Monday, March 31, 2008

[thought for the day] monday evening

You're only young once but anyone can be immature!

[higham exposed] incredible green man

Taken by my computer ten minutes ago. :)

[iceland] and the non-graffiti solution

Where to spend your summer in Iceland

Iceland used to be a prime source of material for this blog but I don't know what happened - perhaps westernization - but things have paled somewhat of late. Now we're back again with an important new phenomenon:

A “gang” of mystery painters who go by the name of Betri baer (“Better town”) painted over graffiti in central Reykjav√≠k in the shadow of darkness on Wednesday night in protest of the lack of action taken by city authorities to fight graffiti.

And in classically quaint Icelandic reporting style:
The boys who were responsible for the latest wave of graffiti on Laugavegur were arrested and will probably have expensive fines.

Expensive fines! Wild times in Old Reykjavik these days. If you'd like to see the original post on this humble blog, here 'tis, still open for comments if you'd care to.

[mobiles] another nail in the coffin

Mobile phones will overtake asbestos and smoking as a leading public health danger, a top neurosurgeon says.

Research by Canberra Hospital’s Vini Khurana found that in the next four years, the full impact of brain tumours caused by mobile phones would be revealed.

Read the full report here.

The previous report on this growing menace is here.

[blogfocus] from ef to el

Meandering through the F to L of my roll this morning, I picked up these gems:

Gavin Ayling with what must be the classic quote of the day:

Poetry, as I said recently, has only just made sense to me and, of course, science always has been deeply important to me so I thought it appropriate that I share it with you.

Grendel is one year old - yo! And the Gypsy Haven also has a real birthday plus a shot at paradise [pic at the top]

Guthrum the Old reminds us of a very special day coming up and Ian Parker presents a poem on the topic:

The French and the Germans may call themselves such
As may the Norwegians, the Swedes, and the Dutch.
You can say you are Russian, or maybe a Dane,
But don’t dare say you’re English ever again.

... do read the rest of this.

Helena, in creating a likeness, presents her goddaughter [see pic below].

Iain Dale presents some quite frankly horrifying stats about our fair land:

* 27% of UK 15 year olds have been drunk 20 or more times compared to 12% in Germany, 6% in Holland and 3% in France
* 44% of UK teenagers are frequently involved in fights compared to 28% in Germany.
* 35% of UK 15 year olds have used Cannabis in the last 12 months, compared to 27% in France, 22% in Holland and 18% in Germany.
* 40% of English fifteen year old girls have had sexual intercourse, compared to 29% in Sweden, 24% in Canada, 20% in Holland, 18% in France and 14% on Spain.

Verlin's Lil Bit has scored her first goal in soccer so you'd best get over there and catch the video of said event! She's a great player!

Jams poses the quite important question - how many 5 year olds could you take on at one time? Do go and test your strength out against the wee mites.

John Trenchard presents a video illustrating the prowess of the Honey Badger ...

... whilst Juliet presents the cardiologists' nightmare and describes her attempt to make it in truly Juliesque terms:

Though I realise now that the lovely moist texture is due to the oil, I still can't get over that we ate a cup of oil in addition to the cake being covered in cream cheese, butter and icing sugar, and that we were willing to believe that the inclusion of a couple of grated carrots could somehow mean it was 'healthy' when in fact all it needed was a couple of spoonfuls of glaucoma-inducing MSG to make the horror complete.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

[thought for the day] sunday evening

A torchlight procession, marching down your throat

[O'Sullivan, 1898]

[kate's back] you probably already know

[history quiz] sunday memorizer

1. In which war did jet aircraft first fight each other?

2. Only one South American country had a Monarchy. Which was it?

3. Parker and Barrow were the surnames of which famous couple?

4. Rorke's Drift was a battle in which war?

5. Sitting Bull belonged to which tribe?

6. The Condor Legion was the name of the German air force flying for Franco's nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. What was the name of the Irish volunteers on Franco's side?

