Saturday, September 26, 2009

[britblog roundup 241] and other matters

First up, get your entries in to the Britblog for this weekend - that review of all things British over the past seven days and for those still not aware, the way to go is to send the url of a post which has struck you as being particularly fine this past week to:

I'll go in there and check it out, write a little screed around it and you'll see it in the next roundup late this Sunday. I notice that many are submitting entries at the last moment so why should you be any different? If you'd like to see the site itself, click here.

Update at 11:10

Right, the Britblog is now written and in draft form. Any final entries I receive between now and midday tomorrow will be slotted into the various themes, as appropriate. I'm hoping you're going to enjoy this edition.

So sorry for the slow blogging this morning [Geelong victory et al]. I'll have a little kip then get back into the posts.

Stop Press - Geelong Win AFL Grand Final

Result only just in from Australia - Geelong have overcome the odds to snatch a victory in the dying minutes, haivng trailed all day. My maddening, infuriating team whom I'm also so proud of, have done it!!!!!

I don't expect anyone of you out there in the UK or American spheres to feel that in the same way I do but it's as if Wimbledon won the FA Cup or the LA Angels won the title.

I'm still stunned and how it affects my blogging today, I don't know. Might even go out and have a beer or three.

[photo feature] the illusion of beauty

Detractors would call it contrived and yet Francophiles would call it designed. The Anglo-Saxon and Russian would say the Frenchwoman is not "naturally beautiful" with that dark-haired, chisel-jawed slight masculinity which they try to overcome by heavy emphasis on deportment, the tricks of the trade, grooming, dress and cosmetics.

Some of those tricks can be seen in the photo on this post, where the girl is actually wearing a dress and a modest one at that [I know this from the other photos] and yet, photoshot in that way ... well, you see what I mean. The bare lower legs and the cheeky smile do it for her.

That's why most women admire the French and the Italians, the way they do it, with that panache, that style. Interesting that in the current retrospective on Bardot, le Figaro mentioned:

C'est vrais - la France créa Bardot. Celle qui fut vingt ans durant une star internationale et un symbole de la France des années 50-60 fêtera ses 75 ans lundi prochain.

N'oublions pas, par exemple, Edwige Feuillère dans Lucrèce Borgia - elle est aussi une rétive, une insolente, une fille qui a beaucoup d'esprit, le sens de la repartie.

Audrey Tautou - too twee for French tastes?

For those who don't read this language, it roughly means that she was both a creation and a symbol of France, of what she stood for but we shouldn't forget that there were others and Bardot wasn't the first.

Interesting, to me, was "une rétive, une insolente, une fille qui a beaucoup d'esprit", much admired in France, just as the Italians admire "furbo" and "bella figura" or looking and playing the part with panache.

The cosmetic and fashion industries would maintain that beauty can be manufactured or at the very least, greatly enhanced but I would argue that lack of cosmetics and well cut clothes, along with deportment and that indefinable character can carry all before her.

A woman I saw the other day would have been described by the English as "without artifice" and by the French as "without style". She was quite gauche but at the same time, seemed a fun loving person. As I live in the land of my ethnic group, then its take on what constitute good and bad qualities must rule. Solid values and sensible shoes also tug at my heart strings, along with the tweed and the Barbours and so on.

Zeroing in on the French concept of beauty

The French fixation with Bardot seems strange to me. For a start, she looks more nordic, more Britt Eklundish than French but it was the sensuousness really, with her - Carla Bruni also practices the studied look into the eyes, the deep, sensual voice and so on.

Far more seductive, IMHO and far more Gallic, was Françoise Hardy, [don't forget to sound the s, drop the h and sound the last syllable] who perfectly embodied the sultry, melancholy and reserved femme fatale. An example of one who was almost completely Frenchified was the English Jane Birkin. No beauty in a classical sense, she adopted the whole culture as far as she was able and so produced this with Serge Gainsborough:

While real Frenchwomen like Sophie Marceau, Eva Green and Clémence Poésy could never be taken for Anglo-Saxons, they've diluted their Frenchness to appeal to a wider public and in In Bruges, Poésy, in the restaurant scene, sounds "American youth".

