Friday, July 31, 2009

Marcel Theroux's Russian train adventure (Part two)

Marcel Theroux's Russian train adventure (Part two)

Video link here.

[friday quiz] five fiendish questions

1. Air Force One is the US President's plane. What is Marine One?

2. Eboracum is the Roman name for which city?

3. Which is the closest answer to how long the Hundred Years War lasted - 97 years, 100 years, 115 years or 147 years?

4. 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?

5. What was the name of Haile Selassie before he was crowned in 1930?


A helicopter, York, 115 years, The Blue Shirts founded by former Irish president William Cosgrave and commanded by Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, Ras Tafari

[niagara] un du meilleur jamais

I know many of you aren't going to like this and will politely click over it. However, check the interview for a few seconds and you'll get the general idea:

Now try the first song. Disclaimer: nourishing obscurity accepts no responsibility if your computer screen melts:

OK - if you're still here, you might like to try a minute each of these.

As you've probably gathered, I really like this group and a French friend of mine put me onto them. When we say "group", it's actually Muriel Moreno of course. I wonder why my FF liked them then. Maybe for the music?

A #Silly Week post under the "Different" category

[weekend poll] hot babes of the world

1. Reincarnation

2. What Hormones Can Do

3. Baby Mopper

4. You Show Me Yours ...

5. Gordo's IT Supremo

6. Wotchoolookinateh

7. Mr. Eugenides

8. Forty Winks

9. Flower of Scotland

10. Rubber Ducky

Vote for any three babes, as usual. Good luck!

[liberty] meet the new boss - same as the old boss

In the middle of a British summer [is it different to anyone else's summer?], politics is a bore. We should be concentrating on beaches, travel and good things.

It's a time which does allow for thinking on freedom as well and how best to define and then to ensure it. Xlbrl says here:

I shall tell you what the Libertarian Party is in America. Not libertarianism, mind you; I have no idea exactly what that is, because ten libertarians will have ten ideas of what it means. The party is a collection of good people, wackers, right and left wing, dogs and cats sleeping together.

I see in England even conservative-libertarians conflate or confuse anachy and liberty. It is the lack of liberty (and the demands liberty makes upon individuals) that makes anarchy. The very choas of liberty discovers order through the disipline of consequences.

If we can excuse Xlbrl's great faux pas in referring to England instead of Britain, [which is more than Gordon Brown will do - we need an American to do it for us :)], it's clear we need greater clarity on where we're headed with this liberty thing.

Moggs Tigerpaw says:

"If you just talk about Libertarian ideas, without labels, they are broadly sympathetic. The existing parties don't mind the confusion and probably like it."

Xlbrl goes on:

Hayek: 'The astonishing fact revealed by economics and biology is that order generated without design can far outstrip plans men consciously contrive.'

Liberty is not freedom. Liberty first contrains with rules of conduct; it is then men have far greater opportunity in everything.

LPUK, interestingly, states:

A Key Principle — The Rule of Law

The concept of The Rule of Law is distinct from just being ruled by laws. The Rule of Law encompasses, amongst other things, property rights, due process, equality and transparency. It also includes the notion that there should be as few laws as possible, and that those that do exist should be simple, clear and predictable in their application.

That's stated right at the top, the first key point. Therefore, my post, between a rock and a hard place, is shown to be wide of the mark in its title, if not in its concerns. So Labour, in its mania for surrounding us with over 3000 new laws is actually removing freedom and contributing to lawlessness in society at the same time.

I could never trust a party which obfuscates on what it is trying to achieve. Labour is clear in its mind but hides its true agenda from the people [look at their policy document - not the manifesto which says something altogether different and obfuscates]. When you go to the official manifesto, its prime directive is never mentioned once.

Only when you persist and go into the section on How We Work do you see it in all its infamy - it's about "democratic" socialism, the greatest oxymoron in history.

The Tories, my own lot, have a leader who makes policy on the run to suit the circumstances of the day. This is deeply disappointing because we, the people, deserve a firm, clear commitment to liberty, starting with getting out of the EU while remaining in a loose trade partnership with Europe, the original idea.

In the end, what everyone is looking for, except the politicians, is for the elected reps to show a bit of spine and to carry out their campaign promises. What we are looking for is that our elected reps are just that - elected representatives of us, the people. Not our rulers, not our enslavers - they have zero mandate to inform us of what we should be doing and to send the police in when we don't do it.

In all countries these days, the most fundamental principle of all - representative government - is not even on the table for discussion at governmental level. Perhaps we should stop calling them "government" and call them "the tail which wags the dog".

Cherie says:

The way it stands at the moment the three main parties offer pretty much the same thing in different ways. The electorate have got disengaged which is why there is a low turnout at elections.

They have indeed become disengaged but at the same time angry, if that is possible, resigned to "all politicians being corrupt".

On the other hand, Lord T says:

The people are just not ready for Libertarianism. It’s not that they don’t want it it is just that they are scared of letting go of what they know as they see Libertarianism as Anarchy and are frightened ... I think that the first step is to prioritise the easy wins.

Tell plod to go back to Peelian Principles, and sack every outreach coordinator, special advisor for short people, long people etc. and social worker in there. Then, get every Quango to list what they do on an A4 piece of paper including costs and benefits. If it is not of benefit to the people abolish it and put the people on the dole.

