Wednesday, May 07, 2008

[thought for the day] wednesday evening

This post is dedicated to Calum Carr, Bendy Girl and all the others out there who are in similar positions.

Cheer up - the worst is yet to come!

[Philander Chase Johnson - 1920]

Before you get angry with me, let me explain:

In 1989, in Finland, I came off the end of a bobsleigh run, sailed through the troposphere and landed halfway down the hill.

In the hospital, two orderlies took my hand, braced their feet against the bed and hauled it so that the wrist bone went back inside the skin.

What gets you through things like that are prayer and cracks like, "Hey doc, they're trying to steal my hand," and other such corn.

Zero to do with courage - just a simple defense mechanism - true fear in fact.

On the 15th of this month my appeal is decided. If successful, things continue pretty much as they were. If not, for reasons I can't publicly write here, it's the end of the line [smiles to himself].

My mate, not being appraised of the fine print, felt it was less dramatic than that until I explained the ... er ... complications of me going out there.

He's in more shock now than I actually am and looking for solutions.

The interesting thing is the effect on the psyche when something is hanging over you - you've all had it at some time or other - and you almost wish to get it over and done with. Sometimes a strange levity comes over a person.

And so the days of May drag on and nice things happen like an angry sunset this evening after today's storm, a girl who unexpectedly didn't wish me to leave this afternoon, many friendly faces and a nice cheesecake.

You have to laugh.

Just to make us all feel better, here's a photo, courtesy of Julie, of tomorrow morning's sunrise.

And a giggle from Brummie Mum.

Each night for this week until he 15th, I'll try to present one musical piece:

Lyrics here if you're interested.

Have a nice night, readers.

[komodo] looking for a pet?

Why run this post again? As Jim Carrey said, in The Mask:
Because I just gotta ...

Some Wiki facts to set us straight [I know you all swear by Wiki]:

The largest verified wild specimen was 3.13 metres long and weighed 166 kg, including undigested food. Komodo Dragons have a tail that is as long as the body, as well as about 60 frequently-replaced serrated teeth that may be 2.5 centimetres in length.

I love this next bit:

They have red, blood-like saliva, because their teeth, which are almost completely covered by their gums, slice their own gums while feeding. This creates an ideal culture for the virulent bacteria that live in their mouths. It also has a long, yellow, snake-like tongue.

Think you can outrun them?

With the help of a favourable wind, they may be able to detect carrion up to 8.5 kilometres away. They are capable of running rapidly in brief sprints up to 20 kilometres per hour.
Outswim them?

They are excellent swimmers, diving up to 4.5 metres.

What about climbing a tree?

They climb trees proficiently through use of their strong claws. To catch prey that is out of reach, they may stand on their hind legs and use their tails as a support. As they grow older, their claws are used primarily as weapons, as their great mass makes climbing impractical for adults.

Although they eat mostly carrion, studies show that they also hunt live prey with a stealthy approach followed by a sudden short charge. When suitable prey arrives near its ambush site, it will suddenly charge at the animal and go for the underside or the throat.

What if you escape by some miracle?

The bacteria in the mouth cause septicemia in their victim; if an initial bite does not kill the prey animal and it escapes, it will commonly succumb within a week to the resulting infection.

Still, little chance of that, eh?

Komodo Dragons eat by tearing large chunks of flesh while holding their food down with their forelegs, then swallowing it whole. The copious amounts of red saliva that the Komodo dragons produce help to lubricate the food, but swallowing is still a long process (15-20 minutes to swallow a goat).

But all is not lost:

Because of their slow metabolisms, large dragons may only eat 12 meals a year. Whew! So you're as safe as houses. First you'd have to go to Indonesia. Then you'd need to be present around the time of its monthly meal. Then again, if you threw it a goat, you'd be fine.

Have a lovely night. Sleep tight.

[heraldry] blogger family crests

You'll possibly recall this recent post and it appears some of our fellow bloggers already have crests:

Wonko, who's about to fly off to Gordotaxland:

First found in Lancashire where they [the Parrs] were seated from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Cherie, who shares a very famous surname:

I did a little check and it seems 'We Jeffersons' have one already! But my ancestors seem to have been from the Whitby area! That being the case I can't tell you which county I was born in!!!

It appears JMB has a few as well but she's not showing.