7. The eruption of Mt Vesuvius that buried Pompeii also buried another town. Which one?

8. What was Operation Sea Lion in the Second World War?

9. Which American City is named after a British Prime Minister?

10. Which civilization built Machu Picchu?

No peeking, now:

The Korean War, Brazil, Bonnie and Clyde, The Zulu War, Sioux, The Blue Shirts, Herculaneum, The invasion of Britain, Pittsburgh, The Incas

[surveillance] doing well, thank you

Thanx Banxy

Englisc Fyrd summarizes some of the latest moves:

* reveals how the government plans to roll out a mugshot database. You can read the article here.

* The idea of a database containing naughty children's details has been touted for a while. Tony Blair was for the idea, but it seems said database is coming closer to fruition to help with "spotting future offenders". This is London reports on it here.

* The Telegraph reports that CCTV is slowly creeping into schools, their article here details the complaints from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers who fear school rooms are becoming Orwellian. The article reports that:

"Schools are believed to have first installed classroom CCTV four years ago, with an academy in Middlesbrough using cameras to monitor pupil behaviour and protect expensive equipment."

I could go on and on but you'll need to read for yourself. However, there's more from David Farrer:
But BAA says the fingerprinting at Terminal 5 has been installed under orders from the Government.

It says a working group, which included the Home Office's Borders and Immigration Agency, decided it was the "most robust system" to protect Britain's borders.

Truly wonderful. And let's never forget this, from December 2006:

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

[home] tongue in cheek

It's all very well coming home unless:

1. you're not sure which one is your home;

2. it's not there when you get back [or not in the same form].

Sandy Denny sang, in Farewell, Farewell:

"No, I will never cut the cloth
Or drink the light to be
But I'll swear a year to one who lies
Asleep along side of me"

Farewell, farewell to you who would hear
You lonely travellers all
The cold north wind will blow again
The winding road does call

The immortal Sandy Denny. This is home.

[45 today] no not me - jams

Now life can really begin, young man! Happy Birthday, Jams!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

[thought for the day] saturday evening

Never forget:

A hen is just an egg's way of making another egg.

[unsung achievers 1] alison clarkson

Eurasian Alison Clarkson [born 1970 in Kensington] was and still is a talent whom Madonna called "criminally overlooked". I'm no fan of Madonna, nor of Clarkson's later dance work but the woman can write songs and is more than useful as a performer.

There are those who say she helped save the British music industry which in 1990 was under severe assault from the American rappers and it needed someone to step up for the Brits. She did and how. She later said of this time:

Basically I wrote my own stuff, I wrote it all in my bedroom and I had a lot to say really. Having been bullied when I was younger I just saw it as a way to get my own back on everyone."

Here's one of her biggest hits and you might wonder how this blogger can like something so kitsch and shallow. I like her, that's all and admire what she did in swimming against the stream at the time:

Of course she was big in the UK but didn't do so well in the US market - predictable really as she didn't try to be black or appear to be any more or less than a Londoner.

Betty became a journalist's favourite due to her forthright and sometimes downright catty opinions on her fellow popsters. She once said she didn't like former New Kid On The Block Joey Lawrence because he had 'girly arms'.

Relations between Betty and GA's record company soured when they asked her to pay for her own Platinum disc of their first album. She asked them how big the disk was. They replied, "normal size." She then asked, "Is it big enough to stick it up your arse?"

Unfortunately, Boo came a cropper in Australia when she dropped her mike onstage and in that country in particular she is vilified for "lipsynching" which practically every artist does anyway.

In this blogger's opinion, people, particularly women, who go their own way as she has done, are always going to come a cropper and for that also I like her. I like that she refuses to play the record label game plus she's a homegrown girl - one of our own.

Here's a recent interview which is quite entertaining if you've got this far in the post:

[twilight zone] where rationalization ends

Where to and why?

Some time back I asked an ultra-rationalist mate of mine about UFOs, knowing what his reaction would be.

Then I asked if he believed in G-d [he does] but he said the two things are completely different. Why, I wanted to know. A spirit world is a spirit world. If there be angels and all that stuff, why not UFOs?

The look I got - I changed the topic.

Michael Palin, in his Ripping Yarn Curse of the Claw [and I can't find an online script] is a boy sitting in the family living room and he asks about, I think, India. His austere Victorian father says it doesn't exist.

Palin answers back and says he's heard all about it and his mother cuts him short: "Your father has spoken, dear."

End of discussion.

