Friday, February 06, 2009

[family life] when tempers fray

Bulgarian police arrested Thursday the man who shocked the nation by decapitating his two children and seriously injuring five relatives by setting the family house on fire.

The 29-year old man, apparently distraught by feuding with his in- laws, killed and decapitated his two sons, aged five and eight, in a street in the village of Osikovo in southwestern Bulgaria on Wednesday night.

The mother of the killed children, 30, was still listed in a critical condition.

And here was I bemoaning not having a family. If that's family life, then I'm out of here.

[blogger] an interesting organization

Dear oh dear. Wonder if he'd like me as a character reference in his appeal to Blogger?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

[one of us] and one who will never be one of us

When Kim Philby was finally sprung in the 60s, there was widespread incredulity that he had betrayed his land and his people but even more incredulity that he had betrayed his class.

This latter was the one in which he remains unforgiven.

Difficult to know why the pointers to him doing this weren’t noted by more people. His family background and then his education at Cambridge, the past and present communist hotbed of intellectual England, the times in which he lived and his actions in distancing himself from his past – these all pointed to the possibility of his being a bit suspect, to say the least.

In the end, the phrase which was more often than not used about him was that he had been ‘one of us’.

This post is not about him nor about anyone even half interesting like him. It’s about me, so skip it if the topic is a bore.

Two years ago, one blogger described me as an anachronism from a long forgotten era and that epithet sits nicely. Look, mine was no more nor less than a typical white English, nominally Church of England upbringing or more specifically, Yorkshire upbringing but if you were to meet me today, you’d detect no Yorkshireman in me, either by accent or in attitude, except in a certain curmudgeonly dourness on occasions but that could equally be put down to age and my father, around whom I voyaged.

The fly in the ointment is the Australian connection. There are anomalies everywhere with me. For a start, my mother’s side is Protestant Irish and yet her family name is from the deep south of Ireland, County Cork and is spelt in the Catholic manner. My father was straight Yorkshire, living between the city of the mills and ‘oop on’t moor’ and he couldn’t stand Australians, so he really did well for me, di’n he, eh? Shades of Johnny Cash’s Boy named Sue.

I suspect I have Jewish blood somewhere but nothing in our genealogy suggests that.

In Australia, there were four main classes in those days: the colonial Australians themselves - the vast majority, then a smaller educated class, with family ties to the land or to the old country – the Macarthurs are the type of family I’m thinking of, then a class of English expats who settled in certain areas and finally the new immigrants from Europe and the older Chinese brigade. Oh … and in the outback were the aborigines. Sorry … koori.

Being one of the English expats and also, to an extent, of the educated class by upbringing, your humble blogger was a hybrid. Enough of my formative years were spent out there to develop a ‘twang’, also exacerbated by rhinitis, to make me acceptable to the French and I have ties to France too.

So, Australians always consider me a Pom, from my la-di-da manner of speaking; the Brits are divided on the issue. The uncritical place me as a convict but the shrewd can’t quite place it – I often get, ‘South African, yes?’

In Russia, it was even more weird. Drivers who gave me a lift placed me according to their own education level and exposure to the west, together with my level of Russian on that particular day.

On a bad day, I was asked, ‘Amerikanetz, da?’ through a range up to the highest level I ever achieved: ‘Pribaltica, da?’ This meant that they thought I was from either Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania.

Only about a dozen times did someone phone and take me as Russian, then get annoyed when I didn’t understand what she wanted.

In one way, this was high praise for my Russian speech but from the Russian point of view, Pribaltica was a derogatory comment – I was someone bastardizing their language, one step above Chukcha. When they found out I was British, their attitudes changed for the better, of course.

The most common assumption was that I was Yugoslav, which ties in with my first life partner who was Serbian and a wild beauty at that. She was the type you’d die for [and very nearly did] and I had no defences. On that score, I also had an attachment to a Ukrainian girl and maybe that explains how I slipped into the Russian lifestyle so quickly and why, even today, Olga Kurylenko makes the heart skip a beat [but you’d be hard pressed, in my opinion, to go past an English rose].