Tell everyone on the dole that payments will stop dead in five years, remove carefully selected hurdles to businesses. And so on…. up to a nice point where we have restored all our freedoms, defined a constitution(or something) and brought control to our society.

Ian Parker-Joseph, the LPUK leader, refers obliquely to the rule of law when he comments about their site:

Moving forward, the blog will be under the watchful eye of an editor and a new set of posting guidelines, with an editorial veto on anything which we consider damaging to LPUK.

Guthrum refers to benefits coming out in the next few weeks.

Somewhere, in all of this, needs to be thrashed out where Freedom [or the right to breathe] meets Law, where the freedom to set up a business and flourish meets being bought out or squeezed out by a monopoly like Walmart, say. It's where the power of the bankers and great monopolies to reorder society meets the freedom to operate economically in the first place.

I fear we can't get anywhere when the facts are laid out, as in this post and people do one of two things - either look away or else read it and refuse to admit what the august personages and the historical record clearly state. What chance is there when people operate like that? The old "let's not worry about facts - I know what I want to believe" principle. The flat denial principle.

I also fear we can't escape laws in order to achieve the balance, to keep the gang of malcontents at bay and to keep power out of their grasping hands. When someone sweeps in with "brand new ideas", sweeping everything away, all the corruption etc., how can the principles in the LPUK rule of law then be protected?

The malcontents play on people's desire for new ideas, new products and so politics has been turned into a product too. There's no Labour but Nu-Labour. We say we won't get fooled again but we do - over and over.

"And the men who spurred us on, sit in judgement of our wrong. Change it had to come - we knew it all along; we were liberated from the fall that's all but the world looks just the same and history ain't changed.

There's nothing in the street looks any different to me and the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye and the parting on the left is now the parting on the right and the beards have all grown longer overnight
. Meet the new boss - same as the old boss."

That has to have been one of the best Who performances ever, especially given their age.

When we can define where freedom and liberty meet the rule of law, when we can maybe change "libertarian" for "freedom with responsibility", when we can block the subterfuge of those, like Labour and Obama's backers, who would destroy us, we might get somewhere.

[alcoholic] when is the line crossed

Delighted to be stealing my blogfriend Nikita's pic today - please follow the link and read about help for alcoholics.

Alcohol - we were having a discussion yesterday about when a person can be defined as an alcoholic. I said it's the first time you drink alone at home. My friend's mother said that her husband has a nightcap some nights.

Well, OK, so do I like nightcaps and a glass or four of wine at the meal, if I can ever remember to do it and there's no alcohol in the house just now for economic reasons so I have tea instead. Maybe an alcoholic is one who has started to use the euphemisms, e.g. for "medicinal purposes", "just a drop please" or whatever.

We all know what the full-blown alcoholic is like - the denials, the regression and so on. We know what a person who can take it or leave it is. Somewhere in the middle though is the beginnings of the alcoholic.

And what of the teenage binge-drinkers? Perfectly OK?

[bannister of fire] now even your gran can do it

[This post is part of #Silly Week.]

Thursday, July 30, 2009

[sixteen vestal virgins] leaving for the coast

You know why. Sorry to slavishly follow the MSM.

[libertarian party] between a rock and a hard place

If you manage to get through this post, please don't miss reading the comments section.

There is the issue of the posts on this blog and comment has been made that the long posts, the serious posts, are buried in the flurry of other, shorter posts and no one can either find them nor wants to read them when they're found.

That's fair and though it shouldn't affect RSS reading anyway, I'm going to try to put the main post up late morning and put two either side - that's the theory. In line with this theory, it would be nice to get some feedback on the problems of the Libertarian Party of the UK and I'd rather not wait until tomorrow morning.

It begins with the Norwich North result and Chloe. My political stance, for those who don't know and who care, is here.

The moniker - Libertarian Party

1. There was Chloe herself and her victory, that was a factor in itself. A pretty child, however talented, will tend to score, these days, over either a seasoned campaigner or an up and coming young man, particularly given the general disgust in the country over career politicians.

2. LPUK is new - hell, look how long it's taken the UKIP.

3. People simply don't want serious politics in the middle of a British summer and LPUK is a serious party, with serious policies. People have had a gutful of seriousness.

4. Then comes a deeper problem - the name. Just because we in the sphere tend to be mainly libertarian in outlook, my mate puts the point of view that none of us are truly libertarian. If we were, we'd have a Wyatt Earp attitude to law enforcement and a dog eat dog situation in everyday life, again a bit like the image of the old American wild west.

It doesn't wash in Britain and while most of us in the sphere are comfortable with the libertarian tag because we understand it and are politically aware, I saw people uptown today who simply would have fear at the idea of libertarians running round with their anarchy. It would take an education campaign to overcome the baggage of the libertarian tag, not unlike "libertine".

That LPUK are nothing to do with that image - they failed to get across to Norwich North. Pretty politics is another thing - we can't get enough of that e.g. Caroline Flint before shooting her self in the foot.

5. Americans might go for a Libertarian Party - the Brits won't.

The brouhaha over the Rogue Commenter at the LPUK site

No other party has this problem - only LPUK, by virtue of its name and policies. Labour would just delete the comment by the Rogue Commenter and that would be that. Ditto the Tories:

1. The Libertarian Party is ... well ... libertarian.

Do they delete an attack on Chloe Smith or do they not? I believe that Ian and the big wigs simply have it in the offing pending discussion - this is my surmise. By all reports, the comment was way OTT and worse than that - unprofessional and yet, can they afford to alienate their base by deleting?