I don't believe the receptors we have are capable of discerning the nether world and every so often something comes up which defies rationalization. In come the rationalists and say it had to be the light reflected from a plane or else it's hallucination or whatever.

Not for one second does the person stop and try to analyse the thing and admit - well, we just don't know. Then, in an attempt to come to terms with it, the cliched put downs begin - talk of little green men and so on.

This could be double exposure - or not

North of England

A group of us were on the side of a hill in the early 90s, looking across to a rocky point where a hotel had its lights on. I didn't see the thing come but there was a hubbub and everyone started looking at the hotel. Above it was an elongated light and I can't recall the colour - it was light and the shape from the side was cigar shaped.

Then, some twenty minutes later, it went up and then veered off to the right and disappeared. That was all. There had to have been twenty of us who'd seen it. Now I've been guilty in my time of perpetrating hoaxes like convincing a kid that Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy do exist but this was different.

Double exposure again or what?

Real, hoax or error

There was an article in the physics area in New Scientist which showed that many rational phenomena are equally inexplicable, e.g.

“Cold fusion would make the world's energy problems melt away. No wonder the Department of Energy is interested.”

It just doesn't seem sane to me to dismiss these things out of hand, just because one's mind can't come to grips with them. Roswell, Philadelphia, crop circles - possibly hoaxes, fevered imaginations or perhaps true.

Here are ten of them summarized.

I'm semi-sceptical about much of it - for example orbs or double-exposures in photos but some still seem a bit hard to fathom.

My favourite below - shots 4 seconds apart

[dreams] the waxing and the waning

While researching this post, I found an interesting piece on kid's dreams and nightmares. Can't say I was ever prone to them and even as an adult, have missed out on the pleasure of the erotic dream.

There were one or two times in childhood where a dream occurred and it was always the same - someone was after me, chasing me, bunch of thugs I'd provoked and at the end of the dirt track, near the cliff, was a huge pile of spaghetti and I was always able to hide under there. Always thought my pursuers were so stupid not to look under the spaghetti.

There is one recurring adult dream, not particularly traumatic and it's a bit like this:

I'm in the clouds [always cumulus for some reason - golden in the sunlight] and things are pretty good, when from the left front [45 degrees] appears a woman [I think a young woman but that's not clear].

She has not particularly shiny golden hair and robes of white which are also not crystal clear. The thing is that I must be looking ahead or whatever.

I don't notice her hands and feet, just the heart-shape of her face and she's neither pretty nor not, neither tall nor small. I look across and smile and she returns the smile. She stretches out one hand towards me [let me try to remember which - I think it must be the right because it is closest to me] and now I look more closely and she becomes clearer and is very sweet and fair.

Before I know what I'm doing [and I know from experience not to] I reach out what must be my left hand and as that happens, as my body turns towards her, she starts to fade backwards [neither down nor up and not particularly gliding]. I almost reach her hand but then she recedes into the cloud and is gone.

I turn back to where I was going and continue on through the sunlit cloud. It never happens at night, this dream - only through the day.

The dream came back today.

I was chatting with an overseas friend this morning and it was nice and then she was gone. So I looked at the dialogue window, typed a couple more things and then just went on composing the last post below this.

The last few weeks were like this too. When we got to the point of some sort of joy or solace, for some reason she faded away and is now like a wraith that occasionally answers an e-mail. She visits, I know but I don't know for how much longer.

My ex-love faded away this way some years back but now, as if orbits are once again coinciding, it's waxing again and the other evening was close once more. I'm expecting it to fade again as usual but will have to wait and see.

The puzzle for me is not how it gets off the ground nor why it continues but why it fades. If you like something, it doesn't fade and if you don't, then why did you remain so long? Better touch wood but it seems that I'll continue on through the day and night and people will come, people will fade.

Do you dream?

Friday, March 28, 2008

[thought for the day] friday evening

On the human race:

It's in your nature to destroy yourselves.

[The Terminator]

[wrong way gordon] round table trek

It's now hit world punters how Gordon, Czechoslovakian geography guru, impressed the Queen with his navigational ability:
Witnesses say she then leant across the table, laughed, and said to her daughter Princess Anne: "The Prime Minister got lost. He disappeared the wrong way ... at the crucial moment" Her comments were picked up by the microphones placed on the table for the speeches.

