The Smell of Bullshit, part 74: Consistency (Constantincy?), Thy Name is Not Lush

A couple of emails have come into the blog over the past few days (emails to southside socialist at hotmail dot co dot uk) which suggest that the problems within Lush previously raised by employees here haven’t been resolved. This is one of them, with identifying details omitted.

The Jar of Nice Things

Inspired by something I saw on facebook or elsewhere online, last year I put a glass jar on the mantelpiece, and every time something nice happened, I wrote it on a bit of paper and put the paper in the jar. Now it’s time to look back over the pieces of paper and see what I thought was worth writing down. Pulling them out of the jar randomly –

  • 30/07/16 – Ghostbusters!
  • 29/09/16 – the halal butcher gave me a massive bag of chicken offcuts for the cat and didn’t charge me
  • 15/01/16 – client gave me a massive panettone
  • 07/05/16 – weekend in York for my dad’s 70th birthday party
  • 24/09/16 – bought a new piece of furniture from Ikea, assembled it myself, and then covered the top of it in plants
  • 11/04/16 – swimming coach didn’t make a single correction to my butterfly technique (other than a reminder to point my toes) and when I asked why he wasn’t saying anything, he said he didn’t need to because I was doing it right
  • 13/03/16 – lovely cuddle with the cat before getting out of bed (several more of these)
  • 29/08/16- took the cat for a walk in the Queen’s Park and he scampered around in the grass while I read my book
  • 01/12/16 – a client who has been quite difficult at times apologised for his behaviour and gave me a home-made curry
  • 14/03/16 – managed 2 x 15m of full stroke butterfly
  • 22/09/16 – allowed to bring the cat home after an overnight stay at the vet
  • 01/09/16 – saw an exhibition of Royal fashion through the decades with my mum at Holyrood palace
  • 30/08/16 – went through to Dunbar and spent time with my mum, her sister and brother in law, and his parents who are well into their 90s
  • 08/04/16 – student finished placement and left a very thoughtful card and a positive evaluation

 

That’s a nice variety!

George Michael

Anyone who has heard Wham!’s Ray of Sunshine knows that George Michael understood the joy that music can bring to people’s lives. I was a teenager in the 80s, and I was a Whamette. I loved other music too, particularly Queen, but Wham! were my teenage love band. I had my first slow dance with a boy to Careless Whisper.

Then Wham! came to a natural end, George went solo, and I stayed a fan. His voice is still the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. There’s a lot being written today about his gay activism, his generous donations to charity and to individuals in need, and, of course, his incredible talent. One day soon I’m sure I’ll be ready to think about all of those things, and to listen to the joyful songs – Club Tropicana, Outside, Amazing, Bad Boys, but for now, all I feel is grief and loss and sadness.

Making fists with your toes: Towards a feminist analysis of Die Hard

Excellent analysis

Another angry woman

Content note: This post contains spoilers for the film Die Hard, which you will have probably seen already since it came out in 1988. It discusses death and guns.

It gives me life when a certain sector of thin-skinned Nazis get sad about films I like. From Fury Road to Star Wars, their tears bring me joy. Since, like many other people, my favourite Christmas film is Die Hard, it is my intention to highlight how this film is in fact a celebration of femininity, and perhaps one could even call it feminist, for a rather Eighties value of feminism. Am I trolling? I don’t even know any more.

die-hard-t

Our hero John McClane is more of an Ellen Ripley than the Roy Rogers he insists that he is when talking to other men. There are some explicit parallels between Ripley and McClane: both deal with their terror by talking…

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In Defense of Self Defense: Why The MacDonalds Workers are Heroes

Media Diversified

Rethinking Violence

by Aisha Mirza 

In 2001 I was sent to my first day of secondary school with the instruction that I am clever and beautiful and that if anyone hits me I am to hit them back ten times harder. Survival knowledge. But I still close my eyes during battle scenes. You know. I don’t like violence, I don’t choose it. It makes me feel sick. In fact, I still haven’t watched the video of the MacDonald’s employees beating a man who called them “fucking pakis” while they were at work last Saturday night. I haven’t watched it because I do not want to expose myself to the physical attack, nor have to endure the psychic violence of witnessing racial abuse…again. I haven’t watched it, because I don’t need to see it to know they are heroes.

When I first heard this had happened, streets away from where I…

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Great Pussy Bake Off: the results

Good science here!

Another angry woman

This post appeared last month on my Patreon, as a Patron-only post. Sometimes, I post patron-first content. If you’d like to read this work before anyone else, become a patron

Originally posted August 4th 2016.

Content note: this post discusses food

Tragically, my original, controversial sourdough starter passed away recently, due to me being such a good pet owner that I forgot to feed a bloody sourdough starter for over a fortnight. On the fortunate side, this presented me with an ideal opportunity to undertake the more-scientific approach I’d wanted to take since pretty much 24 hours after I first mixed flour, water and a vaginal sample.

