Friday, October 31, 2008

[viktor tsoi] ddt and samizdata


This is a really tall order - not just to explain something outside the experience of most but to make it interesting. Even if one person is interested, that would be a good thing.

Picture the early 1980s USSR and the attitude to the rock music phenomenon. My Russian friend told me tales of how the samizdat worked [a term which has now been used for a popular blog on the net] and it has been put well by Vladimir Bukovsky as:

"I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and [may] get imprisoned for it."

It was a fraught enterprise and somewhere along the line, the first and maybe last true Russian rock star began to play and his tapes were distributed underground across the country. This was Виктор Цой [Viktor Tsoi]. Jim Morrison, Velvet Underground and Hendrix were seen as rebels and could be arrested for obscenity, drugs and sedition but the whole process was benign by comparison to Russia.

This is why singers like Tsoi, who stayed true to his musical roots, sang about everyday life and never sold out, was so appreciated by those now in their late 40s and is being rediscovered by the younger generation today. I didn't get much of a chance to get into his music over there but I do have a few tracks, of which this is one of the softer songs:

Boomp3.com

A group from the same era, ДДТ [DDT], was influenced by Tsoi as well as striking out in a highly individual manner, perhaps their greatest strength being the lead Юрий Шевчук [Yuri Shevchuk]. DDT went through a similar fate to Tsoi, with concerts censored and always the threat of an official clampdown.

Whereas Tsoi was killed in a car accident, DDT went on to greater things and became probably the most revered band in Russia, not so much for the music but for the highly evocative and thoughtful lyrics and the sheer humanity of their material. To give you an idea, Wiki says:

In the beginning of 1995, a new album, Это все [eto vsyo] (that's all). was recorded. In January, Shevchuk went on a mission of peace to Chechnya, where he performed in 50 concerts for the Russian troops and Chechen citizens alike. In the spring and summer of 2002, 10 out of 11 concerts that the band played were benefits for various social and cultural organizations.

You can imagine the effect this would have had on the ordinary Russian and I'd like to tell you about New Year in 2001 or 2002, I can't remember. My girlfriend of the time, her family and I went down to a beach house [it was only minus 10 so not too cold]. We built a fire and got vodkaring, then the teenagers in the house beside us came over and when they learned I was foreign, presented me with a DDT album. The music apparently had no generational barriers.

Perhaps the best way to show the reverence that certain groups and artists have in Russia, largely due to their difficult past, is to post the clip below. It's not the best version I've heard of this song, especially the campy bit towards the end but you have to understand that this was a tribute to and by an aging star last year, so hopefully it can be forgiven. The words:

Это все, что остaнется после меня
Это все, что возьму я с собой

... roughly translate as "that's all that's left after me; that's all that I take with me":




It's sad that a recent commenter, I'm sure atypical of our country as a whole, recently chose to leave a comment on my blog: "You're not with those Russian twats now; you're in Britain, mate."

Perhaps a course in understanding wouldn't go amiss for him. Perhaps he could go over there for a month or two and see at first hand that people are people, wherever they are.

[hallowe'en] like to see someone say trick


Don't want you to get the idea that because I posted this, I'm being a wet blanket or anything.

Fat chance of that anyway. I'd forgotten the further north you go in this country, the more the kids are going to be out and about trick or treating. We've a bag of sweets and poisoned apples and so on ready to delve into when the rat-a-ta-tap comes.

So hope you survive Hallowe'en, people. Yo!

[disturbing music] and the nature of coincidence


Shows we have to be careful what we say on our blogs and need to do a bit of checking. I dropped in a throwaway line:

Still, I was glad I didn't come last.

... about the 2007 Weblog Awards, thinking, in the back of my mind, that it was some girl blogger who was in there. Oops - it was a long time blog colleague Steve, the Pub Philosopher and I have to say he was pretty good about it but I'm still kicking myself for having written it.

Which brings me to the point I made at his place about "coincidences" which might not be coincidences at all. You see, I was playing a mournful ditty called "Indifference":

Boomp3.com

... a French accordion thing possibly played in an out of the way French cafe during the last war. It sounds to me like an attempt to be cheerful at a stressful time one evening in a place quite foreign to my eyes and yet reeking of exotic despair at the same time, a la Piaf.

A haunting, unimportant little piece which gives me the shudders and I don't know why.

With these thoughts in mind, it struck me that it might be an idea to do a post on, say, "Music which can move you to tears but it sometimes has the opposite effect too." Then I noticed that the post on awards had a comment and ... of course, it was Steve. So I followed the link back and there was his musical post.

Why does some music move us and some just unnerves us? "Indifference" is a depressing ditty for me, something foreign, rendolent of an empty late-night bar, as cold as the coming new dark age , a song about the pointlessness of it all. It makes me restless, wanting to go over there again and immerse myself in that despair. Yes ... well ... anyway.

Bet it affects you [or not] completely differently. Maybe you'd care to mention some ditties which have a profound effect on you.

[friday chinwagging] setting the world to rights


We were just having a laugh about the "poor" Japanese whose standard of living is so low that they've just cut their rate from 0.5% [for seven years] to 0.3%. Oh, the life they must have been leading.

Back home, we see that it's possible to gain your PhD in Motorways Services. WTF? Do we have universities of Hamburgerology yet? Have you noticed that whatever you do to try to get a job, you need a CCSA or GTB/3 or CLAIT or whatever.

"Uh, I'd like to sweep the streets like."

"Fine, email your CV, send proof of your ADSS and by the way, are you a member of the GSPSS?"

'You wot?"

The discussion then got onto Broony and why the Tories haven't latched on to a little winner in Broony's stategy to borrow big, save the country by plunging us all into massive debt, then exit at the next election, laying it all on Dave or whoever the Tory leader will be. Why haven't the Tories pushed this angle yet?


H/T My mate

[james bond] no solace, it seems

The Telegraph has a nice review today. Looking good, James. Can't wait.

[rearguard action] not enough on ross

This is not good enough. He has to go. or else bring the others back, dock them a proportional amount of their pay and give them a final warning too. This stinks.

[roman catholic church] meets the pc world

Don't you think he looks super-cool here?


This Sex Drive Test for the Catholic clergy - well, it was predictable PCishness but if a bishop or monsignor or whatever they're termed in the RC church can't make a decision on a newcomer, then I'd suggest he is not right for the job.