One guest said: "He thought he was supposed to be in line for the greeting, but he should have been sitting down like the rest of us. "When he discovered his mistake, he had to walk the long way round the table."

Thank goodness the country is in such good hands.

[mobiles] and the curse of the texter

Lifted virtually complete from fellow blogger Grendel, this sums up the issue better than I could:

I dislike mobile phones. The premise being based on your availability or the expectation that others may have of your availability 24 hours a day.

However I went on to say that the thing I really disliked was text messaging. The constant ‘mipping’ noise indicating that a new message has arrived. The daily vision of people hunched over their phones, their features seeming ever more gaunt when picked out by the LCD backlight.

Groups of kids huddled together all with phones in hand most likely texting each other. It seems that one can’t go for a walk, a bus ride a train journey without seeing people bashing away at the tiny little key pads as if their very lives depended on it.

‘Oh I must text because if I don’t text other people they won’t text me and than I won’t have any friends’.

And I’ve often thought that there must be something wrong with quite a few of these people. But as I found out today there actually might be something wrong with quite a few of these people in reality.

According to an editorial by Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University published in this months American Journal of Psychiatry text messaging is becoming an increasingly commonplace compulsive-impulsive disorder. Dr. Block goes on to suggest that it should be added to psychiatry's official guidebook of mental disorders.

Block says users can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives" such as eating or sleeping. Some may need psychoactive medications or hospitalisation to combat their over-reliance.

I personally detest them and ban them from anywhere in my space, at university or elsewhere. My ex-girlfriend knows very well that if we go out, the texter goes away.

Unfortunately I can't do much about private clients. One usually lays two or three of these implements out on the table in front of him and our "conversation" involves getting into a topic, losing it to the texter or mobile then trying to start all over again.

For a start, it is insulting to the person you're with. One or two girls have recently made a joke about being able to Multi-task. It's not multi-tasking - it's simply old fashioned insulting. If someone comes to you, then they should get your undivided attention, at least for a space in time.

Not possible says the compulsive texter/mobile obsessive. "I might lose business. I might lose friends." I'm afraid ths speaks volumes for the modern slide to zero respect for one another which manifests itself from everything from loud train conversations to road rage.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

[thought for the day] thursday evening

Two out of every three people wonder what the third one is doing.

[power of the blogosphere] at the end of a switch

How it started

The power of the blogosphere, particularly the UK sphere, was shown in the Usmanov affair, if you recall, where the Uzbek bully-boy forced certain blogs off air because he disagreed with them.

That was reversed and the result was a sort of camaraderie between certain of us.

But who is "us"? Well, it doesn't appear to be the "myspacer youth" or "the garden looked lovely this morning" type.

I suppose it's a loosely defined club of political bloggers, mostly male, who inhabit the sphere and charge around each others' blogs doing what they can.

I feel proud to be partially accepted into this although my personal reputation is slightly left field.

The Kareem rally was a little less successful for mainly logistical reasons and for the lack of clear intent - how would this change things?

The recent "ban the UK Chancellor from all pubs" campaign began like this:

I'm delighted to say that [as of Tuesday afternoon] the Snob's campaign to get Alistair Darling barred from every pub in the land has now crossed over, with today's Edinburgh Evening News covering the story.

News of the first pubs to take action is also now trickling in. Let's just say I wouldn't go to Lewes on my summer hols if I were him.

A worthy cause indeed but perhaps not relieving the suffering in Darfur or getting the troublemakers like DEFRA removed from positions of influence. Plus one other very worrying, ever-present danger for the blogger, for example in Myanmar:

The 45 megabit per second circuit connecting Myanmar to Kuala Lumpur that is Myanmar’s primary connection to the Internet came back up at 14:27 UTC today. It had mostly been “hard down,” indicating either that it had been unplugged or that the router it was connected to was turned off, with the exception of a few brief periods since September 28.

The truth is, chaps, we can be disconnected at any moment and the tools we use hacked:

Did Laura hack

Blogrolls around the globe now all point to Laura's blog. Laura doesn't sound like your stereotypical evil hacker to me, but something sure went wrong at Anyone know what? Laura's blog seems to have gone down what with all the hits it must be getting, but you can still read Google's cache of it.

