Thursday, May 31, 2007

[spamming] litigation the slow way

They appear to have sprung the Seattle Spammer:

Alleged spam mogul Robert Alan Soloway was arrested on Wednesday after being indicted by a federal grand jury. The man the Washington State Office of the Attorney General has dubbed the Seattle Spammer was given an August 6 trial, during which he is set to face 35 charges related to suspected fraudulent Internet activities.

Now multiply him by all the botnets out there and it's a very sorry tale. Some get in to the system now in the normal way, even through word verification, such as a recent pest named Alex or Alec, who's been troubling some of us.

Perhaps this is the answer to spammers - it certainly cuts out the long expensive litigation. I found this one interesting:

A widely used technique to fight this technique is the 'poison' CGI script. The script creates a page with several bogus email addresses and a link to itself. Spammers' software visiting the page would harvest the bogus email addresses and follow up the link, entering an infinite loop polluting their lists with bogus email addresses.

[blogpower awards] categories so far

Over at Blogpower, [click on pic], the current state of play on categories is being shown. Please get over there sometime this evening to comment on these. The timetable for the awards over at Blogpower is:

Friday, June 1st, 21:00, London time: categories are posted for your perusal and comment, strictly for 24 hours.

Saturday, June 2nd, 21:00, London time: Final categories are posted and Nominations invited for each category. Meanwhile we advertise the awards.

Tuesday, June 5th, 21:00, London time: Nominations close.

Wednesday, June 6th, 21:00, Freepolls for Voting are posted at Blogpower

Wednesday, June 13th, at 21:00: Freepolls are closed and results are readied for posting, although these will be patently obvious from the running tallies anyway.

A.S.A.P: Final results in each category are posted.

[interconnectedness] ignore it at your peril

Lady MacLeod was actually talking about the horror of living in a war zone with no chance of escape:

There’s one thing about violent death you don’t see on the cinema screen, you can’t get from a book, and that’s the smell. I have been to a couple of war zones, but I knew I would be leaving.

The desperation that must come when you know you can’t leave; you can’t get your children to a better, safe life. The death of hope is by far worse than the physical death of the body.

.. but the main thesis of her piece was that:

I think the universe pushes together the people and circumstances that have business to be done. Not destiny, I don’t think our lives are preordained. I think we have choices.

which she then proceeds to try to negate to an extent. However, Agatha Christie agreed with her thesis and this is seen in this excerpt from a Harley Quin story:

"You say your life is your own," went on Mr Satterthwaite to her, "But can you dare to ignore the chance that you are taking part in a gigantic drama under the orders of a divine Producer?

Your cue may not come till the end of the play; it may be totally unimportant, a mere walk-on part, but upon it may hang the issues of the play if you fail to give the cue to another player.

The whole edifice may crumple. You, as you, may not matter to anyone in the world but you as a person in a particular place and context may matter unimaginably."

She sat down, still staring at him.

Douglas Adams hit the nail on the head with his facetiously stated but quite seriously intended "fundamental interconnectedness of all things" [Dirk Gently].

Then lastly, in a slight shift from the above but still germane to the issue - the whole life system of Australian aboriginal tribes [kourri] was based on the notion of the "oneness" of your environment and everything and everyone in it and you in the context of all that.

What we have here is the enormity of the human ego versus the enormity of the universe. Zaphod Beeblebrox can go into a cabinet which shows him the universe and his place in it but emerge unscathed, ego intact but as everyone who's read that book knows, he did it with help.

[map reading] some can, some can't

[Research] from the University of Warwick suggests that not only are straight women worse at map reading than straight males, they are also outperformed by bisexual men, gay men, gay women and bisexual women - in that order. The study looked at what's called mental rotation. This is our ability to mentally visualise an object from different perspectives.

Applied to real life, the most practical example of mental rotation is map reading, says Dr Michael Tlauka, an expert in gender differences and spatial ability from Flinders University. "This is one mental task where studies have shown that men consistently outperform women. It's not a myth at all - map reading and spatial skills in general, you'll find that men outperform women."

Well, I have two comments. Firstly, give me a heterosexual woman any day and I care not what she can and can't do. Secondly, I'm not so hot myself.