Yesterday, in ASDA, I saw a lady with that particular leather jacket and that particular manner and a jawline I recognized immediately but up here, she’s more likely to be Polish, whom I don’t know.

The Americans have always been onside with me and vice-versa. Maybe I think like an American or am educated in their history and culture. I spent every year in America in the 90s and in Canada too, on the strength of a certain lady I was enamoured of, a Vancouver lass.

The Americans are ultra-friendly to most people anyway but still, the point stands – I’ve always been made to feel accepted in America, which is more than I can say for my homeland. Two days ago, I was told I was not a Brit but I’m used to that now.

So, coming back to Philby - there was a man who spoke in a distinctive manner, whose background was impeccable, who also, to many, ‘betrayed his class’. With me, I’ve never been accepted in the first place by any nation or by any class as ‘one of us’.

Sometimes I see myself as the Flying Dutchman, doomed to rove the world eternally, [violin out at this point, maestro and play a mournful strain], forever suspected as pulling a fast one on the locals, wherever they happen to be, due to huge background gaps and therefore my credibility as ‘one of us’.

Let’s just say that, on occasions, it makes me sigh.

By the way, yesterday I joined the ranks of the ratepayers. Bloody outrageous too – over £1000. Does that count?

I said to the council lady, when asked to state my ethnicity, ‘I really must apologize, you know. I’m from a social grouping discriminated against these days – the ageing, white, British male. I’m afraid I can’t even claim to be homosexual [although I did try it out when I was a boy scout], disabled, nonCofE or even riff-raff. Sorry.’

Actually, I didn’t say that at all.

Well, maybe a bit.

Well, most of it, really.

Anyway, she laughed and we plan to meet up again soon.

[adventure holidays] have you considered africa

Modern ladders enable you to disembark from your aircraft.

Tired, jaded, prone to that old ennui? You need a holiday, my friend.

That’s why Nigerian spammer Susan Morgan and Ukrainian mail order bride specialist Boris Goodenough have combined with Higham Surprise Vacations to offer you the trip of your life. Whether fighting off muggers in Kinshasa or succumbing to yellow fever in Tanzania, we offer you a holiday you’ll never forget, a final journey to exotic lands, unspoilt by tourism.

Here is a sampler:

Cape Verde

The Republic of Cape Verde consists of several rugged volcanic islands off the West Coast of Africa. The climate is warm and dry. Evidence of immunization against yellow fever is required and medical facilities in Cape Verde are extremely limited. Some petty theft is common.

The next step up in excitement:


All official Americans have departed the country. Portuguese is the official language; French is also widely spoken. Visitors arriving without visas via land or air have been turned back.

Medicines often are not available; malaria and other tropical diseases are common. Petty thievery and pickpocketing are increasingly common, particularly at the airport, in markets and at public gatherings and thieves have sometimes pose as officials and steal bags and other personal items.

Fund transfers between banks are frequently difficult and time-consuming to accomplish. Taking pesos out of the country is prohibited. Travelers may have difficulty finding public phones and receiving international calls. Telephone services are expensive.

However, if living on the edge is your thing, try:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dramatic deterioration of the physical infrastructure of the country, insecurity and an increase in looting and murder in Kinshasa’s streets, occasional official hostility to U.S. citizens and nationals of European countries; periodic shortages of basic needs such as gasoline; chronic shortages of medicine and supplies for some basic medical care; hyperinflation and corruption.

In some urban areas, malnutrition and starvation are acute.

Medicine is in short supply. Most intercity roads are difficult or impassable in the rainy season. Government permission is required for travel outside Kinshasa. Armed groups operate in parts of the DRC outside government control and provide pillaging, vehicle thefts, carjackings, extrajudicial settling of differences and ethnic tensions. Travelers in these areas run the risk of attack or detention.

Book today with us. Leave travellers cheques or credit card details with the washroom attendant, Victoria station between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight and we’ll mail you your tickets, transfers, insurance and accommodation stubs.