2. It wasn't the points made about Ms Smith, which might well or might not have been true. It wasn't the hard hitting nature of the comment. It was the ad hominem, which most serious bloggers nowadays refuse to countenance but even more - LPUK, before a general election, cannot afford not to appear to be a serious party.

It was the aggression, the less than gentlemanly language and the way it zeroed straight in on a personal level.

I'm fisking the whole time on this blog. I've said some terrible things about the bankers, the gay mafia, the feminazis and the EU. Yet I don't do it with a potential and rival candidate for a position.

Therefore, LPUK is between a rock and a hard place.

Citizen's basic income

This is a bit O/T but I'd like to know where LPUK stand on this, without having to wade through pages of policy to find it. It might anger Ian [Parker-Joseph] but it's possibly the attitude of many people as well and therefore is a factor which needs to be taken into account - the realpolitik of short available time and short attention spans.

Let me tell you what Citizen's Basic Income would do for me. If it was at £7000, then that would cover my basics. Therefore that fear factor disappears and I can go out, take greater risks and seek for what I'd like to do far more assertively. I really would. Knowing I could always fall back on the CBI, I'd go for it as if there were no tomorrow. I believe I'd succeed.

It's not perfect but it's a start and if fazed in, would help with the welfare state problem we currently have.

At the risk of lengthening this post, Lord T has taken up the libertarian question on his blog and it really deserves a read. There are issues IMHO which need addressing before next May and it's LPUK's best chance. Here are some issues to address:

1. Why, IMO, [are] the people ... just not ready for Libertarianism? It’s not that they don’t want it it is just that they are scared of letting go of what they know as they see Libertarianism as Anarchy and are frightened.

2. I [Lord T] am a UK Libertarian yet even I wonder what is going to happen. It is clear we can’t go from a welfare state to a Libertarian paradise overnight and yet nobody is clear on what it means to them if the voted in the LPUK.

3. Until Libertarians actually look at the process and define the first term in office, what it will do, what changes it will make during its first, and potentially only, term then people will be unsure, better the devil you know than this bunch who want to remove all controls and bring anarchy to the UK. We need Libertarian Lite which is a stepping stone on the way.

4. I think that the first step is to prioritise the easy wins, Tell plod to go back to Peelian Principles, and sack every outreach coordinator, special advisor for short people, long people etc. and social worker in there. Then, get every Quango to list what they do on an A4 piece of paper including costs and benefits.

Do read the whole thing, as the tone is clearly that of not wanting this golden opportunity missed.

[sportsmanship] the elusive quality which droppeth from heaven

There are many incidents of bad sportsmanship and many others which one side considers so but the other side thinks is legit. In both situations below, a case can be made that the perpetrators acted within the rules as far as they understood them, especially in the top one where the organizers failed to write it into the tournament rules.

Similar, with Leg Theory, no one was expecting it and so, technically, it was fine. Yet everyone knew it wasn't fine. Sportsmanship - that elusive quality. Just looking over these vids again now, two things struck me. One was how Richie Benaud savages the Australians at th end of the top vid and the other how the British government got involved in the dispute and threatened, in depression 1932 remember, to call in Australia's loans.

[This post is part of #Silly Week.]

Marcel Theroux's Russian train adventure

Marcel Theroux's Russian train adventure

Part one of Marcel Theroux's epic journey across Russia by train takes him north from Moscow.

Video link.

[silly week] seems to be going along nicely

North Northwester points out that Silly Week is going well and Man in a Shed points out that it goes until Sunday, people:

[old names, new names] it's still mother russia

It's silly season in the news services when a writer tackles the topic of street names and yet Vladimir Kara-Muza, a Russian dissident, says:

The naming of streets is not a trivial matter.

The preservation of Soviet toponyms is a symptom of the illness of our society, which has still not been able to cure itself of the totalitarian infection.

We were able to take the first step - in August 1991, the power of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was broken and in 1992 the Constitutional Court declared the communist regime "criminal".

But we were afraid to take the second step by condemning these crimes at the state level, by banning totalitarian ideologies and their symbols, by undertaking a process of lustration aimed at all the former prison guards.

From what I saw over there, the renaming was of less consequence than actual changes. Statues of Lenin were removed and the mausoleum in Moscow was just too big to remove, yet I saw the process of change taking place in a number of Russian towns. It couldn't have been done holus-bolus though, done too quickly, as he suggests because a sizable proportion of the citizenry, the older generation mainly, were still attached to the notion of Papa Joe.

Sitting on a divan, sipping tea and listening to my gf's grandfather, in his final years, speaking of it was a reminder that it still held sway.

Come May 9th, 1997, I was in the street, I recall and someone was selling a newspaper, "Nash Prazdnik", which I took. There were raised eyebrows when I got to my gf's place - why on earth would a foreigner wish to buy a Communist Party rag, claiming the holiday was ours - meaning the Communist Party and the nation as one indivisible unit?

These were the pre-crash days of brave new worlds and the gradual dismantling of the anachronist apparatus in the towns such as the state shops.