Sure I can follow a map without problems and without a map can usually find a way to a given place by some sort of radar but if I try to return - I'm lost. I lose all orientation.

I did this with four groups of girls last week, asking each to direct me from Home at the bottom of the map to the Shopping Centre at the top. Results were mixed. Certainly some girls weren't too bad but the majority confirmed the study above.

Interesting. Further reading here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

[blogfocus wednesday] midweek version

1 A triple namer, with the initial in the middle, Andrew K. Brown's Someday I Will Treat You Good is sporting a recipe for pork:
This is a Moro recipe. The skin of the loin is lightly cut at 1 cm intervals and salt put over. The flesh is rub with a mix of salt, garlic and fennel. It goes into a hot oven for 30 minutes or so and then the heat is turned down to 180 C and the pork cooks for another 25 mins per 500g. We served this with a sherry gravy, apple sauce, roast potatoes, spinach and peas.

Go to it, gastronomes.

2 J. Arthur MacNumpty is another triple namer [with the initial initial initial] and like all self-respecting bloggers, is reflecting on electoral systems:

People are starting to digest the effects of alphabetisation on the STV Council Ballot Paper, including Grant, who now wishes to be known as Grant Aardvark-Thoms. If I were him, I'd change my first name to Abraham for maximum effect, but there you go.

Anyway, people are considering if maybe it's time to change this, and randomise the order of candidates on the ballot paper. I'm not so sure about this, I think it won't actually change anything, it'll just replace an alphabetical advantage with a completely random advantage.

Others suggest having each ballot paper have the candidates in a different order. Again, I'm sceptical, as this could mean that the way someone casts a vote is determined by when they get to the polling station.

3 Longrider is in the wars over there and I can relate to his internet woes:

For the first time in my life, I sought medical advice. Normally, I just take the anti-histamine and get on with life. After a week of increasingly severe symptoms, I realised that this method was not working. That was followed by our phone line going dead.

It is at times like this when you realise just how much the Internet has become apart of your life. Notes for an article I’m planning? Backed up on-line. Banking? On-line. Shopping? On-line.

Then there was that eBay auction I had coming to an end on Sunday ... Still, despite BT telling us that the line wouldn’t be up and running until Wednesday, we have a connection, so I’m making the most of it ...

4 Is CityUnslicker getting leftist in his old age? I thought I was reading Oliver Kamm until I got into the article:

Noam is of course, near mad. A world class master of seeing evil in good and vice versa. Capable of Tony Benn catastrophic misjudgements. He shares some things in common too with Gordon Brown; such as his epic struggle against common sense.

Nonetheless he does write well and also makes good efforts to quote from sources, dubious so some are. Overall his attitude to US and UK imperialism is consistent and blind. Hezbollah and Fatah are the good guys, Ahmedinnerjacket a true man. Hugo Chavez does no wrong. Instead all the enemies are to be found at home and his world is a conspiracy of evil.

5 Tea and Margaritas brings us the important news about the Guelph masochist:

Police in Guelph, Ont., are looking for a man who allegedly approached women and asked them to kick him in the groin.

Three women reported similar incidents to police and two of the women reported the suspect was on a bicycle. The various incidents allegedly occurred over the last two months. The suspect is described as white, in his early twenties, with a brown goatee and a large gap between his front teeth.

None of the women reported injuries.

6 The Spine shows its usual class in this piece on Tony Lookalikes:

‘It was good while it lasted…’ So says Tony Badger, who, for the last ten years, has been the UK’s top Tony Blair lookalike. ‘I guess I was born with a golden face,’ smiles the 53 year old steam train enthusiast and part-time lingerie model from Kent.

‘Only I’ve had to make it more golden over the years to keep pace with Tony’s tan. That’s been the most difficult part of the job. From one week to the next, we never knew what colour he’d be. One day he’d be a Bermudan beige and the next a shade of Moroccan coffee.’

7 An exciting blogger who has come to a number of fellow blogger's attention, Vorzheva, the Spanish Pundit, who is right on the front line of Spanish politics, opposing the terrorists and bringing the latest news. If you are a serious blogger and are interested in world news from the horses' mouths, this is a must:

The Government should know that, the more he attacks the FORO ERMUA, the bigger will be our strength.

