Tuesday, June 30, 2009

[dilemma for the day] new series, part one


After the coup, the loyalists crammed on board four mini-subs and fled for the uninhabited island they'd predetermined to secretly live on ever after. The island was so configured that cover was excellent, in the form of caves in the hill, there was wildlife and they'd brought seeds and the necessities of life. The subs were well armed but those remaining twelve missiles had to be used sparingly and only on genuine 1st world targets, when absolutely necessary.

They surfaced in a little bay and a reconnaissance crew went ashore to ensure the island was as deserted as they'd calculated. To their dismay, they found four war canoes and soon found the warriors. In their parley, by sign language, a surly type indicated that they were an advance party from their own island a thousand kilometres away and this island had been chosen as the place the tribe would settle.

The fugitives had a problem.

The surly type picked up on this, began making demands, then got nasty. Spears were raised and were about to be be thrown when the Lieutenant whipped out a handgun and shot the surly one in the leg. The warriors appeared stunned, then all fled further inland. The crew returned to the sub and communicated on secure channel with the other three subs.

Immediately, they looked outside and the warriors were swarming all over the subs, hacking at the surface with their spears. Enraged, they jumped into their long war canoes and started paddling at great speed for the open water.

'Sir,' said Captain Laurence Sanders to his superior officer, 'if even one of those canoes makes it back, our cover is blown and either we'll have a whole island full of warriors to contend with but even more likely, GPS will pick up their return, at speed. That will interest our former nation's new rulers greatly.'

'What do you suggest, Laurence?'

'You know as well as I do, Sir,' he answered. 'We have to take out every last one of them before they get too far out to sea. If we take them out right now, they'll drift back to shore. Past the point, they could drift anywhere.'

'NO!' screamed the senior officer's wife. 'No, that's pure genocide.'

'Emma,' said her husband. 'What would you suggest?'

'Talk to them, let them see how much damage we can inflict if we wish to, destroy their canoes but don't kill them!'

'If our missile hits their boat, the boat and crew disintegrate.'

'Sir,' advised Lieutenant Adam Brothers. 'At a minimum, it would take four of our twelve missiles - total wastage. And what if we really need them for the usurper's fleet later?'

'We'll put it to the vote immediately. There are six men, six women and I retain the casting vote. We either fire in the next two minutes, before the lead boat reaches the point or we don't fire and we'll have to try to ram their boats and save some of the crew.'

'Which would leave us in permanent danger on the island from their attack, especially at night and if any escaped, we'd be right back where we were,' muttered Laurence.

'Right, no time to lose,' snapped the superior officer. 'If you vote to shoot, the ultimate responsibility is mine because that is what I'm voting to do. So, all of you. To shoot or not to shoot? Come on people, no longer than a minute to decide. Any hesitation I'm going to count as a yes.'

What is your decision, reader?

[alcohol] which nations drink the most


Now here's a big shock - the most alcohol soaked nations on earth are below. Are those vodka soaked Russkies and Finns near the top? Are the German and Australian lager lovers? Take a stab at the top ten in your head first, then check below and here.

# 1 Luxembourg: 15.5 litres per capita
# 2 France: 14.8 litres per capita
# 3 Ireland: 13.5 litres per capita
# 4 Hungary: 13.4 litres per capita
# 5 Czech Republic: 12.1 litres per capita
# 6 Spain: 11.7 litres per capita
# 7 Denmark: 11.5 litres per capita
# 8 Portugal: 11.4 litres per capita
# 9 United Kingdom: 11.2 litres per capita
# 10 Austria: 11.1 litres per capita

[small business] poisonous atmosphere inimical to it

You've all seen it:

Charles Clarke and Jacqui Smith, two former home secretaries, had said they expected to reach a “tipping point” of 80 per cent of British people using ID cards by 2018, at which point their use would have been made compulsory by law. However, when asked yesterday whether that was still the case, Mr Johnson stated a categoric “no”.

Yeah, yeah, more of the same. Yada, yada. We've all commented on this government, on its wastage, on its ludicrous pies in the sky, while we lose our jobs or can't find one we would have walked into a couple of years back - the sheer ignominy of going for positions one used to offer oneself a few years back.

What Smirky Brown and Peacock Cameron, [strutting about making very witty comments about Brown], have no concept of, in their very clubby atmosphere, is that the chances of anyone setting up a small business in the UK are zilch. Nada.

This is exacerbated by the crippling tax code, the prohibitive council rentals, the total power they have to determine what your business must be and how it must be run and the total lack of room to move. - the contentment to grind a business down until it's bust and then wait hopefully for the next one to do the same to.

'Oh dear,' the sharks shake their heads at each other. 'No one's tried to start a business in the last few months.'

'Wonder why that is?' says Shark 2.

'Must be the worldwide economic climate,' nods Shark 3.

There is no 'we'll get behind you and cushion your first year', no concessions, no incentives, no schemes in place which are not undercut by taking from you in another area, no effing leadership from the top! Just the dead hand of socialism.

You see a boarded up shop front and think, 'I could make a go of selling XXXX here.' Then you learn they want £5000 up front, plus this, plus that, before you've even started. I know. I've checked it out in the area.

From the banks to the councils, when you walk through those doors, it's all about how much money they can make out of you, to infinitesimally offset their own losses due to their profligate and criminal incompetence. Anyone at all stupid enough to try to float a company - the sharks see him coming. All the forms come out to be signed - a percentage for this, a percentage for that ......

The small business climate is poisonous, lethal, prohibitive. A company I know the head of went to the wall on Friday and it really came home to me. This is a company where money was coming in and quite reasonable money. The money going out was crippling. A change of EU regulations meant that new systems he'd installed were now 'illegal' and had to be replaced at an all up cost of £13000, including having to divert staff to this completely meaningless drivel.

They made one too many demands on him and he folded. Unbe-effing-lievable!

Doesn't this country want any small business at all?

Sorry.