A senior churchman said a series of sex scandals had contributed to the rewriting of the guidelines. The authors said screening would help avoid "tragic situations" caused by what they termed psychological defects.

The guidance says the voluntary tests should also aim to vet for those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies". Among other traits that might make a candidate unsuitable for the priesthood, the advice lists "uncertain sexual identity," "excessive rigidity of character" and "strong affective dependencies".

The document also makes reference to heterosexual urges. Seminarians should be barred if testing makes it "evident the candidate has difficulty living in celibacy: That is, if celibacy for him is lived as a burden so heavy that it compromises his affective and relational equilibrium", it says.

Any organization requires people as section managers who are able to process incomers without an HR department. HR is fine for a confirmation or nay but the whole reason the section manager is in place is because he/she has vast experience in this area. They should back this experience and if found wanting, then they're either moved sidewards or out.

The Church, with its financial underpinning, is an organization, a corporation [just ask P2 about that]. This blog is against that but as it is a fact of life, then it might as well act professionally.

Why can't the Catholic Church run a system like the Anglicans anyway, where marriage is allowed [real marriage, I mean]?

[bloggers choice awards 09] if you're that way inclined

My site was nominated for Best Political Blog!

It appears someone has nominated me for the Bloggers Choice Awards '09.

These things fill me with dread - as was shown in the Weblog Awards where someone nominated me, I made the finals, then got nowhere. Iain Dale was in those awards too and also got nowhere and I think most people would agree that the one who won it was a travesty. Still, I was glad I didn't come last.

My site was nominated for Best Blog of All Time!

In the Weblogs, I made no attempt to promote this blog and for that I was castigated by email, on the grounds of "if someone goes to the trouble of nominating you, at least you could mention it". Three of the BPers were a bit annoyed too, when I dropped out of the BP awards, in 2007, one of them writing to me: "Hey, I voted for you and now you're not there."

My site was nominated for Best Blogging Host!

So I'm going to put these badges in the sidebar and if you're that way inclined, you might mosey on over and give this blog a click but I don't think they're actually taking votes on this yet. Seems to me that they've just closed the 2008 awards.

I'm in the categories Best Political Blog [wouldn't mind this one], Best Blog of All Time [mind boggles at that one, have to laugh] and Best Blogging Host [which I don't fully understand, to be honest].

Anyway, there they are.

By the way, Bloghounds are soon to run an internal awards, pontificating on the blogosphere in a number of "fun categories" so we'll keep you informed on those.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

[scapegoats] while ross keeps his job

Jonathan Ross, 12 weeks while Brand and Douglas must depart? That stinks.

Among BBC staff, there is anger that she has been forced to fall on her sword, while Jonathan Ross clings on to his job.

Not just among BBC staff, I suspect. The test of what the public really thinks, whether they have the courage of their convictions, is at the end of the 12 weeks.

Will you boycott the show when Ross returns or will you keep watching regardless?

[the worcester combi boiler] the tale concludes

Sunday night - boiler breaks down.

Monday morning - the lack of heat in the house, upon waking, has my mate on the phone for an emergency callout. No problem, we'll be right over.

Monday evening - the repair man comes "right over" and determines that this time it is the fan which has crashed but of course it's too late to do anything about it. The "emergency call out fee" still stands though. Cold night in jacket and hood. Move to two pairs of socks.

Tuesday morning - awaiting the part and trying to get different jobs done.

Tuesday evening - nothing. Many phone calls but to no avail - answer machine is on at the other end.

Wednesday morning - after an unpleasantly cold night, my mate phones over and over and over to whatever numbers he can get hold of. No luck. Mood getting worse. Wearing three pairs of socks now.

Wednesday evening - fortunately, growling at one another is not on either agenda so we sit in silence, then watch a movie over supper. Then - knock on the door. Repairman comes in, complaining that my mate had called him "incompetent" to the girl at the end of the phone when what he'd actually said was that he [my mate's] confidence in the firm's competence was being steadily eroded. Repairman goes upstairs, complaining that he can't work with anyone watching him, it makes him nervous, so could my mate stay downstairs. Says he doesn't appreciate my mate's insults.

Wednesday, some five minutes later - repairman comes downstairs hugely apologetic. Sorry, sorry, it's the wrong fan. Must have ordered the wrong one. Sorry, sorry. My mate, big grin across his face, lets him out, then goes to his computer table, mouthing, over and over, "F---ing incredible! F---ing incredible." I burst out laughing and he sees the funny side too. He moans, "I want my mummy."

Wednesday, some hours later - after the two hundredth "f---ing incredible", we regret not seeing the look on the guy's face when, after castigating us for having little faith in his competence, he goes upstairs and sees that it's the wrong fan. Uproarious laughter all round. Freezing night - fourth pair of socks donned.

Thursday morning - my mate's had enough and goes to his parents for a shower, then to an appointment. I agree to stay in and see if anything happens.

Thursday afternoon - it's the door and it's the other repairman - the competent one. He goes upstairs and seven minutes later, comes back down - all done and the heating has already begun. :)

[indifferent cruelty] laying your agenda on another

If you can spare the 48 minutes [a tall order, I know] to look at this video with subtitles about the Beslan monsters, it will put the rest of this post in context.


The tame flamingo set upon by four youths, which has jammed talkback switchboards in Australia, illustrates a broader problem - that of the gutless and the sickos, often in the same package.

This blog sees no difference between the flamingo bashers, the Beslan terrorists, nutters who prey on women under the guise of respectable bloggers then accuse others of their very own guilt in blogposts, ASBOs who blame society, union shop stewards who cripple transport and rubbish collection, then tell people to blame the bosses, bosses who don't give a damn about the conditions of their employees, even switching off their heating to save money over winter and myriad other whingers and whiners.

Above all, the ones this blog places on the lowest rung in Dante's inferno are those who feel that everyone else must take on their agenda. The terrorist who holds a third party, maybe a child, hostage and then makes some political demand or other, with the child's life as the bargaining chip - these are gutless, uncaring people. The murderer who breaks down and cries that he had a tough childhood, the mother of the [still alleged] murderess Amanda Knox complaining to the media that it is traumatizing her daughter - these are all in the same boat as far as this blog is concerned. Do the acts proposed to the victim in the Kercher case bring any blogger's recent similar proposals on his site to mind?

Let's throw Jonathan Ross into that boat too.

Are more and more people becoming callous and uncaring these days or is it all a media beat-up? Hate crimes are one thing but cold, calculated, indifferent cruelty is another beast altogether.