Be sure to have left an adequate will with loved ones before

[burma] and the forgotten monks

Any one remember them? Have you thought where they might be at the moment - the monks who protested?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

[wordless wednesday] captions please

They're chefs, by the way.

[austerity] and the right balance

In a long forgotten post, I might have mentioned a boarding house master who lived what looked like an austere existence and I can remember thinking at the time that it was a miserable existence.

It wasn’t though; he wasn’t miserable. Let me describe it.

He was in a small room of maybe eight feet by ten, with one cell like window which was so placed that it caught the morning sun. On the wooden slatted floor was one good quality rug and in one corner near the window, a comfortable chair.

In the diagonally opposite corner was his writing table. Underneath that table was one shallow drawer and in that drawer were his securities which he one day showed me, for some reason. They came to a substantial amount.

Outside the room, under the stairs, was a cupboard and in this cupboard was his fold-up bed and a railing with his few clothes hanging from it.

His meals were taken in the school dining room.

He was a creature of habit and did his boarding house duties, went for his walks, retired to do his correspondence then went to bed.

Every second weekend he went to an Ibis hotel in a nearby village and explored the markets there, to what purpose, I have no idea, as there was nothing to show for it in his room.

Yes, you say but where were his pleasures, where was the nooky? Well, I can’t comment on that. In these austere days of mine, it’s not hard to admire him for having an existence he was obviously happy in.

Some people have four televisions, the same number of computers, all manner of clothing and bits and bobs in the hall cupboard and dotted all over the place. Are they used? Are they necessary? Then why were they bought?

In the kitchen here is no fridge and I’m not sure I want one now. The powdered milk has turned out fine, there are all manner of grains and fresh vegetables, in small quantities, to cook up. The meat and rolls can be bought daily.

When they’re finished, I bicycle up to get more. I’m either going to have to buy this ten speed bike or pay my friend rental soon. I was going to get a car but now I’m not so sure. A moped was going for a reasonable price the other day and that at least gets you into a nearby town, which the bike doesn’t.

Back in the kitchen, there are two small ‘hanging’ cupboards and under bench space for other things. I was looking at the white, four of everything crockery and thinking I really wouldn’t want any more than that – it would just clutter up the place.

What has possibly been passing through some of your minds is that that may be all well and good but what if there was a family? Well yes, that alters the whole thing.

What has possibly been passing through some of your minds is that this is a selfish, misanthropic existence. Guilty, I’m afraid. An austere existence like this would drive you out of your tree after a while but there are some good principles in it though:

1. Have, as I think Oscar Wilde said, only that in your house which is either beautiful or useful plus a Macintosh laptop. I’d add that it should have been useful within the past month.

2. Marshall your total resources and income, thrash out, over a coffee, how it is to be apportioned, percentage wise, stick to it and never borrow against your assets, except in a maximum three month period.

3. Tailor your lifestyle round your means, not your aspirations. As your means improve, so does your lifestyle gradually expand.

[just for interest] is it getting warm

[mystic quiz] know your stonehenge

Supply the number in each case:

1. ___ upright stones or sarsens.

2. Each sarsen is over ___ feet tall and weighs ___ tons.

3. There are ___ lintels weighing ___ tons each.

4. The ___-year cycle of eclipses can be found by decoding Stonehenge.

5. Giraldus Cambrensis was a historian of the ___th century, who wrote a book titled The History and Topography of Ireland and ascribed the engineering of Stonehenge to Merlin.


30, 10, 26, 30, 6, 56, 12

Further reading at

[dark energy] and the complexity of space

In 2001, Ray Villard, of spacedotcom, wrote of:

A strange repulsive force of "dark energy" pervad[ing] every nook and cranny of the universe, push[ing] against the master force of gravity.While gravity gently binds planets, stars and galaxies together, dark energy tugs on the fabric of time and space, pushing galaxies apart ever faster and faster into the farthest reaches of the universe.

The Hubble Deep Field image containing the farthest supernova suggested that that a decelerating universe holds galaxies relatively close together and objects in them would have appeared brighter because they would be closer.