[airbus] yet another down

Another Airbus down. Add that to the list. Anyone planning a holiday via Airbus?

[wrong women] peter principle illustrated

Veronique Morali


The parallels between Sotomayor and her era of new appointees is striking. I had a post ready to go on Sotomayor earlier and didn't run it because it was boring. However:
The Supreme Court's reversal yesterday of a decision endorsed by Sonia Sotomayor as a federal appeals judge provided fresh ammunition for her conservative critics two weeks before her Senate confirmation hearing, but also allowed defenders to cast her as a judge who respects precedent.

She'll be nominated of course because this is the Era of Wrong Appointments - witness Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Precisely the wrong 'new women', talentless in leadership but with a lot of lip, are also getting appointed under 'positive discrimination' - people like Flint in the UK, Lynch in Canada and Sotomayor in the States.

It's Fiorina and Dunn all over again - a lot of mouth, really good at sacking people and appearing efficient to adoring hangers-on but appointed above their station.

Monica Conyers was in a different role but the story is the same. No matter what anyone says, gender is a factor here. There is a particular type of woman whose efforts to Force those around her to bend to her will and the way she flies off the handle when she doesn't get her own way, like a spoilt child, is going to make powerful enemies, particularly among male colleagues. This is not the way to go in an environment which doesn't fully accept you in the first place anyway and is looking for you to fall.

This was how Sarkozy cut the Segie magnetism in that debate - by provoking her to anger. Veronique Morali, of Force Femmes, is another who should not be let near a boardroom for her obvious bias. If there was her and another woman beside her of equal accomplishments but without the chip on the shoulder about her gender, then you'd appoint the other, on the grounds that she could give 100% to the company.

I'm not going to balance this to avoid being called sexist, by listing a lot of unsuitable men. There are so many. Take your pick of males who should never have been appointed, from Goodwin to Brown himself. They infest the public world, these non-comps but there IS a type of woman too, such as I've described and she should never be let near the reins of power. Merkel is one such person. Remember, a high flyer is just that - a high flyer and into high flying. A high flying woman complicates the issue by bringing gender into it.

The right person to put in is someone with a deep understanding of structure and process, with no real chip on the shoulder and not having to prove him or herself. I can think of two women straight away who are of a type and of a temperament which lends itself to running organizations. One runs a department at a university in Russia and another runs a blog group here. I tell you, honestly, that I would follow where these women led although they're cunning enough to make me think I'm doing the leading. [I also know of another woman running a different association who shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the reins but that's another matter.]

They are into consensus, politeness and warmth but insist on reasonable targets being met and have the ruthlessness to cut the dead wood away, albeit with tact.

I know men like that too but one thing for sure - these Sotomayors, Conyers and Lynches are most certainly NOT the ones who should be there. What should be done with them? Well, HP did it wrongly, in that you do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If they refuse to stay on in an advisory capacity, then access their expertise professionally and pay for it that way. They do have great skills. Running organizations is not one of them, that's all.

Monday, June 29, 2009

[tadpole trike] recumbent, wind assisted

Here's the solution to the problem, folks. I'd design the sail differently, crab claw with more rake but it's a good combination - tadpole recumbent trike with wind assistance. Way to go.



Thanks, Gallimaufry, for the tip!

[minstrels] go well with morris dancers

I don't quite know what Tom is getting at here but if it's what I think it is, then this youtube is offered in support [click on the pic]:

[cyclists] and the problems that dare not speak their names

Confession time - some distances are just too great, even for Super-OAP

Professional cyclists should consider freezing their sperm before embarking on their careers, say researchers. They found sperm quality drops dramatically with rigorous training. However, a UK expert said the average man cycling to work would be unlikely to suffer fertility problems because of their time in the saddle.

Having a bit of trouble reading this about the UK expert. 'The average man' suggests singular number but then the article uses the 3rd person plural 'their'.

Strange.

Anyway, the sperm count, I should have thought, is the last of our worries. More worrying is the shape of the hard, narrow leather seat. Now I haven't wanted to raise this issue but when one has a certain normal size of ... well, I can't mention their name ... um ... where exactly are they supposed to go when you're riding? Either side?

This is a bit embarrassing but as there are so many men cycling, there must be a solution to this issue.

[weekend poll] closed, results here

Sexiest Man Over 43
Which three do you vote for?

1. Omar Sharif [77] (4) 8%
2. Giancarlo Giannini [66] (8) 17%
3. Pierce Brosnan [57] (8) 17%
4. Denzel Washington [54] (5) 10%
5. Nick Faldo [51] (1) 2%
6. George Clooney [48] (10) 21%
7. Jon Bon Jovi [47] (3) 6%
8. Mikhail Khodorkovsky [45] (5) 10%
9. Brad Pitt [45] (1) 2%
10. Darrin McMahon [44] (3) 6%

Total Votes: 48

11. Armand Assante ... 1 vote

Thanks you all for voting. See you hopefully this Friday.

[electricity] at a fraction of the cost

Now this looks very interesting.

There are two inventors who claim [yeah, I know everyone and his dog claim this] that they can produce dirt cheap electricity.

Look at the vid and see what you think.













[weekend poll] up until late this afternoon

I've been asked if I would leave the poll up for a bit longer, to allow those who were out for the weekend to vote. I shouldn't imagine many would want but it will stay open until 17:00 today and thanks to those who have voted so far. Thanks also for the entertaining comments.

[not a personal perspective] just the facts please

Cherie called her piece 'Personal Perspectives' and that's what she would have liked it to have been. Unfortunately, it didn't work that way and produced reactions like this. Ubermouth made out that this was one person's 'opinion' which shouldn't be 'denigrated'.

No, it's not a question of opinion – it's a question of facts and whether they are right ... or whether they are not, either partially or in toto.

This is what political comment entails.

This is what research entails.