There were three types of Russian shops in those days - the large, long, State affairs which occupied much of the ground floor of tall housing blocks and in which the system of purchasing was an eye opener, there were the western shops with western or some of the higher quality Russian goods and then there were the first few new entrepeneurial shops, mainly hypermarts of a sort, with an oligarch's son owning it.

As the prices came down in the western shops and as the state stores were bought up by the entrepeneurs, life changed materially for the better. I was more than fortunate, I feel now, to have been there for the end of the Soviet era and to watch it all unfold over the next decade, including riding the crisis of '98.

To return to the State-run shops. The system of purchasing had to be seen to be believed. For a start, being highly inefficient, there were long queues and in the elongated rectangle of space one stood in; there might have been four ladies total, in jackets and caps, grimacing in the best tradition at the next customer.

When you finally made it to the front, the glass display cases showed one example of each item sold, with price tags amateurishly scribbled and attached. There was intense pressure for the shop-woman - and they were not shop-girls as yet - to have you quickly point out what you wanted, if it was there, of course, at which she'd go out back for three or four minutes, return and say, "Eto u nas nyet," at which we'd have to either hurriedly choose another which we could see diplayed in the glass case - but not think for one second that she was going to rummage about out back for what we really needed.

She'd stand, glaring at you and then you'd have to take what there was. She'd write out a chit, give it to you, you left the queue and joined another queue over the other, long side of the room - a bit quicker, this queue, thank goodness - you paid, she tore the check and gave it back, you'd then return to the counter, squeezing between two queues, jostling irritable people, until you'd reach the counter, at which the woman who'd sold you the item would steadfastly ignore you until she felt you were nicely pickled and then she'd swiftly turn the head and hold out her hand for the check.

Then she'd go over to the back wall, collect the item, wrap it in brown paper and tie it up with string, give it to you and you were away - the whole thing rushed through in ... oh ... well under an hour and ten minutes - good going in those days.

Then it would be a case of taking the overcrowded tram back home. When I think of the deserted trams and the overcrowded but modern, red Chinese buses in latter years, it was another world.

And yet it was a leafy world, with not bad grassy yards between the tall houses, benches to sit on and a much more leisurely pace.

It was just the public utilities which palled. To make an international phone call, you had to go to a place down the road, set into the ground floor of a particular housing block, utilizing its electricity and you could go left to the phones or right to the post office.

If you went left, there was a counter at the far end and along the wall, let's say to your right, the booths were arrayed. You'd go up to the queue at the counter and when you reached the front, you'd be told the other queue was yours.

Fine, you'd queue there. You'd give the number, pay and go to a bench for how ever long it took to connect.

Eventually your name would come through the tannoy and the number of the booth to go to. Now you'd pre-paid for that call, so there was no extension from the other end nor from yours.

If I give the impression of being disgruntled, that was not so for 90% of the time but that remaining 10% tried the patience sorely. Not for a Russian though who had this interesting attitude of natural impatience and irascibility when stalled and yet the ability to go all Doctor Who and shut the mind down when in a queue, something it took me a long time to master and even then I never completely did.

One didn't have to queue so much as the situation changed and became more western in a comparatively short time. By the year 2000, the place was recognizably western, even down to the clothes women wore and yet it never quite reached German standards.

I say that because I was in Frankfurt and went to a Post Office.

Now, back in good old Russia, posting anything, anything at all - imagine the New Year season - was a half morning affair. The laboriousness, the sheer inefficient time-wasting, the obtuseness of the woman and her "go-slow' policy, should you show the slightest impatience, was legendary.

Here in Frankfurt, I stepped inside, saw the huge snake queue with all the erected barriers, as in an airport and groaned, turned to leave and then noticed that the queue was moving. Well, to cut a long story short, I was at that counter quicker than you could say Deutsche Post one hundred times - one must do something to relieve the tedium - and the whole thing was done in under a minute and get this - with a smile!

Russia did change that way and in the early noughties, girls began to replace the old battle-axes and though half of this new crop still didn't know how to give service, the tills had gone onto the counters, there were many pay points, the system of queuing became reasonable and a change came over Russian society.

In short, people became more relaxed in their attitude but at the same time, they became faster, as the pace of life picked up. I was not all that sure that that was a good thing and true to the boiling frog principle, maybe none of us saw it actually doing that unless we thought back to "the old days".

The old, rollicking tramway, the unhurried days, particularly in summer, had been nice. Days and weeks in the garden out of town [see my novel, accessible from the navbar above here, first chapter] brought on a lethargy, there were lakes people flocked to and all in all, it wasn't a half bad lifestyle in those early days, provided you didn't have to deal with officials in any shape or form.

To come back to the writer Vladimir Kara-Muza's statement:

No one is surprised that the map of today's Berlin does not show an Adolf-Hitler-Platz (which was what the current Theodor-Heuss-Platz was called from 1933-45) or a Hermann-Goering-Strasse (as Ebertstrasse was called from 1935-45).

So why do the cities and streets of our country continue to carry the names of executioners who are covered in blood; who plundered its riches; who profaned its spiritual and cultural heritage; who executed and deported its peasants, priests, and writers; who destroyed all that was best and living and creative in the Russian people?

Well, I'd answer him - not all were so up in arms, as I recall. It had always been Dzerzhinski Street as far as anyone but the really old could recall. It had always been the HQ of the KGB and Black Lake opposite, itself a bit of black humour. In the early days, my guide made a joke, "Would you like to go in and visit?"