The comment I liked the most about this was:

"This starts to look incredibly ugly and complicated," says Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute. "I even wonder if we are we asking right questions."

Or this one:

"Dark energy is something we have no clue as to what is causing it, and it doesn't fit into current physics theories, and they have to develop new approaches to explain it," said Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "That's exciting. It's rare that we get to do this."

Yep, when you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, you can wax lyrical, like Morris Aizenman, a senior science associate with the National Science Foundation, who was so moved by the finding that he likened it to a Keats poem about Cortez' first sighting of the Pacific Ocean.

So is the universe accelerating or decelerating? Who knows? Supernovae observations published in 1998 suggested space is expanding faster today than long ago. And is the universe three-dimensional or is it flat? The simple answer is that scientists don’t know.

It’s not scientists who appear to be the arrogant ones. It is mankind who places science on a pedestal and wilfully misunderstands what it is about. Science is seeking answers, it is not G-d.

So in the knowledge that we don’t really know anything, except on the plane we currently perceive from, who would be so arrogantly blinkered as to suggest that there might just be a great cosmic force we can refer to under the moniker “G-d”?

Who knows, there might be such a power after all.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

[to where] add your caption

[snow] and the ebbing of dull care

Did you have the snow? It might sound a stupid question but with no daily news input here, I can only assume you did.

What is it about snow that makes it almost as important as the touch of a woman or sailing a boat, skiing down a mountain or walking through the forest? When it’s with you, it’s so soothing, so restful, so fulfilling and dull care fades away, in a fairytale landscape.

Also, like a good woman, snow can inspire you to heights, stir the creative urge and lead you to achieve great things.

So the theory goes.

[cunning plan] and winnie the pooh

Winnie the Pooh, whom I resemble in many ways, spoke of his “cunning plan” and why should I be any different?

At this moment, a BT line and therefore an internet connection, are four weeks down the track. For now, the alternative is to use the library in a nearby town [not the best but better than nothing] and occasionally to ride a few kilometres across to where my friend lives [laptop in my backpack and cricked back allowing] to check emails, check post comments, post articles and to visit.

One thing this enforced austerity teaches you is the principle of delayed gratification, a principle I should have thought was an admirable one in this era of envy and avarice and these days of contraction of the household budget.

To those who care and with apologies to a different Winnie, this is not the end nor even the beginning of the end [hand crosses to his heart]:

“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time. Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Remember, courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees all others.

We will fight this pernicious enemy, this economic depression, on the beaches, on the landing fields …”

[won’t get fooled again] or will we

The essential difference between the last world war and the one they’re currently leading us into is the consciousness of the people.

People largely accepted that WW2 was Hitler’s doing and that we were the innocent, in grave danger of being overrun by the murderous savages. Therefore we were willing to sign on and throw ourselves in the path of crossfire for G-d, Queen [King - thanks, dearieme] and country.

At the other end of the spectrum, the communists were steadfastly trotting out Marx’s impossible theorem, with its clandestine underlying agenda of the same enslavement that Hitler was hell bent on. Class war was convenient because it promoted, in one fell swoop:

1. the politics of envy;
2. diminution of the family in favour of the state;
3. removal of incentive and initiative;
4. creation of the preconditions for enslavement.

So it didn’t matter which way it happened, on either side of politics – the common man was for the chop. He’d been nicely set up.

IG Farben is a good example of how the people behind the governments they influence have no morality or patriotism whatsoever:

In 1930, Standard Oil announced that it had purchased an alcohol monopoly in Germany, a deal which had been set up by I.G. Farben. After Hitler came to power, John D. Rockefeller assigned his personal press agent, Ivy Lee, to Hitler to serve as a full- time adviser on the rearmament of Germany, a necessary step for setting up World War II.

Standard Oil then built large refineries in Germany for the Nazis and continued to supply them with oil during World War II. In the 1930s Standard Oil was receiving in payment from Germany large shipments of musical instruments and ships which had been built in German yards.
I.G. officials, seeing the handwriting on the wall, began a close association with Adolf Hitler, supplying much needed funds and political influence.

