not old and quiet

[local news warning]

Not my normal cup of tea, but this sounds like it will be amazing:

Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing

Dr Azrini Wahidin
Lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent at Canterbury

Not Old and Quiet: Older Women in Prison

The central focus of this paper is to demonstrate how female elders who are in prison negotiate and resist the omnipresent power of the disciplinary gaze. It is through a discussion of the body and the role of time-discipline that we can come to understand how the ‘old body’ is performed in prison. The work of Foucault is crucial in understanding the nature of power in prisons and how it affects the identities of elders in prison. The spaces occupied by older women in prison demonstrate how time, space and techniques of punishment in the ordering of prison life are disrupted, de-stabilised and transformed. The elders in the study demonstrate how the use of power and how the capillaries of punishment in prison are directed in a specific way at the female body. It is by inserting the words of older women in prison into debates on time and agency that we learn how older women in prison choreograph their own bodies by transgressing or reinforcing typifications of age and femininity. It is the ability to resist and reclaim aspects of their outside self which enables elders to survive prison life.

June 29th, 5.30pm Start, Lecture Theatre 5, Arts Tower, University of Sheffield



I’ve reopened the comments on The Happiness Maths, because i’m convinced the world has more to say about it.

More generally, i’ve jigged about with the system so that commenting on entries stays open for longer. If anyone can bring me the heart of a comment-spammer on a plate i’ll extend it even longer…


support the right to protest in sheffield

G8 summit: Sheffield people denounce suppression of the right to protest.

On June 15-17 the ?Justice and Home affairs? ministers of the G8, the world?s seven richest nations and Russia, will gather in Sheffield to discuss the home front of the ?war against terrorism?.

The police have invoked special measures to prevent protests, informing organisers that no marches of any size will be allowed in the city centre during the summit. Any such protests will be met with force and arrests. Under the pretext of ?security? the police are attempting to marginalize protests by confining protestors to a pen on Devonshire Green. Sheffield Against G8 proposed a march on the afternoon of 15th June. Sheffield Stop the War Coalition proposed static pickets on the evenings of 15th and 16th June. Both these protests have been flatly prohibited.

Whatever one?s view of the G8, we urge Sheffield people to oppose restrictions on the right to protest and to the imposition of what amounts to martial law over the centre of our city.

We, the undersigned, believe that the blanket ban on peaceful protests in our city centre is an outrageous and unacceptable infringement of our democratic right to protest. We call on all citizens, organisations and elected representatives in Sheffield to press for these repressive decisions to be reversed.

SIGNED [your name here?!]

What you can do:

  • 1. Send a message by email to confirming that you support the statement (or print off and send a hard copy to Cllr Jillian Creasy, Town Hall, Pinstone St, Sheffield, S1 2HH). I will send the statement as a letter and press release to The Star and the Sheffield Telegraph on the evening of Tuesday 31st May.
  • 2. Forward/print and pass on this message to friends and colleagues ? we need to collect as many signatures as possible within a few days.
  • 3. Join the march for Peace and Justice organised by Sheffield Stop the War Coalition on Saturday 11th June ? assemble 10.30am, Devonshire Green, march to Peace in the Park Festival, Cemetery Road.
  • Categories

    3 questions

    Three rather parochial notes:

    First: Can anyone point out an amazon book page where the author’s
    own review appears? I know amazon offer you the chance to write a
    review of your own book, but where/how does this appear on the

    Second: Somebody has given me a book called The
    Science of Middle Earth
    along with a note saying ‘Probably not the
    sort of book you’d buy for yourself! Remember to take a
    brown paper bag if you intend to read it in public’
    . But no
    name was signed. Thanks for the present- does anyone want to admit
    to their generosity?

    Third: I’m in london next weekend (the back holiday weekend). Does
    anybody have any recommendations/offers?


    From the Ritz to the Rubble

    All right-thinking people will download the Arctic Monkeys’ From The Ritz To The Rubble from the War Child website. Not only does the money go to a good charity, but you get a great track from Sheffield’s finest (and the b-side from their first single).


    ‘Imagining Argentina’ benefit screening @ the showroom

    [local news warning]

    The local branch of the Medical Foundation (providing care & support for torture survivors) is sponsoring a screening of Imagining Argentina, starring Emma Thompson and Antonio Banderas at the Showroom on Thursday March 10, 6.30pm.

