Germany Debuts ‘Mentally Ill’ Stuffed Animals

A depressed turtle, A delusional snake, A paranoid crocodile, A sheep with multiple personality disorder, A hippo with autism.

Promising hours of fun for the whole family, a German company has introduced a line of stuffed animals that suffer from psychiatric disorders. There’s Dub the turtle, who has severe depression; Sly the snake, who suffers frightening hallucinations; Dolly the sheep/wolf, who has multiple-personality disorder; Kroko the crocodile, who is terrified of water; and Lilo the hippo, who’s been obsessed with solving the same wooden jigsaw puzzle for months. The company’s founder says: “It started as a bit of a joke with my girlfriend, who has lots of soft toys, and then we thought there could be something in the idea. Children and grownups like their vulnerability and find something in them that gives them a great sense of comfort in helping to heal them.” This should go over about as well as bacon sandwiches at a Bar Mitzvah… Funny isn’t it? No… read more below:

A depressed turtle, A delusional snake, A paranoid crocodile, A sheep with multiple personality disorder, A hippo with autism.

At first glance, you might think these are cute. But go further and you’ll learn that these furry animals are stuffed with stigmatizing beliefs about mental illness. – a European toy company – is selling these toys with the tag line “Psychiatry for Abused Toys”. On the website, you can play an online game at “The Asylum” and give “treatment” to the toy of your choice. But be prepared for stereotyped crazy behavior, outdated and incorrect diagnostic labels, hallucinogenic drug reactions and the always insulting puppet-sock therapy. Make sure you see the “no-hanging” suicide policy wall sign in the community room. Insensitive. Distasteful. Stigmatizing.

Several blogs have picked up on this story – so you might be hearing about this in mainstream media soon. I’m no stick in the mud. I do enjoy humor. But this stuff needs to stop. Thoughts?

Be a Contributor to – A Personal Plea from the Creator!

Are you a creative writer? Do you enjoy design? Maybe you write music or perform songs? Maybe you do all of these of these wonderful things? Maybe you don’t do any of these, but feel you have something worth sharing?

I’m looking for regular contributors to this site. Once approved, you will be able to publish anything insightful, informative or creative directly to the site. Not everybody wants to run their own website or blog – this gives you the opportunity to post your photography, your written work, your experiences or your music, with minimal effort. Once approved, all you do is send an email from your own account to a special address which will create and publish your content directy online. You can even attach photos, audio files, videos, youtube links and any other type of file or document. I will format your content quickly, ready for web viewing.

Have a look around the site and you’ll be able to see the type of things I’m currently posting on my own. It would be great to have a bunch of friends all contributing to the same site, so please join me!

Regular contributors will also get a mini-bio with link to the work they have submitted. You can see the contributors link in the menu above. Get a place in there – it’s empty at the moment!

Thanks for reading, and I really hope to hear from you soon…


Remembrance Sunday, Leicester 2010: 3,500 stand to commemorate those who died for their country

Thousands stood in silence across Leicestershire yesterday to commemorate men and women who died in the service of their country.

More than 3,500 people wrapped up warmly at a Remembrance Day service at Victoria Park’s war memorial in Leicester.

At 11am, an explosive charge was detonated by members of the 3rd Royal Anglian Regiment to mark the beginning of a two-minute silence.

The crowd then looked on as dignitaries laid wreaths at the memorial.

It was among a series of ceremonies taking place across the county, including remembrance services at Southfields Park, in Loughborough, and a parade from Thorpe End to St Mary’s Church, in Melton.

Among the spectators at Victoria Park was 92-year-old veteran John Dean, who lost 13 men under his command while capturing German soldiers in France.

Mr Dean, of North Evington, Leicester, said: “I was the platoon sergeant at the time and I lost most of my men when we were stripping down a German unit.

"There were some teller mines buried deep in the ground and when we called in a lorry it detonated the mines and killed 13 of my men.

"I’ll never forget them and I think today is as important now as it always has been.”

Bishop Tim Stevens, who paid tribute to service men and women from Leicestershire during the service, said: “I think it was very well attended by young and old and people recognised the solemnity of the occasion which showed.

"I was especially moved by the number of young people who were there, who showed a great deal of support for those lives lost in current conflict such as Afghanistan.”

A parade including the armed forces, police and cadets was led by the Seaforth Highlanders through the war memorial, after the service.

Air cadet John Fitzpatrick, 18, of Aylestone, said: “I’ve lost friends in active service and I think it’s important to remember everyone who has given their lives over the years for this country.

"I also think it’s important not to forget the thousands and thousands who fought and died in the two world wars. Many of them were my age.”

Standard bearer Charles Cufflin, 86, from Enderby, was displaying the flag of the Italy Star Association, in memory of those who lost their lives in Italy during the Second World War.

He said: “I was a guardsman in the Grenadier Guards and I lost a lot of comrades in Italy.