One doesn't have an opinion of one's own, in isolation. One has drawn a conclusion from what was found in the research and as that research is ongoing, therefore the opinion is changeable and could conceivably become the opposite of what the researcher now holds, if facts should come forth which show it to be so.

If the scholar is not this flexible, then he/she is dogmatic.

Just such a thing did occur during my own research on this matter. Initially dipping into the abundance of data which shows that these two visitors to Palestine really were, let's say 'carriers of' piffle, highly coloured and dangerous piffle at that, in that it swayed readers into accepting conclusions which were palpably false and served the propaganda purposes of the hosts – as I say, initially dipping into this, I also came across quite a bit of contra-data.

For a start, and you can be sure I've read the Palestinian material on this as well as the Israeli material, it seems incontrovertible that the Israelis do act towards the Palestinians in a most pointedly harsh manner in certain key areas whereas, away from flashpoints and corridors, where they appear to have lived together for such a long time, there seems no need for this harshness.

This can be further illustrated by the place I used to live, in Russia, where Muslim and non-Muslim, including Jews, live in relative harmony. Why can they manage that and yet in the Middle-East, they can't? There's obviously another factor in the mix, isn't there?

Israeli phosphorus

I found something else out which many already know. Israel used white phosphorus clouds over a residential area. As those who've read up on it are aware, it is primarily for illuminating areas where known enemy activity is taking place – Taliban and Iraq used it, the Americans used it, they all used it. The problem is the collateral damage if it touches the skin – it is a nasty anti-personnel weapon.

Now you can discount the slanted pro-Hamas videos with hysterical claims which show burnt bodies. You can discount the propaganda side of it – those bodies were more than likely the very people who were firing at Israel, the terrorists themselves and quite legitimate targets.

The thing is – you don't definitively know and I don't know but I do know you can't trust anything the western media or Hamas say because they will only show their own slant. I'd say those victims more than likely were either terrorists or their unfortunate human shields.

The weapon itself is awful and inhumane, highly nasty in its effects. One vid of Palestinian boys playing around with smoking phosporus on the ground shows the smoke is not harmful but a direct hit by one of these shells is. They were fired from the air and there was no way it might not have hit civilians, particularly as Hamas love putting children into the firing line and then allowing the media to make a video and providing spokespeople to denounce Israel over it.

The hardest thing of all is to shut out the rhetoric of the Hamas/western media propaganda machine, with their slanted video 'evidence' and rely on what you see ALONE.

Last evening I watched a video I can't find now, dammit, but it was the best of all of them because there was no commentary, just footage form a balcony showing a residential area, with phosphorus lighting up the sky. Israel certainly used white phosphorus, that's a given. The target was residential and a known area where firing was coming out of. This is the Hamas tactic – to fire at Israel from schools and hospitals – with people inc. children still there, inviting Israel to fire back.

Israel stepped over the line here and they seem to know, themselves, that they had better stop doing this. They lost a lot of credibility and the damage to the humans themselves was horrific. As a tactic itself, as well, it was pretty poor.

Ubermouth and I actually agreed the other night on something. We agreed that there was a need for the fighting and killing to stop. After she'd made her point about the poor Palestinians – she means the women and children whereas I mean Hamas and the PLO – I referred her to the history of Palestine around 1947/8 and the fact that the Palestinians were offered, not only a homeland but a good homeland alongside Israel and that the Arab nations rejected it.

On the grounds that they hated the Jews so much, they refused to accept a recognized homeland for the Palestinians.

Now that's not perspective, that's not opinion, that's not denigrating anyone in the blogosphere – that is pure, unvarnished fact. It happened. Someone who would still prefer to 'believe' the opposite is in denial over something which has been shown to be so. Belief such as this can be discounted.

To drive this point home, I don't want to personally believe the Israelis did an anti-humanitarian thing but it sure looks like it with this white phosphorus. At an absolute minimum, it was too indiscriminate.

Faced with the facts, one cannot keep on believing the opposite point of view.

Unfortunately, it is quite easy for those on the left of politics and who back the Hamas/media machine, including the Beeb, to do so. The mental set of this side of politics is one of idealism and emotion – I should know because I was on this side in the past, lived and worked day by day with these people so I could give a good character sketch of the mindset.

I used to help at Labour Party elections, was in the room at the victory parties later, spoke to the candidates and party workers – it's not that I don't know what I'm talking about here.

Apology

No one in his right mind would try to intimate that the pro-Palestinian western left are 'stupid'. I don't think so for one moment and I'm going to pause here and issue an apology to Cherie if the impression was allowed to come across that I thought she was.

If I had allowed that impression to come across that that's what I thought, then I have been grossly negligent.

Anyone observing this neck of the blogosphere knows that I have only the highest opinion of the capabilities of Cherie Pie and anyone who can keep all those trade unionists in line and focused on the job in hand needs a medal.

In Bloghounds, we have a smooth-running little group, with almost no fuss. That's Cherie's doing, not mine. You can see here that I'm feistier and more provocative. I don't wish to get sycophantic but while she is obviously wrong on the facts of the Palestinian situation, as presented, I have only the highest regard for her abilities and sharpness of intellect.

But even geniuses can be wrong at times. What was it Cromwell said?

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

To not misconstrue Cherie, let me quote her:

I actually don’t take either of the regimes side in this. Trade Unionists support other Trade Unionist no matter what country they are in. I would have no problem posting similar articles from other countries.

OK, so there it is. Let's move on.

Further evidence on Gaza

Legal perspective:

Let us look at the Gaza War in light of the concept of justification as it applied during World War II. For the past seven years the Hamas political organization in Gaza has been firing rockets into Sderot and neighboring Israeli communities west of the Negev. The rockets have zero accuracy even if directed at military targets — which they are not. The rockets are fashioned from common metal pipes filled with explosives and propellants. The fuel is made of fertilizer and sugar. The rockets are built in simple metal shops and garages. The rockets that descend upon Israel bring unspeakable terror but not much destruction.