If in the end this felony is achieved and they impose the sanction, FORO ERMUA will appeal the citizens to have enough funds to pay it and will dedicate the rest to make stronger the citizen’s movilization against the ignominous process of dialogue, cession and pact with the terrorist band ETA.

A band that has already 900 deaths in their backs, thousands of hurt people, dozens of thousands of menaced and hundred of thousands of displaced ...

Please excuse the English - Vorzheva is Spanish and this is a fair job of bringing us the news.

8 Will, of a General Theory of Rubbish, replete with communist red star and full Marxist arsenal, might consider me the first up against the wall, come the revolution. It was he who penned the testimonial in my sidebar and grateful I am for it. Strangely, I'm with him in this post:

Palestinian Surgeon General's Warning: Cigarettes, like liberal democracy, may be hazardous to your health. Pregnant women should not smoke, as It could damage the health of a future martyr. Also, Benson & Hedges™ brand cigarettes are manufactured in Western facilities where they may come into contact with infidels and/or Jews. Thus, avoid at all costs and smoke some sub-standard shite like what you would buy in The Barras for at least a third of the cost.

Next time is Saturday, readers. Between now and then, please give us the Categories you'd like to see competed in, in the Blogpower Awards.

Wulf's Web Den coming up on Saturday. Cheers, comrades.

[wednesday quiz]ten more for your delectation

On this sizzling hot day, how many can you get this time:

1 Who do the Italians call Topolino?

2 How many counters does a player start with in Backgammon?

3 Parnassus was the sacred mountain home of the muses and of which Greek god?

4 After how many years marriage do you celebrate your Emerald wedding anniversary?

5 Europeans are familiar with A-4 size paper. What is the area of A-0 paper?

6 In Roman numerals, what is the letter M with a bar over it?

7 Who is Bibendum better known as?

8 Which later famous actress won the 1936 'Miss Hungary' title but had to give it up because she was under 16?

9 Where would you find together a verso and a recto?

10 You know that bigamy is having a second marriage partner. What is digamy?

Answers here.

[pommygranate] at that difficult stage

Pommygranate actually seems to have taken the lead in the Aussie poll [104] over his next rival [89].

Colin Campbell and the Englishman - I can't find any link to vote in their poll. Wish they'd tell me.

So, as Pommy's the only live "awarder" we know of at this moment, slip over, if you would and place a vote for him.

Colin referred to "vote stuffing" and he's right in one sense but in another, one plays the game according to the rules and if the rules allow you one vote a day, we'd be crazy not to do it.

Anyway, my vote today's been placed.

Now, I simply didn't know about Colin and the Englishman so I think we need some sort of central blogger who collates and announces these things. If you are in an award, simply contact him. What do you think?

[china] wrath of the dragon

Not content with killing their citizens with lightning:

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lightning has killed 56 people in China this year, 17 more than the same period last year, Yu Rucong, deputy chief of the China Meteorological Administration, said on Friday. Another 65 people were injured, 26 more than in the previous year.

... they are now executing their government ministers:

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

China has sentenced the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration to death after he was convicted of corruption, state media has reported. Zheng Xiaoyu was sentenced after being found guilty of taking bribes and dereliction of duty, state Xinhua news agency reported.

Zheng, 62, who was sacked in 2005 after seven years in the job, could have his sentence reduced on appeal. He was expelled from the Communist Party earlier this year. The death sentence is unusually harsh for such a senior figure, says the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Shanghai. Last month Zheng was accused of accepting more than 5m yuan ($650,000) in bribes to approve hundreds of drugs.

Thirty-one other people were also alleged to have been involved in the scandal, including Zheng's wife, Liu Naixue, and his son, Zheng Hairong. The sentence comes amid a food safety scandal that has hit Chinese manufacturers. Two company managers have been detained, accused of adding melamine to food additives. US inspectors allege this led to the death of a number of cats and dogs after they ate contaminated pet food.

The Chinese seem to like execution as a penalty and they do so much of it that some years back they decided to take it to the streets:

March 13 2003

China is equipping its courts with mobile execution vans as it shifts away from the communist system's traditional bullet in the head, towards a more "civilised" use of lethal injection.

Intermediate Courts of the southern province of Yunnan were issued with 18 new execution vans on February 28 and a court official said some have already been used.

