Monday, September 28, 2009

[think big] but don't hold your breath

A man who doesn't do things by halves:

Dalton Chiscolm is unhappy about Bank of America's customer service - really, really unhappy. Chiscolm in August sued the largest US bank and its board, demanding that "1,784 billion, trillion dollars" be deposited into his account the next day. He also demanded an additional $US200,164,000, court papers show.

Attempts to reach Chiscolm were unsuccessful. A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.

"Incomprehensible," US District Judge Denny Chin said in a brief order released in Manhattan federal court. "He seems to be complaining that he placed a series of calls to the bank in New York and received inconsistent information from a 'Spanish woman,'" the judge wrote. "He apparently alleges that checks have been rejected because of incomplete routing numbers."

Would you be able to write that amount in numeral form?

[late evening listening] dearieme presents tiny and truck parham

[devices] with one function only

Mark Fu has an amusing post. Do you know what those devices are in the photo above? They are sleeves for the bar to hold the weights in and I'd guess 'd one kilo each. They used to in Russia. Mark asks:

Some things have just one function that justifies their existence; an umbrella for instance. Scuba gear is another that comes to mind. Since most of us are weight lifters in one manner or another, we have all run into barbell collars.

They have no other apparent use. Sure, you could use the ones pictured above at the dinner table to hold nice linen napkins, but I doubt any of us would actually do that.

So are we in agreement that barbell collars have only one function?

He then points us to an article here. Now my two observations are:

1. Was the guy so small that he could do that?

2. Did the guy have a brain in the first place?

All lifters have run into the newbie who wanders around like a lost sheep or the guy who spends half his time in front of the mirror, seeing if his biceps have grown any since he did a set of exercises. I've never run into anyone like this though. :)

[shapes] and their logic

Which of the shapes below completes the lower line?

triangle: pentagon square
square: hexagon hexagon square
pentagon: hexagon hexagon hexagon square triangle
hexagon: octagon octagon octagon octagon ______ ?

The choice of the shape which goes before the question mark depends on the value each shape caries and how it relates to the others in a mathematical relationship.

The will be up late this evening.

[airbus] here we go yet again

This blog has many articles on Airbus safety - that it is inherently and for quite valid reasons, unsafe. The last post is here and if you enter "Airbus" in the Blogger site search, you can see the other posts too.

Anonymous [appropriate, yes, for one throwing in the ad hominem] commented on the last post, on 25 September 2009:

Following your childish trend:

Maybe, the US corp. Goodrich has yet to learn how to make proper pitot tubes? "The European Aviation Safety Agency has issued a safety warning for air speed sensors that are made by Goodrich Corp. and fitted on many Airbus jets — just two weeks after advising airlines to use them instead of instruments made by Thales SA".

[the quality of intellectual debate] emotions v facts

The quality of debate, of research and analysis drives one to despair. Sonus [or was it Anon?] made the point that he was frantic that no one seemed to be listening. Simon & Garfunkel said it, years ago:

People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening

Now, from Charles Crawford:

Are we replacing the intellect with 'emotions'? Thus:

... we are essentially being invited to empathise, not intellectualise, and that is something I find astonishing. Not only does this kind of emotional discourse have an infantilising effect on the public - the assumption being that we are incapable of grasping complex strategic arguments - the failure to develop the argument beyond these basic moral categories is hopelessly counterproductive.

This blog is forever banging on about it.

[samantha geimer] why is no one listening to her

To blog on the Polanski thing is fraught because the vultures are waiting to construe any sort of interest in it in a certain way. Nevertheless, strategically, it is of real interest and it seems to be for others too who've been looking at what the tactics were in his move:

But it could also elevate his case into an international ordeal -- involving the governments of Switzerland, France, Poland and the United States -- and potentially complicate his possible extradition.

"The big issue is whether it would have been better for him to negotiate a surrender when he had the chance," Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson said. "Now it has become an international incident and the district attorney may be under pressure not to negotiate a sweetheart deal. They've gone to all this trouble of getting Switzerland involved. It could make it harder on him."

Nevertheless, some believe the arrest of the 76-year-old Academy Award winner could lead to a resolution that will allow him to once again travel freely.

There seem, to me, two things involved here. One is the feeling that the man is a sleaze who needs to be brought to justice, no matter what it takes and whatever laws are bent to achieve it. France doesn't have an extradition treaty and the Americans were frustrated but even so, the tone the woman official adopts leaves one a bit suspicious and concerned about the motives for pursuing Polanski. This smacks awfully of another feminist vendetta:

Previous attempts to nab Polanski when he left France were thwarted because authorities didn't learn of his travel soon enough -- or Polanski didn't make the trip, said William Sorukas, chief of the U.S. Marshals Service's domestic investigations branch.

"This is not the first time we have done this over the years," said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. She said warrants had been sent out whenever rumors circulated that he would be traveling to a country outside France.

In this case, the honor for Polanski's work proved to be his downfall, Gibbons said. "It was publicized on the Internet that he was going to be at the Zurich Film Festival," Gibbons said. "They were selling tickets online."

"This is not the first time we have done this over the years ..." No doubt, no doubt. You see, there are other issues involved, even the gender issue, very keenly felt by many males and obviously by females. One of the women bloggers in the Britblog Roundup even states on her site that she wants no anti-feminists there and "any anti-feminist thoughts will be deleted".

WTF? Does she want any discussion at all or just to push her agenda? If she wishes to push her agenda, who's going to read it? Other feminists? How is she going to convince the men to relinquish their oppressive power and make them feel more kindly towards her, with statements like that on her blog?

