Thursday, 29 April 2010

Gordon Brown's blooper may be dead but won't lie down...

I must start with the proviso that I am not a fan of Gordon Brown. Neither am I a fan of David Cameron or Nick Clegg. My sympathies lie with direct rather than representative democracy. I still hold some hope for a world without such people as prime ministers. That said, I still don't see what the fuss is about on the 'bigoted woman' issue.

My colleague Steve has this to say:
"Consider for a moment the situation. A hugely motivated individual whose every waking hour over the last months has been devoted to sucking up to people whose ill-formed views will decide his fate finally comes face-to-face with the beast. Actually she isn’t being especially unreasonable, but he cannot say he disagrees with some of her views for it’s her vote he needs. Instead he must smile, nod like an idiot and quietly die inside. No wonder he explodes in private. You don’t have to be psychologically flawed to do that, just a normal human being." (link)

He and I do not always agree. On this occasion, however, I couldn't agree more. Well, except that I think the person in question was being rather unreasonable, and GB is a more restrained specimin of humanity than me for not responding in a less polite fashion to the question of where Eastern Europeans come from. (er check a globe dear...)

Leaving aside Mrs Duffy's views for a minute, which of us haven't made some ill-judged comment to what we think is an appropriate audience, in the knowledge that we would be just as mortified as Brown claims to be should the wrong person hear? I'm not saying that the incident makes me more inclined to vote for Brown, go to the pub with him, even be particularly nice about him in another context. It does make me see him as more of a normal person, with actual feelings. I can't be the only one who thinks that, surely?

One thing I will criticise him for is his and his party's approach to immigration. I believe that Labour already panders excessively to the likes of Mrs Duffy and worse. Taking votes away from the BNP is a noble cause, but doing so by imitating them is less great. We already have too many spurious deportations, too much racism in the system, crappy conditions in detention centres, I could go on all night. Were any of the party leaders to challenge this state of affairs I would feel far less ambivalent about voting next week...

Monday, 15 March 2010

'Green authoritarianism'

I alluded early in this blog's life to the debates within the Camp for Climate Action and some potential implications for horizontal politics. One debate I didn't discuss in that post, but which is very much at the heart of the controversy, is the issue of 'green authoritarianism' - a concept that, depending on the political outlook of the person using it, spans a continuum of meanings from any state interference regarding environmental impact to a full-scale system in which liberties are severely curtailed for environmental reasons. (The specific issues being objected to by those in the CCA who adhere to the original horizontal principles are 'green' taxation of various sorts and state-enforced population control.)

Anyway, today I heard someone - a very good friend with a talent for playing devil's advocate, not that this alters what she actually said - come very close to advocating the latter end of the continuum in a question to a visiting speaker, her rationale being that this is the only way people are going to be significantly moved to change their environmental impact. Now, granted, if you are not taking an intrinsically horizontal or anarchist standpoint and your main concern is preventing environmental damage, this may seem like a tempting solution to the issues Mathew raises at Election 2010: specifically that, while people claim to desire a reduction in environmental damage, they are less keen to personally bear the costs of doing so. However, just off the top of my head, I can think of a few counter-arguments:

  • Making something government policy doesn't change people's attitudes towards it, except maybe making them resentful. Hence, people will be busy looking for polluting loopholes rather than considering whether their behaviours are unsustainable.
  • Some aspects of environmentally damaging behaviour can be policed fairly easily, but how far can this go? You can certainly monitor how much recycling a household generates compared to landfill, or their use of a car, but it is harder to keep tabs on whether people switch their lights off, unplug phone chargers and so on without severely infringing civil liberties.
  • Moratoriums on certain products are possible, but who's to say it won't just lead to a thriving black market in those products and an increase in their desirability? Yes, even toxic cleaning crap, if people still believe that the wretched stuff is the best product for the job and either don't care about or think efficacy outweighs the damage to the waterways.
  • Giving the state that much power over people's everyday lives has a destructive potential all of its own. It mandates the government to intervene in an unprecedented range of areas, which is liable to spread.
  • Who decides what is an environmentally necessary law? Can governments be trusted not to have any hidden agendas? I'd be especially concerned about population control here...

