Charlie and Stéfan and pleased to announce the birth of a new group

Rock hound? Fascinated by the look and feel of all things rubble-like? This is where you can share your passion.

This group, named after the Greek word for marble, is for RB members to share their artistic view, love and appreciation of all things relating to rocks and stones, from pebbles to Parthenons, caves to monuments, macros to megaliths.

We are particularly interested in your artistic interpretation of texture and detail. For treatments of buildings, geology and/or architecture as a whole, we refer you to groups such as Architectural Photography and Volcanoes – Earth’s Geology and Atmosphere.

This group is intended as a dynamic forum for sharing your talent, which means there will be regular features and challenges. All work in the group is moderated to ensure consistently high qua…

Dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses

My grandfather had a dog he trained to attack those polite, black-tied, earnest irritants. I’m sure they likened themselves to Christians in the arena. More muddy thinking: palaeo-Christians never went door-to-door asking whether you believed in god and would have probably welcomed blood transfusions.

I don’t have my grandfather’s biting sense of humour and my dog was indiscriminately pleasant to everyone. What I do have is a system guaranteed to repulse JWs in 50% of cases. Imagine: you’re doing your thing when the doorbell rings. Don’t hide behind the sofa; answer the door politely but for god’s sake, don’t let them in. It usually takes less than a minute before The Question is asked:

“Do you believe in god?”

To which I suggest the following answer:

“Indeed I do. In fact, I’m Jewish. Wo…

Crime and Custom in Savage Society

Malinowski could have been writing about one of the groups I host. After much hard work, my co-host decided to bow out. She produced a charming features gallery with a farewell message.

Not one member bothered to respond, much less congratulate the featured artists.

Piqued, I wrote a group message expressing my surprise and disappointment at such behaviour.

Radio silence.

From piqued to pissed is a very short step for me, alas. The group message was posted on the main page and no artworks will be accepted until the end of the month, an agonizing two days away.

What has happened to this community? I thought the very raison d’être for groups was to share and learn from each other. If all a group offers is a dumping group for selfish individuals to shout “look at me!”, I wa…

Passive commenting

I’m a taker. A passive participant. I need the people on my watchlist to find extraordinary art because I can’t be bothered.

So they do. And I profit from it.

(That’s enough of beating my breast. I vote in my groups and I even submit a work on occasion. I know I pull my weight in the bubble…)

But I can’t help feeling my comments are out of place, even when – as is always the case – I make one only when I think it’s useful. I don’t actually know whether they really are useful; we are after all a community of egotists. But even so, I wish, I wish…

[Audience participation: insert the appropriate positive remark in the comment section below…]

My submission for the Atheism Group "Atheism and Humour" challenge

A woman has a near-death experience on the operating table: Mozart, lights and as she nears eternity, she asks:
“God, is this my time?”
“Er… nope. You’ve got 43 years, two months and eleven days left”.
“Oh. Thank you!” says the woman, who duly recovers.
Lying in post-op, the woman decides to make the most of this opportunity and gets her belly tucked, her face lifted, her boobs and bum done, along her hair dyed and a complete make-over.
After a couple of months in the hospital she steps out of the main door and…
… gets splatted by an ambulance.
This time it’s for real, so she goes up to god and says:
“Hey, I thought I had 43 years and change left.”
“Sorry,” says god. “I thought you were someone else.

Atheism group proposals

This is what I should have written in the previous entry instead of poking fun at myself and at William Blake. He didn’t have much of a sense of humour anyway.

“Atheism Group


  • Promote courteous and informed enquiry into life without belief in a divine being through art and writing
  • Foster a tolerant and positive approach to atheism as a rich and rewarding alternative to theist beliefs
  • Enjoy ourselves.

This group welcomes atheists and anti-theists, but also agnostics and religious apathy or cynicism. Doubt and uncertainty? Sure! This is the place to exploit healthy religious scepticism in your artistic and literary creativity.
The group’s forums are an important part of its identity. Share your thoughts, your musings, your humour, your ideals.

What the group accepts:

Philosophical Bad-Asses

I’m following the excellent advice given by a fellow bubbler and jotting down some ideas about the Atheism Group, which I now co-host. I’m waiting for the flood of ideas and suggestions, but have decided not to hold my breath.

Atheists suffer from a bad rep. It’s all too easy to conjure up an image of morally-bankrupt cynics mocking others’ foibles with cold logic alone. Perhaps because rejecting something always looks more negative than espousing it, and rejection is the cornerstone of atheism.

Actually, no. If believing in something like this:
strikes you as unpalatable, the Atheism group is for you.

Renowned atheists also foster our image as religion-Bolsheviks. Richard Dawkin is actually an anti-theist, someone tilting at the windmills of faith to prove the non-existence of divinity …

Why are all "my" groups closing?

Something of a rhetorical question, really. My aesthetics don’t match other people’s politics.

Of course, I respect others’ decision to leave, but I find their decision to close their groups unilaterally rather selfish and petty. Groups are hosted by individuals but are owned by the contributors. No, “owned” isn’t the right word; the French have a great verb: animer. Contributors (those people who don’t read group rules about multiple postings and subject matter; the unscrupulous philistines accused of soliciting votes; the self-centred artists who like the bare, barren whiteness of the discussion forums – basically, people just like me) bring groups to life by participating in them. They are the vital process of sharing art that remains the…

Friday fun: colour ostracism

Cyan: never liked it. Bloody awful colour. Seen too many 70s kitchens and children’s rooms coated in the stuff. Out with cyan.

