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Seeking light in a murky world

You Just Don’t Mess With The Fairies

US developers think they have it bad, having to plan around spotted owls and other endangered species. Little do they know

This is just the greatest story:

Fairies stop developers’ bulldozers in their tracks

VILLAGERS who protested that a new housing estate would harm the fairies living in their midst have forced a property company to scrap its building plans and start again.

Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, estimates that the small colony of fairies believed to live beneath a rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him 15,000. His first notice of the residential sensibilities of the netherworld came as his diggers moved on to a site on the outskirts of the village, which crowns the easterly shore of Loch Earn.

He said: A neighbour came over shouting, Dont move that rock. Youll kill the fairies. The rock protruded from the centre of a gently shelving field, edged by the steep slopes of Dundurn mountain, where in the sixth century the Celtic missionary St Fillan set up camp and attempted to convert the Picts from the pagan darkness of superstition.

Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didnt go down very well, Mr Salter said.

In fact, even as his firm attempted to work around the rock, they received complaints that the fairies would be upset. Mr Salter still believed he was dealing with a vocal minority, but the gears of Perthshires planning process were about to be clogged by something that looked suspiciously like fairy dust.


A lot of people think the rock had some Pictish meaning, Mrs Fox said. It would be extremely unlucky to move it.

Mr Salter did not just want to move the rock. He wanted to dig it up, cart it to the roadside and brand it with the name of his new neighbourhood.

The Planning Inspectorate has no specific guidelines on fairies but a spokesman said: Planning guidance states that local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when a developer applies for planning permission. Mr Salter said: We had to redesign the entire thing from scratch.

The new estate will now centre on a small park, in the middle of which stands a curious rock. Work begins next month, if the fairies allow.

This is even better than the Garden Gnome Liberation Front!

I showed this story to a British friend, mainly because I wasnt sure if it was something real or a spoof (British humor is sometimes difficult to get there you are, laughing away and then you figure out that the joke was on you). Anyway, he said that it seemed real to him in many rural societies in Britain pixies and elves and fairies are still very much believed in. Or, at least such a part of the thousands of years old (pre-Christianity) traditions that actual belief or disbelief is immaterial.

That makes sense and considering that a number of cultures have little people traditions, although by different names, well who knows?

Posted by Nanette on 01/25 at 07:55 PM
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New year, new projects. And, thanks

... Somehow, we always manage to get issues up, even if not always on time. Im grateful to all those who have contributed their time, talent and efforts in the past, and those who will do so in the future. 

Its amazing to think that we are entering our 7th (or is it 8th?) year here at Human Beams.

Some years have been better and more productive than others as we are an all volunteer group (but not a non-profit organization) people come and go, as their time and interests allow. Weve had anywhere from 30 or more people, professionals and amateurs to 3, 4 and 5 people. Somehow, we always manage to get issues up, even if not always on time. Im grateful to all those who have contributed their time, talent and efforts in the past, and those who will do so in the future.  I used to have a list (including websites) of all of the people over the years, but that was lost in a computer crash (I know, I know… always backup, but still). If you were one of them, drop me a line and let me know, and update any information… I am making up another Past and Present contributors page. Plus, recovering material from the Wayback Machine. Lots of excellent writers whose work needs to be re-listed.

We have some new things going on now, or at least that have been in the planning, and which are due to go live soon.

First, in Page Break (arts and entertainment) section, we are adding The Snug, which will have book reviews, interviews and a bookstore. There are just a few minor things that have to be taken care of there (like adding the content, lol), and then itll be ready to go.

Additionally, we are opening a Human Beams caf press store, which will be carrying the HB logo products and others. This too is almost completed, so that should be rolling out soon.

I will also be trying to fill in some of the missing spaces, with section editors and writers and so on. Ill bet putting a call out for that, as soon as I write up the explanation page. Of course, anyone who is interested can just drop me a line at any time at editor at humanbeams dot com.

Oh, and we are opening a community blog, where people can introduce themselves and interact with the editors and writers who want to participate. Soonish! Real Soonish Now.

Our other projects are still ongoing as well. The Progressive Focus Center, where we hope to be part of the worldwide progressive social movement that is just testing its wings, is almost ready to re-open. I had to do a bit of rethinking (and talking to people way smarter than I am) and even then, things might change again once it is open and better ways are thought of of doing something.

So this year promises to be exciting and definitely full (there are more projects besides, but Im trying to wean myself of starting things before finishing what I started before).