The success of the I.G. Farben cartel had aroused the interest of other industrialists. Henry Ford was favorably impressed and set up a German branch of Ford Motor Company. Forty per cent of the stock was purchased by I.G. Farben. I.G. Farben then established an American subsidiary, called American I.G., in cooperation with Standard Oil of New Jersey.
Its directors included Walter Teagle, president of Standard Oil, Paul Warburg of Kuhn Loeb & Company and Edsel Ford, representing the Ford interests.

John Foster Dulles, for the law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, became the attorney for I.G., frequently traveling between New York and Berlin on cartel business. His law partner, Arthur Dean, is now director of the $40 million Teagle Foundation which was set up before Teagle's death.

Business is business but mothers’ sons lying in blood and mud for no good reason is another question. There is no justification for war whatsoever except to enrich the military industrial cartels. To say it’s to protect freedom is so disingenuous as to be labelled evil.

There are ample tools through trade and diplomacy to offset any war – I’ve seen this at first hand – and the only reason a dictator remains in power and devastates a country is because of the collusion of outside elements for whom it is politically expedient.

The internet is a great medium for exposing and detailing the criminality of those who purportedly ‘lead’ us. Prior to WW2, there were no doubt people who had tumbled to the truth but of course, they had no outlet for expression. Now we have that but has the populace as a whole, woken up? Have they hell.

The average householder today is preoccupied with holding on to his mortgage and his job, trying to come to terms with his credit debt and putting the right refuse in the right bins, before paying homage, at the palaces of shopping, to the new god Consumerism.

Is he going to refuse to go off and fight those naughty terrorist infidels which the MSM insists are hell bent on reducing us to a condition of religious enslavement and slit throats? If he’s told that it is patriotic to be dictated to by the ruthless shells above and women are sent with white feathers to harangue any who won’t swallow this pap, he’ll meekly fall in line, won’t he?

The greatest crime of the soulless elite is that it takes a truth, e.g. that there is climate change and Gorizes it into an untruth or else it takes universal human weaknesses – ambition, lust for power and sex, envy, pride and the desire to be loved and find inner peace – then perverts and bastardizes them into a twisted parody, in a spirit of deep cynicism and sound business principles.

An example is the ‘poverty industry’:

The Rockefeller Foundation created a number of spin-off groups, which now plague the nation with a host of ills, one of them being the Social Science Research Council, which single-handedly spawned the nationwide “poverty industry,” a business which expends some $130 billion a year of taxpayer funds while grossing some $6 billion income for its practitioners.

The money, which would amply feed and house all of the nation's “poor,” is dissipated through a vast administrative network which awards generous concessions to a host of parasitic “consultants”.

Anything these people touch turns to dirt and human misery is exploited for its possibilities of revenue. Ditto your government.

Now, will “the people” wake up to this before the next war arrives, using the internet to discover what is really going down? What percentage, even with this wonderful tool, are ever going to wake up?

[copyright] and the nastiness of litigation

An issue has arisen which needs to be raised with fellow bloggers.

At Bloghounds, we don't have copyright problems at this time but we might have if we don't act now. What has brought all this on is that a friend's friend has been sent a demand for thousands of pounds because she used an image some time ago which is now owned by someone else.

The implications for both my personal blog here and for many of your blogs are clear. My blog, nourishing obscurity, is a heavily image-intensive blog, as everyone knows and I have tried to use images from either Wiki or where I reasonably thought, from checks, that they were able to be used legally at that time. Sometimes I've had to do deeper checks.

Now the thing which should worry you here is not that many images are copyright and that there are implications for then using them without paying royalties - everyone knows that. The thing you should worry about is, for example, if you have an image up on, say, a post on California from 2006. At the time, that image was able to be used but now another company has bought it and are able to send you a letter that you have been using a copyright image.

Even if you immediately remove said image, their angle is that you have used it in the past.

That this is going on is just plain wrong - I mean, not letting you have a reasonable time to remove it stems largely from our current financial climate when people's incomes are under threat and the more unscrupulous are looking around for ways to produce new revenue.

What a society we're living in.