"We cannot tell you how many executions so far, otherwise you could work out from the daily rate how many we carry out," the official said.

Chinese authorities keep execution numbers a secret, but Western human rights monitors believe it is about 15,000 a year, more than the rest of the world's judicial executions combined.

Living in China. Let's pack our bags and emigrate now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

[late note] hope you're coping too

Sorry for the lack of posting and visiting but there were reasons:

1] Internet problems which I hope are fixed.

2] The heat. Allow me to explain:

Someone said it was 38 degrees today but I can't see it, more like 34 or so max and now about 29.

Still, it was death stuff out there because it was mixed in with car and industrial fumes. This city is at the stage cities in the west were in the 50s/60s - belching bad air and congested, before the era of EPA and road systems.

You can always tell when it's acceptable because the ladies bask in it if it's all right. Today they were lying around outstretched, with tongues lolling out the sides of their mouths.

My personal situation is better than most - here is where my apartment comes into its own - it misses the late afternoon sun and what with the airconditioner wall unit and two 19 litre water bottles, there's less to complain of.

However, having been out in the poisoned soup today meant I just crashed when I got home and now it's nearly midnight and no chance of Blogfocus.

3] There is a word here 'rukavoditel', meaning literally 'hand driver'. Every 5th course student is, at this moment, going before the Commission to present dissertations and every one of them has a personal 'trainer'.

Two girls have me and I've been pretty bad with them, timewise. I've left it till very late to deal with the matter and now we're having to meet everyday and do a lot of it by e-mail in the evening.

Hence the other reason for the lack of posting. I myself also have to prepare a detailed report on each of them and I haven't done it yet. The big plan is to get all this done tomorrow and then run a...

Blogfocus Wednesday

...tomorrow evening, in place of Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks to regular readers who have visited today. I have all the comments still to answer and if you're a fellow blogger, you'll be the first I visit tomorrow evening.

[warning] internet connection dropping out

Can't get internet for more than five minutes - keeps dropping out. That is, it won't even dial-up. I know you'll say buy a new super-duper system but I have to buy a new car and repair the flat before that. So the blog will have to struggle along with what it's got for now.

[that's it] we've had enough

Ladies and gentlemen, some of us have had enough of it! Do you remember this, the reason why we formed in the first place?

So, time to do our own and there's a Cunning Plan:

The Annual Blogpower awards

Let's make them scathing as well as sycophantic. Let's run the whole gamut of categories we could vote for on someone - best "animal blog", "blog with the shortest posts" and so on. Let's think big and include the MSM in this thing. Let's allow everyone, not only Blogpowerers, to join in. Blogpower will just be the host.

So, here's the agenda:

1] One of us - me - cobbles together possible categories this week, based on either your suggestions in Comments or by e-mail to james higham at mail dot com. [Some people prefer to e-mail their thoughts.]

This plan of categories is presented in a new Blogpower post this Friday evening, June 1st, 21:00 London time, for your perusal and comment strictly for 24 hours.

2] On Saturday evening, June 2nd, at 21:00, London time, the categories are then presented in concrete at Blogpower and nominations invited for each category.

Nominations are welcome from the whole sphere, based on either your suggestions in comments or by e-mail to james higham at mail dot com. Anyone, not just Blogpowerers, are invited.

Each of you put something on your site [including all our non-BP friends out there] advertising that we are accepting nominations for one week, until the following Saturday evening. We must show we are not a closed shop - that this is the only truly international representative poll of its kind.

3] Nominations close on Saturday evening, June 3rd, at 21:00, London time and James gets down to work preparing a series of separate freepolls, inviting the whole sphere to vote.

4] On Sunday, June 4th, at 15:00, these freepolls are posted at Blogpower and then we'd like an onslaught of advertising on your sites, inviting everyone to come in and vote. I'll e-mail all my contacts to vote and hopefully you'll do the same.

5] On Sunday, June 11th, at 15:00, the freepolls are closed and I spend my last free Sunday, before my personal blog hiatus, writing up the results for posting, although these will be patently obvious from the running tallies anyway.

That's the plan to break the secretive pre-selection and non-representativeness of the usual Blog Awards. Your comments are invited.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Vote Pommygranate, Colin and the Englishman

Pommygranate's in some sort of antipodaean blogpoll just now. Could you get over there and give him a click?