Lord Nazh appears to have one though:

First found in Leicestershire, where the Martin family was seated from very early times. The family was granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect.

[food crisis] price fixing, deregulation and other goodies

Quite frankly, we are in the grip of gonzo-economics right now when speculative funds poured into wheat futures and stockpiling in the U.S. and Europe cause a Japanese butter shortage.

There was always bilateral and multilateral trade and there've been depressions but the rhetoric now is about "global" food prices and "global" downturns - everything global, including good old monopolies, of which more later.

Excellent article over at International Political Will on food prices.

So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That’s bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population,” Bush said.

Not so fast:

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the number of middle class Indians is only 50 million (defined as having an annual income between $10,000-20,000). It’s difficult to claim that just 50 million Indians are having more impact than 300 million Americans…so Bush went ahead and “fudged” the numbers.

The Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said: “Bush has never been known for his knowledge of economics. And he has just proved once again how comprehensively wrong he is. To say that the demand for food in India is causing increase in global good prices is completely wrong.”

More importantly, there is the matter of scale. The average American consumes 1,046 kilograms of grain each year – the average Indian consumes 178 kg. That means in terms of global impact, each American equates to ten Indians.

So here is a blatant example of hypocrisy, of apportioning blame elsewhere and of course - price fixing. If you feel price fixing is a myth, look at one of the areas less on the media's mind just now - the Roche, BASF and Rhône-Poulenc vitamin monopoly:

[T]hese are the same two global giants that masterminded the most rapacious price-fixing cartel in modern business history during the 1990s and got nailed with the largest criminal fines ever levied. Roche paid $954 million and BASF more than $500 million after entering guilty pleas with the US Department of Justice, Canada, Australia and the European Union.

When the cartel was exposed in 1999, Roche, BASF and Rhône-Poulenc (now Aventis) -- which escaped charges because it was the first cartel member to cooperate with the DOJ -- controlled about 75 percent of the $6-billion-a-year global vitamin business. They had used their industry dominance to pressure at least twelve smaller vitamin makers in Europe and Asia into an arrangement that top executives had taken to calling "Vitamins Inc."

But now, three years after the cartel was exposed, instead of having been reined in, Roche, BASF and Aventis/CVC (in November Aventis sold its vitamin business to CVC Capital Partners of London for an undisclosed sum) are close to grabbing a near-monopoly in the global production and distribution of vitamins, having increased their dominance to at least 85 percent of the global market.

Why should this be of concern? Because these vitamins are blended into feed grains for animals and that's global trade. Buy your vitamins from this cartel or be undercut. Business is business.

China itself is in the grip of price fixing:

The government accused Chinese instant noodle makers in August of pushing up food costs by illegally colluding to raise prices by up to 40 percent. It has given no indication whether it has evidence of illegal behavior by other producers.

The price surge, which began in mid-2007, has so far been limited to food and is blamed on shortages of pork and grain. The government raised gasoline and diesel prices in November to curb rising demand, but said that should add only 0.05 percentage points to monthly inflation.

The surge in food prices has been especially painful for China's poor majority, who spend up to half their incomes on food.

In simple terms, the mechanism is - deregulate markets, in move the cartels, monopolies are created and prices fixed - all causing immense instability. Example:

Deregulation in agricultural markets, like economic deregulation in many sectors, reached full tilt in the eighties and nineties. Trade and development economists preached the wonders of open markets, unfettered production, and industrial agriculture. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund conditioned loan policies on the elimination of government intervention in agricultural markets.

Global commodity agreements, price supports, and other mechanisms which helped keep global supplies and prices stable were dismantled. The World Trade Organization's Agreement on Agriculture, together with multi-lateral and bilateral agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), slashed agricultural tariffs in the developing world, and opened up markets for a growing global agribusiness industry.

In the U.S., the 1996 Farm Bill eliminated the last vestiges of domestic price supports for most commodities and replaced them with a massive system of subsidies-the only thing left to prop up a farm economy in perpetual crisis. Market liberalization and the dumping of cheap commodities swamped small farmers here and abroad, pricing them out of local markets.

Cheap feed crops fueled industrial livestock production, increasing meat consumption and driving out small producers. The few independent farmers who stayed in farming shifted production to a few commodities including corn and soy that can be stored and shipped to distant markets.