    The film will be followed by a discussion led by a former prisoner of the Argentine junta, Perico Rodriguez, who was freed following a campaign by Amnesty Internationald and later helped found the Medical Foundation. Perico now works as a counsellor with the organisation.

    More info here


    David Eats Cake

    We had a housewarming party. Dan helped David to eat some chocolate cake (Thanks for the cake Rose!). This is what the result looked like:


    Trackbacks blocked

    I’ve just disabled trackbacks to this site (because of a flood of trackback spam). I’ll set them back on once i’ve figured out how to install MT-Blacklist


    Purity January (close)

    I have now been entirely sober for a month1. Not a drop has passed my lips. Now, I don’t want to suggest that I normally drink like a son of a bitch, or that sobriety is a complete stranger to me, but – let’s just say – like many Brits, most months I’d definitely drink on more days than not.

    During Purity January (as it is known round my way) I have overcome all the trials that might challenge my resolution

  • Going to the pub
  • Going to the pub after aikido
  • Going to the pub after aikido and being bought a pint
  • Dinner parties
  • Free bars! (three! I don’t think i normally go to any of these, why did three come along in january!?)

    So I feel truly rightous and also, truth be told, a little bored now. Not drinking is far easier than i thought. And it’s nice to get home and be able to read / think clearly / use power tools. I’m even wondering if i need less sleep when i’m staying sober (they do say alcohol disrupts the slow wave component of sleep). But…But…I’m not going to stick with it. Enough of the experiments in living, i’ve de-toxed in Purity January. Roll on Re-tox February

    1 Erm…nearly a month. I think i started on the second of january, technically

  • Categories

    more pics

    I’ve just put up some more pictures from december and new year’s eve. Including this one I quite like of the Mind Hacks social – my brother trying out the crossed hands illusion while one of Vaughan’s friends reads from the book:

    There’s also this one of Matt that i like too

    In other news, I now have wireless internet at home…Woo-hoo!


    Fwd: Cooling The Towers

    —– Forwarded message from TOM COMMON —–
    Date: Sat, 08 Jan 2005 19:59:05 +0000

    GO sheffield here, still in love with this city. Hope you’re all well.

    we’re running a competition to redesign the sheffield cooling towers, near
    meadowhall. We want to reuse them, to make them represent sheffield as the
    post-industrial utopia we all know and love. We want them to be our angel of
    the north.

    Please see the attached press release for information, plus a template for
    your designs (draw your own should you wish). The deadline is 31st January.
    We just want your ideas, anything goes.



    Press Release here (Word Doc)
    Design Template here (jpeg)

    * * *

    Excerpt from Press Release:


    Announcing an
    to redesign the SHEFFIELD COOLING TOWERS

    The cooling towers are one of the first things people see on arriving in Sheffield from the north.
    They are graceful, enormous and unused. Currently, they mean industrial collapse, defeat, it’s over.

    We want to make them a symbol of post-industrial Sheffield, as well known as Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North in Gateshead, to make them represent Sheffield: industrial past, creative today, green future.

    To make them mean, SHEFFIELD ??????????????

    THE BRIEF: to redesign the two cooling towers next to Meadowhall. Any medium, at any price.
    Redesign, cut them up, statues inside, light out of the top. Anything.

    And the chance to do something amazing for a lost northern city.
    DEADLINE: 31/01/05


    autumn and winter pictures

    I’ve put a few new pictures up at I can’t promise they will interest anyone apart from the people they are of, but there are some shots of a cute puppy dog, and this one of Dan I quite like:


    Child of Our Time 2005

    A year in the making, the BBC documentary I worked on for a lot of 2004 Child Of Our Time is due to be shown in January. It will show on BBC1 at 9pm, on the four tuesdays of that month; the 4th, the 11th, the 18th and the 25th of Jan. You can see a transmission card here


    My website of my photographer friend Andy is now finished…The glorious…Visit now to see many fantastic photos.


    placebo booze

    Well done Cat, for getting her letter printed in the Guardian this weekend. Reprinted here for your enjoyment:

    Intrigued by your experiment where Brits got “pissed” on placebos (Under The Influence, November 20), I decided to try it with my housemates. The plan: we would match each other drink for drink, except every other drink of mine would be water. After four drinks, the vote was tied as to who was the most drunk. After eight, Kevin was declared the drunkest. Conclusions: I can drink half as much and still have a good time. More interesting, however, was that voluntary abstinence provokes a strange response – many expressed sympathy that I was the one who “had” to drink less. It seems we all want to encourage each other to get as drunk as we would like to, perhaps so we don’t have to feel guilty about the amount we all drink. Advertisers aren’t the only ones who want us to drink to excess.
    Cat Bardsley


    Mind Hacks is here, so is

    Mind Hacks is here, in real paper and ink:

    You may have noticed a bit of a lack of cog neuro blogging here at, well it’s been because i’ve been saving my thoughts for From now on if it’s about cognitive psychology or neuroscience it’ll probably end up there – I hope you can come along and join us for what should be a whole world of psychology-design-neuroscience-technology fun…!


    saturday the 4th

    If you are in london at the weekend, go to the ICA debate on cults which features Jon Ronson, and has Andrew Brown chairing.

    If you are in Sheffield at the weekend, come to the benefit gig The Burton Street Project,
    57 Burton Street, Hillsborough. It’s ?7/?5 which goes to The Medical Foundation Caring for Victims of Torture and you get ‘an evening of Latin-American music, with Sally Doherty and her Latin Quartet, Hot food (with a Latin-American flavour!), and a licensed bar’ (behind which i will be serving).


    Hello Joni Mitchell

    The man with the incredibly long beard and tiny bicycle rode up to our camp and asked if Joni Michell was with us. My first thought was Isn’t she dead? (i was thinking of Janis Joplin). I worried that the dust-covered hippy was trapped in some sort of flashback, on a doomed search for an icon of those lost decades. One thing i was certain of though, and i told him: Sorry, she isn’t here.

    Of course, I was wrong.

    The guys next to our camp had built an eighteen foot scaffold-platform. It gave a great view of the whole festival – you don’t have to get very high up in a flat desert formed of an ancient lake-bed to get a good vantage over everything else. So one day, at dusk, I climbed the platform, and took some photos; including this one of our camp:

    Someone from one of the other camps saw me and called up to ask if she could join me. I said sure, and got ready to snap a picture of her as she pulled herself onto the platform. When she was safely on i said Hi, I’m Tom

    Hi, she said, I’m Joni.

    So, Joni Michell, whereever you are, hello – and here’s that picture I got of you:

    I’ve got the last lot of photos back from the festival, and they’re now up at the gallery i made


    Burning Man pics

    Did i mention that i put our pictures from Burning Man 2004 on-line? There’s a shed load of them, and there will be more coming eventually. The ones I took are pretty dull (i tended to take them only when nothing was happening), but the other guys have some good ones. Enjoy


    Shambala photo gallery

    I’ve just put up a gallery for Shambala photos. Here.



    I got a job at the University of Sheffield. Part time doing some social psychology (!) on a sustainability project, part time doing some social network work, and part time free for me to indulge my other interests (some cognitive psychology experiments have come up, during writing the book, which I would like to run, and I’m sure there’s some cog neuro / neuroimaging pies I can stick my fingers into).

    So, back into academia, back to Sheffield…Is it like i’ve ever been away?


    Nostalgia Pics

    For reasons which are not entirely nostalgia based – I promise – I’ve been looking through old photos. I’ve scanned a few and put them at the front of the gallery. They cover a random mix of people, in different places and in the date range 1998-2002. I resisted scanning anything from when I was at school – to the chagrin, i’m sure, of any old, nostalgia junky, school-friends who may read this blog (you know who you are).

    If you hover the cursor over a thumbnail you get a little caption about that photo…


    Get me away from here I’m dying

    London, I’m leaving you
    London, I’ve given you my all and I’m becoming less and less
    London twenty-third of september two-thousand and four
    I can’t stand it any more
    You can keep the casual brutality of the tube
    The hours lost travelling
    A city not built to a human scale
    The rootless anonymity of the crowds
    The indifference of fear

    London, I’m sick of your insane demands
    London, when will you be worthy of your overblown reputation?
    London, when can I go into the supermarkets and buy back the hours I lost commuting?
    I’m addressing you
    Are you really going to let your emotional life be run by mammon?
    Do we all really believe our own PR?
    Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
    It occurs to me that I am being unfair
    I am talking to myself again

    London, you are a vampire city
    It’s like national service – compulsory, crowded, dirty and with a pervading air of violence. I’ve done my year, I want out
    A hundred pretty distactions and no time or money to do them
    London this is quite serious
    London this is the impression I get from a year of busy insecurity
    London is this correct?
    I’d better get right down to the job
    It’s true I don’t want to be in Westminster or drink in expensive wine-bars, I’m misanthropic and maladjusted anyway.
    London, I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel

    As of now I am based in Sheffield. With apologies to Allen Ginsberg.