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Working on

Thesis chapter 4 - Culture

Ideological cores under pressure

Reading (work)

Murray Bookchin - Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism

More Bourdieu than I ever wanted to! But also James C Scott Domination and the Arts of Resistance and Weapons of the Weak plus Bakhtin Rabelais and his World which are pretty interesting.

Reading (not work)

Meg Cabot - Size 14 is Not Fat Either

Val McDermid - A Fever of the Bone

Listening regularly to

Big Country

The Tea Party

Blackmore's Night

The 'Currently' page linked to at the top of the blog gets changed as regularly as I can be bothered, which is usually once a week. I've decided to post archives on here for anyone who is weird enough to really want to know...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

On the latest BNP business

I've been a lazy-arse blogger lately, so I'm sure I'm not breaking the news to anyone that BNP members are not to be banned from teaching in schools. I have to admit to being a bit conflicted about this. I hate the BNP, but in general also hate the idea that someone could lose their job because of their beliefs, especially if they are generally quiet about those beliefs. To give an example, I honestly don't believe that Simone Clarke should be chucked out of any given ballet production due to her BNP membership. Boycott her performances, sure, maybe picket outside because any opportunity to get the anti-fascist message out is good, and if the ballet company want shot of her because she's bringing them adverse publicity I will have no sympathy for her, but it isn't like she's getting much of a chance to preach racist crap from the stage.

A school, however, is a very different scenario. Teachers can exert a whole lot of influence on young people. And BNP members are not known for keeping their gobs shut about their beliefs. Even if they do, there's the deeper issue of merely holding a racist attitude in a classroom - if a teacher objects, even without speaking these objections out loud, to the presence of black, Asian, or any immigrant children in a class or to friendships (or more than that, if we're talking high school) between children of different races, it is far from impossible that the children will pick up on the bad vibes anyway.

I hope John Dunford is right when he claims that 'Teacher racism is rare', but to be honest any racist incident in a school classroom is unacceptable, even between the children themselves, and especially if instigated by the teacher. And, as above, there's the question of attitude and unspoken racism and the effect that could have.

Oh, and there's also the small matter of giving the BNP respectibility, which while a bit of a side issue in this case is certainly never a good thing...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

I was going to say 'light relief', but, well...

If you're ever at a loose end and feel that a few more euphemisms for rude acts would fill the empty hours when you aren't actually committing rude acts (or eating, sleeping, working or otherwise doing anything constructive), then The Always Amusing Euphemism Generator is probably the site for you! Of course I am only using it because I am too tired to think up my own dirty phrases - normally I could do a whole lot better...

Teaching update

Today's seminar topic was in my opinion the most interesting I've had so far on this module, so if I'm ever going to blog about it this is the moment to do so! Attendance today was really crap due to essay deadlines and various illnesses doing the rounds, but the brave souls who made it in managed to pull off some good discussions. To put it in context, we've had a series of lectures on the main EU institutions (council, commission, parliament) and one on the democratic deficit, and it was the last topic the module convenor had asked us to focus on in seminars. The essay questions attached to this class were on the democratic deficit and the role of the European Parliament in representing European citizens. The content varied a bit between the two groups, but a general outline was as follows:

Both: open with a brief discussion of what democracy is, the different types of democracy and where they are relevant in the context of the EU (representative democracy in Parliament, direct democracy with referenda), and the different conceptions of representation that have been put forwards. (Here it helps that I know their political theory module inside out!)
Both: get onto the democratic deficit, what it is (the reading offers several definitions and relevant factors), and the relevance to the countries the students adopted in their first seminar.
Group B: segue into talking about the European Parliament essay, with some general essay-writing talk
Group A: discussion of whether the EU was democratic
Group B: position game, meaning people stand in a line taking positions on a controversial question - in this instance whether the EU is democratic. (for various reasons I didn't use this with group A)
Both: Quick bit of groupwork dealing with what a Euro-democracy (phrase nicked from the core reading) might look like, whether it is possible, whether we should bother
Both: end with a discussion of how the democratic deficit essay question might be tackled. I've been trying to have a bit of essay drill wherever possible - it gives me a chance to instill the basic knowledge without taking time away from the topics, and them a chance to ask general questions at every point in the term.
Both: five minutes or so at the end for general questions the students may have about the module and any announcements I have - in this case that the homework for their next class is to find a relevant news clipping, and the fact that I'm going to be sending some of them a survey on the seminar experience. (I will be picking a certain number of names at random, but also happy to have volunteers if anyone feels strongly enough!)