I think I've made a huge mistake here and misled everyone. You see, late last evening, very tired, I went over to Pommygranate and there was a beleagured appeal. I didn't check it through but immediately saw one of our Blogpowerers in trouble, clicked on his link and saw him in a list and no one else we knew.

Hence the rallying cry to vote for him.

However, this morning I was posting on Blogpower, scrolled down and saw this on Colin Campbell's post:

Featured this time are Pommygranate and myself, along with some other Bloggy Aussies and the Englishmans take on nude car washes in Brisbane.

Penny dropped that perhaps this was the SAME poll as Colin and the Englishman and hence Colin's anguished:

For a libertarian, this is unmitigated ballot stuffing. That with envelopes of cash, we have the potential for a rorted election. All this in the cause of supporting our libertarian friend.

To which I, thinking Colin was only kidding, replied:

Unmitigated ballot-stuffing - all hail to corruption, Colin and I voted for him as a fellow blogpowerer, not as a Zambesi Liberation Force supporter or Golden Labrador Owners club nominee or whatever.

Now, in the light of what I know - that in this poll were also Colin and the Englishman, I'm looking for a giant hole to fall down and end my misery. Oh, woe is me! What have I done?

OK, to repair this, I'm heading over to Colins's and the Englishman's sites now to find out how I can register votes for them.

The question is, will you join me and visit these boys and give them your vote too?


Now it gets even more confusing. Lord Nazh and Pommygranate inform us that the polls are separate and anyway, I can't find anywhere on their sites to vote for them - no link. Can someone set me straight on this thing?

[obsession] 3rd chapter is up

The 3rd Chapter is uploaded for those kind souls who've been following the plot so far.
Click on the pic here for the book and then I find it easier to scroll a little down the sidebar and use the Blog Archive link for the chapter. Each page then has a "Home" link.
My main criticism and the reason it took 12 years to finish writing this book whilst the next one, Lemmings, took only two months, is that the first two and a half chapters are a bit slow and I simply didn't know how to speed them up.

I had to establish a fairly mundane, routine existence for the couple, in order for Miss Heathrow to come in and turn it all upside down. It does hot up near the end of Chapter 3 but the first flight from danger comes only in Chapter 4 and the first body doesn't appear until Chapter 5.

The first sex of an R rated kind only comes in Chapter 4. Actually, I like Chapter 4 a lot.

[whitsun] not just any old bank holiday

Today is the Second Day of Whitsun or Pentecost, a Christian holiday and a bank holiday in Iceland. Some people may go to church while others use the day for outdoor activities with their friends and families.

Pentecost or Whitsun is observed on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Whit Sunday commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles.

The recent adoption of a Late Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May is an attempt to deal with the fact that Whitsuntide is a moveable feast, dependent on the date of Easter.

The general public still refers to this holiday as "Whit Monday." What did you do today? Any concerts in the park?

[bias in education] crooked toefl exam

This is one of the questions on the current TOEFL online practice exam:

9. Some of the oldest and most widespread creation myths are ________ involving the algiving "Earth Mother".

those them they their

Under the guise of a word usage test, the expression 'creation myths' is introduced but immediately deflected onto the earth pagans, who are clearly a soft target.

The Christian lobby seemingly can't attack Q9 because it doesn't specifically refer to them in 'some of the oldest and most widespread' and yet the very employment of the term 'creation myths', with that all important qualifying "s" at the end, at a time when intelligent design is an issue, negates the seeming innocence of the question composer.

Why wasn't the question:"Some of the oldest and most widespread theories are…"? Why "creation"? Why "myths" even? In a supposedly politically and religiously neutral exam, it is quite unforgivable.

Now it will be interesting how my blogfriends, who rail against blatant hypocrisy in other areas, will react to this one. Will they quietly pass this over or will they see the essential wrongness in it?

I wait with bated breath. Who'll lead off? Tiberius?

[politics 101] end of term finals

You have five minutes only for this test. Do not attempt to write in the sidebar or on your screen. Begin at N1 and work your way through to N7, unless you prefer to reverse that order or perhaps approach it in a random order, for that nice wavy effect or even, in fact, to look for Nos. 6&7.