"Oh yes," I replied.

She smiled a wry smile, as she she added, gritting her teeth, "Well, you won't be back for a very long time."

Someone chimed in, "If at all," and they all actually laughed.

Yes, there was this, yes they used to produce eggs which were sent to Moscow by train and people would then take the train to Moscow to collect them to bring back again, yes there was all this. Yet no one was too phased by it all and the new changes were a bit bewildering now.

There was a new anxiety in the people's minds which caused people to ask, palms beseechingly turned to the listener, "So, now we have this democracy - what are we going to do with it?"

Change the street names?

Not sure about that. You see, they're a sort of link with the past, a link with the more secure world of State provided facilities, of being sure that if you queued long enough, you would be fed. My mate over there used to get annoyed when the foreign media spoke of the shortages and the western notion of people starving on the streets.

"We always ate, James," he said quietly.

By and large, the shortages were at certain times in the year but overall, there was food and unprocessed food too - kasha, cabbage, meat, other produce and it was guaranteed.

Now there were no guarantees.

Change the street names? Not as high a priority, I should have thought, as bringing in some guarantees for a population, just as we are currently hoping for, gearing up for the long hall in subsistence conditions.

[fifteen minute limerick] what can you come up with

HGF has issued a challenge for us all to come up with a limerick. Let me spice that up a little with a fifteen minute time limit.

This is my first humble entry [please don't laugh it to scorn until I'm well out of range].

'Twas once a famed blogging maid,
Quite shy and a little afraid.

"A limerick? Oh no,
I couldn’t do so,"
Yet finger to keyboard she laid.

This blogger accepted the call

To "set pen to paper" ’n all,

A limerick to write

In the space of one night,
Hoping the thing should not pall.

Her intellect - sharper these days

She applied in particular ways;

By dawn’s early light

Her limerick a sight -

She submitted it to people's gaze.

Go to it rightly and may scallops rock yer tadger!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

[outfitting yourself] clothes can soothe the soul

If you're male and you're anything like me, you look around a bit for what you went for, e.g. a jacket, spot something and if it blends in with the rest of your clothes, you get it.

Occasionally though, you outfit yourself and that's what I did one mid-autumn, looking towards the winter. It was a combination of three things - I knew some friends had a new clothing shop, it was picturesquely halfway down a steep hill and they'd just brought in a new line of Sonneti gear.

I'd never gone for a particular make before and looking around the web just now for a pic, they seem to have gone downhill of late, judging by what is available online and yet that day I saw an outfit in various greys, blacks and off-whites I've never seen either before or since.

For a start, the chunky shoes were a solid base, the colours in the superthick shirt didn't so much match as blend into the thick jeans/trouser mix [lined inside], the cut was flattering and the stitching quite unusual. It all suited Britain perfectly and didn't need a jacket. The cap was lined too.

Do you remember an outfit you once bought which was the most stylish or comfortable you've ever had?

[chocolate girl] dripping with goodness

[This post is part of #Silly Week]

[wordless wednesday] please consider this argument

Thank you for your patience.

[recapturing your virginity] the quest of ages

[actually, it's nothing of the sort]

How often have you wanted to be a virgin again?

Well, girls [and boys] it's claimed that your virgin biorhythms can be reactivated and you'll be raring to lose it once again:

Q: I'm a divorced woman who wishes to 'reclaim her virginity' (i.e., be sexually abstinent, as younger women in HIV-prevalent settings are being urged to do to protect their health). Do you think that will affect my romantic prospects, and if so, how?

A: If you think reclaiming your virginity is a simple matter of announcing your abstinence and beating back suitors, you are mistaken my friend. Thanks to Google, I came across
The Society for the Recapture of Virginity, which, FOR NO MONEY DOWN, assists you in the complex process of revirgination. According to the site, “a group of highly skilled scientists set out on a multi-million dollar research study that eventually led to a breakthrough in the understanding of virginity.”

Next, based on the number crunching done by the VRS 3000, a microchip is custom encoded with a unique algorithm. “This microchip is then attached to a wristband, which you wear at night while you sleep. During the night, the microchip emits harmless radio waves that adjust and correct your virgin biorhythms. While you dream, your virginity will be restored. You will not feel a thing, but you will wake up a virgin!”

Isn't that lovely?

I'm a virgin, you know.

I've never even had a woman in my arms, nibbled behind her ear or leapt up next morning to make the breakfast, while she opens one eye, takes in the phenomenon and pretends to be asleep again. Never before have I ever had to fight over the bedclothes and end up exposed to the elements on a wintry night. Never before have I ever showered with her and for some reason, she takes the centre of the warming jet and leaves me on the outskirts, my back to freeze.

Never mind my psoriasis, gout and halitosis - girls, I'm in pristine condition, unsullied by woman - go for it!

Apparently, the sad aspect of this is that many Muslim women also seem to want to recapture it and they go to great lengths to do that:

Gynecologists say that in the past few years, more Muslim women are seeking certificates of virginity to provide proof to others. That in turn has created a demand among cosmetic surgeons for hymen replacements, which, if done properly, they say, will not be detected and will produce tell-tale vaginal bleeding on the wedding night. The service is widely advertised on the Internet; medical tourism packages are available to countries like Tunisia where it is less expensive.

That sours the humorous aspect of the post somewhat, doesn't it?

