Edinburgh Trams: Only Three Years Late

Edinburgh Eye

The Edinburgh Trams Project was meant to deliver three new public transport routes across the city. Instead, after a massive overspend (total cost said to be £776 Million) and years overrun, Edinburgh Council only managed to build one line that didn’t even go as far as planned: Edinburgh Airport to York Place, a route which is already very well served by multiple LRT buses and which runs in parallel to the railway line from Waverley through Haymarket almost all the way. Edinburgh Tram logo

Despite this, apparently only three of the 27 stops on the route connect with rail and bus services:

Edinburgh has 27 trams in its fleet, although only about half of these will be in service at any one time.

Tram vehicles, each costing about £2m, can take 250 passengers – 78 seated, 170 standing and two dedicated wheelchair spaces.

The full journey from the airport to York…

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The Smell of Bullshit, part 55: merry Christmas, temps!

A couple of quick questions for those of you who have worked as Christmas temps for Lush.

1) Were you told that you were accruing holiday/annual leave during the time you worked for Lush?

2) Were you given the opportunity to take the annual leave you accrued during the time you worked for Lush?

3) Lush contracts specifically forbid taking holiday during November and December because it’s so busy – so if you were only employed during November and December, and you were accruing annual leave during that time, and you were forbidden to take your holiday during the time you worked – how does that work?

Unprotected sex, the Pill or condoms – these are not your only options

I’ve just seen this article in Teh Grauniad.

Key quotes:

In the UK, sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among all age groups, as is the abortion rate. According to Public Health England figures, STI diagnoses rose 5% in 2012, with those under 25 experiencing the highest rates (they account for 64% of chlamydia cases). Public Health England acknowledges that this is in part to due to improved data collection, but also warns that “the continuing high STI rates in England suggest too many people are still putting themselves at risk through unsafe sex, especially young adults and men who have sex with men”.


I was interested to find out whether or not we are seeing a more conscious shift away from hormonal contraceptive methods in favour of the pull-out method. The most recent figures available on contraceptive use are from the Office for National Statistics from 2008-2009. They revealed that the majority of women under 50 were using contraception (75%), with condoms (25%) and the contraceptive pill (25%) the most popular methods. Of those women who weren’t using contraception, just over half were not engaged in a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex. But that was more than five years ago. Could it be true that women are being turned off the pill and condoms, too?


Scare stories about hormonal contraception hit the newspapers every few months. In January, doctors were advised by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to warn patients taking “third generation pills” including Yasmin, Femodene and Marvelon, that they are twice as likely as older medication to cause life-threatening blood clots. (The risk applies to women who are already more likely to develop clots.)

It’s no wonder that women are hyperconscious of potential side effects. Holly Grigg-Spall, author of Sweetening The Pill: Or How We Got Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control, says that side effects such as depression and loss of libido steer many women away. “I felt oppressed by the pill,” she tells me. It was when she started a blog on the topic that she realised other women felt the same way. “Many women don’t want to be taking these drugs any more,” she says. She endorses a natural family planning method that involves combining a period tracker app with other indications of fertility, such as cervical mucus and body temperature, to work out when it is safe to have sex.


What stands out for me here is how only one woman in the article has tried a form of contraception other than the Pill or condoms. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service lists 15 different types of contraception, half of which are hormonal contraceptives. If you don’t want to use hormonal contraception, and you are one of the women who finds it difficult to insist on condom use, think about an IUD or a diaphragm.

I had an IUD fitted three years ago, but had it removed after a year because 12-day periods are not my idea of fun. I had an IUS fitted instead, and it’s the best contraceptive decision I ever made. I don’t have to think about it, I don’t have to do anything or remember anything, it’s just there, protecting me from unwanted pregnancy. I really wish I’d done it as soon as I became sexually active; I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety.

Of course, if you’re not having sex within a monogamous relationship, it’s advisable to use condoms too, to prevent both parties from sexually transmitted infections. I wonder why it is so many people in their 20s are putting themselves at risk of disease by not using condoms. I think it’s the same mentality as the people who don’t vaccinate their kids against childhood diseases. The vaccination programmes of the 50s onwards were so successful that many diseases were almost eliminated from Western society – smallpox, polio, measles. Now we have generations of adults who have never seen what measles can do to a child (my grandad survived infant measles, sustaining severe facial scarring and a hearing impairment as a result) and therefore don’t understand the value of vaccinations. When I was a teenager in the 80s, we were terrified of HIV and AIDS. It was  a death sentence, and there was no way of knowing who was infected and could therefore infect you. The public information ads seem over the top now, but at the time they were scary and they were effective.