You see the problem here with this Polanski thing?

The second issue is the resentment among European nations of the Americans trying to push their agendas onto the rest of the world and this is a very great resentment, sorry to my American friends. There is a tendency for European nations to try to bloc anything the American's want, irrespective of how worthy it is and the very fact that this matter might become international shows the depth of the political feeling:

Meanwhile, Polanski’s arrest looked set to spark a diplomatic row. Frederic Mitterand, the French culture minister, said he was “deeply shocked” by the sudden arrest and had already discussed the matter with President Sarkozy.

The snubbing of Gordon Brown by Obama is a case in point. If you read my blog and any other centrist Britblog on the net, all are scathing of Brown and some want to see him hung at Tyburn Hill but ... but ... but ... there is also the contrary tendency to support Brown in this matter against the Americans.

This is why America is finding it so difficult abroad, why they can't understand why no one gets behind the Yoo Ess of Ay and backs them. Look, there's a lot of jealousy, a lot of protecting one's own patch, a lot of equal ego. Britain is a once mighty nation which is struggling to come to terms with its place and its place is not, in most Brits' minds, kowtowing to Obama.

Myself, I don't feel this. This blog is read half by Brits, half by Americans by and large and sometimes I feel quite American in my mindset. American, yes but not American government, a point made by people like Xlbrl. In this Polanski matter, there's a can of worms to be opened, far more extensive than just the incident itself, which is severely weakened by Samantha Geimer's own exhortations to leave him alone.

Sleazes shouldn't get away with it. Full stop. Period. Sleazes with moneyed connections should especially not get away with it. However, this issue has other overtones and all players in it need to recognize that.

Now, finally, let's get down to the other issue which heads up this blog. Why is no one listening to Samantha Geimer? Feminists make a big noise about the woman being heard, being listened to, her opinions being considered. OK, I'm considering Samantha Geimer's opinion, the so-called victim. I say "so-called" because she clearly doesn't see herself this way.

Geimer's opinion:

1. In a 2003 interview, Samantha Geimer said, "Straight up, what he did to me was wrong. But I wish he would return to America so the whole ordeal can be put to rest for both of us." Furthermore, "I'm sure if he could go back, he wouldn't do it again. He made a terrible mistake but he's paid for it".

2. In 2008, Geimer stated in an interview that she wishes Polanski would be forgiven, "I think he's sorry, I think he knows it was wrong. I don't think he's a danger to society. I don't think he needs to be locked up forever and no one has ever come out ever - besides me - and accused him of anything. It was 30 years ago now. It's an unpleasant memory ... (but) I can live with it."

3. That same month, [January, 2009], Samantha Geimer filed to have the charges against Polanski dismissed from court, saying that decades of publicity as well as the prosecutor's focus on lurid details continues to traumatize her and her family."

Now, the U.S. authorities, the feminists, Polansky's side and just about everyone else I've read, don't give a toss about that. They have their agenda, their slant on how things should be, that is that and to hell with any trauma for the victim, the very thing they're trying to avenge.

My stance is that a woman of 45 is competent to decide for herself and my resentment is that others seem to want to impose their own will on her.

In my opinion, the victim's wishes are paramount.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

[weight training] government even interferes with that

Back to the day on, day off

Talk about opportunistic. We bloggers would sell our soul for a post sometimes.

I went for a wander this afternoon to a gym down by the canal.

Now I'm signed up to start Tuesday and today we went over the equipment and as we spoke about the different exercises, I realized I didn't know the names for them in English. Is that ridiculous or what? I could tell him in Russian.

One utterly bloody ridiculous thing was the situation over the weights. I asked why he only had up to 17kg when I'd need 25kg to start with for the side/back muscles [one knee on the bench.] He told me it was UK Law - that Health and Safety decreed that only weights of a certain ... er ... weight were allowed.

What the !!$%^&*(&^%£!!?

It's a bloody gym, for crying out loud. There is this strange tendency, in a gym, for people to push weights. For that, if they incrementally improve, they need larger weights.

Nope, says the government. When you reach 17kg, you have to go to machines. But that's useless - the machine covers a different set of muscles. Tough, says the government. In our knowledge of all things involved in body building, this is what we say you can do.

I was flabbergasted just how far the Law has entered our personal lives, even to the point of making them more dangerous. I mean, does a grown adult, with trainer help, need nannying about what weights he can be allowed to lift?

I asked about free weights and the barbell. 40kg tops. That's girls' stuff. I'd have to use the Smith machine. But the machine doesn't train all the muscles. Tough. The government has said ......

Yeah, yeah, don't tell me any more. So, not only will I be overcoming my near death condition and trying to avoid heart attacks, I have to overcome the government as well.

"I'll help you," said the trainer.


Anyway, I'm going to have to start eating properly and bulking up again and that's not cheap. So which is it to be: 80kg of lard, living cheaply ... or 80kg of muscle, living on the breadline? Have to reflect on this one.

One interesting thing I learnt is why I can do more on my tris [narrow grip] than I can on my chest - incorrect technique. This should be interesting. I'll report back if I'm still alive.

Update: Harry Hook has the solution right here.

Incline press - can't do flat and ignore this

[famous structures] answer if you can

Name the:

Top left: Gorge;
Top right: Neighbourhood [not the city name];
Lower right: Park at the southern end [this side of English Bay];
Lower left: Now diverted river.


Avon Gorge, Foggy Bottom, Stanley Park, River Turia

Bristol was the place, the Watergate building, Vancouver and Valencia.