[Possibly part of #Silly Week]

[virgin feels blue] front wheel falls off plane

A wheel fell off the front of a Virgin Blue aircraft and rolled down the tarmac at Melbourne Airport at the weekend, moments before the plane was due to take off. Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association national secretary Stephen Purvinas said a corroded front axle led to one of the Boeing 737's two front wheels becoming loose about 8am on Saturday. "A wheel came off the nose of the aircraft. We believe it was noticed by another aircraft in the vicinity who radioed through and told the Virgin driver to get his aircraft back to the base to get it checked properly," Mr Purvinas told Radio 3AW.

Isn't that lovely for passengers? In the vid, a spokesman played it down, in a deadpan voice, as if it were just one of those things. As in, "Just one of those things when you're thinking of coming in to land."

One of those things. [This post is part of #silly week.]

[coffee anyone] flabberific

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) conducted a survey of iced coffees sold by some popular chains in Britain including Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee to gauge the calories as studies increasingly link obesity with cancer.

The worst offender - a venti dark berry mocha frappuccino from Starbucks - had 561 calories. Other iced coffee contained more than 450 calories and the majority had in excess of 200.

Health experts advise that the average woman should consume about 2000 calories a day and a man about 2500 calories to maintain a healthy weight. Dieters aim for 1000 to 1500 calories a day.

"The fact that there is an iced coffee on the market with over a quarter of a woman's daily calories allowance is alarming," Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager at London-based WCRF, said in a widely-reported statement.

"This is the amount of calories you might expect to have in an evening meal, not in a drink."

[This post is part of #Silly Week.]

[defoe arrested again] second time for talented striker

Back in 1692, Spurs' striker, Daniel Defoe, was arrested for payments of £700 (and his civets seized), though his total debts may have been £17,000.

Now, it appears he's in trouble again:

July 31, 1703: Daniel Defoe was arrested today and pilloried for writing a pamphlet entitled The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church at Tottenham, arguing for the extermination of Man U players and supporters.

Stoke Newington neighbour Sir Thomas Abney said Defoe wasn't going to be able to worm his way out of this one by penning his poem "Hymn to the Pillory".

However, the poem caused his audience at the pillory to throw flowers instead of the customary harmful and noxious objects and to drink to his health.

Defoe said later:

Tweren't me, guvna. I'm so angry, yannoe, I might just go to sea and find a $%#*&# island to live on the rest of m'life, yannoe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

[pseudonyms] adopted by co-authors

1. The Scribblerian club comprised Jonathan Swift, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Robert Harley, and Thomas Parnell mainly and they purported to write the biography of whom?

2. An official pseudonym used by film directors who wish to disown a project was coined in 1968. Until its use was formally discontinued in 2000, it was the sole pseudonym used by members of the Directors Guild of America. What was it?

3. Frederic Dannay and James Yaffe used a collective pseudonym for their crime writing. In a successful series of novels that covered 42 years, this pseudonym served as both the author's name and that of the detective-hero. What was that name?

4. American mother-daughter writing team Patricia and Traci Lambrecht teamed up to write award winning novels, particularly Monkeewrench. Under which name do they write?

5. What was the pseudonym adopted by a German Research Project for a massive compiling of materials opposed to Einstein's special theory of relativity?

Answers Martin Scriblerus [yes, I know it was a giveaway]; Alan Smithee: Ellery Queen; P.J. Tracy; G. O. Mueller

[when dolphins play] humans are mesmerized

Don't know about you but I find that amazing.

[This post is part of #Silly Week.]

[government backed notes] starting now

Much shorter post this time. The long one is here.

Vox Day would like to know when the experts say the turnaround is going to be:

I am in need of a quick summary of every major economist, CNBC talking head or organization's position on the current prospects for recovery for the second half of 2009 and beyond.

Vox, there ARE NO EXPERTS. They are under the mesmerizing spell of the fictional theory of the natural business cycle. There IS a business cycle but we have to get it into our heads that it is INDUCED. We remain in the clutches of the very people who should not be controlling our money supply - the private central banks.

This is not my theory, this is the practical observation from most of the U.S. presidents through to Milton Friedman. The people of America seemed to understand the situation in Jackson's day, understand it very well:

Biddle wrote to a federal judge in February 1834: “This worthy President thinks that because he has scalped Indians and imprisoned Judges, he is to have his way with the Bank.” By the fall of that year, Biddle was so reviled for his nationwide curtailment of credit that he was hunted by mobs in Philadelphia, forcing him to bar the doors of his house and post armed guards.

Why, oh why can't we wake up? I wrote a comment at Vox's:

Vox, you write as though this recovery is going to make itself. It is, as it has always been, dependent on when the Fed and the other central banks decide we've been squeezed enough to have made their current round of profits and new monopolies - just look at Goldman Sachs! As Milton Friedman put it:

The stock of money, prices and output was decidedly more unstable after the establishment of the Reserve System than before. The most dramatic period of instability in output was, of course, the period between the two wars, which includes the severe [monetary] contractions of 1920-21, 1929-33, and 1937-38. No other 20-year period in American history contains as many as three such severe contractions.

... and again:

I know of no severe depression, in any country or any time, that was not accompanied by a sharp decline in the stock of money, and equally, of no sharp decline in the stock of money that was not accompanied by a severe depression.