AIDS – don’t die of ignorance

AIDS – you know the risks

Now, HIV is one of those things listed in the “why you should use a condom leaflets” – to protect yourself against pregnancy and STIs including chlamydia and HIV. Just a thing on  list. Maybe the new combination therapies mean that HIV isn’t the scary death sentence it used to be, and people don’t feel the need to be so worried about it. Maybe the government is too busy keeping us scared about Muslim paedo immigrants stealing our children and putting house prices up to mither us about HIV.

If you’re having unprotected sex, you are putting yourself at higher risk of STIs and pregnancy. If you are disorganised at contraception, think about one of the long term methods. If you don’t like hormonal contraception, try a non-hormonal method such as the IUD and diaphragm, or think about an IUS which has lower doses of hormones in a localised area.The Pill is not your only option – if it’s not working for you, invest in your well-being and try something else. And if you really can’t talk to your partner about using a condom, should you be having sex at all?

The Smell of Bullshit, part 54: more alternatives to Lush

I’ve been exploring alternatives to Lush for a while now, as discussed here and here.

Rhodes to Heaven were weirdly reluctant to give me a list of the ingredients in their hand, nail and cuticle cream. They were willing to email me a list of the “active” ingredients, but I had to press quite hard for a full list. It seems very odd to me that they wouldn’t make the total list available on the website. Everyone should have the opportunity to know exactly what’s in a product before they buy it, whether they’re reading it off the packaging in the shop, or reading it online on the website. Anyway, I bought the 50ml size and have been using it for several weeks. It’s nothing special. I don’t find it particularly moisturising for my very dry hands and nails (swimming several times a week wrecks them). I mean, it moisturises, but not enough for my needs, and it doesn’t soothe the itchiness at all. And I don’t like the smell. Some people would describe it as a light floral, I think, but it reminds me of Sanctuary’s Mande Lular, in that other people love the scent and all I can smell is cheap detergent. I’d use Rhodes to Heaven if it was all there was, without fear of it making my eczema worse, but it’s not good enough for my everyday needs.

Dr PawPaw looks interesting but it has petrolatum in it, so I won’t be buying it.

Odylique look like they’re worth further investigation.

Our Tiny Bees also looks interesting, although not for vegans. Again though, no full list of ingredients on the website. Come on people, we want to know what we’re buying!

My current trials are with Arbonne. I had never heard of Arbonne until a friend of mine started working for them. I think it’s a bit like being an Avon lady – she buys the products from Arbonne and sells them to her customers, and the more she sells, the more she earns. She’s aiming for a white Mercedes! I’m willing to try the products, and if I like them, I’ll buy them, but I’m not going to buy a cupboard full of stuff I won’t use just to support her new business! So as I review the Arbonne things I’m trying, rest assured I’m not trying to sell you them, I’m just telling the truth as I have throughout these posts. But if you do want to buy from Arbonne, buy through my friend!

My first Arbonne products to try are the shea butter hand & body wash and hand & body lotion, the FC5 ultra-hydrating hand cream, the skin conditioning oil, and the nappy cream which my friend assures me works as a good rich overnight hand cream. I’ll probably stick to using just one at a time for a couple of weeks each, so I can see how they work for my skin. Further reports to follow. But Arbonne are another company who don’t put their full ingredients list on their website or in the their paper catalogue – boo, hiss.

I’ve also tried a chocolate (plant-based) protein shake mix (palatable in a disgusting sort of way) and a fruit-flavoured (plant-based) protein bar (so disgusting it made me gag and I had to spit it out). I often don’t eat enough protein, so if I can stomach the protein shakes, I might get some of those.

So, Arbonne is what I’m trying just now. I will keep you all updated.

Stop taxing periods. Period.

Feminist Philosophers

A new petition demands that the United Kingdom stop taxing women’s sanitary napkins and tampons as luxuries. According to the petition, men’s razors are not taxable whilst women’s sanitary products are because it is a woman’s choice whether or not to use the latter. Hmm… Perhaps it’s time that British women gather en masse whilst choosing not to use such products and descend on Parliament to protest the tax, perhaps sitting on some posh parliamentary cushions while they’re at it.

…or maybe just sign the petition. Here it is.

(H/t to CA for sharing the petition and to MS for the unorthodox protest suggestion.)

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