Wonderful idea in an ideal world, deregulation but it cannot work. An analogy is livestock in a corral in a clearing. Stretching the analogy, imagine ravaging wolves in the surrounding forest. The fences are dismantled to allow the livestock to roam free and the result is pretty obvious.

Can we appeal to the wolves to act altruistically? So how can we regulate the wolves? With subsidies? And that's why we're paying more and more and can do absolutely nothing about it.

A previous article on the matter is here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

[thought for the day] tuesday evening

As Captain Masafumi Arima said to the brave young Kamikaze fliers as they took off:

I want to see a real do or die attitude out there today.

[pirates] answer these five, yer lubbers

1. Who eventually decapitated Edward Teach?

2. What terrible death did Henry Morgan suffer?

3. Jack Rackham is known for his two female fellow pirates. One was Mary Read - who was the other?

4. What happened at Captain Kidd's first hanging at Wapping?

5. Whom did Grace O'Malley petition at Greenwich?

Answers [usual method]
1. Lieutenant Robert Maynard; 2. not terrible - he possibly died of disease at his home; 3. Anne Bonny; 4. the rope broke; 5. Queen Elizabeth

[rewarding kids] extrinsic and intrinsic

View all these vids here.

The Quiet Man draws attention to an issue I hadn't given much thought to - that of extrinsic rewards in class for work well done. He took the line that:

Time was when pupils seeking special treatment from their teachers would bring an apple into class. Now teachers wishing to lavish praise on their pupils are rewarding them with chocolates and sweets.

With all due respect, I count chocolate in its dark form as a good food source, as distinct from sweets but no matter. Further on, the real issue emerges in one quote:

I know there are many more effective ways to get the best out of children, bribery never works long term, makes those who may miss out feel bad and sends the wrong message. Children need to learn to make good achievements for themselves.

Well, yes. So what about these two situations?

Mea culpa 1

Long, long ago, I took a team of young cricketers to a match against a much vaunted side. In a nutshell, we were getting a drubbing and the little tykes were not overly happy about the experience. One of the parents approached his own son and his best mate whom the parent had driven to the match and offered a trip to Alton Towers if they could go out there and score 20 runs apiece [it was a 15-15 match].

My guilt was that I laughed when I heard that and took the point of view that what he did in a private capacity with his two kids was not affecting the rest of the team.

The two kids did team up at the fall of wickets and simply Bothamed the opposition round the ground. This inspired the rest of our boys and we won the match convincingly. However, another parent had been standing close by and on Monday I was hauled up before the boss.

The boss had just sung the praises of the team as a whole at assembly and was in a difficult position. He told me what the disgruntled parent had said and said it was best to stop this tactic being used in future, which I subsequently guarded against.

As I went out of the door he smiled and said well done.

Mea culpa 2

Cut to our local area rugby tournament where the U11 boys and I trained and trained for three weeks prior to it, developing a way of running off the shoulder then suddenly reverting to the Australian style of throwing the ball wide. With this age we needed some strategies for the breakdowns as well.

It was a lot of hard work.

As we then played practice matches against the U12s and U13s before being knocked off by the U14s, the attention of the rugby staff turned to our little tykes and the forwards coach came in and offered tips and the backs coach trained our backs.

On the day we had an army of parents with hot toddies, blankets and so on and the kids were rotated to stay warm. The tournament result from 4 twenty minute games was 128-8.

There was a local area sports teachers meeting which deplored the tactics of our school in general and me in particular for developing such a ball-aggressive manner of playing [I'd drummed it into the boys that the ball was the entire focus, that tackling was best done in pairs and done hard to prevent injury and that in such short matches constant motion was the best tactic to worry the other team and to keep our bodies warm] and the slick approach to winning.

Well, all right - OTT but they could have done that too, the opposition, had they wished.

Sport is sport and class is class. In sports like rugby and cricket, whatever is the point of going out there to get a drubbing? It seems to me that one uses all the resources at one's disposal to the maximum, one looks after one's players and if defeated, at least the opposition will know they've been in a game.

The classroom is different and here compassion has to kick in for all children. I firmly believe in two principles here:

1. Excellence should never be mediocritized and the able should never be dragged back to a standard just so the less able may feel better. If my child is capable, then I'd expect the school to maximize his opportunities to pursue excellence. As a teacher, it is his job to extend that child any which way, with no reference to class norms but only to the pleasure the child gets from achieving as the goal, no extrinsic rewards.