[faroe islands] help bail out iceland


Like this one very much about the Faroe Islands helping to bail Iceland out:

The Faroe Islands, which have a population of less than 50,000, represent an autonomous province under Danish rule and are one of Iceland’s closest neighbors.

Faroese Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen told Fréttabladid that his countrymen feel sorry for their close Icelandic friends but emphasized that they are granting a loan but not a donation.

The Faroese are a Nordic/Celtic mix, the language is a Germanic dialect but they are officially semi-Danish. Whilst not part of the EU, EU travel rules do apply. The staple foods are whale and mutton. Just the country to be bailing Iceland out, yes?

Now, will Jersey bail Britain out? Or am I being Scilly?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

[thought for the day] wednesday evening

In adversity lies much humour.

This observation was made this evening after a a chain of events and errors which have left us freezing for a third night - so bizarre it has to have its own post, once the thing is resolved - maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, who knows?
:)

[high days coming] november first and second


As the well read and scholarly know, the festival of All Hallows [or All Saints] is on November 1st and that of All Souls is on November 2nd, at least in the western church.

Therefore the solemn ceremony of November 1st is preceded by All Hallows Evening, just as Christmas is preceded by Christmas Evening, the name of the former now contracted to Hallowe'en. It should be pointed out that:

It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 (which had itself been the date of a pagan holiday, the Feast of the Lemures) to November 1.

Naturally, Hallowe'en has overshadowed the other two days in the popular mind, through superior PR but the two days of the festival are still vital in the Christian calendar. For mine, All Souls is the more important because:

1. It encompasses the saints;
2. It can appeal to all denominations.

November 2nd is therefore a day to remember one's descendants and deceased family members, a day to pray that they are in a good, safe place, a day to pause and consider things in general.

[courage] should the underling call out the celebrity


The Jonathan Ross saga, which everyone is sick to death of now, illustrates one thing to me - what does a young producer do when an £18m a year star misbehaves? Getting off that and on to the Tenerife disaster in 1977, here was the critical exchange, prior to the KLM plane moving off down the runway:

17 :06 :32 (KLM first officer) – Is hij er niet af dan? {Is he not clear then?}

17 :06 :34 (KLM captain) – Wat zeg je? {What do you say?}

17 :06 :35 (KLM first officer) – EstIs hij er niet af, die Pan American? {Is he not clear that Pan American?}

17 :06 :36 (Angry KLM captain) – Jawel. {Oh yes. - emphatic}

For those not familiar with the story, the pilot was one of the main trainers at HQ who was "shaking the cobwebs out", having not flown for some time, except on simulators in the training room. Captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten was a company star, the golden boy, a celebrity who'd even graced the pages of the company in-flight magazine.

The First Officer was experienced but not in the same league, celebrity-wise, as the Captain. It was the Captain's impatience to be off home [with some justification perhaps] which tipped him over the safety edge and the First Officer did not object.

It must be tough for an underling to call a celebrity on a clear error which could make it all go pear shaped. I wonder if we'd have the guts to do it?

[classic posts] not all bloggers have them

Try Theo's contribution to Hallowe'en.

There are great blogs and then there are very good blogs which have some absolutely classic articles. On Obama, McCain and the election coverage, try these two:

* Great moments in election year blogging

* Lockwood and Malone

The first blogger here is dismissed by some and yet he has some classic stuff. The second does not post all that often but when he does, it's usually close to classic.

[hitler] and that trout and butter sauce dish


It looks yummy to me. I adore trout and salmon and in Russia, it's a staple dish. Cook it in herb butter sauce and it can't be beaten, that's if you like fish in the first place.

However, Belgian broadcaster VRT has banned the food programme Plat Prefere's segment on this dish because it was Hitler's favourite.

Uh-huh. Kindzmaraul was one of my favourite wines in Russia - very fruity and smooth tasting. Should I feel desperately guilty because it was reportedly Stalin's favourite wine? I once drove a Volkswagen during my time teaching in a Jewish school and this was looked at askance.

Should we avoid Rumblethumps and boycott the Scottish Kirk because Gordon is attached to both?

And while we're at it - Hitler disliked smoking so should we now ban the smoking ban?

[drayton manor] test case on admissions criteria


About the Drayton Manor High School thing and the principal, the fabulously named Sir Pritpal Singh ...

This is a test case, in a way, as it highlights the right of schools to determine their own admissions policy. In simple-speak, it means that the school will seek to minimize intake of "dead-loss students", thereby maintaining quality of education and classroom ambience, thereby boosting its rankings in the league tables.

Before the egalitarian, mediocratic procrusteans leap onto this, let me put in a word for the independent schools [no one inside calls them "private"]. If you call yourself a libertarian, i.e. the freedom to choose the education you want for your child and the freedom to set up a school which will deliver it, you can't therefore knock a school which aims for excellence.

You can't have it both ways. Either ALL schools work to a mediocratic median point and are open to ALL pupils regardless or else you allow choice and then there is ... well ... choice, such as Drayton Manor has made.

Anyone inside the system, as I once was, knows that the majority of independent schools are small and they struggle to gain good pupils. There are ethical limits to advertising and soliciting and you are only as good as:

1. your courses of study, professionalism of staff and care for the children;
2. your academic results.

Where the argument becomes shaky is that Drayton is a comprehensive in Ealing and some might say that, by using taxpayers' money, then it should, by definition be egalitarian, no matter what.

I'd humbly disagree.

In a semi-ideal system, parents would have the choice of two or three schools in the area and while not all three schools could apply the same criteria, as it would mean exclusion for the incapable, [an LEA matter], there is no reason why enhanced Key Stage test scores [SATs in the U.S.] could not be a criterion for entry or the schools own admissions test.

Back in the private system, now Ofsted controlled in the UK, we had an academic admissions test and it was up to the parents as to whether they could afford the fees, which were quite affordable, it being a small school.

There were international students and many from black, sub-continental and Asian background - the only criterion was the pass score and whether we felt we were able to assist the learning impaired [we had special needs facility]. Now the thing which came through loud and clear at PFA meetings was that it was the non-white parents who were most vehement that "dead-end" ASBOs not be admitted.

They had chosen to place their children in the school and this was their directive - to maintain the high standards and be ruthless with behavioural distractions. I've said that we had one criterion but of course that was combined with the interview process and whether both felt the school was of benefit to that child.