The discussion was pretty calm and relaxed, I think I've cracked the optimum seating arrangements in each room (in one room we push two or three rows of desks together to make a big table, in another we push the tables aside and get the chairs in a circle), and there was less resistance than I thought to not having individual handouts this time. (the department is trying to discourage tutors from using these, so I've been trying to reevaluate when they are necessary)

In other news, I FINALLY have heating and hot tap water in my flat, so tonight I'm going to have my first bath of the semester! It feels like some insane luxury to be able to heat the whole place at once and not have to plan in advance which room I want to work or eat in...

Sunday, 21 February 2010


This from David: "The information commissioner's office has served the labour party with an enforcement notice, after an investigation revealed that they had used automated marketing phone messages to contact people without their consent." I can't help but wonder if the nature of politcal campaigning today makes robots the best canvassers - after all, unlike humans, they can be easily programmed to stay 'on-message' (pun totally intended) and not embarass the party leadership by letting slip anything untoward such as doubts regarding certain wars.

Maybe the next big thing will be the Stepford MP:

Orwell clearly lives...

Courtesy of my friend Aaron, who I'm not sure wants his blog linked to so I won't, comes this story of a US school district giving each student a laptop to help with their homework. What, you may ask, is wrong with that? Well, the kicker is that each computer had a webcam. So far so normal in newer computers - even I have one, although have so far resisted the temptation to do any real camwhoring on this blog for some reason. These webcams, however, were fixed to be constantly on and streaming images back to the school district. This was discovered when a boy was called into the principals office and bollocked for 'inappropriate behaviour at home', which apparently entailed eating sweets that could - to the uninitiated (and dare I say it paranoid) on a crappy webcam connection - be mistaken for certain illegal or prescription-only substances. Now, fair enough, schools have always had some level of monitoring on pupils' behaviour outside, but until now that has been limited to extreme cases or actions in public in school uniform. Aaron raises the issue of what would happen if a child was caught on camera changing clothes or masturbating, and this is a valid point - does anyone consistently remember to shut the computer off while changing their top? Personally I leave mine to boot up while dressing in the morning on a weekday. (with the webcam switched to OFF as the default) If the boy had been wanking, would he have been called in over that? What if there was some healthy eating kick that meant eating sweets at home could qualify as a real offence? I can't see any redeeming features with this idea.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Pain and death!

Since Ben has hat-tipped me on this, it would be remiss of me not to end my blogging hibernation to post about it! The general idea, for the link-phobic, is that someone has decided that genetically manipulating animals to feel pain might be the solution to the omnivore's dilemma.

Now, from the most basic animal welfare position - by the way, a pretty good rundown of the 'rights' and 'welfare' arguments can be found here - this sounds like a pretty appealing idea. If your vegetarianism is purely based on the idea that animals feel physical pain while being slaughtered or through less-than-great farming methods, then by this rationale you could technically eat meat from animals who did not feel pain.

However, even from the welfare position I can see a few problems with the idea. Firstly, is the no-pain thing supposed to rule out the need to do away with some of the crueller farming practices that exist today? Is the abuse that often occurs at the time of slaughter - either delibarate or incidental to proceedings - more acceptable if animals are not feeling pain? In other words, I would be concerned at the potential for this development to turn the clock back in terms of the improvements in welfare that have been achieved over the past decade or so, and act as an argument against any that might be proposed in the future. Secondly, the focus is very much on physical pain, implying that this is the only problem. No suggestion is made to breed animals who don't feel boredom, loneliness, fear, frustration with confined conditions, sadness at having their young taken away, distress at seing other creatures killed - all of which should be taken into account as much as actual pain when discussing animal welfare.

On a related note, I can guarantee that research into this 'solution' will require large numbers of animal experiments - surely something welfarists, even those who are not ultimately opposed to all animal experimentation in principle, wouldn't be lining up to applaud?