As of March 2008 more than 500 people had been wounded by the attacks; miraculously only twelve had been killed. However, the townspeople have lived in fear of the rockets, and have confined themselves most of the time to shelters. The bombardment of undefended towns and villages is one of the oldest codified war crimes; it was prohibited by the Hague Convention of 1907.

Imagine for a moment if U.S. cities and towns near the Canadian and Mexican borders were hit by similar rockets fired by radical terrorist groups in Canada and Mexico. Would the United States tolerate such attacks for seven years? Or even seven days?

… and:

On the Egyptian side, 700 people and 10 trucks with medical aid from Arab countries were waiting to enter. Some 550 people waited to cross the other way, with priority given to those needing urgent medical treatment.

Gaza has been blockaded by Israel, and much of the time by Egypt, for two years since Hamas took control there. Despite considerable criticism in the Arab world, the Egyptian government has kept Rafah largely shut since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007.

WHY?

Why has a member of the Arab League blockaded its own fellow Arab nation on its own side, for two years? Let's not, as Ubermouth says 'gloss it over' but actually answer this question in your own head. Why did this blockade begin the moment it was clear Hamas was at the reins?

Next one:

Obviously, the west and the NGOs have to come up with novel reasons why no one is investigating Hamas war crimes. Amnesty says:

Human rights groups argued Wednesday that a detailed probe into Hamas’s firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli communities is not necessary, because it constitutes such a “blatant” war crime. By contrast, Israel’s actions are more complex, and therefore do require such investigation, they said... said Sarit Micha’eli of B’tselem... “It is quite clear that [Hamas is] attacking and targeting civilians... With Israel things are more complicated because Israel states it does not deliberately target civilians and that it safeguards them. With Israel, you have to investigate each specific incident because even if a civilian is killed in an attack...” “The Israeli authorities deny everything, so one has to prove what happened in a way that you don’t need to do with the Palestinian rockets,” said Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International.

The Hamas mindset:



What brave freedom fighters, booby-trapping their own families in their own homes while the brave warrior is otherwise engaged.

The ambulance drivers:

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.

Human Rights Watch:

“These attacks by both Hamas and Fatah constitute brutal assaults on the most fundamental humanitarian principles,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. “The murder of civilians not engaged in hostilities and the willful killing of captives are war crimes, pure and simple.”

New
York Times article et al:

Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.

Unwilling to take Israel’s bait and come into the open, Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire.

In one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap. According to an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops, the militants placed a mannequin in a hallway off the building’s main entrance. They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.

New Israeli weapon:

A new Israeli weapon, meanwhile, is tailored to the Hamas tactic of asking civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings so Israeli pilots will not bomb. The Israelis are countering with a missile designed, paradoxically, not to explode. They aim the missiles at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the buildings, a tactic called “a knock on the roof.”

But the most important strategic decision the Israelis have made so far, according to senior military officers and analysts, is to approach their incursion as a war, not a police operation.

Civilians are warned by leaflets, loudspeakers and telephone calls to evacuate battle areas. But troops are instructed to protect themselves first and civilians second.

The other antagonists

Uber and I, as mentioned earlier, actually agreed on something and that was that the fighting must stop. The first and most telling step is for Hamas and Hexbollah to stop the rockets, which give Israel, under international law, every pretext to do whatever they like to defend themselves.

Look at this video from a retired British officer:



If the rockets stopped, then Israel has no pretext for harsh or invasive action against Palestine and the whole focus could then be on its actions.

That's the first point.

The second is that Them, the war machine, the multi-billion dollar global MIC, they wish for the unrest and mayhem in the Middle-Eastto continue because out of the the melting pot will come the same result that the EU is striving for, the genocide in Africa, the propping up of tin despots around the world and the maniac in Iran.

Stopping these people is a considerably taller order. Israel thinks it is being befriended by this power. They seem to have no clue that this Power is violently anti-Jewish and is the same power which allowed Hitler to rise in the 30s. Same families, same money.

Either that or Israel is arrogant enough to think it can play this power at its own game, with Jewish elements already at the head of it. This is very heavy stuff now and outside the remit of this post. Another time.

Solution

1. Hamas/Hezbollah cease the rockets;

2. All leaders, no exclusions, sit down in Paris and thrash out the boundaries, which are signed, no refusals, such boundaries a compromise between the original 1940s/50s proposals;

3. All parties are to withdraw to their own territory by a certain date;

4. An International Watch Commission is appointed, of maybe 200 people from all interested parties, representing all groups, with a brief that, if any member of that commission raises a violation, it is investigated;

5. The U.S.A., Britain, Iran and the Arab League show that they're actually serious about peace by insisting on this agreement being signed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

[my ideal holiday] by walter mitty esq.


Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Walter Mitty and I'm your host this evening for the 'Holiday of a Man's Dreams' [actually, the holiday of MY dreams].

Let's say you've scraped up the requisite dosh over a three year period and unfortunately, that's all there is. You're going to have to be pretty careful, aren't you? If I were going on this holiday [had to work this in somewhere], there'd be a masterplan, to make sure things would never go wrong, hee hee.

1. The very first and most vital decision is to set your sights on a woman who's just right for the journey, say your wife, girlfriend or if you lack one of those, some lady further afield.

Whoa, not so fast! You might like the lady in the photo below but do remember your financial position.

I always find a good rule of thumb is that you'll know her by her flat footwear, well cut jeans and elegant floral blouse [the rest probably follows too], a lady who insists on paying her half but then accedes to your calm insistence that it's your treat, that you'll pay and there are no strings attached whatsoever.



2. Good, that's done. You now have to steer the itinerary reasonably carefully while not appearing to do so. Obviously you can only put up with flying cattle-class one way, which frees up a bit of capital for the other direction. The Orient Express above might be a little out of your league but there are many lovely trains, even going the steam route could be quite romantic, which is where your choice of lady comes in - you will have made sure she is minus just the right number of complexes and has no environmental qualms about steam.