[late evening listening] dearieme and the crooners


My two:

One more:

Britblog Roundup N241 - Best of Britain

It seemed better to include a bit of text with each link in this week's Britblog Roundup but of course, this lengthened the whole thing. Never mind - think of it as an afternoon's read. :)

Let's cut straight to the chase:

Political issues
of the week

Andrew Allison has had a shock - a council which actually did the right thing, which is a sad statement in itself:

In my work for the Taxpayers' Alliance, I am regularly quoted criticising councils and councillors. Some would say I never have a good word to say about any of them, although I hope the councillors I do work with think differently. Today though I am writing this post to commend Hull City Council. Yesterday all our recycling bins were emptied and taken away.

Speaking of bureaucrats and jobsworths, Tim Worstall, quite unusually, addresses something else Polly has now said – that we're a social democratic nation. He gives three reasons to disagree:

The second is that we’re actually appallingly bad at running the encoutrements of a socially democratic state. The jobsworth, the form filling, clipboard wielding bureaucrat is a national figure of fun and has been for generations. In a way that a bureaucrat in Sweden say, or Germany, simply is not.

Mick Fealty, in the Telegraph, returns to the MPs expenses issue, noting:

...if we accepted the pay-it-back-without-further-punishment priniciple we might solve the prison overcrowding problem...

Mark Thompson revisits the spending cuts horror facing us all after the election and points out that swageing cuts of staff and services aren't going to help anyone:

Making people redundant is expensive and time-consuming. Companies that go down this path may live to regret it in a year or two when they suddenly find they have a shortage of staff and then have to start recruiting again (also not cheap) when they have only recently made staff redundant.

Mark Wadsworth says, "And another thing about Land Value Tax":

In other words, the NIMBY & Greenie Lobbies will prevent you from doing the obvious thing and building a nice little wind-surfing resort or nature retreat or whatever it is that people are prepared to pay for, instead, the owner has to tippy-toe gently through his own forest doing somebody else's bidding (at unknown cost).

... which led to this reply from The Economic Voice:

So I say, let's just wind the clock back at least fifty years and do what we used to do.

... followed by his own proposals.

The inscrutable North Northwester tackles the Home Office crime stats:

Now if anyone; anyone at all, wants to explain why police recorded crime figures are held to be less reliable than those produced by the noble Home Office statisticians, then feel free to use this blog’s comments facility.

We're told by new blog Nothing British:

Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, take note! A great scientific mind has emerged from the depths of the BNP.

It's put me in a difficult position that I'm supporting Nigel in Buckingham, because the Witanagemot mainstay, Little Man in a Toque, reports on the Bercow move, which might help England, if Bercow can be believed:

John Bercow has indicated that he would be prepared to preside over a debate on an English Parliament. Mr Bercow also indicated he would be prepared to preside over a debate on the establishment of an English Parliament, but added it was not the Speaker’s role to call for such a discussion.

That could set the cat among the pigeons.

Mr Eugenides considers the efficacy of a university debating background in leading to a later parliamentary career:

More to the point, perhaps, we played the game in the right spirit, dammit. Not for us the rituals of debating geeks up and down the land, burying their heads in back issues of the Economist and memorising statistics about world trade.

No, GUU men (and girls) stood up and took the fight to the opposition with rhetoric, confidence and (on a good day) razor-sharp wit; bristling with aggression, chutzpah and balls (particularly the girls), we were the first into the bar at the end of the day and the last out every night, without fail.

Trixy [voted Witanagemot's Most Shaggable Blogger 2008] enlists Flanders and Swann to answer the organized Irish who gave the No vote UKIP spokespeople a hard time and whilst she does that, offends just about everyone else who's not English:

[I]t's a sad state of affairs when these useless little jobsworths with no chance of getting even an internship in a private company have to drag everything back to William the Third, as the song goes. Or even Henry VIII.

The Devil's Kitchen comments on Charlotte Gore who wrote a rather good post on why statism is like having to make tea for the entire office:

"Yes, yes," I hear you cry. "But haven't you done that subject to death?"

Well, I have made my feelings fairly clear on a number of occasions, yes.

Last but not least, Janine, the Stroppybird is annoyed:

Firstly, the repeated mantra that "Everyone now accepts that there must be cuts in public spending." Secondly, the constant reference to "Britain's nuclear deterrent" in reports about Gordon Brown announcing a reduction in nuclear-armed submarines from four to three.

Old politics, same issues today

Still political but hardly current, The Croydonian has been trawling old Hansard and came up with the question of the dilapidated condition of the resting places of National Heroes, to which the reply was given:

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Masterman) The Secretary of State finds on inquiry that the vault which contains General Wolfe's remains is not in a dilapidated condition, but in common with all the vaults under the church it was closed and bricked up many years ago ...

Political doublespeak has never altered, it seems and nor has the economic situation, which Tiberius Gracchus traces to its roots, historian that he is:

The first thing that strikes me as an amateur in medieval history is that by the twelfth century, the review and hence the study probably suggest that monasteries evolved a more specialised structure in the period.

Monks specialised in hospitality for guests- abbots moved out of the general refectory, out of the general monastery into their own quarters. The structure of the society is both specialising and complicating.

By the way, Gracchi is the only blogger in the Britsphere who is actually two people.

The conferences

The estimable Tom Paine opines on the state of play as we go into the conferences:

No-one can guarantee us the government we hope for, but our expectations set a cap on the quality of our governance. As those expectations spiral downward, so do our chances of ever being well-governed.