Do not forget your blogger ID or that "little gifts sometimes go a long way with examiners".

Now commence:

1 Bill Clinton's greatest achievement was:

a. a near balanced budget

b. Whitewater

c. Monica

d. socking it to Fox Sunday

2 Jacques Chirac's greatest achievement was:

a. the Paris Olympics

b. new industrial relations policy

c. comments about British food

d. the referendum

3 Tony Blair's greatest achievement was:

a. the NHS

b. the education system

c. the Iraq War

d. honesty in government

4 George Bush's greatest achievement was:

a. the Iraq War


c. spreading democracy

d. Wolfowitz

5 John Howard's greatest achievement was:

a. common sense industrial relations

b. the boat people

c. longevity

d. supporting Christmas

[enter the dragon] powered by oil

That's Japan sinking in the background, by the way.

Anyone just that teensy-weensy bit worried about China?

About 3.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas deposits have been discovered in southwest China's Sichuan Basin, with verified exploitable reserves topping 600 billion cubic meters.

The reserves were discovered in Dazhou, a gas-rich city in Sichuan Province. By 2010, the newly found deposits will raise the city's gas output to 24 billion cubic meters and sulphur to more than 4.3 million tons.

Er - so it's not to supply the whole of China and half the damned world with then - this just concerns one city, does it? Now then, how many cities does China have? Let's see now ...

[segie] secret of those good looks

I have this theory about Segie, you know, that she's actually a ravening lizard who draws her youthful good looks from those around her. Bit fanciful? Then why do they call her "L’ancienne candidate", eh?

I don't insist on it but just where has she been these last few weeks? What's she been feeding on?

[honesty] wolfie apportions the blame

The outgoing president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has told the BBC an "overheated" atmosphere at the bank and in the media forced him to resign.

Couldn't really expect:

The outgoing president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has told the BBC an "overheated" libido with his honey and his moral relativism and "general sleaziness" forced him to resign.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

[men and women] the power of punctuation

Please punctuate correctly:

"a woman without a man is nothing"

[new feudalism] two considered thoughts

They say it better than I can:

Here and here.

[the ukraine] decision time has come

You've all read it:

Ukraine was in political chaos last night after President Viktor Yushchenko attempted to seize control of the national guard, prompting accusations that he was trying to stage a coup. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich accused Mr Yushchenko of preparing to use force in their struggle for supremacy after Mr Yushchenko said on Friday he was taking control of interior ministry troops.

Mr Yushchenko issued his decree hours after riot police loyal to the Prime Minister took over a building housing the prosecutor-general's office in Kiev following scuffles. The decree concerns troops largely responsible for maintaining public order and not the army, which is controlled by one of pro-Western Mr Yushchenko's few allies in the cabinet. He ordered the interior ministry troops to protect key sites.

Mr Yanukovich denounced the President's move as dangerous and unconstitutional. It presaged, he said, an attempt to use force to resolve Ukraine's long-running political crisis.

So, it's come to this. I think the country will have to split into the two roughly natural divisions it's now in. The Russian half will remain independent but loyal to Russia and the other will become an American satellite like Poland and Hungary.

Otherwise there'll be war or revolution. Hope Russia doesn't march in.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

[blogfocus saturday] notes from the blogostocracy

What do we want from a blogger? Surely an incisive mind, sound values an eye on the issues and a sharp quill. And surely that is represented here this evening:

1 I don't recall the last time Fabian Tassano had it wrong, certainly not this time:

MPs fear the control order regime attempt to get round civil liberties by using “prisons without bars” is in danger of becoming a public laughing stock, since six of the current seventeen terror suspects subject to orders have managed to disappear.

Dr Reid is threatening to "opt out" of a key part of the European human rights convention. Such a move — which can only properly be justified by war, or a public emergency threatening the life of the nation — will represent a new round in the continuing struggle between ministers and the courts the public, over liberty versus the fight against terrorism goal of creating a police state.

7 Vox Day is called many things, not least by Michelle Malkin but what can't be denied - the boy can write. Here he looks at a survey:

Some 25 over-65s, with an average age of 70, took part in the study and trained at a gym. Not only did they acquire new strength, but the molecular machinery powering their muscles became as active as that seen in people of 20 or 30....