    The Man Burned…


    Feel The Burn

    I am off to the Burning Man festival with some pals. I’ll be back on the weekend of September the 11th. Until then I’ve turned off comments completely on the site and I won’t be answering emails, calls, faxes or post. But, hey, if you see me, give me a shout. Coming in September: lots about the Mind Hacks book.

    books events psychology

    Codename ‘Brain Hacks’

    I’m writing a book, with my friend Matt, for O’Reilly, codenamed ‘Brain Hacks’

    The book is a selection of 100 design quirks of consciousness – ways in which constraints from neurobiology or evolution have produced unexpected features in cognition.

    O’Reilly are an American publisher who produce computer books. One series they do, the Hacks series covers tips, tricks, unorthodox methods and functional insights for well known bits of software. This book will be the same, but covering for the bugs and features of the human operating system. A selection of functional anecdotes about the construction of conscious experience and behaviour. A smash and grab on the intellectual goodies of cognitive neuroscience!

    Writing the book is going really well, and we’ve got some great people contributing. It’s great fun putting together practical demonstrations of important computational and cog neuro principles, and it’s even fun being driven slightly mad as I start to notice all the ways in which my experience of the world is constructed from the raw data available to my senses, and the ways my actions are delegated to different, intermeshed, subsystems.

    There’s loads more to say, but for now I’m going to get back to writing the book. Swing over to Matt’s blog if you want to read a bit more about the project – and of course check back here over the next month (until I fly to Burning Man when this blog will go a bit quiet for a couple of weeks).


    Peace in the Park

    I’m off to Sheffield now, for Peace in the Park. Bye bye London, see you monday…


    We interrupt this webcast…

    My home web-connection is down, so don’t nobody expect prompt replies to any emails sent, nor frequent blog posts. Hopefully will sort by the weekend…

    Fixed it! That was far easier than i expected


    London things

    Some things for people in london in the next month or so:

  • Damages at the Bush theatre until 23rd of July.
  • Jim White at the Carling Academy Islington on the 22nd of June.
  • Hamell on trial at the Borderline on the 20th of July.
  • Chris Smither at the Borderline on 22nd of July.
  • Categories

    Events in london

    Just a few things coming up in london.

    World Music by Steve Waters at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre. The premiered in Sheffield last year. The play has stayed with me since that time. I’ve seen more moving, or more engaging plays (not that it was in anyway emotionally flat or boring) but I don’t think i’ve ever seen a play that left me thinking for so long. Over the last month or so – and remember this is six months after I first saw it – I think I’ve finally decided on what I think the message of the play was. I’m going to see it again with a bunch of guys (including these two) and I can test out my theories on them.

    The play has two settings: an african village, in a Society that sounds suprisingly like Rwanda, twenty years ago and the corridors of the European Parliament in the present day. Geoff Falen, then a naive gap-year student, now a socialist Euro MP, is torn between loyalties to his friends, his family and his principles. I didn’t think any play with scenes in the European Parliament could be gripping, but this is.

    Also coming up in london is a talk on the 5th of March by Manuel DeLanda
    at the Tate.

    a New York based philosopher and science writer with an exceptionally cross-disciplinary body of work. Often drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze, he has written on nonlinear dynamics, theories of self-organization, artificial life and intelligence, chaos theory as well as architecture, and the history of science. DeLanda is currently a professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Columbia University. His publications include War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, One Thousand Years of Non-Linear History and Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy. DeLanda will be joined by Olafur Eliasson and Doreen Massey.

    Bring it on.

    At the recent anti-apathy / NEF event I found out about London Farmer’s Markets – which have to be one of the best things in the world. Buy fresh produce, meet the people who grow it, and cut out the middle man (supermarket) giving you cheaper food and them more profit. A full list is available here. (Incidentally the next NEF roadshow is in Vauxhall on the 18th of Feb)