I would defend to the end the right of parents to determine that they wish their children to be in a "good school" and the way to achieve that is with an admissions policy set by the school itself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

[the worcester combi boiler] and the tale of cold feet

We are not happy chappies at the moment.

Boilers should last ten years, some have been known to last fifteen or even twenty years. If one buys the best available, on the grounds that it is less likely to go kaboom, then imagine one's feelings as this four year old device first loses its vacuum switch, turning the house into a cool store and then, some weeks later, the boiler fixed to the tune of a few hundred quid, the fan goes on it and the rigamarole of calling the man eight to ten times to get him to fix it runs into a three day affair [or even four], with no heat and no hot water.

No matter - no doubt you've all been in that position yourselves, with your very own Worcester Combi-Boiler. No doubt your toes were frozen half off your feet as the bumbling Worcester Combi-Boiler repair man led you into a false sense of security by promising he'd order the part and call you back the same day.

Seven hours ... eight hours .. nine hours ... then you called for the nth time and were told that he'd been trying to call you all day [an outright lie] and that he'd have the part by tomorrow sometime.

Did you feel the teensiest weensiest urge to kill, when that happened?

I know - we should be more manly about it, more robust - to plunge the face through the icy crust in the basin, to shed the jackets and double socks and be ... a Stoic. This is Sparta, after all, as Ordo would say. Besides, it might have happened between Christmas and new Year. Think about that!

It behoves a reader to bear the misfortunes and tribulations of others with equanimity so let's say no more about the matter. Let's put it out of mind and move onto more pleasant topics like discovering there was no Blogger problem after all and the three days composing from html could have been avoided, had I known that the bloody settings had decided to reconfigure themselves. Or even discovering what was previously a dormant investment fund, spending most of the day negotiating about it and getting the assurances that all was well and underway, only to be stymied by the fund manager at the last hurdle who has now frozen all redemptions on that fund for the foreseeable future.

Not to worry. What they can't prevent is hopping into bed with the Mac and watching the second half of Zorro from under the bedclothes. Nighty night, good people. Let's smile and think of people who really do have problems.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

UPDATE: Read Posh Totty's account at her place too.

[mary magdalen] judge for yourself


Clearly, the original, of which this above is but a photo, is not going to resolve the issue of the Mary Magdalene/John figure to the right of Jesus. Far better is this link to the Milan site - click on the Last Supper pic and then zoom to your heart's content.

If you accept that the cleaned up copy at the end of the link is close [and there is another one doing the rounds which is not only bright and clean but has been doctored or redrawn], then certain things are interesting.

Given that you know the arguments for it being John - that Leonardo and artists of that period painted youths as feminine, that there were only thirteen figures in all and that it appears to be Judas with the money bag below and to the front of Peter and John/Mary, then there does seem a good case for it being John.

Until you look at the zoomed in figure in detail. You make your own decision but that looks to me, not a femininized youth but a woman, the clasped hands also add support to that.

Now, if it were so, then who is the missing disciple? That's the key anomaly. Peter's left hand gesture and the knife in the right hand are also significant. Against that was that this is a painting, centuries later and that Leonardo was close enough to the reach of Rome not to risk incurring the wrath of the Church. He'd have to have been careful.

It seems pretty clear to me that he was hinting and the way in which, if you shift the figure of Mary/John to Jesus' left shoulder, it fits in perfectly with the idea of John's that he was leaning on His shoulder. Equally, it lends credence to the notion that it could have been Mary and if so, that the clasped hands signify either a wringing of hands or a penitent, innocent state, in contradiction to the prostitute legend. Then again, she'd have been reformed by the time of the Last Supper.

So, for argument's sake, if it was Mary Magdalene suggested there, why would Leonardo have suggested it? Some say because he was Priory of Sion. As a mason he'd also be likely to believe the wife of Jesus story too. Biblical references show she was certainly close to Him and I can well understand very close friendships with women which are actually platonic, despite the odds and the nudge-nudge wink-wink merchants.

Would it have killed the immortality of Christ if He had been married and if there had been an heir? All sources show that Mary Magdalene was deeply involved in the events around the crucifixion and resurrection. If you were in His shoes, knowing the agenda, knowing you were soon to ascend to heaven, would you impregnate your closest supporter?

Also, if Jesus appreciated women to that extent, why did He surround Himself with male disciples? The obvious answer was the custom of the time.

If you were to accept an heir, then each successive generation would progressively dilute the bloodline, despite it still being passed down and there was a grave risk in that for G-d. The enemy would surely try to either corrupt the line with itself [there was precedence for this] or else snuff it out.

That seems to me a great risk - better to pass, not a bloodline but an idea down through the disciples. The idea of the descendant being the returned messiah would also seem to be unnecessary - He can appear once more, just as He ascended.


Lastly, I don't think the idea of the marriage and heir affects the divinity one bit but it does seem more likely to me that she was a devotee and He may well have found comfort in her presence - who wouldn't have at His age?

The argument that He wouldn't have had the following if He'd been too close to her is a good one though but that could have cut both ways.

Monday, October 27, 2008

[thought for the day] monday evening


This photo is me just before bed now at 8 o'clock.


W-w-w-when the-the-the b-b-b-b-oiler b-b-breaks, your l-l-l-laptop is the only th-th-th-thing w-w-w-warm e-e-enou-gh-gh-gh to b-b-b-b-b-b-b-log on! [For a few minutes]

- Higham [2008]

[titus livius] the fall of big julie


Abridged version above


As Tiberius Gracchus has been running his series of posts on Livy and the Romans, it’s clearly time I muscled in on this act and what better way to start the ball rolling than to present to you:


Announcer: "Rinse the Blood Off My Toga," by Johnny Wayne and Frank Schuster—with apologies to William Shakespeare (and to Francis Bacon, just in case).
(FX—horn flourish) Rome! 44 B.C.

Flavius: My name is Flavius Maximus, Private Roman Eye. Licence number MMMCMLXXXVIII. It also comes in handy as an eye chart. I'm gonna tell ya about the Julius Caesar Caper. It all began during the Ides of March. I had just nailed Spartacus the Gladiator, he had a crooked lion who kept takin' a dive. Anyhow, I was just beginning to rest on my laurels when, suddenly— HE burst in to my office.

Brutus: You Flavius Maximus, private eye?

Flavius: I certainly am. What can I do for you? What's on your mind?