Then, of course, there is the animal rights position. This is somewhat different from the welfare argument - and closer to my own beliefs on the subject in many ways - and takes the line that humans have no right to use animals for our own ends and should cease to do so. The issue is not merely that animals feel pain - although this can be considered as a possible baseline to seperate animals from plants - but that they are beings in their own right rather than tools for human use. According to this line of argument, scientific interference with a farmed species for the sake of making it easier to justify the exploitation of said species not only misses the point but can be said to make the situation worse by introducing a new level of exploitation. (The first step to breeding an animal who wants to be eaten?)

What aggravates me is the level of effort that seems to be put into scientific developments to make it apparently more justifiable to eat animal tissue. The lab-grown meat I can to an extent cope with - it involves a limited number of animal cells, at least at first, but were it to take off it would reduce the numbers of animals slaughtered; on the other hand it has the potential to create the same level of ecological disaster as the current meat industry is managing as we speak. This development is more ambitious, and involves a greater number of live animals, hence I have more intrinsic objections to it. But I wonder, really, why people spend so much time and energy attempting to make it more ethical to eat meat, up to and including trying to get around basic issues such as pain and death - surely going vegetarian would just be easier?

(Original hat tip Ecorazzi on twitter)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

By the way

I haven't had much energy to make the sort of posts I want to make here, hence the silence this week - I have however posted a few recipes at Increasing Veganicity! I've had to keep costs down a lot this month so have started posting a series based on the meals I've been eating. If nothing else I want to challenge the idea that being a vegan has to be expensive!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Hello, my name is Lise and I am AGAINST the death penalty

You may wonder why I feel the need to assert that, given that I live in the UK and was born nearly two decades after the death penalty was abolished here. Here are some reasons:
  • The idea of the death penalty as a deterrent is bullshit. I seriously doubt London and Birmingham have less of a murder problem than certain US cities where capital punishment is deployed.
  • If the state can kill you, that's a very high level of control...
  • Killing someone because killing is wrong? Er...
  • The death penalty is still used by too many countries, including the US and China - still used = worth being against it in my fairly considered opinion.
  • You think it's irrelevant here? When I was young bringing back hanging was voted on reglarly in the House of Commons. The reason it hasn't been raised there for a while is down to an EU ban. I don't trust Eurosceptics not to gain sufficient power to resist it.
  • And let's not ignore that 'bring back hanging' is can be heard Every. Damn. Time. there is a high-profile murder.
  • Regardless of whether you agree with the death penalty in cases where guilt can be proven, the fact remains that it has been wrongly deployed in too many cases. Scratch that - one such case would be too many!
See the truly ace Reprieve for more information.

Albert Pierrepoint, the last executioner in Great Britain, turned against the death penalty later in life:

Friday, 5 February 2010

Woman in black

No, I am not in mourning for the world, although it is tempting to feel that way sometimes. I like to be able to keep my laundry to one load per week. Also, my hands get spazzy when I'm tired or nervous or sometimes for no reason I can discern, and these are also the conditions under which I like to drink coffee. (Including the last one.) White trousers would be a bad idea, black trousers are a good idea. After today I am also tempted to renew the waterproofing in my watch.

Steal this...

I'm currently gearing up to write a chapter on culture and its importance to the conceptual landscape of horizontal politics, and part of the background reading I've been doing is Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book. I may make more comment when I've digested it a bit. However, my first impressions are:
-If it is bourgeois not to adopt the ideas in this book wholeheartedly, I guess I am bourgeois and past it. I prefer to think Hoffman is engaging in hyperbole though.
-I'm amazed at how much you could get away with in those days in terms of publishing stuff about guns (ok it was America...) and homemade explosives. Two people at my university were arrested a year and a half ago merely for downloading a terrorist group's ideological document from the State Department website for research purposes. And Hoffman was printing this stuff under his own name, either he was very brave or very stupid.
-And was also mildly shocked at the open references to violence - use of guns, pipe bombs etc - going beyond the unarmed/primitively armed (sticks, stones etc) defensive context or property damage.
-Beyond that, so much of it could have been written at any point in time, evidently the Yippies have had a fair bit of influence.
-The Yippies were unequivocally a political movement, rather than say an artistic one, making it a bit odd that they get less attention this side of the pond than the Situationists.
-In today's context it feels like a bit of a jarring note whenever animals are mentioned - discussion of how to get free meat from an abbatoir, inclusion of pets under 'how to get free stuff' - clearly there was a limit to the examination of types of oppression!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Gordon Brown is a wanker...