Less so in France and more in Russia in my experience, there've been women who've filled the space the eyes take in and later, I've always wondered what it was that that particular woman had which overpowered the senses. I could only conclude that it was the little gesture here, the disconcerting but flattering way she studied you and the attention to detail - everything had to be perfect in order to make demands herself.

So now I'm back here with an eye out for the English Rose but I suspect the English Rose has finer fish to fry than your humble correspondent.

Beauty - what is it?

[honda u3-x] silent white

Friday, September 25, 2009

[the eleventh hour] things which have happened

Seriously, I don't know what you'd call it - bad karma, gremlins, spooks - but we've all had this. A fellow blogger [I'll put the name and link after I've been round the blogs tonight] wrote about teaspoons always being found in the wrong places; at the tennis court, the balls go missing - you know the type of thing.

There's an intersection not far from my place, on the way to the station and it involves cycling under a flyover [see diagram] and reaching a point marked by the red fuzz. Now, obviously that's the wrong side of the road so perhaps I get off the bike and walk it, all docile like, to that spot, where it involves stepping on the road and crossing to the roundabout.

Right, this is no exaggeration - even at peak hour, this part of the world is out of the way and you'd be lucky to get two cars at any one time, more usually none. That is, until reaching that red fuzzy part. Suddenly, traffic comes from nowhere and blocks the road.

I mentioned to my mate that on every single occasion I'd travelled to his place over the previous two weeks, I'd reached that point, [never before the point and not after I've stepped onto the road], when the traffic would suddenly appear.

Yesterday took the prize.

The narrow road, lower right, is a sliproad off the flyover but all the others are minor. I reached the dreaded spot once again, having checked over my shoulder that there were no cars, I listened intently to what might appear from around to the right and so on. One car did appear and went by.


As my foot went to step onto the roadway, two cars came off the sliproad, at pace, into the roundabout, just as a little blue car came from my right, a white van came from ahead and a beige Volvo came from behind. I just stood there with my bike, staring at it all unfolding and then the car horns began - b-l-a-r-e-e-e-e-e-!!!!!

Thirty seconds later, it was all over, I hopped on my bike and had the road entirely to myself for the next half mile. That is not an exaggeration.

Always at that same point on the footpath. I should write a story based on that.

Why would such things happen? It's uncanny.

[nursery rhymes] and their possible origins

1. There are references to a certain children's game from the sixteenth century, including one in Shakespeare's King Lear (Act I Scene iv), but little evidence that the rhyme existed. Which rhyme?

2. There was a square-four-eight-dance, published in Playford's Dancing Master in 1665, but it is not clear if this relates to this rhyme. Which rhyme?

3. Pawning your coat when times got hard might have given rise to which rhyme?

4. Which rhyme might have been referring to the necessity for Catholic priests to hide out in a priest hole or in a chamber?

5. The border between the two lands and the accommodation the English and Scots found with each other for some time might have given rise to which rhyme?


Little Bo Peep, Oranges and Lemons, Pop goes the Weasel, Goosey Goosey Gander, There was a Crooked Man

[late evening listening] bad boy, great group

What is it about some artists? Not particularly nice people or rather - angry young men with harsh voices - and yet their backing groups were superb musos.

Cockney Rebel [with Steve Harley]:

Can't get over the Top of the Pops kids - Steve Harley was definitely not a kid's artist: Sebastian is an example of that.

The Rumour [with Graham Parker]:

Hotel Chambermaid - my favourite of theirs.

The Blockheads [with Ian Dury]:

[odd one out] can you pick him

[self defence] citizens doing it for themselves


Angus reports on the ammunition shortages in the U.S.:

The shortages are so bad that retail globocorp Wal-Mart has been forced to introduce rationing at the ammo counter in many of its stores. Depending on calibre, customers may be limited to purchases of just 50 rounds at a time.