... and:

The severity of each of the major contractions is directly attributable to acts of commission and omission by the Reserve authorities. Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system.

The two culprits in all the so-called "cycles" have been and are fractional reserve banking and the Fed's [and other CBs'] power to contract and expand money and to control credit.

The solution

1. Pay off the debt with Treasury backed notes [the old greenbacks in American parlance but the principle is the same in Britain] whilst at the same time raising reserve percentages of the small banks to halt inflation, [in line with population growth];

2. Abolish fractional reserve banking and move, within two years, to full reserve banking, with the issuance of money and control of credit in government hands;

3. Repeal the two acts of 1913 and 1864, [it's more difficult over here], with the Fed property and that of the Bank of England and other central banks now acting as repositories for the Treasury;

4. Withdraw from the IMF, BIS and World Bank.

Do this, despite all the Nicholas Biddles and foreign pressure, the attempted wars, the induced depression due to the further contraction of money [and so on], the spread of doom and gloom.

The first two years will be the worst but all we need fear is fear itself.

This is the ONLY sustainable solution. As long as those vipers sit over the power to create money out of thin air [ten times the value of the created money], then the laughably called "cycle" will continue. A physician first treats the root cause, not the symptoms.

If every person wrote his or her Congressman or local member and educated him/her, the thing would be possible. Lincoln was isolated but we need not be.


The economists will say it's not possible in what has become the most complex money system in history, The central banks will immeidately shout "inflationary".

It does not have to be so.

If the statutory requirement to match the flow of notes, earmarked to pay off bond and other debt, to gradually increased small bank reserve requirements takes place, the spectre of inflation would be held at bay.

The only danger is the havoc which the Biddle type central banks will wreak, trying to hoodwink you into thinking the scheme doesn't work.

I myself will either be roundly ignored or told I'm no economist. Do you need to be an economist to realize that debt-free notes, backed by a government as legal tender, are a solution? Blind Freddy can see that.

Finally, it would work because sufficient people WANT it to work. Ways can always be found round the flood of problems which accompany any adjustment, provided people wish to solve those problems, understand the real causes and are agreed to work together to overcome them.


As long as we try to erect defences whilst we're down in this nest of vipers, the vipers still control the space we live in. They have immersed and held us in a debt economy where the issuance of interest bearing bonds and their buying of them as a simple bookkeeping entry is then multiplied many times over due to fractional reserve banking.

There are already proposals by Brown and the world financial authorities for a radical reconstruction of the financial system.


Simply follow the four steps listed above and the problem of the flow of money is solved within two years. Other social problems will take two generations. If you need an example of how to do it, look at the island of Guernsey.

An island is no different to the world in that the same principles of money issuance apply. KISS. Lincoln showed that it was possible but he was isolated and under attack, with the distraction of the Civil War. Many presidents have spoken of the matter.

You, the blogosphere, the readers of the MSM, the people out there, the economists locked into a way of thinking you've been induced to by your economic education and decades of practice in thinking along those lines, reinforced by organs such as the FT and the Economist - you only need go back into the realm of actual history, not into any new economic theory.

This is a very old principle we're talking about here.

All of us, all of you, can simply demand of our local member, of our Congressman, that the Treasury in each of our countries:

Begin to issue government backed, debt-free notes.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is where we start. That's our starting point.

The original video is here.

[it's not in the lips] it's more in the character

Disclaimer - this applies equally to male and female.

The Maildotcom piece on lips makes the usual mistake:

Lips can say so much without ever uttering a single word. On a face, they really are the finishing touch to an entire look.

Why a mistake? Lips DO say so much. However, the nature of the person behind the lips also comes through and I don't like this female above. There's nothing "come hither" here but "I'm going all out for what I can get" in that determination and in the fixed stare of those glinting eyes.

The danger signals are the cold eyes and hard voice.

The other day, there were some comments on the character Linnet in Death on the Nile and we discussed accents. It finally registered in the brain - it wasn't her being dolled up or her accent or her poise or whatever - it was that she came across as a hard-nosed b--ch, where she's the sun and everyone else is a planet in orbit and I don't like those.

It comes out in the hard voice, in the look in the facial muscles, in the walk, in the talk.

You can doll yourself up all you like, male or female, but character always comes through.

Character can't be practiced but life changes can be effected.

[This post is part of #Silly Week.]

[california] taking its first steps without completely understanding

H/T His Girl Friday:

Imagine that the State was turning off the water in CA farmers' fields, that supply 25% of this nation's food (to "save" a little fish called the Smelt), and farmers were competing with international beverage corporations that sell bottled water, and their fields were turning into the CA dustbowl. It's happening.

Imagine that
due to our own version of Cap & Trade, AB32, passed in 2006, with new requirements every year, that our logging industry was being shut down, and we were forced to import lumber from WA and OR at 30% higher costs. It's happening.

Imagine that for both of these industries and many others (like cement companies) , AB32 is outlawing non-compliant diesel engines coming this Sept, and that they have to replace all their very expensive equipment with EXPENSIVE "COMPLIANT" EQUIPMENT (huge chippers, large combines, etc, that cost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars), or stop working. It's happening.

Imagine the jobs that we have already lost being tripled, or more...what will that do to budget/taxpayers? Not to mention the workers who lose their jobs. And food prices increases. Think about the "domino effect."
It’s happening.