Ross Fountain live blogs from the Lib Dem Conference and as it's a very long post, you'll need to go there to read the eulogy.

Nich Starling [indirectly] hits back:

The truth is this country needs more than a rearranging of the deckchairs. We do need policy that will dramatically alter the directing we take if not we risk returning back to where we are now in 10 years time because nobody genuinely believes the Tories will properly regulate the City (after all, their fundraising efforts are co-ordinated by hedge fund managers) whilst genuine policy breakthroughs like those outlined by IDS the other day on welfare do not seem to have been welcomed with open arms.

Jonathan Calder bemoans the changes at the Lib Dem conferences:

Whatever the truth of that, viewing this week’s Liberal Democrat from Market Harborough rather than Bournemouth has shown me how much things have changed since those days. And not only because it is now the Lib Dem leaders who provide the outlandish policies.

… while Max Atkinson notes:

So it was bad luck for Nick Clegg that he was wrapping up the LibDem conference at the same time as President Obama was speaking to the United Nations in New York, one result of which was that Sky News opted for live coverage from across the Atlantic rather than from Bournemouth.

Don't forget to head over to Helen Duffett’s Liberal Democrat Voice for the winners of the Blogger of the Year Awards – I won’t spoil it now by giving the game away ...

... and there is frightful news in the Lib Dem camp - Costigan Quist, at Himmelgarten CafĂ©, having swept all the awards but not wishing to get tied up in any shenanigans, has decided there’s no point going on. He’s called it a day and wishes the Lib Dems well.

Bill Quango, after commenting on the "church fete atmosphere" of the Lib Dem conference, looks towards the Labour Conference:

"Where are your troubles now.
Forgotten!....... I told you so.
We have no troubles here.
Here life is beautiful - the girls are beautiful - even the orchestra is beautiful.
Leave your troubles outside! Life is disappointing? Forget it!

... which requires Dave Cole to come in to defend Labour, particularly against that malcontent, Charles Clark:

Brown is going to be the Prime Minister into the next election. By continually pushing this point, Clarke is becoming more of a single-personality politician and all he is doing is damaging the party.

Mac the Knife weighs in [invective #*&^$% removed] on Cameron:

According to The Times, no fewer than 28 of his PPCs are either lobbyists or PR weasels.

Well, of course they are. That's exactly what parliament needs. Who's going to notice a few more whoring scumbags at the trough? Who
in their right #*&^$%ing mind would consider selecting individuals of proven worth and achievement?

God forbid!

Religion corner

The sort of social madness besetting our land today, this time bureaucratic PC madness, leads The Quiet Man to say, about the latest attempts at Christian-bashing:

[N]ormally I avoid health and safety gone mad issues (it's for the good of my health) but this crossed my path and I wondered if this was a deliberate attempt to alienate the population of England or merely another case of officious bureaucracy having a go at a weak seeming target (Christians).

In other religious news, Andrew Ian Dodge looks at Israel, nuclear weapons and Craig Murray:

Craig Murray is the same guy who once raised a quite commendable hell about a fat Uzbek oligarch Alisher (Jabba) Usmanov.

... and the Britblogosphere's own Archbish, Cranmer, writes, in answer to Dr. Suhaib Hassan, one of the UK's Sharia judges, concerning women under Sharia:

Quite so, Dr Hasan. But what of Muslim women who are not content with your ability to ‘enforce’ rulings in which women are manifestly not treated as equal to me? A very brave Muslim woman, Kavita Ramdya, has written in response.

Feminism corner

Jess McCabe says women are still under-represented in climate talks [we men are such beasts]:

Out of 146 national delegations at the UN climate talks on Tuesday, only seven were headed by women. Oxfam says this is an example of how women’s voices are still absent from the debate on climate change and what to do about it, even though - particularly the poorest, most marginalised - women will be worst affected, IPS reports.

The Daily [Maybe] takes the MSM to task for eulogizing Bardot:

The most outrageous element of the piece though is just that Bardot is held up to be some sort of feminist. AC Grayling that well known feminist philosopher (ummm) says, "I think Bardot represents one trend of feminism," Oh, do tell us which trend AC! "

She represents the power of women. What's iconic about her is her shape, the way she occupies space." What? She's a feminist because she's got T and A? This would be new feminism would it?

Laura Woodhouse's feminist hackles are raised by the University of Buckingham prof:

Female students do not attend lessons so pervy lecturers can take mental images of our curves and project them onto their no doubt long-suffering wives to improve their sex lives. Liberal Conspiracy's Laurie Penny reports the same story.

Cath Elliott, as she states in her "About", is an "unapologetic feminist". Interesting then then that I, a mere male, can agree with her on this completely:

We understand that prostitution is a form of violence against women. International and national studies show that for the vast majority of prostituted women, men and children the experience is one that involves physical, mental and sexual violence which traumatises and de-humanises.

Philobiblon says we can learn from a feminist utopia:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, published in 1915, created a new sub-genre, the feminist utopia.

There’s something delightfully ironic about the creation, for there’s no doubt her world, an all-female one getting along very nicely thank you, would have horrified the original creator of the form, Sir Thomas More.

Jackart, on the other hand, defends the equality of the sexes in their traditional mode:

I don't know why women get offended by people choosing to watch pretty tennis players. The motivation for women to watch rugby always seems to involve the word "thighs". Do I feel objectified?

I like pretty tennis players because I am biologically programmed to seek out healthy, youthful-looking women as mates. Girls like muscular Rugby players because they are programmed to seek out dominant, physically fit men to give their offspring the best genetic inheritance.