It's a very tenuous thread connecting us to each other and thus the notion that we can be a powerful force in society must be seen in this context.

[23 today] get thee over there one day late

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

[thought for the day] wednesday evening

Have you considered:

When Beckham gets his 100th cap, 1,321,851,888 people in China won't care.

[olympics] politics versus sport

Well, you know, this is a tough call:

The problem is China's human rights record in Tibet, which it has ruled since annexation in 1949. On March 10, anti-government, pro-Tibetan independence protests started in the capital of Lhasa to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against the Chinese Communist Party's rule. It turned violent four days later. Tibet's government-in-exile estimates 140 people have since been killed by Chinese troops.

It never alters, the politics and sports dilemma:

Freney was the major organiser, with Meredith Burgmann, of the demonstrations during the 1971 Springbok tour of Australia. The protestors, through their theatrical antics, caused this to be the last such tour; it was a major setback for the apartheid regime in South Africa, and a mind-altering event in Australia.

Right back to Hitler's time and before:

From the very beginning of the project, Hitler recognized the political value of architecture as a vehicle to proselytize Nazi Socialism and he mandated that not only should the stadium be constructed entirely with German materials but that in appearance it must enhance the collective tribalism that would resurrect the majesty of the Volk.

One of German fascism's first major architectural statements, the entire Wagnerian scale venue reflected the chauvinistic agenda of the Third Reich: statues and reliefs celebrated Aryan athletic youth, the Maifeld's four stone pylons were named after early Germanic tribes (Frisian, Franconian, Saxon, and Schwabian), and the Dietrich Eckart Amphitheater underscored Greco-German links--both real and imagined--to the new regime.

Sometimes it's not even for a public cause - do you remember the abandoned 3rd Test at Headingley in 1975, when vandals dug up the pitch and poured oil into it to prevent further play?

So yes, China is using the olympics, drug riddled and corrupt as it is and the question remains - should the olympics be abandoned and along with it all the idealism associated with it and the only real chance of international cameraderie?

The sense of friendship, even (dare I venture the word) cameraderie, the world en fete? Sure I think the Games will be great for London, but I find that the sport is the least attractive element and isn't that a shame for a sports nut?

Or look at the achievement of actually getting to the olympics:

The Afghan Olympic team has plenty of problems with run-down facilities and a woeful shortage of funds, but only Mehboba Andyar. the sole woman competitor, has had to prepare herself mentally for the biggest challenge of her life while dealing with sinister midnight telephone calls, the open derision of her neighbours and even police harassment.

You cancel the olympics and sure you comment on woeful human rights records and the whole thing but you also kill aspiration, hope, the cameraderie of youth and idealism.

Sure we can do that and then sink into our slough of despond or we can acknowledge the appalling hijacking and perversion of de Coubertin's ideal and concentrate more fully on the spirit of man as demonstrated by the bringing together of so many diverse elements of humanity from around the world.

It's not an easy issue.

May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure. [Pierre de Coubertin]

[family] only one of seven planks

Please do go over and read the whole of this by MJW:

David Cameron’s plans to make a “family friendly” Britain are rather brave for two crucial reasons, firstly the social liberal left has done a remarkable job chipping away at the foundations of family values, supposedly for the benefit of those who choose less conventional lifestyles (and no matter what dysfunction the attitude of “all lifestyles are valid” causes). Secondly, because focusing on family values leaves the party open to criticism next time an MP lauding such values is caught shagging around.

What MJW is unconsciously and yet by accident referring to is the spitting on the family by the globalists for which this is one plank in the platform I've published at this blog a number of times. Here it is one more time [yawn]:

1) Abolition of all ordered governments
2) Abolition of private property
3) Abolition of inheritance
4) Abolition of patriotism
5) Abolition of the family
6) Abolition of religion
7) Creation of a world government

It's written down, they don't deviate from it, it's only us who waver and say it's not possible. Scroll down to the Morgan post and there is their dystopia in one - cold, grey-blue, metallic, lifeless, joyless, soulless. What an aim in life!