2. That same teacher, if he fails to explore the less able child's whole being in order to seek out something, anything which he can then boost in order to give that child a taste of success - that teacher is being negligent. The teacher really must do everything possible to assist the less able to find some sort of success in some area and to allow his peers to praise him for it. He must construct situations in which this can occur. He must be the rock on whom that child can depend.

3. A teacher without compassion should not be in the classroom. At the same time, providing false successes and encouraging an attitude of "we don't have to do anything as we're going to be rewarded anyway" is skewing the whole meaning of point 2 above. Rewording failure is not the same thing as providing opportunities for genuine success which the child knows in his heart can't be taken away from him. Kids know if it was real or if it was a sop.

Where do sweets come into this? I feel they shouldn't - nor cabbages or other foodstuffs. It's a false signal.

In sport though - well, I'm not so sure, as it is a competitive environment and while the lengths many coaches and parents go to to win are just plain wrong and should be condemned, still - you're there, aren't you, to equip your kids with the means to play at a level which will enable you to win. It's a total package of successful strategy and man-management.

It's a fine line.

[texas levees] and security fences

To bring non-Americans up to speed:
Man-made levees can fail in a number of ways. The most frequent (and dangerous) form of levee failure is a breach. Levee overtopping can be caused when flood waters simply exceed the lowest crest A sand boil occurs when the upward pressure of water flowing through soil pores under the levee (underseepage) exceeds the downward pressure from the weight of the soil above it.

There's not much doubt that, in Texas, this is a sizeable problem - look at how many levee locations there are in the state and they all require cash to maintain.

Plus the Federal government wants Texas to build an enormous security fence to keep the aliens out but not everyone is enamoured of this:
The proposal has raised environmental concerns because plans for a fence that small wildlife could pass through were replaced with plans for a 16- to 18-foot-high impermeable concrete wall. Many residents and elected leaders in the Rio Grande Valley are opposed to the plan to build a fence. They fear that private land would be lost and that the sister communities in Mexico would take offense.

However, politics makes strange bedfellows and thus they now have:

The federal government and a county in South Texas have reached a final agreement to build a combination of levees and a border fence, a project intended to address national security concerns and local flood-control needs. The agreement on the $113.9 million project, which will stretch along 22 miles of the Rio Grande, calls for the federal government to pay about $65.7 million. The pact, announced on Monday, puts long-awaited levee improvements in Hidalgo County on a fast track, with a goal of completing them in less than a year.

The security fence proposal is a genuine puzzle. With the NAFTA superhighways and the SPPPNA start date of March, 2009, one wonders why the need for such an expensive structure as the security fence?

If North America is soon to be a free trade zone, with most functions of state under the control of the NAAC, then why the wall where it is actually scheduled to be?

[blog crawl] new game in poor taste

Click pic

This may well be my least acceptable post to date.

The immediate criticism is that it directs you to other blogs for spurious reasons. I argue, in reply, that either you usually visit there anyway or if not - it might have let you find a blog you might not have ordinarily done.

A second criticism is that it trivializes the post from where the fragment was drawn. This one worries me but I still feel it's better to go to the site rather than not to. Anyway, here are the rules of the game:
If you follow the path below and select the words indicated from those posts, when put together - they create a message. What is that message?

So let's start clicking:

Jailhouse Lawyer - first eight words, paragraph 2 after the extensive links - I would have thought if you take the
Calum Carr - last three words, paragraph 2 - desired path

Cherie - last two words of the heading - in life

Liz - words 10 to 13 , paragraph 1 - I really don't believe

Jeremy - paragraph 2 from "by" to "another" - by speaking so that you can be properly understood, you'll run into problems of one kind or another.
Ordovicius - last paragraph, up to the first comma - This seems like a good and sensible proposal to me.

Bob G - section 3, "anyone" to "clue" - Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get a clue.

Right, well that was a trial run. Next time we'll do it for real. Oh, by the way, if you'd like to see the combined text, highlight all the text in this post and read the italics.
Cheers :)

Bet no one looks at this sentence - if you can read this, you win a trip for two to Mogadishu.

Monday, May 05, 2008

[lesbians] what's in a name

Ersatz or real?