... and Feminazery quotes the Mail article on feminism, in an attempt to put it all in perspective:

“Thirty years later, when feminism exploded onto the scene, I was often mistaken for a supporter of the movement. But I have never been a feminist, because, having experienced my mother's violence, I always knew that women can be as vicious and irresponsible as men.”

Other UK social issues

Andrew Scott touches on the difficult one of someone suiciding and the inevitable recriminations:

"Mary's just done it for real. The hill... Eh? Hawkins... Mary Hawkins. She's just gone over the edge. Nuts eh? Bloody nuts."

An hour or so later Dr. Ben sat down beside Matt in the day room at the hospital and asked "Why didn't you try to stop her?"

Deogowulf takes a well known Britblogger to task on the mystery of life:

“The aim of life is to pass on one’s genes”, says Mr Worstall, adding that “we are told by the scientists” that it is so."

Well, randy scientists might tell him such things, but science — as knowledge only of the empirical-mechanical aspects of the world — does not.

Tim had put this point:

"Would I be being exploited if someone was crazed enough to want to carry and raise a child from my sperm? Absolutely not: I would think that I was exploiting them and rightly so."

A controversial nomination and inclusion this week is a non-blogging reader whom the Britsphere know very well from his meanderings and pithy observations and it's on account of his relevance and ubiquitousness that he's hereby included. Dearieme castigates your humble Britblog guest-host for this week on his defence of windfarms:

Your picture should be captioned "Two Sources of Shite". Wind farms are just subsidy farms - they are an utterly dud idea; you should be ashamed of yourself for entertaining the preposterous notion that they have any merit at all.

Jonathan Calder quotes Jenni Russell in the Guardian, to his surprise, on the adult/child issue:

This removal of general authority from adults, and its gradual replacement by state-sanctioned interventions, is utterly corrosive. It infantilises grown-ups, who lose one of the roles that societies have always expected them to fulfil.

Julia M also has something on Jenni Russell's article on the matter:

Stealthily, and without open political debate, we have moved from the assumption that all adults have a role in socialising children, towards a new and uncertain world in which contact with children is increasingly regulated by officials and the state. It is a kind of collective madness, in which the boundaries of what we are allowed to do shift too fast and too secretly for us to keep up.

Letters from a Tory comments:

Vetting scheme for adults gets even worse! Geeesh. And I thought the adults-giving-lifts-to-children vetting scheme was bad.

On the issue of child "counselling", following the horrendous accident in Suffolk, Pavlov's Cat says, in a post entitled "Vultures" [invective #*&^$% removed]:

For #*&^$%'s sake, were they on speed dial? Although I bet they were already on their touchy-feely way, once they'd pulled on their Orkney sweaters and Batik skirts and donned their Crocs. Did anybody ask the parents if they wanted their children 'counselled'* or would refusal be seen as akin to child abuse these days.

Reynolds brings us another human crisis involving a child:

My crewmate got the child out to the ambulance (where most of our equipment is) while I listened to the GP as he gave me a history of the child. Small for her age she had been vomiting for a few days, now she was severely dehydrated.

This is why she looked like one of the babies they show on the news when there is a drought or famine in another part of the world.

William Gruff has strong opinions on murder and decries the state of society today in England:

There are murderous scum walking our streets who should have been broken and disposed of long ago and a fear of condemning the innocent should not prevent us from dealing effectively with the guilty, no matter how 'redeemed' they may say they are.

Barkingside 21 blog has a problem with aircraft noise:

Last week I was waiting at the bus stop in Clayhall Avenue when a medium sized jet propelled aircraft of the type used at London City banked overhead and disappeared off towards the north. It was very noisy.

So, I was thinking about that during my bus journey. Part of the reason for the increased noise pollution is that the flight paths have been lowered by NATS. Why?

The Daily [Maybe] comes out strongly for the Tongan [which many might actually agree with]:

We push people to the margins of society, forbid them from working then harangue them for claiming benefits. We force people to live like animals then despise them for the conditions we have put them in. It's inhuman.

Concluding this section, Lord T, he who pulls no punches,wades straight in on the appalling state of our education system and what it's going to take to try to mend it:

Now to be honest it has been apparent this has been going on for several decades but has been accelerated and hidden well under a mountain of paperwork and statistics.

There have been a few holdouts, schools which are not controlled by the government, home schooling etc., but these areas are all now under attack, even when it is recognised that the general education system is not fit for purpose.

The socialist mantra seems to be we cannot have some people being better than others and so we need to make sure everyone is at the same level. Barely literate.

It is time we brought this under control and returned UK education back to being one of the best in the world.

The nature of being British - English, Scots, Irish or Welsh too

The Britblog Roundup need not be all about politics. Well yes, it needs to, to an extent but many other aspects of Brit life need to come in for comment as well:

Jams O'Donnell brings cheerier news, reporting on the increasing numbers of Sea Eagles in Scotland, a welcome sign:

“This is the result of a huge effort by many people over the past 30 years, he said. It shows what can be done to reinstate a key part of our natural heritage.

It remains important however for the population, especially the newly released birds in the east of the country, to be allowed to fully settle in and establish territories.”

Angus Dei, in his Saturday Snippets for example, writes of the matchstick Dalek being created by Brian Croucher:

This full scale matchstick model of one of television's scariest aliens is the work of Brian Croucher, 66, who spent more than two years on the task in the sitting room of his end of terrace house in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

I'm not sure if the cultured Chameleon, whom you'll find at performances like Berg's Wojzek at the Flemish opera, is linking Glasgow and juvenile behaviour but she waxes lyrical here, tongue in cheek [if such a thing is possible]:

Not that we really bear any deeply ingrained grudge against the inhabitants of our largest city, some of my best friends come from Glasgow.