[climate change] shhh - the sceptics might hear

I'm modifying this post from it's original gung ho form:
A chunk of ice the size of the Isle of Man has started to break away from Antarctica in what scientists say is further evidence of a warming climate. Satellite images suggest that part of the ice shelf is disintegrating, and will soon crumble away.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf has been stable for most of the last century, but began retreating in the 1990s. Six ice shelves in the same part of the continent have already been lost, says the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Professor David Vaughan of BAS said: "Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened.

in the light of further developments. I feel no shame in this - I just want the truth, that's all. Please leave your thoughts on the Wilkin's Ice Shelf and other matters pertaining to GW but in this manner:

1. Let's just try to present the science, not the entrenched positions

2. Let's not ignore the otehr side but try to explain their point away somehow.

3. Let's have some genuine debate on this - where one commnet follows on from the other.

4. Let's steer clear of ad hominem and attack positions with stats.

I genuinely want to know the truth on this matter.

[ugly] when beauty is in the wrong hands

You know, there's something doesn't quite grab me in this sort of thing - ballroom dancing. Maybe it's her costume which I don't see as particularly sexy, even less so the more it's cut away.

And the intensity, the unnatural movement, the competitive nature of it. Can't identify but just don't like it.

Look at the pic on the right. There's just something grasping there, strict, something not right. Maybe it's imagination.

And look at the guy's eyes - is he a robot or what?

Broadening the topic, this seems a turn off for me as well and I'd be interested in how it grabs you. But why such a turn off and many have said this?

Girls spend billions of dollars on cutting clothes away to reveal their legs and here we are with legs on display.

So what's the problem? Don't know - it's ugly. Strict. Unnatural. Not right. Controlled by someone.

And what of good ole anorexia? Do you cringe when you see this image [right] or do you think she looks oh so beautiful? And don't even start me on tatts and piercing.

Is natural not enough? Is Low the new aspiration? Or is it some sort of cry for help?

And the haute couture [left]. Who thinks this is beautiful? Maybe my receptors are different to yours but I labelled this photo "body but not soul".

We have a salon of beauty near us here and their board outside has a girl who might be beautiful but she's presented with black eyes and black everything like something which crawled out of the crypt. Maybe these are handmaidens for the evil one, who knows?

This is presented as chic and the ladies are meant to be enticed to come inside. Really? I'd run a mile.

OK, OK, maybe this is the whole point - to appear as ugly as possible in some sort of attempt to stick it up the men they hate. And women hate men just as much or more than men supposedly hate women. I don't hate women - is there something sick in my head for being like that?

But the above is sure not beautiful in any sense of the word I understand.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

[thought for the day] tuesday evening

I sometimes ponder:

It was a brave man who discovered that frogs' legs were edible.

[tasmania] this evening's quiz

A lady and I were discussing her Map of Tasmania the other night and the difficulty of negotiating such rugged terrain and so it was only right that this evening's quiz is on Tasmania:

1. Which was the state of Australia left off the Brisbane Commonwealth Games opening ceremony Map of Australia?

2. When a north-easterner is asked if she's ever been to the capital and she asks, "Wot, Launceston?" which state could it possibly be?

3. Which state was named after Abel Tasman, who first charted the island in 1642 and originally named it Van Diemens Land?

4. Which state is 20% World Heritage-listed by Unesco ?

In which state must walkers be beware of “horizontals” - trees whose slender trunks fall over and then produce new upright trunks, eventually producing a dense matted tangle, impossible to get through.

Yes I know, reader - fiendishly difficult quiz but
do try your best. :)

[morgan] yawn - same old motif

Yep - they certainly do that - read on

Stolen straight from Vox:

Confirmation of what I wrote about in yesterday's column, as if it was needed:

Adam Smith’s invisible hand has a puppeteer: the Federal Reserve. In case there is any confusion about who was pulling the strings behind the scenes of JPMorgan Chase’s acquisition of Bear Stearns, the curtain was lifted Monday. By raising its bid — with the grudging approval of the Fed — to $10 a share, from $2, JPMorgan exposed what had long been whispered about but no one dared to say aloud: the Fed is officially in the deal-making business.

And one question - does this constitute control economics?
"Moreover, this is a signal that the FOMC is now willing to take charge of market expectations in an attempt to avoid being forced into an undesirable steep path of monetary easing."

And are the Fed in bed with Morgan?
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will provide 29 bln usd in financing for JP Morgan's takeover of Bear Stearns, the New York Fed announced today.