The unimpeachable Jams O'Donnell draws our attention to:

“We are Lesbians and we are proud” said Mr Lambrou “All we want to do is to look anyone in the eye and say we are lesbians without them sniggering.”

Of course this is referring to the dispute on the island of Lesvos where locals wish to reclaim the hijacked name for the island itself, just as the worldwide movement to reclaim the terms "gay' and "rainbow" are moving into gear. On Sappho:

An Oxyrhynchus papyrus from around 200 AD and the Suda agree that Sappho had a mother called Cleïs and a daughter by the same name. Two preserved fragments of Sappho's poetry refer to a Cleïs. In fragment 98, Sappho addresses Cleïs, saying that she has no way of obtaining a decorated headband for her. Fragment 132 reads in full: "I have a beautiful child [pais] who looks like golden flowers, my darling Cleis, from whom I would not (take) all Lydia or lovely..."

[Incidentally, good to see the usage of the "AD" in that paragraph.]

The daughter is disputed, some saying that "daughter" could have referred to any of her circle of admirers. Interesting that seeming lesbians actually turn out often to be quite partial to the company of men.

Think I'll run a poll here to see what you think on the intellectual property rights issue:

Who has the right to the Lesbian name?
The island of Lesbos
Homosexual women free polls

[caption time] grrrrr

[heraldry] make your own coat of arms

The purists will no doubt have me on the short list for euthanasia but:

Dymphna, one of the partners in Gates of Vienna, posed the question some time ago: "What would appear on your coat of arms?"

I did have one but lost it. Now if you are entitled to one already, well and good and the World is not Enough. But for the rest of us – time to get working on our heraldry. Mine appears below:

Symbolism of the Higham coat-of-arms

The anchor means hope, religious steadfastness and symbolizes sailing.

The four quadrants separated by the dancette line:

1] Paschal lamb with cross is evident;
2] Stag means one who will not fight unless provoked;
3] Dolphin represents grace and style;
4] Catherine wheel means one who is prepared to undergo trials for his faith
5] Spilt blood means just that.

The dancette line crossing the shields means water.
The wombat represents obstinate determination and directness.
The badger represents hidden talent, integrity and determination.

Amo ut invenio means ‘I love as I find’.

Good sites to help you with your tasteful design

Fleur de lis
Painting about

My notated list of expressions in traditional heraldry

Bordure - polite way of saying "Cr-p"
Couchant - avec moi
Counter-passant - nothing you wish to buy there
Dormant - intimate organs
Fesse - con
Gardant - anti-perspirant
Mullet - Tony Blair
Passant regardant - check out the chicks
Pile - ordure [b]
Rampant regardant - on hind legs, tongue hanging out
Trippant - on substances

Sunday, May 04, 2008

[thought for the day] sunday evening

Time for that old Chesterton snippet:

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

[rationalism] perpetuating blinkered half truths

No fool like an old fool

Definition of political correctness:

No matter what guise the particular variety takes, the end result is always the same: repression, followed by carnage and tragedy, born out of good intentions towards the common good.

It's a quick step from here to Statism, compulsion and denial of free will:

If men hadn't free will, how can we possibly come to any moral decisions? This lays the basis for the idea, that the only natural environment for man, is liberty. This being the reason why mentally and emotionally mature people prefer freedom over Statism and Collectivism.

Cassandra explains the lie:

The central philosophical con trick of all Collectivist thought ... is perpetrated in order to accommodate the lie, so that the ideology may survive yet another generation: it is the denial of Reality and with it, the rejection of right and wrong, good and bad.

This rejection or denial creates amorality, a sort of childlike unawareness that some things are just plain wrong, such as indiscriminate sex:

This amorality has become a problem of Biblical proportions as adherents because of it, do not recognize Evil, even if it bit them in the behind.


Another, moral consequence of the rejection of reality is, that good and bad, right and wrong, truth and lie, are denied in the same way; or to put it in another way: everybody is 'right' from his or her own particular point of view, and anything 'bad' is called 'bad', only because it doesn't fit into our present, defective idea of society.

Thus we come to moral relativism and into this fuzzy logic steps genuine evil, albeit surreptitiously in its early stages, masquerading under the do-gooder tag of "tolerance":

The denial of evil as a reality leads to wishful thinking, further blindness, and the denial of the self; it decreases rather than increases awareness. A false picture of reality is created -- the reality of the present state of humankind.