… and comments:

This is clearly a sign to go for the Holy Grail: the 21-inch guns. If you're already a mental freak of nature, why not become a physical one as well? I've always wanted to have an excuse to get into a confrontation with police and shout "my arms are more powerful than your guns!"

I have noticed that people who lift weights regularly do tend to look significantly younger than their age. Not in the face, but in how their body looks and how they move. And for women, I've seen 50- and 60-year olds who have butts like 17-year old girls, or at least what 17 year-old girls used to look like before they all got fat.

3 The Flying Rodent is not for the faint of heart [or hand]:

After all, nobody knows more than me what unpredictable and capricious creatures young women can be.

I recall an incident that occurred a couple of years before I met Mrs. Rodent, discussing sexual fantasies with my then girlfriend in the wee small hours of the night.

"I think think it would be quite sexy to, you know, watch each other playing with ourselves," said my ex-girlfriend, the cheeky thing that she was, and probably still is.

"Really?" I said, a little intimidated and embarrassed by the prospect, "Well, yes, I suppose it would be quite sexy, wouldn't it?"

My ex giggled, quite thrilled with her naughty suggestion.

4 Mr. Eugenides is extremely hard to encapsulate in a paragraph. Under the heading "We have to have some secrets, Darling", he opines:

Freedom of information has proved its worth since it was introduced, but there have been persistent straws in the wind suggesting that it's working just a little too well for ministers' liking.

Then follows a letter from Alistair Darling, whom Mr E describes thusly:

[N]ot since Norman Lamont has a minister so closely resembled a badger.

... and comments:

Of course, the significance of this is ... rather what it tells us about the likely fate of FoI under the next Prime Minister. Darling doesn't scratch his nuts without consulting Cyclops first. If this is what the monkey thinks, we can be sure the organ-grinder takes a similar view.

5 Croydonian, the anti-October Bank-Holidayist, has some frightening news:

Because the Osmonds are reforming. More here, but readers of a sensitive disposition may well want to ensure that sound is off before proceeding. Apparently they are marking 50 years in the biz, although I find the maths a little troubling as I can find no reference to their having done anything prior to the 60s, and in order for them to be a plurality, the second oldest would have been six at the time of founding.

6 You might wonder at the inclusion of Tim Worstall here, already a mega-blogger and the simple answer is - because he's good. First he takes the Croydonian to task:

The Croydonian thinks that the TUC's suggestion for an October Bank Holiday is a really bad one. I think it's bloody brilliant. October 21 st please. Celebrate it with a march from the square to Waterloo station, making sure that we invite the French Ambassador.

... then later tackles recycling:

So, the question becomes, why are we setting up this vastly expensive system of anaerobic biodigesters, insisting on homes being repositories for rotten food, when we have already solved the problem? Stick it all in a hole in the ground and collect the methane?

7 Whilst he certainly gets traffic to his excellent blog, I still regard Political Umpire as sadly under-rated - he should be as well known as a Worstall or a Dale:

Today I phoned Birmingham City Council on their general contact number. As expected, an automated voice message came first. It explained to me that the call may be recorded for training purposes, then started to list my options. It said something to the following effect:

"If your call is regarding anti social behaviour, press one.

If you have a general inquiry, press two."

Should I draw any inferences from the order in which those two instructions appeared?

8 The problem with my blogrolls is that Blogpowerers are not in the Blogostocracy roll. That's because they're in the Premier roll. But for that, Chicken Yoghurt would be straight in there. Here he presents the best selling album by Flatus Quo:

[I]n tribute to the departing Tony Blair, he and many of his friends have put together an album of Status Quo covers. It’s dedicated to Britain’s voters and is titled ‘Quo Vadis?’ Here’s a sneak peak of the track listings.

1. Down Down - The Labour Party Membership

2. Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like - Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch

3. Break The Rules - Peter Mandelson and David Blunkett

4. Roll Over Lay Down - The Parliamentary Labour Party

5. Gonna Teach You to Love Me - Gordon Brown

6. Whatever You Want - Tony Blair and Rebekah Wade

7. Roll Over Lay Down (reprise) - The Parliamentary Lobby Journalists

Tuesday Blogfocus will be different in that it looks at two bloggers only at some small length. Hope to see you then.