Now - which way for the train? Out or in? If you take the train out, you will have played one of your semi-luxurious trump cards early and when you get to the canoe part later, she might feel let down. Also, at the end of the holiday, tired, happy but irritable, which would you rather face - the train or cattle-class?



3. Let's say you both opted for cattle-class out and you've sold this part of the trip as an "adventure holiday". The next stage is the canoe trip, being very careful that there are no riverboats or ferries in the vicinity - for goodness sake, do your planning! Disguise your tightfistedness by hiring a whole load of local lads to also paddle their canoes along with you, providing that much needed "atmosphere".

Yes, of course you're going to point out to me that, at the end of a long-haul flight, the last thing a real lady is going to want to do is jump into a canoe, even one with a solid bottom and paddle 10 km.

Well, of course, I forgot to mention - you actually stayed one night in a four star in the capital and went window shopping, which a number of times threatened to break into Real Shopping but you pointed out that these items were hardly fit for carrying in a canoe.

On the way downriver, make sure there is adequate scenery - Obama's country retreat or similar and perhaps the occasional crocodile, for that sense of adventure.



4. You haven't exactly reached the lowest point of your trip yet - that comes later - but she and you will be pretty knackered by now, so you need to up the romance level. From your landing stage, it's up the giant tree's spiral stairway, under that magnificent leafy canopy in the rain - up, up, up - your guides carrying all the baggage and you carrying your lady in a fireman's lift.

At the top, it's out with the waterbottles and a cunningly mixed cocktail will give that burst of energy for the final triumphant stage in the gloaming - the treetop skyway! Yes, through all that mist and rain, one hundred metres above the forest floor, on a swaying walkway, this is your final triumphant approach to your accommodation.



5. The Accommodation. Stressing the Adventure Holiday aspect once again [and more frequently now], you finally arrive at your luxury treehut in its exclusive location, far from any other tourists [who wouldn't have dreamed of coming here], naturally airconditioned, close to a source of water [when the stream flows], authentic building materials ... er ... um ... lovely view ..........

Anyway, the point is that you're now here and here's where you drop your first big surprise - you actually packed, among your clothes, a dresser mirror, which now sits proudly on the "dresser" you construct from bamboo or tea-tree, showing off your scouting skills to best advantage. Don't forget, you'll need those skills when you start the fire later for supper [having caught the fish en route on the river].



6. So there you have it - seven idyllic days, far from the madding crowd and all you have to do is keep her happy and offer to take her anywhere she likes [except home].

That sad, fateful day must now, alas, arrive and you ready yourself for the return journey.

But what's this?!!! Your lady thought she was going to have to paddle back to civilization but instead, you cunning old devil, you ordered an armed military helicopter [necessary to be armed, to fight off indigenous ground to air missiles as you fly over foreign territory, the missiles launched as a result of your being armed and failing to respond by radio].



7. You've kept this bit of excitement to the end and as she and you are winched out of your treehut, as she shouts, "Can't you leave that bloody mirror here?#*!" and you, in a magnificent gesture, fling it to the four winds and hear it smash to smithereens below on the forest floor, as the copter lowers you, with two loud thuds, onto the roof of the already moving Orient Express, as you unattach yourselves and race along the roof to the ladder between the third and fourth carriages, you can rest assured that cocktails are now the order of the day and you have two days of relaxing and duty free shopping before you.

Did my ideal holiday pass muster?

[the new woman] vampire abuser in the night


Via Vox:

New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics figures show that over the past eight years, the number of women charged with domestic abuse has rocketed by 159 per cent. In 2007, 2,336 women fronted court on domestic violence charges, compared to around 800 in 1999.

Vox comments:

The ironic thing is that these self-emasculated men claim their passivity stems from their chivalry, but that can't possibly be true because chivalry requires honor. And a lady, for that matter. Speaking of honor, it's not hard to imagine that female-initiated domestic violence cease to be an issue soon enough now that the concept of honor-killing has reached the USA and Europe.

I commented at Vox's site:

I find this bleating astounding. In my own life, I've been mauled, claw-scratched, kicked in the shins, punched and have had her teeth vampired in my neck. So? It's all par for the course, part of the penalty of being a heterosexual, part of life's rich pageant. You just need to say, 'Sorry you feel this way,' and get on with life.

Each to his or her own I suppose.


[weekend poll] mid-poll report

Well, despite protestations from certain ladies about how poor the choices were which had echoes of those famous words 'never satisfied' ringing around the head and plunging me into darkest despair, the poll went ahead and it seems that at least some of the candidates do pass muster.

So far, last I looked, George Clooney has his nose in front, with Giancarlo Giannini and Pierce Brosnan in hot pursuit. Surprise fourth [to me] is the wildcard Mikhail Khodorskovsky. I did vote for him but the other votes came from out there with you lot so someone likes him.

Liz said she judged by many other factors than just the physical and intimated that I did judge by the physical, like all men, I imagine. Well no, I'm halfway between her and many men on this. Truth is I prefer a plainer looking lady with few airs and an interest in me. Plus brains. Plus responding to chivalry. Plus being ladylike in deportment until we get to 'those moments', at which point she needs to become a wild beast.

Think that covers it.

But it does show that the relentless diet of perfect young bodies, tans, and dulled brains in the media, in the shops, on the beaches and in novels and films does not move everybody to the same extent.
.

[what have they done] the so-called educators

On Friday, I went to McDonalds, for personal reasons revolving round the observation of human nature and the rich parade of people from all walks of life. As usual, there was a quiz question on the radio:

'What is the capital of Greece?'

'Er ... Rome?'