Brutus: Just a minute— Are we alone?

Flavius: Yes, we're alone.

Brutus: Are you sure we're alone?

Flavius: Yes, yes, I'm sure we're alone!

Brutus: Then who's that standing beside you?

Flavius: That's you.

Brutus: I know, but can I be trusted?

Flavius: (aside) I could see I was dealing with no ordinary man. This guy was a nut! (to Brutus) All right, what's on your mind?

Brutus: Flavius Maximus, a terrible thing has happened. It's the greatest crime in the history of Rome.

Flavius: right, give it to me straight. What's up?

Brutus: Julius Caesar has been murdered!

Flavius: Julius Caesar murdered! (aside) I couldn't believe my ears! Big Julie was dead!

Brutus: Yes, it happened just a few hours ago. Happened in the Senate; he was stabbed.

Flavius: Stabbed? In the Senate?

Brutus: No, not in the Senate. They got him right in the rotunda.

Flavius: That's a fatal spot. I had a splinter there once. Those marble splinters, you know—

Brutus: Boy, I tell you, all of Rome is in an uproar. I came to you because you are the top private eye in Rome. You've got to find the killer.

Flavius: Well, I'll try.

Brutus: Oh, you can do it. After all, you're the guy that got Clodius and Sullus and you sent them up on the invasion of the vestal virgins rap—

Flavius: Yes, the whole town was sure in an uproar about that, huh. Holy Jupiter!

Brutus: Now look, what do you say, Flavius? Will you take the case?

Flavius: Just a minute, pally. I'd like to know just whom I am working for?

Brutus: I'm a Senator. I was Caesar's best friend. The name is Brutus.

Flavius: Brutus,eh? All right, Brutus, you got yourself a boy. I'll take the case. My fee is 125 drachmas a day, in advance, of course.

Brutus: Okay, here you are!
(FX—sound of coins tinkling)

Flavius: You're one short.
(FX—one more coin)

Brutus: Hey, you got a good ear.

Flavius: When it comes to money—perfect pitch.

Brutus
Let's go, eh?

Concluded here

[tv quiz] which comedy show


Can you identify these shows or films?

1.

Siegfried: How do I know you're not Control?

MS: If I were Control, you'd already be dead.

Siegfried: If you were Control, you'd already be dead.

MS: Neither of us is dead, so I am obviously not from Control.

Shtarker: That actually makes sense.

2

"Politicians' language:

- Special development areas = marginal constituencies.

- Assistance to areas of economic hardship = pouring money into marginal constituencies.

- Decentralisation of government = moving government offices into marginal constituencies."

3

“Tough? Tough? It’s the toughest chicken I’ve ever known. It’s asked me for a fight in the car park twice!”

“Brandy please, Pamela.”

“Armagnac?”

“Yeah, that’ll do fine if you’re out of Brandy”

4

"Actually it was in gym class. I was trying to climb the ropes and Jerry was spotting me. I kept slipping and burning my thighs and then finally I slipped and fell on J....'s head. We've been close ever since."


"I'm in the unfortunate position of having to consider other people's feelings."

5

My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. She's now in a maximum security twilight home in Australia.

Jane [Seymour], you've been successfully married three times now. What's your secret?

Roseanne, is there anything you wish you hadn't eaten?


Answers


Unfortunately, with Blogger being down, answers will have to be clicked here.

[middle-east update] can livni make a difference


My approach to any research is to first go to the detractors, so here is the opening of this piece on Tzipora Malka "Tzipi" Livni:

Do not allow her smart clothing, the pleasant visage and friendly smile to hypnotize you and obscure the macabre agenda driving this life long Zionist -- the dream has always been Eretz Yisrael.

As with all Zionist Ashkenazi Prime Ministers before, her pedigree for the post is perfect: A sinister Mossad Spy, a murdering international terrorist and a legal apologist for the crimes of Israel internally and across the globe.

She does have Irgun links and was stationed in Paris in a "front" role as a local resident but that's as far as you can go. She is trying to win this election alone, without coalition partners.

Her background is lawyer/Mossad and her political stance can be expressed thus:

"We want to make clear that this region is one in which you either beat the neighborhood bully, or you join him. . . . All hesitation creates an image of weakness. Iran needs to understand the threat of a military move exists and is not being taken off the table. The more that this is made clear, the less the need to put this to use, later on. Thus, keeping the military threat on the table is important.`'

A known Sharonite, Livni stands firmly against the dismantlement of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and opposes a return to the 1967 borders. She is also vehemently against the repatriation of Palestinian refugees.

Her CV from a more pro-Israeli site states:

She is a graduate of Bar Ilan University Faculty of Law and has worked for 10 years as an attorney specializing in public and commercial law. She was awarded the Abirat Ha-Shilton in 2004. She was described as the second most power politician in Israel in 2006. She was included as the 52nd most powerful woman in the world as ranked by Forbes in 2007. She was included in the 2007 edition of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She speaks Hebrew, English and French.

Here's an interview with her:



State of play as I see it

The loss of resolution HJ Res 362 in congress means that the hawks might be outnumbered and with Obama probably coming in as U.S. Prez, there will be U.S. pressure on Israel to accommodate Palestinian aims, something, under Livni, which would not happen.

The possibility of blockading Iran is slipping away and the threat to Israel is therefore more dire than earlier. Russia is sweethearting Iran in trade deals and Obama will want to normalize relations with Russia, which has its own deals with China as well.

The long and the short of it is that middle-east relations are currently in a flat period, awaiting some elections and other developments on trade deals. For pundits, it's probably a case of keeping a weather eye open for now.

[good news monday] not

Remember - it's worse in China.

Charming, simply charming.

1. A possibility cropped up last week in that a tiny investment from long ago which I'd thought had gone to the wall still actually existed. On a good conversion rate $AUD to £UK it would see me through Christmas.

Two pieces of news today:

* Global financial markets have singled out the Australian dollar for special punishment. Over the weekend the local currency was subjected to its biggest sell-off since it was floated in 1983. The AU dollar closed in US trade down 37 per cent from the high it reached three months ago.

* Colonial [plus my own fund] has frozen daily withdrawals from investments in mortgages. It brings the total amount of money locked up within investment funds to more than $24 billion.

So, in summary, not redeemable and if it were, at a slashed conversion rate to pounds.

2. Our boiler has broken down for the second time in two weeks and the place is now heading for iceberg status. Looking like an eskimo as I type this. Hurry on flu.