And does Morgan itself have a criminal past?

J.P. Morgan was accused of helping Enron to disguise its debt. The firm fronted money to begin LJM2, a partnership company started by Enron’s Andrew Fastow, which purchased four Enron assets. These purchases allowed Enron to record misleading positive earnings in 1999. Enron later repurchased the assets.

And has JP Morgan always been at hand in an unpreventable crisis?

Ron Chernow in his book The Death of the Banker offers this account of the 1907 Panic, "In the following days, acting like a one-man Federal Reserve system, [J. Pierpont] Morgan decided which firms would fail and which survive. Through a non stop flurry of meetings, he organized rescues of banks and trust companies, averted a shutdown of the New York Stock Exchange, and engineered a financial bailout of New York City."

And how did JP Morgan start up anyway? We'll have to dip into Mullins for this:

Corsair, the Life of J.P. Morgan,34 tells us that the Panic of 1857 was caused by the collapse of the grain market and by the sudden collapse of Ohio Life and Trust, for a loss of five million dollars. With this collapse nine hundred other American companies failed. Significantly, one not only survived, but prospered from the crash.

In Corsair, we learn that the Bank of England lent George Peabody and Company five million pounds during the panic of 1857. Winkler, in Morgan the Magnificent
35 says that the Bank of England advanced Peabody one million pounds, an enormous sum at that time, and the equivalent of one hundred million dollars today, to save the firm. However, no other firm received such beneficence during this Panic.

Crisis, drop in confidence, jittery markets and buy-ups - all in a day's work for Morgan.

[birdsnest] when design becomes danger

Oh my goodness!

The Societe d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) has announced that Serero Architects of Paris has won a competition to redesign the structure's public viewing platform and reception areas.

The winning design, which will be 276 metres above the ground, will not require permanent modification of the existing structure. It will double the capacity of the public viewing area on the tower's top floor.

The new platform will be bolted onto the tower using a web of Kevlar, an extremely strong and lightweight carbon fibre used in the construction of racing cars and body armour. The platform will use a cantilevered design similar to the way an aircraft's wings are attached to the fuselage.

What they fail to mention is that kevlar, though longitudinally strong, has a shelf life when exposed to the elements - any sailor knows that, kevlar being one of the main design materials.

It is also puncture vulnerable and subject to compressive failure, especially when bent. Any site here can tell you that.

Couple that with the French penchant for elan, for outrageous concepts which more than seldom fail in the initial stages and IMHO, there is here a recipe for disaster - plus it's ugly.

An example of French engineering was the hydrofoil and in particular, Hydroptere. In the photo to the left, this is how she should have sailed.

The photo lower right shows how she did sail.

Similarly, the French C Class Otip used a "flip-over" hard sail, designed to maximum efficiency.

The photo lower right shows the result.

So enjoy the new birds nest if you dare and I'll watch the result from the lower etage. And as if on cue, here is an advert for underpinning your French property.

The Tangled Web

The shadowland between sanity and insanity seems murky and the catalyst is usually mental trauma.

Keeping your feet firmly rooted in reality is pretty difficult if your head's full of air, always wanting to lift off - the mind's capacity to delude itself that something pleasant and fulfilling is the truth when nothing is further from the truth - how often does that happen?

Everyone wants to feel valued by at least one person, usually husband/wife and family, wants to feel they'd be difficult to replace - the indispensability factor.

I know one lady who is so vital to her husband, children, primary work, secondary work and younger grown-up sister that she's exhausted in her nonetheless fulfilling existence. Shouldn't mention names but I see people like Ellee Seymour in that connection as well.

Then there are the rest of us and we all carve out our existence with varying degrees of success. How many 40ish divorced males are out there sitting at computer keyboards and assuaging their self-esteem through internet connections? How many mothers, wanting some sort of fulfilment beyond family demands, are surfing the net? Let alone the motives of the young.

Somewhere in this maze of cyberconnections, personal relationships can be established and I don't accept the view of certain friends here that these are only virtual relationships. Depends how we enter them but I'd say the technology is quite good enough today to gain an idea with whom we're dealing. I mean, face to face we can still be told the same lies but the devices we do have can be better than face to face.