"Today means a lot to me, it gives people the chance to remember the men who gave up their lives for this country.”

Captain John Pickering, from C Company, the 3rd Royal Anglians, said: “Most of the lads you see here have done tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, so it means a lot to them, they treat today with the respect and honour it deserves.

"Personally, it’s our way of remembering the fallen, I knew people who have died in conflict and their sacrifice should never be forgotten.”

Mark Clayton, 47, from Groby, spent 24 years in the RAF’s fire service.

He said: “The Royal British Legion do an absolutely fantastic job, I take my hat off to them.

"Today has been great, there’s so many people here. I hope that there are still this many people remembering those who have died in years to come.”

In Photos: Remembrance Sunday 2010 ~ Victoria Park, Leicester

More to be added soon, but I didn’t take many photos this year. Audio and video clips coming soon.

I took a picture of myself by accident while getting ready to go out, and I thought it would be worth including. I hope to upload video and audio clips from the service soon, along with the Order of Service.

Update (10/11/2010):

As promised, here is an audio sample of the service (14mb, <18mins), led by The Lord Bishop of Leicester, The Right Reverend Tim Stevens – Please be aware that there are two loud explosions (charges) to mark the 2 minute silence; one at the start and one at the end of the silence.

A short video of the final march past:

contra omnia discrimina

Reinventing the Bic Biro Pen

when lászló bíró saw a ball rolling through a puddle on the street and leaving a trail of water behind it, he conceived an idea that would go on to change everyday life forever. based on what he had seen, the hungarian journalist along with his brother georg, began to work on the first commercially successful ballpoint pen. —
a brief history bíró had become frustrated by the time spent filling-up fountain pens and waiting for the ink to dry. he had seaen that the ink used to print newspapers dried much quicker and so decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. In 1938 the bíró brothers patented a design which featured a tiny ball in its tip, which turned freely in a socket. as the ball moved along the paper it rotated, picking up ink from the cartridge and leaving it on the paper. whilst ballpoint pens had existed in the past – none had proved very popular due to constant problems with clogging,
leakage and ink distribution – the bíró’s, was the first pen that significantly overcame these problems.

after relocating to argentina in 1940 the bírós licensed their design to a number of makers in the US and britain but it was almost ten years later when the design was mastered and introduced to the rest of the world. marcel bich a french pen manufacturer who had bought the ballpoint pen patent from lászló bíró – ironed out the remaining design problems (mainly ink distribution) and began huge, low cost mass prodctions of the ‘bic crystal’. it’s not surprising to hear that in 2005 bic sold its one hundred billionth pen, when you consider just how many of their pens you might have owned, borrowed or even stolen.

– dining in 2015, was ‘din-ink’ by andrea cingoli, paolo emilio bellisario, cristian cellini and francesca fontana from italy. the design sees pen-lids integrated with cutlery allowing the user to transform their writing tools into a knife, fork and spoon. finally there is a good excuse for when you’re caught gnawing on the end of your pen!

another designboom competition entry which used the ‘bic pen’ was giffin termeers ‘dasiy vase’. developed for
the macef award 2004 – H2O_on the table, the american design duo blow-mold the pens by hand. as the plastic becomes flexible its stretches allowing the vase to sit naturally. since its initial competition success the’daisy vase’ has been shown at designboom marts, and can also be purchased online from the designboom shop.

bic pens have found their way into the work of several other designers and would-be inventors. from maneuverable lighting and chandeliers to candy and weaponry – more ‘bic pen’ projects are featured (below) here:

Via with thanks

Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks ~ Available June 1st 2010

Legacy Recordings is proud to announce the release of Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks, the career-spanning collection of chart- topping hits, classic tracks and personal favorites selected by America’s top-selling female group, available everywhere Tuesday, June 1.

The latest installment in Legacy’s acclaimed Playlist Series of artist- assembled “Very Best Of” career-overviews, Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks includes key tracks and essential selections from all four of the Dixie Chicks chart-topping studio albums, remastered for this CD release for a state-of-the-art listening experience.

Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks provides access to an exclusive Dixie Chicks pdf including an essay, photos and other bonus features once the CD is inserted in a computer drive. Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks- tracklisting:

Wide Open Spaces (#1 Country Single from Wide Open Spaces)
You Were Mine (#1 Country Single from Wide Open Spaces)
Sin Wagon (from Fly)
Cowboy Take Me Away (#1 Country Single from Fly)
Let Him Fly (from Fly)
Long Time Gone (#2 Country Single, #7 Pop Single from Home)
Landslide (#2 Country Single, #7 Pop Single from Home)
Truth No. 2 (from Home)
The Long Way Around (from Taking The Long Way)
Easy Silence (from Taking The Long Way)
Not Ready To Make Nice (#4 Pop Single from Taking The Long Way)
Lubbock Or Leave It (from Taking The Long Way) With more than 32 million albums sold, and $100 million in concert tickets sold, the Dixie Chicks are one of the most popular live attractions in the world. The group will perform songs from Playlist: The Very Best of Dixie Chicks during their stadium tour with the Eagles running from April 16 through June 24.