This video combines two of my favourite things - politics and mucky songs. It is really not suitable for the easily offended or those who are liable to get nauseous at the idea of Gordon Brown entertaining himself with a badger on public transport.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Hitchhiking through animal ethics

For reasons that may become clearer, I've been taking an interest lately in Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, and in particular The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

This book contains what is now a popular thought experiment, relating to an animal that wants to be eaten and can clearly express that desire. You could say it goes against the popular animal rights slogan 'animals can't speak for themselves'. This is a bit dubious, we'll get to that in a minute though. The interesting thing for now is the humans' (loose sense of the word - humanoids?) reaction. Arthur, the hero of the story, is horrified that a talking animal is offering 'its'* own body parts for consumption. It is, he says, 'heartless' to eat an animal that asks to be eaten. At which point Zaphod raises the question of whether it is worse than eating an animal that does not want to be eaten. Thinking about it, this is a very strange response and one which doesn't come up often - Arthur is not a vegetarian that I know of, he didn't object during his 'normal' life on Earth to eating animals and there is no indication that he questioned farming practices. It is almost like the consent acts as a provocation to him to think about these issues for the first time, with a suicidal bovine at the table and the destruction of the universe as a backdrop.

This is strange, as I have tended to encounter the thought experiment in question as something pushed at me by meat-eaters who wish to know if I would a) compromise on my vegetarianism (actually veganism but that isn't the question here) if I were not forcing death on an animal or b) respect an animal's 'right' to be killed and eaten. The answer being, no I wouldn't. I don't have to dirty my hands (well, mouth) to respect a desire I don't agree with.

Of course the waters are muddied when the creature lets slip that s/he has been specially bred to a) want to be eaten and b) be able to express that clearly. Is it really a desire, or even consent, if it has been conditioned? I'd be inclined to see this as a more insidious form of exploitation than standard animal farming practices - and argue, tongue almost in cheek, that maybe it would be better to breed humans with no desire to eat animals!

*I prefer not to call animals 'it'. This is the designation given in the story. I'm repeating it to save guessing about gender.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ideals and ideology

There are so many debates surrounding the Camp for Climate Action that I don't know if I could cover them all. But as someone who studies ideological morphology (the construction of an ideology, in a descriptive rather than pejorative sense, using particular arrangements of political concepts) there are certain elements I find particularly interesting. The general impression I get is one that may be counterintuitive to some - that the core of horizontal politics, rather than being weakened by infighting, may in fact be strengthened by the push to define itself.

Bear in mind here that I'm looking at this from the perspective of horizontal politics - where the core contains a conception of anti-hierarchy formed of components such as consensus, affinity and autonomy, shaped by adjacent concepts such as prefiguration (creating change in the here and now rather than waiting for a revolution) - and not of green politics, where the core is focussed more around saving 'the planet'. Yes, I'm simplifying a bit here. Long story short, from the horizontal politics standpoint, I don't find it shocking that activists with climate change on their agenda may also give priority to issues of wider social change.

In fact, from this perspective, it is those involved in the linked radio show who are missing the point. Yes, if the climate fairy could wave a wand and end climate change but leave the world otherwise unchanged, with people as mean and selfish and destructive as before, horizontal activists wouldn't find this a tolerable solution. (I'm not really sure how many greens would either tbh, but the person who ventured the suggestion seemed to think they should) The fact that her 'solution' wasn't greeted enthusiastically suggests that the Camp for Climate Action has a greater claim on being a horizontal movement with an ecological slant than on being purely a green movement.

Let's look at the original aims of the CCA. (source) One of the central themes is 'direct action' - including civil disobedience but also encompassing a wider theme of acting directly, at a grasroots level, in an autonomous fashion, rather than waiting for a leadership to do it for us. Under the question 'what kind of social movement?', the following answer is given: 'Grassroots, participatory and self-organised. Challenging consumerism, growth & capitalism. Strong anti-capitalist ethos. Slipping between anti-capitalist / anti-growth – an ongoing debate. Needed to embrace civil resistance / direct action – to challenge the 'democratic norms' which don't themselves challenge the system, and because its not about asking others do do things.' More, similar information can be found on the linked discussion thread.