The inevitable pang of guilt that accompanies such recklessly juvenile behaviour (in my case at least) assuaged by the fact that the replies bawled in unison are normally so garbled that the likelihood of them deciphering our abuse is negligible.

Susanne Lamido has had an achievement in being elected a Chair. Now I'd love to be a chair too, so well done to her:

Being the Chair for two years is a real commitment but everybody including officialdom seems to feel I'm up to the task.

Cherry Pie takes a sympathetic look at the Black Country:

In addition to the old industries and working life displayed at the Black Country Museum there is also a traditional funfair. The swingboats brought back fond memories of Sunday afternoon walks up the Wrekin.

Phillip Wilkinson, author of The English Buildings Book does the sort of post many out there in the Britsphere appreciate – politics-lite, heritage-rich:

Round the back of the refurbished and extended St Pancras station lies a secluded garden made up of the Old St Giles' burial ground and the churchyard of St Pancras, a quiet spot shaded by plane trees.

Apart from two men sweeping leaves I had the place to myself, and I was certainly the only person there interested in making a pilgrimage to this small but oddly influential English building, the mausoleum of the great architect Sir John Soane and his family.

In a similar vein, Diamond Geezer thought he’d visit Haringey:

Just for a change, I thought I'd spend my Open House weekend scouring two individual London boroughs. And the (unlikely) borough I picked for Saturday was Haringey (think Highgate, Tottenham, and all points inbetween).

Haringey merits but a single page in the Open House guide, and few of its attractions will ever draw large crowds from further away.

… and muses about a Green Olympics.

Speaking of Green, Philobiblon brings us the essential guide to Green Thought, with snippets like this for your delectation:

Bruno Latour’s theory of “hybridity” – spreading the capacity to “speak” across the human and non-human realms. Sounds odd – but then his claim that some parts of nature “speak” very loudly – charismatic megafauna such as polar bears and orangutans (through influential organizations) – much louder than of what many humans are capable.

Rivetting, eh?

Peter McGrath, at Swordplay, couldn't get more British than this:

"She sat up, broke wind and died." Ena Sharples in the first edition of Coronation Street, replayed on BBC Radio 4's always excellent Pick of the week.

Still on the topic of age, Missy Martin addresses the vicissitudes of getting old in Britain and she decries granny taxes:

I also seem to be going to a lot of funerals recently for another thing. An old family friend I’ve known since we were both kids said to me at one recently, “Weddings and funerals, that’s it for us now, Misssy. Weddings and funerals. Next time I see you will be when someone’s died.”

Taxes aside, Sackerson compares life in China and the UK:

In Britain, the 27.5% of the "people of working age" that might be employed but are not, number approximately 10.96 million. In China, estimates Eric Janszen of iTulip, there are 20 million officially unemployed and the real tally should be 40 - 50 million.

The technological Brit is a phenomenon of these isles and Neil Craig's A Place to Stand, following comments last Britblogroundup [240], publishes a submission on taking the money currently put into ESA & intead using it for space X-prizes. He quotes an expert that 2 years of our funding would be enough to give Britain a commercial orbital shuttle.

The Jailhouse Lawyer shows that Britblogging need not always be about politics.

Britbloggers casting eyes elsewhere

Harry Hook, always ascerbic and right on the money, turns his attention to this appalling situation in the U.S., which is becoming more and more militarized as that unhappy nation goes on:

Pittsburgh University students get a taste of the New World Order.

... rivetting, horrifying and also commented on by Trooper Thompson.

Charles Crawford runs a piece on the Russian mindset, something I know of quite well, having lived there for 12 years until last year, when I returned to Blighty:

Russians of course are entitled to be proud and tough people. They have good reason to fear that their unfeasibly large country has to go through further spasms of de-imperialisation, and must eventually disintegrate into many smaller units. Russia does not have the people to deal with the Chinese/Asian 'colonisation' of its eastern reaches which is slowly happening.

For a good take on foreign affairs from a Brit perspective, Alex Goodall and Scott Green are your boys.


Britblog stalwart Matt Wardman has himself run his mini-roundup and there are some fine sites to visit at the end of Matt's link.

A further reminder, readers, that Cabalamat will be hosting the Britblog Roundup next week, so get all your nominations in to:

... and while you're there, you might like to check out the other Britblog Roundups listed in the sidebar. For those who visit my blog, please now change your urls to .

Apologies to those who put their entries in after this went up, expecting that they were early enough for a Monday roundup. Mea culpa. I forgot to mention that I tend to be early, the type who arrives at his funeral the day before he dies.

Not to worry - those nominations will be picked up by Cabalamat, for N242.

[Late note - not strictly eligible but interesting nonetheless.]

[wind farms] what's all the fuss

Unlike in posts involving such issues as Common Purpose and Them, which I'll vehemently debate with anyone, your humble blogger comes to this issue as a WindFarm virgin.

We're told that they are awful for the environment, that they are an eyesore, that they do not produce anywhere near the power that is claimed for them. I really can't say. They're certainly not beautiful, spread out like Brown's cows over the countryside but if they're contained within a narrow area, in rows, then why not?

There was a bank of these on the road from Catania to Modica, in Sicily, high on the hill in the distance and they didn't seem too bad. The blades were all turning in unison, in some sort of futuristic ballet in plasticized nature .