Like an alcoholic failing to concede the true nature of what faces him, deniers of the existence of evil leave themselves wide open. Elias Staub, The roots of evil: the origins of genocide and other group violence. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.) offers another characterization:

“Evil is not a scientific concept with an agreed meaning, but the idea of evil is part of a broadly shared human cultural heritage. The essence of evil is the destruction of human beings…

That's the bottom line, both in observed experience and in metaphysics. It has always been and still is about enslavement, the denial of "humanness" and the reduction of humans to primal instincts. This is the basis of Associative Disorder and mind control. It's why Jack Nicholson had a lobotomy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. People are simply blinded to it, hamstrung by a denial of the metaphysical:

Prefiguring Peck, Rollo May long held that here in America--with its youthful optimism and naivete--we comprehend little of evil's true nature, and are thus naively ill-prepared to contend with it.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn showed how it inevitably leads to violence:

"Violence cannot exist in and of itself. It is invariably interlinked with the Lie."

The primary battleground is indeed the destruction of liberty via the unsustainable constructs of society peddled as the Lie but where the Libertarians now jump ship is that they ascribe this to the non-metaphysical entirely. However, even philosophy recognizes the place of the epistemological and epistemology seeks to explain:

"The daimonic," wrote May, "is any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person. Sex and eros, anger and rage, and the craving for power are examples. The daimonic can be either creative or destructive and is normally both. When this power goes awry, and one element usurps control over the total personality, we have "daimon possession," the traditional name through history for psychosis.

Problem is though that it strays into the realm of the metaphysical:

Nowadays however, the epistemological problem, by a fatal mistake of method, is assigned to metaphysics, and the result is a confusion between the two branches of philosophy, viz. metaphysics and epistemology.

Metaphysics joins the dots:

The metaphysical sciences reach the highest point of abstraction. They prescind, or abstract, not only from those qualities physics and mathematics abstract from, but also leave out of consideration the determination of quantity. They consider only Being and its highest determinations, such as substance, cause, quality, action etc.

It leads the scientist to a dilemma:

When therefore, the scientist rejects metaphysics, he suppresses a natural and ineradicable tendency of the individual mind towards unification and, at the same time, he tries to put up in every highway and byway of his own science a barrier against further progress in the direction of rational explanation.

Besides, the cultivation of the metaphysical habit of mind is productive of excellent results in the sphere of general culture. The faculty of appreciating principles as well as facts is a quality which cannot be absent from the mind without detriment to that symmetry of development wherein true culture consists.

Similarly, to try to reason as a philosophe, whilst excluding or rationalizing the metaphysical has always been quite erroneously fashionable; to ascribe verbose esoteric labels as the post-modernists are wont to do creates an aura of academic competence but is, in fact, incompetent by definition.

It's a stubborn mindset more concerned with perpetuating a loosely strung together set of half-truths and rejecting as beyond the pale the notion of concepts of good and evil.

Meanwhile, one side in this eternal struggle sits back and chuckles.

[baby photo parade] for your delectation

Photo 1

Hmmm, here's how it works, people - the clues are written in the post but they do not correspond to the photo in the vicinity.

Photo 2

The trick, of course, is to mix and match the photos [no more than two of any baby] to the blurbs.

Photo 3

Then some nice words in the comments section about someone else's baby photo here would be much appreciated.

Photo 4

Answers themselves are in white, as usual, below and can be seen by highlighting the line.

Photo 5

I'd take it as a personal favour if you clicked on the name in red, if you haven't already visited today and drop in on these folk to say hello and maybe have a snoop around.

Photo 6

Right, so away we go.

Photo 7


One of me aged about 6 months old. I don’t think I have changed all that much ;-) Well maybe I have a bit more to say for myself these days!

Photo 8


These pictures are of my two youngest in the buggy, and how they are now holding my baby niece Freya who is only 10 weeks old. All very cute and very hard work......but very much loved.

Photo 9


Some pics my Dad took when I must have been about three years old. They're black and white unfortunately so for the record I had blue eyes and dark brown hair.

The first photo I seem to look a bit dazed so was probably contemplating Einsteins Theory of Relativity, or had just done a surprise in my trousers, lol.