Leaving that aside and entering the hallowed halls of learning, Deogolwulf informs us:

In an A level history exam, on Hitler's role in Nazi Germany, apparently the phrase “despotic tyranny” has caused some upset:

“[I]t is elitist . . . to assume every history student is going to have come across such a term.” [2]

“The use of the term ‘despotic tyranny’ excludes students of a lower ability.” [3]

“I understand that to be an A level history student you need to have a wide grasp of specialised vocabulary but can i realy be blamed for never hearing the word despotic before? I have never read it, let alone had it taught to me and i was under the impression that exams should be based on a student’s knowledge of a topic not on their knowedge of a word.” [5]

????????

Footnotes are at Deogolwulf's blog.

Sigh.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

[thought for the day] saturday evening

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.

“Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone?

“But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted-and you create a nation of law-breakers-and then you cash in on the guilt.”

[Bob G]

All right, all right, it was Ayn Rand.

[know your stately homes] part two of new series


1. Founded around 1140 as a Cistercian monastery, having been one of the most learned and wealthy monasteries for four hundred years. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536-41 it came into private ownership, and has been a charming country house ever since. The house is famous for its plaster ceilings, fine pictures and furniture. The gardens from late 18th C. and the highest powered fountain in England are all well worth a visit.

2. Started as a hunting lodge built in 1616/17 by the 13th Earl of Northumberland, in the Georgian period it was the country seat of the glamorous Lennox sisters. Notable are the State Apartments, with an Egyptian State Dining Room, grand Yellow Drawing Room and a breathtaking Ballroom. The walls are lined with fine collection of paintings (including a number from Van Dyck, Reynolds, Stubbs and Canaletto). Certain outdoor activities are also famous nearby.

3. King Edward I of England built it in the late 13th century, later to become a parliament. A long siege here during the Wars of the Roses inspired a stirring song. During the Civil War (1642-48), it was a Royalist stronghold.

4. Designed by Sir Charles Barry, visitors can trace the steps taken by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon when in 1922 with the Egyptologist Howard Carter he discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. The parkland by 'Capability' Brown is spectacularly beautiful, featuring magnificent lawns, a walled garden, glasshouses and a fermery.

5. Was founded in 1120 for defense with walls six metres thick and in the 14th century the castle was transformed into a palatial home. During the English civil war Cromwell's troops demolished it. Scott was inspired to set a novel here. The Penny Magazine - July 31, 1835 had a long article about it.

Answers

Forde Abbey, Goodwood House, Harlech Castle, Highclere Castle, Kenilworth Castle

[iran election anomalies] could it be in the digits

Interesting stuff from Bruce Alderman:

Political scientists Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco have found some peculiarities in the Iran election results. While many people around the world are questioning the validity of the results, Beber and Scacco have gone a step further and looked at some statistical anomalies.

Beber and Scacco looked at the final digit of the results from each province for the top four candidates, and found two anomalies. Since there are ten possible digits, we would expect each number 0 - 9 to appear in about 10 percent of all the precinct totals, give or take a few percentage points due to random variability.

The statistical anomalies continue and then they conclude:

[W]e would expect to see results like this in only one of every two hundred fair elections.

[ferrari] why didn't they ask me


How would that be, eh? Sigh. I'm green with envy.
.

[first connex] now metronet


Oh, this is classic.

You probably read the piece about Connex finally being given its marching orders in Melbourne. There were many sentiments like 'good riddance' and 'will they try to come back here'?

It gets better:

The chief executive of Melbourne's new train operator also headed a British rail company that went into administration at a huge cost to taxpayers.

Andrew Lezala, whose Metro Trains Melbourne will soon operate the city's trains, was chief executive of the British rail maintenance company Metronet from May 2005 until it went into administration in July 2007.

It collapsed with £1.7 billion ($A3.5 billion) in debt, forcing the British Government to bail it out.

A damning report on Metronet's failure, released just three weeks ago by Britain's National Audit Office, found the company's management had wasted millions of pounds of public money.

"The main cause of Metronet's failure was its poor corporate governance and leadership," the report said. "We estimate that the overall direct loss to the taxpayer arising from Metronet's administration is between £170 million and £410 million, in 2007 prices."

Just who is appointing people downunder? Maybe they should be the ones scrutinized more closely.

[armed forces day] support our troops


It's Armed Forces Day today. [H/T Cherie]

The first Armed Forces Day is 27 June 2009, and is an opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.

A worthy thing to be sure and it's just a pity that the government couldn't have treated our boys and girls better. So this day is not just an opportunity for the average citizen to come out and support the armed forces, it's also a time to roundly castigate a government which has placed them in the danger they are in.

Henry Kissinger was quoted in the book “Kiss the Boys Goodbye", written by a Vietnam Vet.

"Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

Quite frankly, I have problems with material like that. As ex-military myself, sharing beliefs with such people as Steve Green and James Cleverly on the military, a check of my "About" reveals a man who believes in G-d, Queen and country.

Now read what James Cleverly said here:

I felt almost sick reading this blog post in the Telegraph [Telegraph has now deleted it] about the breakdown in relationship between the British military and local Iraqi forces.
The short-termism in Gordon Brown's government has created a situation where the troops in Iraq can no longer do their job but are still at risk from daily attacks.

Angus today on this problem:

No planes for Paras it seems that the iraq war has led to a shortage of Hercules transport planes for paras to jump out of.

When the Iraq war began in 2003 the Armed Forces had 51 Hercules available, but four have been shot down or destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan and at least nine have had to be retired due to the intense workload. The remaining fleet is working flat out to support operations abroad.

In some units barely half the Paras are certified to jump - with hundreds unable to earn their wings or maintain their skills once qualified.

Recruits must complete a course of at least six jumps - culminating in a massed low-level jump from a Hercules at night, wearing full kit - plus two more with their unit to gain their coveted 'wings' badge and become fully-fledged Paras.

After that they cease to be operationally deployable unless they can jump twice a year.
Many have already lost their entitlement to specialist pay of £5 pay per day because they have failed to jump at all for two years.

Recent figures have shown just 55 per cent of soldiers in the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment are certified to jump.