When one considers the alternatives - the Tar Sands of Alberta or the nuclear waste dumping off the Ivory Coast, then windfarms seem, to me, to be the least worst alternative, apart from solar panels, of course. Solar panels are great for countries such as Australia and there are many on roofs, especially the further north you go.

For Britain, with its scant sunlight and for the Netherlands, open to the elements, windfarms would seem a sensible idea. Perhaps you can correct me on this.

[endless beer] at no extra cost

Let's say that at one time, the Canadian and US dollars were discounted by 10 cents on each side of the border (i.e., a Canadian dollar was worth 90 US cents in the US, and a US dollar was worth 90 Canadian cents in Canada).

A man walks into a bar on the US side of the border, [long ago when beer cost 10 cents], orders 10 US cents worth of beer, pays with a US dollar and receives a Canadian dollar in change. He then walks across the border to Canada, orders 10 Canadian cents worth of beer, pays with a Canadian dollar and receives a US dollar in change.

He continues this throughout the day, and ends up drunk with the original dollar in his pocket.

Who pays for the drinks?

Here's what the official answer was.

[dare to design] six to consider

[the next day] some photos

Sorry, sorry, I know it doesn't interest you but I just had to run these pics from the Herald Sun because they summed it all up and paint a picture. It's the last time, I promise:

Just a word about this one above. That's a man regarded as one of, if not the best player ever and the young baldy in the photo above is his son who played a champ's game yesterday.

OK - all done. You're safe again.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

[round the world] another youngster trying it

What's going on here? Is there something in the atmosphere?

Remember 13 year old Laura Dekker and how she attempted to sail around the world solo but was stopped by a Dutch court?

Well now another one is at it:

Adventurer Don McIntyre is standing by teenage sailor Jessica Watson in the wake of an official report that calls into question her ability to survive her journey.

Mr McIntyre says he won't strip the 16-year-old of the $150,000 yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, he provided for her solo trip around the world.

That may be so but even though I'd prefer his judgement to that of a court, still:

A Maritime Safety Queensland report into the teenager's collision with 63,000-tonne cargo ship Silver Yang found she had probably been dozing at the time. She had not turned on an alarm, could not produce a clear plotted plan for her journey and had not developed a fatigue management plan, according to the report.

She was less than 24-hours into a 10-day test run from Mooloolaba to Sydney when the accident occurred in the early hours of September 9.

That is more damning and now I really think out what is involved in a voyage, the idea of a kid being able to remain up to it for the whole time and in all conditions is a bit much.

I can understand how Mr. McIntyre would have faith in her. A girl that age can be pretty confident and give the impression of competence. She's probably a good girl with her head screwed on right.

That crash was not good though.

[karma] and the need to remain circumspect

Further to that business of all the cars arriving at once when I reach a certain spot on the pavement with my bike, I did a little research and it seems that coincidences or maybe conjunctions of circumstances have been going on for a long time:

In 1893, Henry Ziegland ended a relationship with his girlfriend. Tragically, his girlfriend took the news very badly, became distraught and took her own life. Her distressed brother blamed his sister’s death upon Henry, he went round to Henry’s house, saw him out in the garden and tried to shoot him.

Luckily, the bullet only grazed Henry’s face and embedded itself in a nearby tree. In 1913, twenty years after this incident, Henry decided to use dynamite to uproot a tree in his garden. The explosion propelled the embedded bullet from the tree straight into Henry Ziegland’s head – killing him immediately.

What about this one from February this year?

The chance of winning the lottery is often said to be a tad bit smaller than the chance of being hit by lightning. Lightning is said never to strike twice at the same place. So consider the odds of someone winning the lotter. Twice. On the same day. From the same lottery.

That’s what happened to James McAllister (62) from Acworth, USA, when he bought two scratch off tickets on Valentine’s day. James brought his wife for a Valentine’s breakfast. Along Highway 92 he bought a Georgia Lottery Millionaire Jumbo Bucks scratch off ticket — and won $5,000.

Apparently not completely satisfied, or maybe feeling this was his lucky day, later on in the day he bought another ticket as he was shopping for a Valentine’s card for his wife. Scratching that one off was worth $250,000.

Agatha Christie played with the idea by putting these words into Mr. Satterthwaite's mouth, the woman he was addressing considering suicide:

“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? You, as you, may not matter to anyone in the world but you as a person in a particular place and a particular context may matter unimaginably.”

Broadening this

Today I had a commenter on one post [now deleted] and instantly, the moment came to mind when Poirot said this to Jacqueline de Bellefort who was contemplating murder:

‘Don’t open your heart to evil, Mademoiselle because if you do, it will surely come and make its home in there.’

You can call that melodramatic but I really do believe that if you pursue MAD, you really do become mad in the deepest and most permanent sense and you can't get it off your back or out of your system. You get locked in until something is destroyed but the black joke is that it is never destroyed - it comes back at you and destroys you from inside.

I don't think "turn the other cheek" was an exhortation to weakness, quite the opposite - it was something which requires great willpower. Today I paused and I was going to make the mistake of responding. Now I'm glad I didn't.

Positive karma

Don't start getting the idea I'm a tree-hugger but I do believe that if something occurs, it may well have a bearing on something else or have a reason for it. Douglas Adams made fun of that with his "fundamental interconnectedness of all things", the Australian aborigines are right into this stuff and I think there's something in it. Not sure what but there is.

Enough mysticism for one evening.