The second photo someone had probably put something on their head to try and make me laugh. Hmmm, now I know where my daughters serious look comes from.

Photo 10


Attached is the not so great but earliest photo I have of me. I'm lucky to have any since I have moved country twice.

Here you have the chubby legs and the chubby freckled face of JMB at the ripe old age of six. I was in 1A, it was 1942 (yes we had air raid drills regularly) and the school was Mortdale, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.

Only dresses allowed but you could bring your doll to school in those days as you can see behind me and there were quite a few in the original photo of 33 students. Imagine teaching 33 children to read at one time!

Photo 11


Sean01_a1: Where's my Teddy?

Sean02_a2: Ah ...

Photo 12


Here I am aged three - my (paternal) gran had this photo taken during one of my visits with her.

Photo 13

Bob G

Not everyone can be a hero; somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.

Photo 14


I expect it's too late but here I am at 3 [I think] at my auntie's house in Devon. To think that one was ever so carefree!!

Nunyaa did not submit a blurb so her two photos in the post are the wildcards. Thanks so much for submitting those - it was a bit of yourself you were sending so I tried to do you justice.


Sean...2 Welshcakes...3 Bob G...4 Kate...5 Ginro...

Cherie...7 Julie...8 Nunyaa...9 JMB...10 Kate...

JMB...12 Ginro...13 Nunyaa...14 Sean.

[national stereotypes] n2 - the glaswegian

Glasgow, European City of Culture, 1990

The city itself is a mishmash, described in this article on its reign as European Capital of Culture:

The City fathers still bend over backwards to accommodate commercial interests; new buildings--commercial and residential--of abysmal quality are allowed, and the old are still allowed to decay and tumble. Glasgow has always had a strong American character, reflected in particular in its early-twentieth-century architecture, but today much of the city looks like parts of Detroit.
A traditional activity in tenement buildings, to have a hingie is to lean out of an open window in a flat and pass the time of day by watching the comings and goings in the street, occasionally conversing with passers-by or occupants of other open windows.
The stone-built tenement is a major feature of Glasgow's urban landscape, [b]uilt in large numbers from the mid-1800s to the early years of the twentieth century to accommodate the city's growing population.

The local humour's a good guide to a city's reputation:

Glaswegians consider Edinburgh to be in the east - the Far East. Edinburghers consider Glasgow to be in the west - the Wild West. How do you know when you're staying in Glasgow? When you call the hotel desk and say "I've gotta leak in my sink" and the response is "go ahead".

Glasgow teachers are known to use the following translations for the remarks they make on pupils' report cards:

"A born leader" - Runs a protection racket
"Easy-going" - Bone idle
"Helpful" - A creep
"Reliable" - Informs on his friends
"A rather solitary child" - He smells
"Popular in the playground" - Sells pornography

Rab C. Nesbitt [pictured] gives an insight into Glasgow and in particular, Govan:

Ian Pattison's scripts mercilessly poke fun at the more sanctimonious tendencies of nationalism, such as tartan wearing exiles, folk songs from the Hebrides, and the worst aspects of the 'remember Culloden' victim mentality. However the failings of the proletariat are satirised too - working-class culture and its limitations are hardly romanticised through Rab and his drinking pals, who often proudly refer to themselves as 'scum'.

Rab: "Mary, we huv knain each other tae long to let a pound ae dead meat tae come between us".

Mary: "Let's leave oor sex life oota this."

If you'd like to see the whole episode, Part 2 is here and Part 3 here. The language - a bit of background:

Northeast English, spoken throughout the traditional counties of Northumberland and County Durham , shares other features with Scots which have not been described above.As well as the main dialects, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow (see Glasgow patter) have local variations on an anglicised form of Central Scots.

Glaswegian is a bit more specific, described thus:

Glasgow patter has evolved over the centuries amongst the working classes, Irish immigrants and passing seamen in the dockyards. The dialect is anglicised west central lowland Scots or Scottish English depending on viewpoint, and features a varied mix of typical Scots expressions and vocabulary, as well as some examples of rhyming slang, local cultural references and street slang.