With senior officers in uproar, the MoD has finally admitted the scale of the problem and agreed to hire a fleet of much smaller civilian Skyvan aircraft - normally used for amateur skydiving flights.

I'm with Lt Gen Dannart who said enough is enough.

Armed Forces Day is a wonderful thing and supporting our troops the right thing to do. It's also important to remember on this day, and to tell them we know, those who would nobble the Armed Forces - this government.

James Cleverly on this day.

[Don't forget that this is also the 7th day for Neda.]

Friday, June 26, 2009

[palestinians] snow job on the western media

It's with great trepidation that I run this post because of my long association with a true friend, Cherry Pie. However, when something is distorted, such as things she was told [she'd hotly dispute this, of course], then something must be said in reply. I don't blame her for swallowing it but it really does need to be set straight.

... we had a talk from a member who had been on a sponsored visit to Palestine

... is what Cherie opened with. Now it's nothing against the noble trade union movement or Cherie's tireless work for it but really, one needs to step back a moment and analyse that line. A trade unionist sponsored by Hamas, in the sense that he'd never have been shown around if Hamas had not approved, came back to Britain and gave an 'unbiased' assessment of the situation? Now what sort of conclusions would he be likely to bring back from his Hamas enabled tour?

Here is one of his observations:

Even the school’s windows were boarded up as protection from Israeli bullets. This meant the classrooms, with 45 children, were suffocating hot in summer. The Palestinian people are being all being slowly suffocated - culturally and socially, as well as economically.

Again, step back and analyse this. Why would the Palestinians keep the children in that building with boarded up windows on a stinking hot day? Why wouldn't they find a safe place for the children underground - there are many such semi-dugouts. Why keep them suffering? The answer's obvious, isn't it? It wasn't the comfort and safety of the children at issue here but the western visitor. So the emotive language in 'the Palestinian people are being all being slowly suffocated' tugs at the heartstrings like a Fenian ditty - pity it's not based on evidence though.

Now, anyone who knows anything about missiles knows that boarded up windows are hardly likely to stop one and rifles would go through them like butter. It's the very assumption that the Israelis would fire indiscriminately at the windows which betrays Hamas's own mindset. Hamas knew all this but the western trade unionist still swallowed the whole story, then came back and reported it. Was there anyone there to ask the questions I'm now asking?

If you need evidence, then there is this video. Now one sees the true Palestinian leadership - not the least concern about the welfare of the children. Why were schools targetted by Israel? Because they were using schools to fire rockets at Israel. Look at the video again.

Then there is this:

The airport also has a system of stickers for the luggage. Jews get a 1 or a 2, EU passport holders get a 3 and Arabs get a 6. Anyone with 6 label has to have both a luggage search and a personal search conducted.

Why are the Arab bags labelled differently? The immediate knee-jerk reaction is, 'Oh, it's apartheid'. Actually, it's because the Arabs can't be trusted, based on events of the past few decades, not to send suicide bombers and not to do this sort of thing. Please look at the way the children are treated by their own armed forces.

Again, not my words.

So, coming back to the luggage stickers, let me ask you a question. Imagine you're a customs official and you know that weapons are going through. Would you not take particular care to check over a people who have, among them, known offenders? Where is the Jewish equivalent to this? That's right - it doesn't exist.

I've no doubt there is a lot of brutality in the treatment and I've already commented at Cherie's site about what I think of the Jewish character. However, the issue here is what is really happening to those Palestinian children.

Naturally, Nakba [May 15, 1948] gets a mention by the pro-Palestinians but conveniently, the events preceding it are never mentioned. Wiki takes up the story:

After the rejection of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (UN General Assembly Resolution 181) that would have created an Arab state and a Jewish state side by side, five Arab states invaded the territory of the former British Mandate of Palestine. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria attacked the state of Israel.

Now be sure of this – the Arabs rejected it. Here was the Israeli response:

The Jewish leadership accepted the partition plan as "the indispensable minimum," glad as they were with the international recognition but sorry that they did not receive more.

Having recruited a few thousand volunteers, al-Husayni organized the blockade of the 100,000 Jewish residents of Jerusalem.

Is that ever mentioned on the day of Nakba? Not on your life. Nor the next part:

On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the state of Israel, and the 1948 Palestine war entered its second phase, with the intervention of several Arab states' armies the following day.

That makes the day of the invasion May 15th, 1948. Anything just a teensy bit significant about that date to you, vis a vis Nakba?

Moving on

What we've got here are highly emotional and unsubstantiated statements - systematic ill treatment, torture. Evidence?

“systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities.”

This comes from someone called 'Gerard' who has the run of the Palestinian land, something he would never have if he were to report the truth.

'harsh Israeli jail'

Not just 'Israeli jail'. When it's Israeli, the adjective 'harsh' must be used. Do you know of any jail which is not harsh?

Aid

This is an article by a woman who visited the area, neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Arab. She says aid must get through and Israel must open up the borders for the convoys but then adds:

She also stated that "Hamas must respect that humanitarian aid cannot be diverted."

Therein lies the real problem. This is what's really going on:

There was a bit of head-scratching going on recently in the hallowed halls of the UN.

After weeks of rebuking Israel for preventing humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, UN officials were forced to cancel deliveries of aid into the Hamas-controlled territory after terrorists broke into a UN Relief and Works Agency warehouse and made off with 800 tons of blankets, food and other basic commodities to sell them to the highest bidders.

Israeli officials have been saying all along that Hamas routinely diverts humanitarian aid. In April, fuel trucks destined for UNRWA warehouses were overtaken. It was reported in August that Hamas gunmen had hijacked more than 10 trucks destined for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society full of food and medical supplies.

All that is only more ironic given the worldwide castigation of Israel for allegedly preventing humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza during the military operation.

and:

At least 10 trucks with humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip by the Jordanian Red Crescent Society were confiscated by Hamas police shortly after the trucks entered the territory on Thursday evening, according to aid officials in Jerusalem.