Apparently, classic .45 ACP pistol ammunition is especially scarce - a fairly good indication that it is in fact conservative Middle America rather than, say, inner-city criminals buying up all the ammo.

Joe Huffman does the mathematics on the issue:

Nine billion rounds in one year with about 80 million gun owners in the U.S. works out to about only about 112 rounds per gun owner. I went through that many rounds both last night and the night before.

I'll go through probably another 200 rounds tonight and then another 150 on Sunday. What the heck is going on here? I'm figure I'm just doing my civic duty here and it turns out I'm doing the job of about 100 other people as well.

If every gun owner were going through just 100 rounds a month that would be nearly 100 billion rounds a year. That is a way to stimulate the economy and have something to show for it afterward--an armed and well practiced citizenry and respectful politicians.

To say that we, in the UK, are not doing the same thing is partly so but there are still a lot of people on the ground that are quietly preparing. To not allow a citizen in his own home to defend his family, on pain of criminal charges being brought and the intruder getting off scot-free is the UK way these days but it can't last forever.

The pics top and bottom are my weapons of choice.


[israel ministerial crime] good precedent for the u.k. and u.s.

Lots of fun in Israel:

A former finance minister and Olmert associate, Avraham Hirshson, recently began a five-year prison sentence for embezzling funds. A former health minister, Shlomo Benizri, is serving a four-year term after being convicted of bribery, fraud and obstruction of justice in the spring.

The former president of Israel,
Moshe Katsav, is on trial, accused of rape and indecent assault against women who worked for him when he was the tourism minister and president. Mr. Katsav resigned the presidency in mid-2007. Benjamin Netanyahu was suspected of fraud during his previous term in office in the late 1990s but was never charged.

Into this steps Mr. Olmert, of Kadima, looking as if he could be in some trouble. Of all of them, Netanyahu is the one who seems the greatest worry:

On the day of the 9-11 attacks, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked what the attack would mean for US-Israeli relations. His quick reply was: “It’s very good….Well, it’s not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy (for Israel).”

What's in a name?

He held dual citizenship, which enabled him to travel freely between both countries, study in the U.S., receive federal loans to cover his education costs at MIT and work legally. Like every U.S. citizen, Netanyahu has a social security number, a credit account, and numerous other files in a variety of government offices.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s files differ from those of most U.S. citizens. The Israeli weekly Ha’ir reports that four requests for credit approval appear in U.S. social security file number 020-36-4537. Under each request one finds a different name: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benjamin Nitai, John Jay Sullivan and John Jay Sullivan Jr.—one man, four names.

Biranit Goren and Einat Berkovitch from Ha’ir tried to find out about him.

Netanyahu’s security file [in the U.S.] has a different classification than most ... a “confidential” classification. Goren and Berkovitch have explained that such a classification only applies to five categories of people: those who work for one of three federal agencies—FBI, CIA, IRS—or those who are considered to be terrorists or criminals. Since it is unlikely that Netanyahu fits the latter two categories, or that he worked for the IRS, it appears that he was on the payroll of a security agency—the CIA or FBI.

July 7th, 2005

Netanyahu was scheduled to participate in an Israeli Investment Forum Conference at the Grand Eastern Hotel, located next to the Liverpool Street Tube station -- the first target in the series of bombings that hit London on July 7 ... The Israeli Embassy ... ordered Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remain in his hotel on the morning of July 7.

Amy Teibel, of Associated Press, wrote on the day:

British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before Thursday's explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city, a senior Israeli official said.

His criminal charges themselves are no different to those which would be brought against our crooked pollies, if the law in the U.K. and U.S. were to be enforced as it should be and as it seems to be in other countries. Just bribes, corruption, dodgy appointments to office - that sort of thing.

Finally, what's the difference between the Israeli politicians and the Arab politicians? The Israeli politicians are subject to due process and can serve time. The Arab criminal leaders are lauded as heroes.