Some examples:

  • Buckie/BuckyBuckfast Tonic Wine - cheap, strong, fortified wine popular with many teenagers.
  • Cleek — To refer to picking up a partner of the opposite sex, cleek being the Scots word for a hook or crook referring to the linking of arms. A more colourful theory is that it originates from late night kissing couples on tenement doorsteps and knocking milk bottles to make a clinking sound.
  • Dreepie - hanging from the edge of a roof so that your feet are as close as possible to the ground.
  • Electric soup — see buckie, also a Scottish comic book. Anything more alcoholic than tasty. To 'be on the electric soup' has an implication of loss of faculty.
  • Hauners — A helping hand in a playground fight.
  • Jeg — Any carbonated soft drink.
  • Mad wi it — Drunk or intoxicated.
  • Mintit - Cool/amazing.
  • Particks — A term for breasts which came about through a number of slang words, an area of the city and a pub (The Partick Smiddy).

So that's the Glaswegian and his life and as Rab explains to his wain:
"You'll be skint, battered, exploited, lied to, cheated and despised. But at least you'll no' be bored."

[the enlightenment] time honoured tradition of missing the point

I've never much bothered to raise the intellectual tone of this blog, preferring that type of poor man's intellectualism which obscures itself behind a sea of diverse comments of all shapes and sizes.

But this post by Deogolwulf, in which I largely agree with his thrust and yet feel he is missing the main underpinning, demanded reply. Deogolwulf wrote, in his comments section:

There is no necessity from liberty of thought to pluralism, for pluralism is an idea about the desirability of plurality, and if there really is liberty of thought, then I am free to come up with other ideas, even ones that might seek to reduce the liberty of thought in my rivals, ideas that are explicitly anti-pluralistic, Indeed, given the urge to dominate that we find amongst humans, that wouldn't be a surprise to find -- indeed as we do find.

As I put in footnote [5]: "As a mere matter of consequences, let us also acknowledge that from the fact of a plurality of views, derived from the call for the equal right of every man to express his own, it does not follow that any one of those views itself will have as its object, let alone its effect, a plurality of views, that is to say, that any view will itself be in favour of pluralism."

But this is rather by-the-by as far as the post is concerned; for, as said therein, right from the beginning of the radical current of the Enlightenment, liberty was conceived, in a very odd way, as being based on equality and tied to the general will.

Pluralism wasn't on their minds - nor on the minds of all those universal systemisers which you seem to have overlooked.
My argument isn't that the Enlightenment had no good ideas conducive to liberty of thought; only that it had some very bad ones -- which is just as one would expect when you have liberality of thought.

That's as maybe, Deogolwulf and yet it misses the main purpose of the Enlightenment, as espoused by an as yet non-existent school of ersatz philosophical thought for which it might well be time to find a coffee house therein to promote it. I humbly reply:

"It is therefore neither an exaggeration nor a weary old canard to say that some projects of the Enlightenment were themselves totalitarian in character or that they were an inspiration to subsequent regimes."

In temporal terms, a truism indeed but the ultimate black joke is the metaphysical underpinning of the essential purpose of the wonderfully misnamed Enlightenment [I refer to it as the Darkening] which led man down hopeful country lanes only to be caught in the quagmire beyond.

This is the sum total of philosophic thinking which takes not into account the metaphysical aspects of life. In short, it was a superb con, appealing to the Babel-like egotistical presumption of the capacity of man to out-G-d G-d but without the perceptive capacity to achieve this end.

Like a dog chasing its tail.

So paying its dues to its powerful antecedents in such movements as the French Revolution and long before e'en to 1688 and earlier, which in turn paid its dues to the inevitably inept godless morality and subsequently spawning delusion in the form of otherwise sentient thinkers such as François-Marie Arouet, who under the guise of "freedom of religion" actually set up the mechanism for its suppression, religion being merely the moniker applied by those who would have spiritual connection of humans deflected, then the Darkening was on a hiding to nothing.

And even today with the Grayling delusion couched in professional philosopher approved intellectual tones, the myth is perpetuated that the explanation for humankind can exclude consideration of the spiritual aspects which make possible the eventual understanding, given the initial spirit of enquiry and intellectual equipment to be able to discern and differentiate the wheat from the chaff and posturing from imposture.

In short, it's the most natural and logical thing in the world that totalitarianism should sprout from the fertile bed of Enlightenment manure, itself patiently laid by the most perniciously cynical demagogue of all.

Callest ye this claptrap? So be it.