Thank you for visiting. Enjoy the articles as always, comments and suggestions are welcome. Each article now has a comments section, let any of the writers know what you think.  Everyone loves feedback. Well, most times.

Anyway onward!

Posted by Nanette on 01/25 at 05:15 PM
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Two women win in Saudi election

And guess who elected them…

The election was only for seats on the board of Jeddah’s chamber of commerce and industry, a low level local affair, but according to the BBC, analysts say this was a significant step.  Considering tradition in Saudi Arabia, and the fact that just a few months ago women were barred from running in elections or even voting in them, the fact that two women (out of 17 other women and 54 men) were elected would appear to be a major victory.

As the BBC article points out, however, the biggest surprise and victory may be in who actually voted to elect the two women. Women voted on Saturday and Sunday, and men on Monday and Tuesday, as events are still separated by the sexes. Not surprisingly, the turnout among women casting their first vote was very low… only about 100. The turnout among men? 4000. So it was only with a good amount of male voter support that Lama al-Suleiman and Nashwa Taher were elected to serve on the board (apparently shocking both of them rather badly).

Unfortunately, women will be excluded completely from Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections next February, according to this Al Jazeera article.

Continue Reading Two women win in Saudi election

Posted by Nanette on 11/30 at 03:16 PM
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[W]e’re a society conditioned to live in fear

Were getting there, in the US, but this is about the nascent flowering of dissent in Singapore.

BBC - At dawn next Friday, a 73-year-old pensioner will put a rope around the neck of a 25-year-old man, and open a trapdoor.

Van Nguyen, an Australian citizen, is a confessed heroin mule caught in transit at Singapore’s airport and he is scheduled to be killed Friday, December 2.

A first-time offender, Van said he had been trying to pay off a debt owed by his brother.

The Australian government has asked, firmly but politely, for clemency. No deal.


In all likelihood, on Friday morning, Van’s mother and twin brother will be invited to collect his coffin from the prison.

The hangman and the Australian journalists will go home. The £4.5bn trading partnership between Australia and Singapore will continue as before. And this peaceful, prosperous, strange little country will shrug off the whole incident.

End of story? Well, maybe not.


It is hard to generalise, as the subject does not get much coverage in the state-controlled media, but my sense is that an awful lot of Singaporeans believe that killing Van is wrong.

It is one issue which really seems to have galvanised people.

What’s more, they are starting to make their views heard. Not on the streets. Unlicensed outdoor protests involving more than four people are illegal here.


But check out the internet and you will find a lively debate raging, complete with online petitions and blogs. Sometimes it goes a bit further.

“I’m a bit scared,” said a young man called Jason, in a half-whisper. “Maybe I’m paranoid, but everyone here fears repercussions.”


Next to him, an older woman called Constance Singham let out a rich belly laugh. She is a women’s rights activist and a restaurant owner.

“Change is going to take years here,” she said. “It took us 15 years to convince people to take domestic violence seriously.

“It may sound funny,” she went on. “But we’re a society conditioned to live in fear. Still, as people become more educated and start to ask questions, our government will have to listen to us."

Read the entire article for the full flavor, including the story of the hangman who can’t seem to retire… seems no one wants to take his place. Which also may be a good sign pointing towards a changing society in Singapore.

While some societies are moving… very, very slowly, to be sure… towards a liberalization of the society and a press for greater freedoms, others seem to want to take the opposite tack. There will always be those who feel that freedom of expression, speech, religion, even the freedom have sex with whoever you want (insert obligatory “consenting adults” caveat) necessitates an unacceptable loss of control over society. 

Strange, that.

Posted by Nanette on 11/30 at 03:08 PM
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Happening Things

Young Minds Section has started a new venture

Young Minds Section has started a new venture

We’re now working with a new international youth group, Article-2 Youth for a Change, young writers and activists making a difference in their worlds.

For some reason it’s become almost conventional wisdom that “young people are apathetic about the world around them’. I’ve not at all found this to be true… sure there are some who are more interested in music and the latest fashions than they are in world hunger, but there are also plenty of teenagers, and even pre-teens, who have a good grasp of what is going on in society, and how they can be effective in bringing about change.

This is just one group of them. Hopefully more will be joining as time goes by. We’ll be bringing you more stories of young people who are making a difference in their communities, and in the world at large. You can also submit your own, we welcome community input.

Go here to the Young Minds main page to read the current articles.

Also, in case some haven’t noticed yet, we do have a place to comment on any of the articles. There is no need to register, but you will need to supply an email address. 

Posted by Nanette on 08/08 at 01:04 PM
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