3. Blogger is still down - are you having problems composing too?

4. Telegraph this morning:

* Mobile fingerprint check - Police to use handheld fingerprint scanners for id checks in the street.

* Gordon Brown vows to borrow and spend.

Have to laugh - we're absolutely knackered, aren't we? Have a lovely Monday wherever you are.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

[thought for the day] sunday evening

I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything.
- T.H. Huxley [1886]

Dedicated to Anonymous

[v for vendetta] two years too late


All right, this blog is two years too late but better late than never. The film V for Vendetta has many disquietening aspects before it gets to the plot. One is the hype, the marketing, right down to V capes and swords and the poster looks like something from the socialist left.

The basic premise is sound though and not so far away from Brown's Britain today. Those surveillance cameras, the detector vans, the government lies, the heavily controlled society, the bureaucratic obstacles to any progress and the everyday feel to the office scenes - they're already present.

The takeover by the messiah who comes in to mop up the mess his cronies induced, asking for a pledge of allegiance from the people - that's still a short way down the track and in the film, was almost cartoonish Hitler. The way he got to power, you'll recall was:

The country was divided over the loss of freedom until a bioterrorist attack occurred, killing about 100,000 people. The fear generated by the attack allowed Norsefire to silence opposition and win the next election by a landslide. A cure for the virus was discovered soon afterwards by a Norsefire company.

Point of interest:

Tony Blair's son Euan Blair worked on the film's production and is said (according to an interview with Stephen Fry) to have helped the filmmakers obtain the unparalleled filming access. This drew criticism of Blair from MP David Davis due to the content of the film.

I didn't see it as party political but rather what does happen in the end, once the ordinary person gets the catalyst to move from victim to avenger. A totalitarian state is a wasteful state, as huge amounts of resources are required to spy on, incarcerate and mistreat its population and Gordon must know that already there is more than an undercurrent of discontent.

He probably really believes he is actually doing good for his country, unaware of the true state of affairs but surely something inside him must tell him to be worried. Then again, people have still not been pushed enough to make that jump across the victim/hunter barrier.

That requires a catalyst, someone who can motivate, mobilize, give a nation back its heart. As DK wrote in his review of a review of the film:

This is what V manages to do: he not only makes people understand what has been done to them (one of the hardest tasks) but he unites people in indignation and gives them the inspiration to do something about it. It is for that reason that I find V For Vendetta so very uplifting.

He does that for me too and yes, DK - it is well nigh impossible to get people to see what they are really up against until the time has come.

[bag] from teabags to spaceships


If you drink copious amounts of tea, to the extent that you become known as Bag, then you will probably need to go a little more than the average mortal:

Maybe I'm not thinking right but I don't see what the big deal is about needing to go. Everyone has been caught short at some time. I have a really boring meeting every Monday where it regularly happens to me. What is the big deal?

Actually, Bag is not his real name. I'm now going to out him by announcing the:

Very Sir Lord Bag the Gnomic of Piddletrenthide Under Booth

When not covering vital issues like the Sudanese man forced to marry a goat [how many have done that] Bag presents his version of time travel:

I've done the normal trick of traveling from my home to Leeds, transit time 3H 15M. Travel home transit time 1H 25M. Don't ask me why that is common. Although the average for the outgoing journey is 2H 15M. Every time it is like that. There are a few roadworks springing up now so soon we will be plus 3H every trip. I can't wait.

Speaking of things SF, he contacted me with the news that the essential problem with my novels was that there weren't any spaceships in them. "Get some of those big, black, shiny buggers in there," he informed me and your books will take off.

Bag wonders why the good ships are always dull, grungy, slow and outdated while the enemy ships are always sleek, beautiful and displaying the latest in cutting edge technology. the goodies need to get their act together, it seems.

Because of this and other thinking, some have even accused Bag of plain common sense, to which he takes issue:

People are always talking about "common sense" but from what I see, there's nothing common about it at all.

An example of loopy public thinking:

Was sitting at traffic lights and across my view came a bus with the words 'You can't beat a bus' on it as part of a logo. On the advertisement underneath was a petrol guzzling 4x4. No hint of irony there then and the power of money at work.

Perhaps there's Scottish blood in Bag:

Although I was born in Scotland I have lived in England so long I don't have solid ties with Scotland itself. Although I still have family ties as most of my non-immediate relatives still live there. I've always considered myself a child of the UK and referred to myself as British. Perhaps because of my very background.

I suspect most people will identify with Bag' post on the fascistic antics of the current government:

Why don't they just tattoo us on the forehead and get it over with? Now will someone let me know where I can buy these latex fingertips to give myself false prints. Jeez, It's really hard to believe I'm law abiding1, I've got no criminal record, yet. Although I do do a few risky things. For example, I blog, I've eaten at McDonalds and I drive. All subversive tendencies so I'm bound to get nicked one day.

He can often be found around Second Life in his black and vermillion cape:

Well, Spent a bit of the day in Second Life today while the BlogPower awards preparations have been going on. Tom Paine from Last Ditch has invested a significant amount of time and effort to make sure everything is up and running and needs to be congratulated. I, of course, have played around setting off fireworks and getting people drunk.

Any possible doubts about Bag's sexuality could probably be put to rest by this:


I wonder if she looks like Nora Batty in real life. I can't complain - she was pleasant enough and my avatar isn't short, tubby and bald. I also chatted to a boxer. It seems that your SL character can build up strength, stamina and speed by going to the gym.

She took me to her gym to show me around and had a wrestling match with her instructor as a demonstration. Unbelievably, it seems that they hold matches in SL where when you are a certain skill level you can get paid. They also have people in shooting competitions, sword fighting, car racing..... There is lots in there.

On the downside you can have neighbours like Tom who set up a derelict flats with sewage, dumped cars and general rubbish to make an eyesore for the awards and put pressure on him. Just goes to show it really is a slice of life.

Perhaps Bag's blog should be renamed: "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

Now, sadly, he has gone into hiatus and posts on clay pigeon shooting, blowing up parliament and big, black, shiny spaceships must await another day when he returns through the wormhole.

[the man] mildly surprised the wallace book hasn't surfaced

Edward William Brooke III


The Man is the story of the first black president of the U.S.