Remove all the other factors like shyness and the defensive need for small talk plus the pressure to instantly respond to the other in a real meeting, remove the obligations in a night out, remove the need to be done up to the nines with perfume and mascara, it seems to me it's possible to get quite real, to get down to important details fairly rapidly using a medium like one-to-one chat.

Logically, you need to go next to Skype and then to real contact if it's going to get anywhere but I know of one particular person where a very real connection can be maintained, albeit thousands of kilometres apart. Trouble is that the connection itself can be tenuous - today my internet has dropped out and that's the end of relations for now. And at any moment the plug can be pulled, which is not the case with two people in a room.

In the end it comes down to honesty, that quality we demand of the other but are ambivalent about when applied to ourselves. Last night I was devastated by what might be a misunderstanding but might be a lie by omission of relevant details, by the painting of a false picture. Have to wait and see.

I'm no stranger to the lie myself and did it twice in the last two weeks on matters I really didn't want known. In the end I told all and how much damage it did seems now to have been significant. But what - would it have been better to continue in an untruth? I don't want that in any friendship and they have to accept me as I am or not at all. Probably that means not at all.

After the lie comes the misunderstanding. Again last night, it was the discovery of seemingly possible lies of omission by the person I love which had me on edge and when I was talking to a friend-friend, something was said by her, it reminded me of the first situation, connected with roses and gardens actually, I went into my shell and couldn't continue, she immediately feared the worst that she'd done something wrong, the connection stopped and it was all over a misunderstanding.

So what chance of recovery from this? Well, in the case of the one I love, I'm not sure. There's so much defensiveness [my defensiveness ended last week], so much unwillingness to say, then saying, then withdrawing what was said. I'm pretty sure I know what's behind it so now it's in the hands of the Almighty.

In the case of my friend-friend, the thing which will save it, if at all, is that word "maturity" - the capacity to bend, to forgive, to be understanding of why things happen, to trust the basic feelings of the other, to know the other and that you yourself want it to continue.

IMHO this fundamental friendship is the only thing to weather the storm thrown at it.

This maturity leads to the next aspect - age and situation. I had a friend in Melbourne who was 49, I was 32 and she was 22. She and I got along well but she was in love with my friend and I had no wish to get in the way of that. They actually did marry and I had a long talk to her one day about it all, about how vulnerable he was and how happy, about what she really wanted from life and so on.

She was sure she'd found it and was in that sort of bliss which worried the hell out of me - it was pedestal stuff, masquerading as rationality. It worried me that she seemed so responsive to me and eager to talk but apparently not so much with him, if I interpreted her words correctly. I left that meeting wistful.

I heard they'd gone to America for the honeymoon, she'd run into an old flame in his mid 20s and the rest you can guess. She stayed there and he returned, a broken man, the impossible dream shattered.

I do believe, even with all evidence to the contrary, that it is possible but very rare for two people of wildly diverging backgrounds to make a go of it but there needs to be something there to begin with, some sort of common ground. Strangely, except on one point, I thought we had that last week - we certainly seemed to agree on everything under the sun and our direction seemed the same.

People tell me age only matters insofar as the younger needs already to be mature - so possibly 32 and 47 could be a goer if the younger had wisdom and already had some life experience. My ex-partner and I reconnected on Friday for five hours and though it's not going to happen while both have eyes for someone else, still it surprised and delighted both that her new found life experience definitely puts it back in the realm of possible.

Always running through the mind are the two rules of thumb that you only have a chance if the younger is half the age of the other plus seven years and the other rule - you can never go back. Both of these have been tested this past week. So with my friend 49 and her 22, the formula would mean his minimum would be 32 and she was way below that. With the hypothetical 47 above, then his minimum would be 31 and therefore that factor, at least, would not be against them.

There is one last factor which I believe trumps all and cynical guffaws in response to it cut no ice with me. I believe everyone has the capacity to and should develop his/her own personal spirituality. If you harness that to an established faith and its codes and she does too, then you're getting into an area with no rules, no formulae. Anything is now possible on the say-so of your Maker.

It might not even be the metaphysical itself - if both believe something is meant to be, is more than possible, if both are prepared to work for it, if both will understand the other's falling away and can be brought back to believe in the dream and if the feeling is strong, then the obstacles really can be overcome.

I believe this.