[late evening listening] harmony

[missionaries and cannibals] get them to the other side

Three missionaries and three cannibals want to get to the other side of a river. There is a small boat, which can fit only two. To prevent a tragedy, there can never be more cannibals than missionaries together.

Work out the combinations necessary to get them all safely to the other side. The solution is going to be something like:

1 missionary and 1 cannibal there, 1 missionary back;
1 missionary and 1 cannibal there .....

And so on. Solution will be given tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning: Answer is here.

[police tactics] watch and decide for yourself

Harry Hook has posted a series of vids but this one in particular got under the guard:

The reason it did is because it is so different from anything I've seen before. In my young days I wasn't above attending demonstrations and I observed out and out provocation by professional demonstrators who worried the police horses into bolting - these are the same people who screamed about animal rights.

On the other hand, I also saw inexperienced officers goaded by experienced officers into overreacting, out of all proportion to the provocation.

I have not seen police all dressed in black, with POLICE written across their chests in big letters, advancing on university students and beating on their shields in unison, like something out of Zulu. Say what you like but that is intimidation, psy-ops, pure and simple.

In the natural state for most of us, we'd prefer a comfortable life of full employment and looking after our families. Left of centre, right of centre, whatever - what we are not prepared for is actual police state tactics like this. Watch the Pittsburgh video and decide for yourself.

The bottom line

Those men behind that armour have wives and kids. Some of those kids are at that university. The kids on the balconies were not bad kids, ASBOs, as you could see. They were uni students. Those humans behind the armour were firing on kids. Who told them to do that and why did they follow that order?

This is America?

2009 AFL Grand Final - Geelong v St Kilda

All photos are courtesy of The Herald Sun Online and The Age Online.

Luke Ball neatly summarised the grief that washed over the St Kilda rooms after their loss of a desperately close 2009 AFL grand final to Geelong on Saturday.

Tears were plentiful - not least from inconsolable captain Nick Riewoldt - as the Saints came to terms with the fact that this was a year in which they carried all before them except the premiership cup.

"Half an hour ago was the worst feeling I've had in my life, to be honest. It was shocking," Ball said. "Just looking around at a few of the older guys as well, it was as bad as I've felt.

St Kilda's efforts in 2009 were inspired by how the Cats had raised the standard of the game over the previous two seasons, and Ball said the league owed much to the Geelong club for their combination of class and unstinting application.

"Full credit to them, they're a fantastic team," he said. "The competition as a whole has a lot to thank Geelong for over the past three years, the way they've gone about it. We certainly chased them pretty hard and tried to model ourselves on them a bit, but they were just a bit too good when it mattered."

A word of explanation about this. The AFL instituted, in the early 90s, a new policy which evened up the competition. Until then, the moneyed clubs [the Man Us of the world] usually won or were thereabouts and consequently had the largest number of fans. The also-rans, like St Kilda, were the perpetual whipping boys and some of these clubs broke up in the reorganization.

St Kilda, one of the original teams, did not break up and slowly, over 5-7 years, built itself up until this season, when they swept all before them, including Geelong. In Australia, there is great affection for St Kilda and many rate them as their "second club", along with the old Fitzroy. No one dilikes them.

So, in 2009 unfortunately, Geelong were cast as the party-poopers and yet theirs too, many forget, was a rags-to-riches story, some years earlier.

Geelong was one of the two original teams, with Melbourne, in 1859 and is from a coastal town [now a city], often referred to as "sleepy hollow". Let's face it, they can be a bit provincial down that way and the city slickers make a lot of fun of the town's reputation as "hicksville" though this was far from the truth.

For all that, over the decades, they've produced some stunning teams, country boys, farmers' sons and while discipline was never their catchcry, exciting, free-flowing football was their motif, not unlike the southern hemisphere clubs and the Barbarians in rugby.

As the outsiders in the competition but never one of "the city clubs", not unlike me in the Britblogosphere, they rebuilt and had some hearbreaking losses in the past five years, despite co-opting a coach [manager] from one of the city teams, a proven champion and a hard taskmaster.

He taught them self-discipline and dedication and two years ago, the result came - they took the flag after a 44 year layoff, that previous flag itself after an 11 year layoff. You get the idea - always up there but never getting the cream.

In 2007 though, they were the champs.

In the modern system, teams tend to be up for three, maybe four years and any flags have to be won during that time, before players age too much and the machine shows signs of cracking. That's why, last year, having won almost everything during the 2008 season, often grinding other sides into the dirt, they were pipped on the one day which counted - the last day in September.

As you can gather from the opening remarks in this post, that hurt. That really kicked them in the guts. Would they recover in 2009?

Well, they did and they didn't. The new golden boys, St Kilda, all praise to their coach and to them, were now sweeping all before them. After Geelong lost to them mid-season, they fell apart a bit and it was touch and go if they'd even see the grand final.

As you know by now, they did manage to get there but as the underdogs to St Kilda and throughout the game, that's how it was panning out - St Kilda having far more scoring shots but Geelong pressure and their nerves not helping them in their cause.

Geelong, now an ageing team, would surely succumb to the fresh youngbloods but in the end, it was sheer grit and experience which saw them over the line in a very close battle all day.

Relief, more than elation was the prevailing emotion, some sort of redemption after 2008 and the coach, Bomber Thomson, made that point in the after-match press conference. The other coach, Ross Lyon, stoical, put it down to those small percentage things on the day.

What next?

Can St Kilda show real character and bounce back next year to "avenge" their loss?

Can Geelong do it one more time, after their sell-by date? Will they still have the hunger?

There are 14 other teams who'll have a say in that matter as well.

... for now.