Now, the debates. These arise largely due to the inclusive and participatory nature of the Camp, and in particular the inclusion of 'liberal' (in the pejorative sense as generally deployed by anarchists for those who see the state as a potential defender of freedom) elements. More pertinently, the last few Camps have openly included elements which see the state as the provider of solutions to climate change (arguably those who see it purely as an environmental rather than a social issue). The controversy stems from the favouring by some participants of solutions such as a 'green tax' or population control - described by the horizontals and anarchists in the vicinity as 'green authoritarianism'.

It is possible to speculate on these debates in terms of the potential for the Camp - and if you're really optimistic/pessimistic (depending on outlook) the wider constellation of horizontal movements - to be irrevocably decided. This I do not agree with, seeing instead the potential for a stronger and more coherent horizontal outlook - forced to define itself by the need for distance from the elements described above. This may mean a clearer definition of horizontal space - a decision to ask certain groups to work seperately - even an exodous by horizontals to start up a seperate space (although this would be a shame since the CCA is arguably their baby). But it will also mean that the anti-hierarchical - and by extension anti-hegemonic and anti-state - elements will be reinforced, through the need to defend them. I am hypothesising and also, as this is a matter of personal belief as well as acadmic interest, hoping!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Mad at Mandy

While the man once known as Man-dee the one-eyed trouser snake is far from the biggest hate figure in my life (I don't have many, but the highest ranks are clogged with racists, holocaust deniers, child molesters and people who do experiments on kittens, so Mandelson gets off lightly there unless he has hobbies I don't know about!), I have spent the best part of my adult life (15/16 to my current grand old age of twenty-cough-something - lets just say over a decade...) being annoyed with him to a greater or lesser extent. His latest offence, as I'm guessing those of you involved in higher education will know, is to cap student numbers and threaten to fine universities for taking on too many students. Now, maybe this proves the point of some scientists I know who would discount my degree(s) as being any use, because the maths of this make no sense at all. This is the government that wanted to be known for increasing student numbers, getting a higher percentage of young people into university, inflating the number of jobs that you need a sodding degree for, etc - now they're considering fining us for doing what they asked?

No I don't want the Tories back. I have lived under a Tory government. I have lived under Mrs Thatcher (not like that you kinky bastards). I know what is behind the airbrushing on that front. That doesn't make this lot seem particularly desirable though...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Teaching adventures

I've had a complete reshuffle this term in what I teach. In particular, I've been taken off a module I'd have been teaching for the fourth time, and placed on one that I have taught topics similar to in a very different environment. I am something of a newbie, in other words. I have a good enough idea of the material, but am going to be making a lot of use of technique this semester! It will be interesting to see what can be translated from one course to another. Luckily I have a good mentor and module convenor, so can ask them for advice. Believe me, this is important!

Here is an overview of I want to do:
-For every seminar I want each student to come prepared with a point of interest about the reading and a question it raises for them. You can do a lot with these.
-Have each student think of a question about the topic, write it on an index card and stick it in a box. Each one then pulls a question out. They end up answering each other's questions in groups. This emphasises that students are producers of knowledge rather than passive consumers.
-The module convenor has already asked that we get each student to 'adopt' an EU member country and pay it special attention when reading up on the issues. The first thing I am going to do is ask them to come to seminar #2 with a list of 5 facts relating to 'their' country and its relationship to the EU. I also hope to have some kind of debate based on the country adoptions, but it depends what the balance is like for each issue!
-I want to find something to do that involves feeding the students. Political theory provided a whole load of opportunities for introducing biscuits, cake and chocolate into the proceedings. So far the EU hasn't, apart from the chocolate bar the convenor gives out as a quiz prize in some lectures. I'd rather link it more directly than that.
-I'm looking forward to covering the expansion issue - full of questions of identity, inclusion and exclusion, this is the bit of the course which is intrinsically interesting to me rather than interesting as a new teaching experience. I just need to work out how to structure it.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Hello *waves*. This is a bit of an experiment, as I've never blogged under my real name before despite having had at least two online identities that could be easily pinpointed by people who know me. It means I've missed out on stuff like linking to my blog from facebook, commenting on certain offline friends' blogs with a link and joining in certain debates. So I'm going to give open-air blogging a try and see what happens.