Imagine what would happen IF, farmers and loggers, and other industries' owners and workers, and whole cities that depend on these industries, got together with
CA Tea Party Patriots in our State's Capitol, on August 28th (the day that Tea Party Express leaves Sacramento to head to DC for "Taxpayer March on DC 9/12"). AND just IMAGINE what it would look like if there were 50,000 PROTESTORS, HUGE TRUCKS AND EQUIPMENT PARKED IN THE STREETS IN FRONT/AROUND THE CAPITOL BUILDING, completely SHUTTING DOWN SACRAMENTO, BEGINNING AT NOON....ALL DEMANDING THE REPEAL OF AB32 AND A "HARDSHIP CAUSE" FOR THE WATER TO BE TURNED ON.....


Well, imagine no more



Great stuff and very, very necessary BUT it is not going to result in anything sustainable ten years down the track as long as people don't also understand this.


Monday, July 27, 2009

[quokkas] the quick and the dead

This "attack" is not really an attack, IMHO. When we went to Rottnest, everyone could only get round by bike and still there were dead quokkas all over the path. They leapt out from the undergrowth, maybe sensing food and you'd have to stop your bike quickly.

I recall one quokka looked up, as this one in the vid is doing, clambered up my leg and onto my shoulder, then leant forward and peered round at my face. After some time, dissatisfied, he jumped down again and hopped away. I'll always remember that.

The other place to go, in the West, is Monkey Mia, much further north, where the dolphins can be fed.

[This post is part of #Silly Week.]

[what to wear] to the supermarket

At last - truly sensible fashions you can wear to the supermarket or to the game. Also double as swimwear.

Top left: The Oops, I've Forgotten Something

Top right: The Boys Will Be Girls

Lower left: The Take Me Seriously, Will You?

Lower right: The Ecumenical Effect

Click on pic to zoom ...

[This post is part of #silly week.]

[#silly week kicks off] 1934 america's cup


Brought to you by Man in a Shed [L'Homme dans un Hangar]

This week, different bloggers around the sphere will post on silly, weird or bizarre things, as some sort of relief from the dire news.

I haven't made a good start this morning, finalizing how to neutralize the Central Bankers so my Cunning Plan is as follows:

To post one sensible post each early morning and follow it up during the day with silly and unusual posts. To start with:

1934 Rainbow defeats Endeavour after rule change

The American defender, Harold Vanderbilt's Rainbow, has defeated Tommy Sopwith's Endeavour, 4 races to 2, the closest margin in a long while. The English have refused to race since 1895, when the Americans changed the rules to reverse a victory by the Earl of Dunraven's challenger and in 1934, it's now happened again, prompting an English wit to exclaim:

Britannia rules the waves but America waives the rules.

The Americans, on the other hand, hotly dispute that there has been sharp practice, maintaining that everything is above board and that the English simply failed to read the slight rule adjustments before the race. Silly oversight by Tommy Sopwith.

Either way, America remains undefeated on the ocean waves. The picture below is of Rainbow and Endeavour, the beautiful new J Boats which now race for the coveted trophy.

[child killer] needs our sympathy and understanding

Stefanie Rengel, Canadian girl stabbed to death on the orders of a schoolmate

The lead story at the Canadian Globe and Mail today had this:

From everything I've read about M.T., the now 17-year-old girl who is to be sentenced tomorrow after being convicted of first-degree murder for cajoling her boyfriend to kill Stefanie Rengel, the Toronto teenager, stabbed six times and left to bleed to death on an icy sidewalk in January, 2008, she is a monstrous kid.

Judith Timson, columnist, then called for the "monster's" execution, yes? Well actually ... no. Here is the headline which I didn't report first up:


and the tagline:

If M.T. serves a mandatory life sentence in an adult prison, she will less likely become a better person, one who ultimately feels true remorse.

Our compassionate and sweet-smiling Judy

Ms Timson accepts that M.T. is a "cold-hearted monster" but wants this monster "understood" as it might affect her future life if anything bad happens to her. And Ms Timson's view of the ... er ... victim, lying in a pool of blood?

She seemed at 14 like a terrific kid.

Seemed a terrific kid. Y-e-e-es, isn't that lovely? Let's follow Judy's example and show compassion for all the perpetrators, for example, say, Ian Huntley. He might have had a difficult childhood and we wouldn't want him scarred for life now, would we? This is the compassionate, "prizes for all" society, after all and monsters need to be understood and given a six figure book deal to help them with their rehabilitation.

And ... um ... what about the boyfriend who so willingly obeyed the monster's decree of death? He doesn't get a mention; he's not as pretty as a gorgeous young girl - doesn't sell as many papers. Oh and the Globe and Mail have thoughtfully disabled comments on this news item.

Now interested, I googled the incident, to see how the other news services reported it. Here was Canada dot com:

M.T. was standing in court behind her lawyers, dressed in a blue sweater and dark pants, with her hair in a ponytail, as the verdict was read out. M.T. started to cry quietly before she was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs and returned to the Toronto area youth jail where she has been held for the past 14 months.

M.T. started to cry quietly, dressed in blue sweater and dark pants? Right, right and how did the victim's parents feel about it all perchance? What were they dressed in on the day? Did they "cry quietly" too? This doesn't seem to interest the journos as much.

Choking on the toast and marmalade here. Is there some sort of charge which can be brought against cold-hearted and exploitative journalists?