So, this time round, I decided to do a head-to-head comparison. The question I wanted to address was:

Is the growth of my sourdough starter due to the vaginal yeast, or would it grow anyway with just wild yeast?

The tl;dr answer…

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Mother Teresa: The biggest Con Job of the Twentieth Century.

Very interesting, saddening and annoying.

STOP The Missionaries of Charity

Join us: fb.com/missionariesofcharity

Mother Teresa: The biggest Con Job of the Twentieth Century.

What does it take to create a sensation? An icon who perfectly fits the image that an overwhelming majority of the populace is willing to believe in, a public relations agency (read propaganda team) willing to work to build a brand and a powerful organization to provide the social network and the financial services required to manufacture a favorable image of the ambassador you are pinning your hopes on. Thus, it happened that one Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, born into an ordinary family in an ordinary city went on to become the Mother Teresa that we all know today and most people cherish. But amidst all the hullabaloo and the attempt by several institutions and organizations to brand any criticism of her as bigotry, the truth that lies beneath the carefully constructed image that was presented and projected…

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Another Couple of Veggie Recipes with Pulses

The first is toor dal with corn, and it’s from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy book. The second is msa’aa, from the Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook by Salma Hage. Both are reproduced here with no permission at all, and of course I will delete them if asked to by the author or publisher.

Toor Dal with Corn

Serves 4-5

210g toor dal or similar, washed and drained
.25 tsp ground turmeric
1 fresh corn cob, cut crossways into 1″ pieces
1.25 tsp salt
.25-.75 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp olive oil, rapeseed oil or ghee
.125 tsp asafoetida
3 cloves
.5 tsp whole cumin seeds
.5 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 red dried chillis

Put the dal and 1 litre of water into a medium pan, bring to the boil and skim off the froth that rises to the top. Lower the heat and add the turmeric. Stir, cover partially, and simmer gently for 1 hour.
Add the corn, salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and sugar to the pan. Stir, cover partially again, and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan When it is very hot, add the asafoetida, cloves, cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds pop, pour the contents of the frying pan into the dal. Stir and serve.

I’m cooking the dal for this just now. I haven’t tried it before, but it looks great.

 

Msa’aa

Serves: 4
Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200°C/Gas Mark 6.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch/5-cm chunks
2 courgettes, chopped into 1-inch/2.5-cm pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 aubergines, chopped into 1-2-inch/2.5-5-cm chunks
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1½-inch/4-cm chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Lebanese 7-Spice Seasoning (buy it ready made or find a recipe to grind your own)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 sprig thyme or rosemary
6 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 (14-oz/400-g) can chickpeas, drained
scant ½ cup (3½ fl oz/ 100 ml) vegetable broth (stock)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and pepper
brown rice, to serve (optional)

Arrange the sweet potato and courgette chunks in a large roasting pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Toss well, then roast for 10 minutes.

Add the aubergine and bell pepper to the pan and roast, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic, and gently cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the spices and the thyme or rosemary and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, vegetable broth (stock), and balsamic vinegar and cook for 10 minutes.

Take the pan of roasted vegetables out of the oven and add the sauce from the pan. Stir to combine in the roasting pan. Wrap the top of the pan in aluminium foil. Return to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to let the vegetables to soak up the sauce.

Remove the foil, stir, and return to the oven to cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, stir again, and let cool for a few minutes. Remove the thyme or rosemary sprig and serve piled on top of hot brown rice, if desired.

 

I made Msa’aa for the first time yesterday and it is absolutely delicious.

And this is another Salma Hage recipe, from the same book. I’m going to make this as soon as I’ve done this post, so fingers crossed it’s as tasty as it looks.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4

120g red or mixed quinoa, rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or approx 115g dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked)
1 tsp ground cumin
4 red peppers, halved and seeded
handful chopped parsley leaves  :sick:
salt and pepper

Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
100g tomato puree
1 tsp Lebanese 7-spice seasoning (buy it ready made or grind your own)
salt and pepper

Cook the quinoa in 250ml water for about 12 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the water is all absorbed. Drain, rinse, squeeze, set aside in a large bowl
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and yellow pepper together for a few minutes. Add the chickpeas and cumin, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then tip it all into the bowl with the quinoa and mix everything together.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/GM5.

Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and cook until slightly golden. Add the tomato puree and 800ml boiling water. Cook for 10 mins on a rolling boil, then add the 7-spice and salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into an ovenproof dish and set aside.

Fill the red pepper halves with the stufffing and sink them into the sauce in the ovenproof dish. Any leftover stuffing can be added to the sauce to help it thicken. Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, add parsley and serve.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 73: Fire Hazards and Sexual Harassment – What a Place to Work!

Another email from an ex-employee of Lush, who worked at a shop in south-east England. I’m not going to reproduce it here whole because I don’t want the woman identified, and also, some of what she says could well entice the trolls who think women are asking for it. There is some discussion of sexual harassment in this post.