Yellow: I am a conference interpreter and I live in Provence. Every time I work in Marseilles on cuchotage assignments (whispering in client’s ear), clients always take foreigners to eat bouillabaisse, a delicious seafood dish featuring a lot of saffron which they invariably spray on my suits. I’m voting yellow out.

Magenta: I am Scottish and can wear tartan from a particular clan. The hunting tartan is OK, but the dress tartan is a particularly vivid combination of puce, magenta and orange that would guarantee me a front row spot in any Gay Pride parade. Magenta’s out. And kilts. But keep the gay pride parades. They’re fun.

[A digression: the 1859 battle of…

E pluribus unum

It’s going to be hard, but I shall refrain from playing to the gallery; you can be called “funny” only so many times before you start to believe it. What captured my attention today was the vote received by a challenge submission of mine.

It made my day.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want more votes. For a start, my pic was pretty crap and there are other much better and more deserving submissions. What tinkled me pink (non-UK English translation: “made me happy”) is that somewhere in the Bubble, someone liked me. This (myopic?) RB member took the time and the effort to look at what others are doing and offer his/her input, completely anonymously, just to make a group work and without his or her effort being acknowledged.

Internet anonymity is a two-edged sword, as we have all learnt …

Awesome, awemore, awemost

My previous virtual community now has more trolls than a Tolkein novel, but what really got my goat was the kindly and well-intended, but unfortunately ubiquitous, “awesome post!” comments. I even wrote a guide to such comments which you can read here

However, for the brand new, squeaky-clean Redbubble, I thought a more positive approach was needed, so below is a list of ready-made comments for all to use. If Apple and Windows think to replace their Unix-inspired command buttons, I might even write a plug-in to make our spontaneous reactions faster: press [heart]+the corresponding character for:

Ooh, you’re so sharp, you’ll cut yourself.
Good for anyone you think is cleverer than you. In my case, this applies to just about everybody.

I love you. Meet me at the café des amants at 4. I’ll

Bad faith, worse faith, the worst faith and good faith

It doesn’t seem to be ending. I’ve just left a photography community because of the appalling behaviour demonstrated by some of its members, including creating dummy accounts to be able to harass others, spreading lies and generally hurting people.

Emerging into what I hoped were calmer, more limpid waters in RB, I find the same kind of sharks, but this time there seems to be quite a lot of morally indignant swimmers deliberately thrashing around to create waves.

So, I have some suggestions:
1. Let’s create an “anything goes” group for everyone to post their bile, their revolting posts, comments, “humour” and trash. Let’s add three levels of security – “are you really, really, really sure you want to see this content?” – and inform the local police so that they can undertake proceedings fo…

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

I’ve heard racist, sexist and revolting jokes. To my shame, I’ve sometimes laughed at them. Perhaps because they were revolting. No one tied me down or forced me in any way to partake. That act is on my conscience, and I must live with it.

Power up your computer; launch a web browser, click links and view content. All of these things are conscious, deliberate acts involving discernment and at least some intelligence. A more important act of discernment is to leave a site or refuse to read its contents if you find it distasteful. Perhaps the most important thing for me is that they all entail choices we have been given and can exercise at will.

I don’t know what’s happened in RB. It began – I think – with the Hipster Hitler cartoons and now has involved many people claiming a moral high gr…

The Child Within

Words fail when attempting to describe the Paparazzi. Not quite: comparisons with children and infant behaviour come easily to mind. In their ways of dealing with the world I see reminiscences of my daughter when she was two or three or five. Like them, she could be sullen, happy, giving, peevish, gay and so innocently pleased. Like them, she could be frustrated; she could be gleeful when she solved problems. Unlike them, she learnt from her mistakes. She adapted and grew, but I see all the residents in the home frozen in a perpetual mental infancy with only their bodies ageing. My infant daughter could cry when faced with something beyond her, but she quickly learned to call on people around her for help. The residents in the home accept the status quo and sit or stand waiting for the pr…

Nicolas the paparazzo

Nicolas never asks for anything. He stands on the far shore of what I hope is a placid and beautiful sea. He sometimes remembers others and can be brought back without complaint, but when he returns to his place, he sees deep, abstract forms and shapes that fill me with wonder, curiosity and sometimes, I confess, envy.

Nicolas is one of the Paparazzi to whom I am supposed to ‘teach’ photography in the home where I volunteer and who really teaches me. I am not a doctor of medicine or psychology, nor have I experience of other people in his situation. I do not know what Nicolas’ disability is. A friend asked me why I have never inquired about the Paparazzi’s condition. I replied that she didn’t know my blood group although we’ve known each other for years. Sophistry or syllogism perhaps, bu…

Lou Calen IV: the lure of photographing disability

I spend Thursday afternoons in a home for mentally handicapped adults. I started with no prior knowledge of mental disability. My initial aim was to help residents take photographs and to that end I donated a few digital cameras and an instant photo printer. In fact, they teach me how to photograph. Before anything else, I need to state what a profoundly enjoyable and enriching experience this is for me.

Residents in this home live with a variety of impairments ranging from profound autism to what appears to my uninformed eye as mild Downs syndrome. We began in October with three residents. I thought that after long and painfully learnt sessions they’d manage to take a few shots. Not a bit of it: there are now five photographers averaging at 100 captures each. I call them the “Paparazzi”.…

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