Written by Irving Wallace in 1964, before the 25th Amendment and filmed in 1972, the plot is, basically:

The president and the speaker of the house are killed in West Germany when its parliament buildings suffer a collapse. The vice-president, elderly and in in very ill health, refuses to assume the office, pointing out that they'll need another replacement almost immediately.

Arthur Eaton (William Windom), the Secretary of State, is urged to take the office, but he points out that the law on the line of succession places the job with the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Douglass Dilman (Jones).

Obama's rise has been quite different and there was no assassination in The Man, so perhaps that's why the novel has been largely ignored.

[priory of sion] and other tares

The things which have to be borne in mind when contemplating the Da Vinci Code and the forces behind it, as well as the forces contained within the Church itself, include:

"If they "are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, (they'd) be making a very big mistake." [Tom Hanks]

... and:

Also at Cannes, Sir Ian McKellen was quoted as saying — "While I was reading the book I believed it entirely. Clever Dan Brown twisted my mind convincingly. But when I put it down I thought, 'What a load of [pause] potential codswallop."

This last quote was intended to go on to show that the Bible itself was also bunkum but what it actually shows is nothing at all, when it is not backed by something supporting the point of view. It is just a point of view.

Hanks' playing down of big budget movies in turn plays down the value of such an amazing medium for disseminating one's world view to the widest possible audience, something the Church does not have the facility to do except to church-goers. Hanks need not have known anything of the real symbology going on and for whom it was intended, with him being the big budget "token", the bait to get people through the cinema doors and later to buy the DVDs.

Running blind

People are so critical of substantial evidence that the resurrection and redemption could well have something to it - they'll go to great lengths - but they are so uncritical when it comes to alternative explanations for our condition.

It's also interesting that in times of deep trouble for the world [such as today], these debunkings of the Christ "myth" become all the more intense. In happier times they don't seem to crop up as much. It's not Christians who have become more vocal but anti-Christians who have become shrill, for seemingly no reason if the myth has supposedly been finally debunked.

They are launching scathing attacks on something which was not even being discussed by anyone, thereby bringing the theological aspects of Christianity back onto the discussion table in a way that Christians could never hope to do. About all that was left of Christianity was the "love thy neighbour" and "turn the other cheek" exhortations ... plus the faithful who know the truth.

In the movie/book, a distinction was made between the Church and elements within it. Much has been written about P2, for example and elements within Opus Dei. Opposing that was the Priory of Sion. The latter were disposed of in the film with the clip of the satanic sexual orgy involving the Grand Master who had been looking after the little girl of royal blood. Remember she went back to their "care" at the end. Some "care" that would be, looking as she did.

So who ends up as the Goodies in this whole saga? Not P2 and associates who have/had a stranglehold on the Church, not the Priory and Templars. One can only conclude that the goodies are meant to be the faithless great unwashed who smilingly "know" that it is all so much "hooey". You and me, the sceptics, all the shopping and credit worshippers and today's drug-addled youth.

Tale from the other side

Let's say, hypothetically, that you were one of three angels attending G-d in Heaven and you became aware of His plan to create, [or evolve, if you're that way inclined], a species which would contain elements of the deity inside its circuit board, i.e. you're talking little gods here.

Now you are the light bearer, one of the three greatest and here are these imperfect creatures running round naked in this garden paradise and each one is actually higher than you, when it comes down to it.

You'd be pretty p---ed off, wouldn't you? You'd protest and when that came to nought, you'd lead a rebellion and you'd lose. Fine, so you and your troops would find yourself on this earth and your first task would be to adulterate the human bloodline with your own kind - the Annunaki or Nephilim.

You'd create a race of giants, otherwise human in form, and they would assume control of the political side of the world through the generations. All the while, you'd be doing all you could to b-gg-r everything up [even literally] and laying false trails, providing mumbo jumbo rituals and ways to satisfy people's need to worship the deity they know exists because it is encoded in them.

You provide Baal and the Sun and Set and so on, creating hidden mysteries and all sorts of things humans find plausible and exciting but they are unaware they are actually worshipping you. Only the afficianados, the adepts, the inner circle, know that.

Spanner in the works

One day, the Force, reviewing the way things have not gone so well on earth so far, due to your meddling, comes up with a brilliant plan.

He sends some aspect of himself to earth with two simple messages. Believe in the power of the resurrection and do only good to your fellow man. Everyone knows, deep down, that Number two would transform society if it was allowed to succeed. Number one though is tougher to sell because though believers then do come to know, Doubting Thomases will never know and have no basis on which to refute it.

The moment JC pulls this resurrection trick, you know you have a problem on your hands. So you do all the usual things - kill off believers, create false churches, rewrite history so that "ancient documents" show the true royal bloodline, create an arcane knowledge which is known only to the adepts and get your PR right so that your product promises so much more and is more immediately gratifying to the punters.

An example of this is your festival of Hallowe'en, whereas the following days, All Saints and All Souls, are just grey dreariness by comparison. Do any shops sell All Saints gear? Like Robbie Rotten in Lazytown, he's more interesting than Sportacus, a dull fellow who pops up saving people from time to time.

In an infantilized society where deep things are never of interest, you have a captive audience.

Your real purpose though, as it has always been, is to destroy humans but it's a hard task as there are too many of the pests now. Sudan, Somalia, the world wars - good stuff but they don't provide the "final solution" you need. You have the world leadership in your pocket, you have most humans either deluded or cowed and the others are happily kept in their ignorance, the Church having been made to look ridiculous, even perverted and doing nothing to improve its image worldwide. Everything is image, after all, in a market economy.

And yet, like Agent Smith, despite everything you have tried, you still can't seem to deliver that killer blow.

Two no-nos


Apart form humanity itself, there are three other things that you need to kill off:

Faith, hope and charity

Once no one believes anything any more, once hope for society is gone and once we stop charitable feelings, the coast is then clear for the knockout blow to be delivered.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

[thought for the day] saturday evening

Everyone knows that when [if] Obama [or McCain] gets hit , the Veep steps in. My question and thought for the day is - which Veep would you vote for?



...or:

[in sickness] and in leadership


How many world leaders and people who have had an influence on the thinking of their times and on history, have actually been too sick to impartially do their work, for example:

In 1973, George Pompidou, premier of France, attended the summit meeting of world leaders in Reykjavik, Iceland. Journalists noted he wore a scarf around his neck. But why a scarf in May?

It was revealed later as an attempt to hide a swelling of his neck. But he could not conceal the swelling of his cheeks and face. Pompidou's bloated cheeks were the result of cortisone injections. He was also suffering from anemia ...