On May 4, Columbia Records will release the debut album from Court Yard Hounds, a country duo featuring Martie Maguire and Emily Robison. Court Yard Hounds will appear on this year’s Lilith Fair dates. Visit for more information.

Dream Alliance: from a Gwent slag heap allotment to Grand National hopeful

A horse reared on an allotment above an old slag heap and owned by a group of amateurs, including an Asda cleaner, a pub landlord and a retired noodle maker, is in the running to win Britain’s biggest horse race.

It is the unlikeliest of Grand National stories.

But when the tape rises on Dream Alliance and the 39 other starters at Aintree on Saturday, thousands of punters will be hoping that the nine- year-old gelding will rip up the form book once again to provide the fairtale ending the script requires.

The horse, which won the Welsh National at Chepstow in December after recovering from a career-threatening leg injury, has already attracted the attention of a Los Angeles production company, and at 33-1, the bookies clearly see him as having a reasonable chance. Dream Alliance will be cheered on in Liverpool by a syndicate of twenty-three friends who have spent £10 a week each to bring him to the point where he can compete with racehorses owned by some of the sport’s richest patrons.

The syndicate is led by Brian Vokes and his wife Jan, who clearly has the Midas touch when it comes to breeding animals. A regular winner of ‘best in show’ with her whippets, she moved on to pigeons – a sport, she admits, she went for because she liked their cooing – breeding a winner of the prestigious Welsh South Road national at her first attempt.

But she had never thought about racehorses until she overheard a conversation in a working men’s club in the small town of Blackwood, Gwent. Local tax adviser Howard Davies was reminiscing about the horse he had owned 20 years previously and Mrs Vokes thought she ‘wouldn’t mind a bit of that’.

“’Brian,’ I said, ‘go and buy me a thoroughbred mare. We’re going to breed a racehorse.”
He replied: “Don’t be fecking stupid.” But the journey had begun.

Through word of mouth, Mr Vokes found a young man in Llanelli willing to sell a mare called Rewbell for £1000.
Mr Vokes knocked him down to £300 before Mrs Vokes, feeling sorry for him, gave the the seller an extra £50 in ‘luck money.’ With Mr Davies recruited as ‘racing manager’, and a copy of a turf directory, the trio narrowed the selection of stallions down to three within budget, wrote their names on the back of a beer mat and turned up their mats in order of preference.

Bien Bien, untried in his first season at stud, was selected as first choice. The foal that resulted was named Dream Alliance.

Born at a local vet’s, the horse spent his first formative winters on a tenth of an acre mud patch with his mother and chickens and ducks for neighbours. The view from his ‘stable’ was the rear of a terrace of old, grey council houses and keeping him in were various types of chain link fence, an occasional rail and six-foot high steel mesh more commonly used to keep people out of building sites.
His summer turn-out was an acre of grass next to some playing fields.

They knew they needed a trainer. They had a short-list of three and after visiting the stables of Philip Hobbs, near Minehead, they plumped for him. “When we went down there Brian had his leg in plaster and was weighing about 20 stone,” recalls Mrs Vokes.
“The place was lovely. Philip took Dream Alliance as a three-year-old during the yard’s quiet time in May and said he thought he had promise.”

Despite the win in the Welsh Grand National, Mrs Vokes is nervous about Aintree.
“Dream Alliance can run a fantastic race one day and then the next time he doesn’t want to know,” she said. “I don’t know what goes on in his mind. "He’s capable of winning but is he going to win? So many things can go wrong, he could get brought down at the first. I’m excited, it’s hard to explain, I want to be there but at the same time I don’t.”

A patriotic Welshman, Mr Davies is more relaxed. “Aintree is easier to contemplate now that he’s already won the Welsh National. "That was the big one in our eyes because 17 of us are Welsh. Whatever happens at Aintree he’s done far more than we ever expected.”

Outside the Square Café in Blackwood, the meeting place for syndicate members which includes café owner Rob Rossi, Mr and Mrs Vokes were posing for photographs on Thursday. A passing car slowed down, the occupant leaned out of the window and asked Brian, distinctive in that visible tattoos outnumber his teeth, if he was ‘Dream Alliance’.
“Yes” he replied.
“Oh good,” said the woman shaking his hand and wishing him luck. “I’ve never met anyone famous before.”

NHS Leicester City Stop-Smoking Campaign Online

Health workers are going online to encourage people to quit smoking.
Viewers to YouTube will be able to see an introduction from members of NHS Leicester City’s Stop! team.

They have helped to create a series of videos aimed at getting people aged from 16 to 24 talking about the issues.Louise Ross, manager of the service, said: “We feel the personal touch and support we give our quitters is key to their success and we want to try to engage with them on an even deeper level.”

The videos can be seen