2012

Comic: Capital City Darkness

Unfortunately, It's a bit late for Halloween, and too many of the pictures are a bit dark  :-(  I was trying to add a bit of drama with the camera angles.... hmmmm.


 Everyone's quick to blame the alien. - Aeschylus

30 October 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 13 "simple"

Single Frame Stories, is telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Simple" 

 My Doctor asked if there was anything much going on in my mind.

Yes, I've been trepanned. That's quite an interesting experience, especially for my brain surgeon, who saw my thoughts flying around in my brain. - Keith Richards

24 October 2012

Single Frame Stories Week 12 "Genius"

Single Frame Stories, telling a story in a single frame.

Each Saturday we’ll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.

This week, the prompt is "Genius"

In ancient Roman religion, the genius was the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing - Wikipedia 

Picture taken at Bentham Forest at Elven Mist 

genio huius loci (to the genius of this place) - Roman saying

19 October 2012

Deviant Art from late 2012 slightly NSFW

Here is my latest batch of Commissions mostly from Deviant Art. (except the first one)

FYI the Boob pictures are down the bottom if you feel the need to scroll right down.

                                This picture was done by the marvelous Strawberry Singh

 As done by xoxkari

As done by erunei

As done by xzeosoulx

As done be Forunth, it's actually an ACEO, a tiny card 2,5x3,5inch

This is the wonderfully talented Whiskey Monday as done by nojitsu

Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid. Actually, it's quite the opposite: a woman having large breasts makes men stupid. Rita Rudner