Eight trucks had food products and another two had medicines. They were reportedly taken to Hamas-run ministries.

Initial reports said the intended target of the aid was the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Gaza. Hamas and the PRCS had a run-in in the past, when the Islamic group diverted another aid convoy.

A spokesman for the Hamas police in Gaza said that the number of trucks was in fact 14 and they would be "delivered to Palestinians in need in the Gaza Strip."

Iran is even aware that the aid is not getting past Hamas.

What appeared in that trade unionist's talk was a highly slanted, Hamas approved take on what was happening, which simply does not accord with either the video or documentary evidence above [and that's but a portion].

Cherie's in a difficult position; she can say she's known these two people for a long time and they wouldn't lie. I'm not saying they are lying. I'm saying they've been duped because they wished to see the truth in these terms.

UPDATE SATURDAY

On the Egyptian side, 700 people and 10 trucks with medical aid from Arab countries were waiting to enter. Some 550 people waited to cross the other way, with priority given to those needing urgent medical treatment. Gaza has been blockaded by Israel, and much of the time by Egypt, for two years since Hamas took control there. Despite considerable criticism in the Arab world, the Egyptian government has kept Rafah largely shut since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007.

Interesting, eh? Why would Egypt, an Arab nation, supposedly in sympathy with the Palestinians, have done that for so long?

[weekend poll] sexiest men over 43

1. Omar Sharif [77]

2. Giancarlo Giannini [66]

3. Pierce Brosnan [57]

4. Denzel Washington [54]

5. Nick Faldo [51]

6. George Clooney [48]

7. Jon Bon Jovi [47]

8. Mikhail Khodorkovsky [45]

9. Brad Pitt [45]

10. Professor of History Darrin McMahon [44]

As usual, you're allowed three votes at one time but to vote again, you'd need to come back tomorrow.


11. Armand Assante [if you like him, please comment in ... er ... comments.

Results here.


[fatty salads] when you least expect it

A survey by consumer watchdog Which? found Morrisons' Smedleys Atlantic Prawn Marie Rose Salad contained 855 calories and 66.3g fat - more than a McDonald's Big Mac and medium fries and 70% of the fat a man should eat in a day.

Which?
bought a selection of 20 pre-packed salads on the high street and found another unhealthy option was Asda's Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, which contained 43g of fat, nearly as much as six Cadbury's Creme eggs.Almost a quarter of the salad is made up of high-calorie dressing (13% mayonnaise, 10% Caesar dressing).

The manufacturers have a double problem - they need to put enough chemicals in to preserve the salad fresh for long enough and western people's tastes are, frankly, sugary and salty. When a weight-conscious lady buys a fresh salad, she may have it in mind that it's healthy but equally, the body won't take withdrawal from its sugar, salt and saturated fats.

People are deluding themselves into an appearance of healthiness.

In Russia, as you imagine, what you see on the shelf is what you get. Grains are brought in, in kilogram plastic bags, a paper label is stuck on and that's that. No additives. Trays of bread are carried through and dumped in huge tubs. A cow that's been recently cut up has the portions laid out in bain-marie that day. The grandmother or mother prepares it that day into various dishes, including beef and rice patties, say and the salads prepared. The Russians have a weakness for white products and mayonnaise, so these are where the bulk of the calories are.

I was looking at ASDA's shelves two days ago and overheard someone saying that these particular noodles were 'healthy'. Healthy? There were the noodles in the packet [not the best carbs for a start] and then came all the E numbers, this chemical, that chemical, beef 'flavour' [as distinct from beef] and so it went on.

It was poison.

This is the gunge which people are feeding into themselves. There's a chippy I know and when you hold the fish vertically, the grease drips off onto the paper. Yet that's what people are used to, that's what people want.

I was looking at a nutrition chart on beef and other meats and discovered that if you have meat from the neck down to the chest [apparently the Americans call this 'chuck'], it gives 500% of your recommended choleterol intake. What we call 'fillet steak' [and the Americans apparently call 'brisket'] had 13% per portion of cholesterol. So even in the cut were vast differences.

Now, which would be the cheaper cut?

Good nutrition does appear to be a question of having the dosh, it does seem the preserve of the well-off.

[connex] booted out of melbourne

The company which helped decimate Britain's rail services and then went downunder, has now been given the bullet after destroying Melbourne's train services.

Where will Connex go next?

[the nvq society] and the uprooted flowerbed

You might first like to cast your eye over this post about June Turnbull, in order to get the picture.

Well, it's happened again - Angus covered it yesterday:

No good deed goes unpunished A retired florist has been threatened with criminal prosecution by a council after planting a flower garden on a neglected patch of land in a car park.

Jayne Bailey, a retired florist, gave the concrete island on her housing estate a makeover as the cobble-stones were coming loose and she thought they were dangerous.

Mrs Bailey, 60, removed loose cobbles and planted flowers in a display that has been supported by some of her neighbours.

So, was there an unveiling speech, with the local mayor praising initiative, selflessness and hard work? Not a bit of it. Those qualities are not desired in our society today, are they? Jayne Bailey is now retired from her horticultural work and as she doesn't possess a current NVQ [that is, paid out a huge sum of money for nothing] , she can't possibly know the first thing about horticulture.

Plus she's white and aged, which translates now as 'unwanted'. And what was the council's reaction?

"They also threatened that they would go to the police and report me for criminal damage.'

A spokesman for the council said:

"In this particular case no agreement was sought to carry out the works. Several complaints from residents have been received concerning the planting."

Complaints about her planting a garden on what was a bit of crumbling concrete? Oh yes? Maybe we can see the text of those 'complaints'?

So there it is - the new NVQ society, the forcing of people into narrow specialist areas, each with its new jargon and methods of exclusivity - this is union demarcation disputes taken to a point of madness and visited upon the whole community.

I have to ask you, 'Do you really want to live in such a society? Isn't there something we can do to reverse such bureaucratic madness?'