Others:

Cheney [heart], Blair [heart], Colin Powell [cancer], Arafat, Sharon, Castro, Abe, McCain, Kim - these are the standard conditions. But what of Charles Darwin , Stonewall Jackson [both obsessive compulsive], Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan [both with dementia], FD Roosevelt [polio], Pope John Paul II, Adolph Hitler , Mao Tse Tung, George Wallace, Pierre Trudeau [all with Parkinsons], JFK [multitude of ailments], many leaders [Aspergers], Henry VIII [syphilis, gout], to name a few.

How many leaders have had their conditions suppressed?

Each condition affects the individual in its own way but reflecting on your own illnesses over time - would you say you were functioning at your best at these times? What if you were making critical decisions in your work at the same time? What if your position were such that your decisions affected millions [or even a few hundred]?

[the andromeda strain] recurrence of a new theme


I watched three and a half hours of the mini-series DVD The Andromeda Strain last night and apart from the action which I quite liked, despite the suspension of disbelief in certain places, the thing which has struck me about almost all modern films I've seen in the past month are the themes:

1. that only a kick-ass woman can win through these days and men are basically inadequate [admittedly, this particular series is not a bad case of that];

2. the boldness with which the military industrial complex's clandestine agenda is being used to fill out the baddies' characters, something which was not permissible in Hollywood some time back.

3. the black mood themes of modern films.

Do films pander to public tastes or do the tastes reflect the themes of modern films?

UPDATE: I've just finished the mini-series. This book/film/mini-series has provoked a mini-discussion which I thought I'd bring you. How does time travel work? I don't mean how does it work but how does it overcome logical problems?

Example - in the Terminator series, the machines send a machine back to terminate John Connor. He sends a machine back to terminate the machine, thereby setting off a different reality, a different path. Yet Skynet follows the original path. If someone else from the future sent someone back to create a third path, somehow we'd have a multitude of actual historical paths not gelling with each other.

What would that do to both history and perception?

[guy ritchie] might just go back and watch one of his films



So Guy Ritchie has finally told the truth and said she looked like a granny on stage. According to Madge herself:

Ritchie's comments made Madonna feel "worthless [check], unattractive [check], unfeminine [check], insecure [check] and isolated [wouldn't know about that - there are her Kabbalist mates, after all]", reported London's Daily Mail, which has been forensically dissecting the break-up since Madonna's publicist announced it last week.

But the fact is, Madonna does look like a granny on stage, albeit a 21st century, super-fit, androgynous, very driven kind of granny...

You might have got the idea this blog does not much like the misnamed Madonna and you'd be right.

I envisage an island where all the Hiltons, Spears, Jolies, Beckams, Madonnas et al, can be airlifted, to romp around together in their wild animal luxury and leave the rest of us alone.

[so predictable] world financial reform

Finance pow-wow:

Ending a summit in Beijing, they also urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to play a greater role in helping countries hit by the market turmoil.

And while we're there, we'll institute UN control of international relations, WTO control of trade and WHO control of global health. As Shakespeare once wrote: "feeding on that which doth preserve the ill".

They're nothing if not predictable, these people.

Friday, October 24, 2008

[seven deadly sins] how do you fare

Greed:Very Low
 
Gluttony:Low
 
Wrath:Very Low
 
Sloth:Low
 
Envy:Very Low
 
Lust:Low
 
Pride:Very Low
 


The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on 4degreez.com

H/T Bag

[the real ubermouth] little known facts


The fearsome reputation of the Ubertunes-playing nemesis of naughty people belies her early start to life:

One day whilst walking the one mile to school after a rainy night, I noticed that there was an earthworm on the road. Worried that it might get run over, I bent to pick it up and safely put it on the grassy verge.

But then there was another. And another. There were f*cking millions of them all wriggling dangerously in the road!

I got to school somewhere around 11:00 only to have to explain why I was late.

Carrie had nothing on Uber in her teenage years:

The girls would all talk about their boyfriends who they hoped to marry ( at 15!) I had yet to be kissed properly.Not saying I was a prude BUT I closed my eyes when I showered so I didn't see nudity- MY OWN! Funny, how after 30 ,you revert back to that.

Later in life, after various vicissitudes, she found an idyll of solitude:

We have a 7 acre private wildlife sanctuary my mother created in one of the fields. She feeds all the animals and harbours them from the neighbouring KILLERS, who illegally hunt them if they stray onto their properties. We have everything from pheasants and deer to rabbits,badgers and foxes to name a few.

It's not all roses though, especially where culinary differences crop up:

Mum:"Would you like a banana?"

Me( not being a monkey and all) " No, thank you. I don't like bananas"

Mum: " Go on, have a banana"

ME: " Mum! I just told you,I HATE bananas."

Mum: "Really? I love bananas" ( her being a monkey and all).

We go through this ritual EVERY single time she eats a banana- which is ALL the time!

So now we're approaching Christmas but Uber has a warning for you, as a public service, to save you before you invite someone dangerous down your chimney:

[Santa] is overweight, clearly exploiting Mrs. Claus's domesticity. He is a slave driver of vertically challenged people (okay! Midgets!) who are hardly top runners in the employment stakes. He is constantly doing B and E's all over the world( but why is he not on any frigging naughty list?)

He keeps secret files on all of us. He is quite the dictator in his unilateral decisions pertaining to what list we are relegated to. He doesn't even answer his mail! How rude!

No wonder he wears RED!

Remember, Ubermouth is only dangerous around a nest of vipers - her cloak then turns bright vermillion, her nutter-hypocrite detecting antennae twirl round at amazing speed and it might not be a good idea to cross swords - Lilith has nothing on her.

With humans though, she's a true friend, warm and fuzzy with a voice of honey and a penchant for saving defenceless earthworms and other oppressed creatures.

[friday] today will be a superb day


"Conviviality, good cheer, chicken tikka sandwiches, cappuccino, muffins, fish'n chips, snug as a bug in a rug, good cheer, pint of ale, bracing cup of tea, sympathy and affection, uproarious laughter, closing a deal, bonuses, early end to the working day, exquisite paintings, fine opera or ballet in the evening, lots of blog commenters, stimulating discussion, feeling of security, intriguing novel"
These are just some of the cheerful words for this Friday. Yours is surely going to be a good and it will set you up for a relaxing weekend. Good luck, all readers.