Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

About to hop...


...down from Birmingham to London but as a parting shot for now here a couple of links pointed out by the indefatigable Mahal - one is the seven most horrifying cost cutting measures of all time - the other is a mystery to the rabbit who has led a sheltered life...

Monday, 20 December 2010

Okay I said 'normal' service...

The rabbit was sad to read of the death of Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. Apparently his real name was Don Glen Vliet but he changed the Glen to Van which seems to work in some odd way. Beefheart's Mirror Man was the first album the young rabbit bought. Strange I know but there ya go...



The young rabbit also saw Beefheart live at the Rainbow, Finsbury Park way back in the late middle ages but the abiding memory has to be his vocal on the Willie the Pimp track on Zappa's Hot Rats album - way up there in the top demented vocal performances list. Oddly, the album took its title not from a title track but from a phrase - from the lyrics of Willie the Pimp. All together now...

I'm a little pimp with my hair gassed back
Pair a khaki pants with my shoe shined black
Got a little lady . . . walk the street
Tellin' all the boys that she cain't be beat
Twenny dollah bill (I can set you straight)
Meet me onna corner boy 'n don't be late
Man in a suit with a bow-tie neck
Wanna buy a grunt with a third party check
Standin' onna porch of the Lido Hotel
Floozies in the lobby love the way I sell:
HOT MEAT
HOT RATS
HOT CATS
HOT RITZ
HOT ROOTS
HOT SOOTS



Beefheart always dabbled in art and in later life gave up music to concentrate on being an artist. We will not see his like again.



Meanwhile in another part of the world of popular music, the now (as in as from last year) traditional attempt to knock the latest piece of Simon Cowell X-Factor dreck [German, dirt, trash and Yiddish drek, excrement, both from Middle High German drec, from Old High German; see sker-3 in Indo-European roots - definition brought to you by rabbit copy and paste services] from the top of the UK Christmas charts has failed due to a failure to agree on one candidate for the alternative. Last year all people of goodwill rallied around Rage Against The Machine but this year dissent has spread itself too widely and thinly. The above demented video is for The Trashmen's Surfin' Bird which came nearest to knocking the Cowell dreck off its Christmas perch, reaching number three while the other alternative candidate - John Cage's silent song '4:33' spilt the troops while only reaching number 21. Beefheart would have approved of all of this no doubt!

Meanwhile as a cutting edge law blog - albeit somewhat belatedly, the rabbit would like to draw the attention of a wider world to the activities of Judge Beatrice Bolton on finding herself on the receiving end of the criminal law. Woof! Woof!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Back...


Well I've effected the move back to London. It was a bit of a nightmare as the rabbit and removal van and two nice Lithuanian guys (not Polish) were whizzing nicely down the M40 until we found it was closed down at Juncytion 11 and we were stuck in an enormous tailback which took about an hour and a half of stop and crawl to get through. The knock on effect was hitting the evening rush hour in London and another crawl. Someone from the agents stayed behind to give me the keys, which was nice, and unloading happened very rapidly. My furniture etc is coming out if storage on Sunday so i'm sleeping on a blow up bed for the moment! To be honest, I don't like the flat much but I had to do something and have a six month break clause, which I will invoke. It's good to be back in London, though - apparently pursued from northern parts by another very cold front (see pic from Belfast above). Here are a few more photos of the snowy weather from the BBC website.



Devon.




M4 between Junctions 30 and 32



Gwent, Wales. Must dash...Normal service resumed very soon.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

If that Jubilee don't come...


The rabbit is on the move down to London tomorrow. Normal service (if 'normal' comes into it) will be resumed very soon. For the record, the photo is not actually the rabbit's method of travel (as is traditional these days it's a Polish man with a van) but is a covered wagon in a migratory carrot pullers' camp (circa February 1939). This is all good - a new adventure.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Winter is here and the time is right etc...


This has to be the photographic image of the week. London - where the rabbit is now due to return next Wednesday - seems to have decided that winter is here and the time is right for fighting in the streets. The heir to the throne and pal are attacked in their limousine on the way to the theatre last Thursday night to noisy universal condemnation. For overseas readers and those who have been fast asleep under a stone for several months, the issue was a proposal being voted on in the House of Commons that night to create a new framework for student tuition fees, potentially tripling them in some cases. The proposal was carried by 21 votes in the middle of scenes of general uproar on the streets. Interestingly, all the YouTube clips of the attack on the Charles and Camilla car have been taken down so here is what can be found online from something called Access Hollywood - intermixed with a lot of other guff for the benefit of the hard of thinking (after some advert).


The other 'celebrity' dimension of the day of rioting was that the son of Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gimour attracted considerable odium after swinging from the Union Jack on the Cenotaph - that's the national war memorial overseas readers. He subsequently claimed he didn't know what it was. He is a Cambridge University student doing an - erm - history degree.

In the meantime and more seriously than either of the above, a student protester had emergency brain surgery after a police officer hit him on the head with a baton. This story has got somewhat buried in tthe froth about Charles, Camilla and son of Dave Gilmour. There is a general surprise at the extent to which the protests have spilled into violent or - perhaps more accurately - destructive behaviour. Of course this is the behaviour of a minority but the size and determination of the minority is somewhat surprising. Although finding monarchy absurd, I bear Charles no personal ill-will - the tragedy of his life is probably that he finds himself well into his sixties and still in a seemingly endless rehearsal for a part he probably has no wish to play. He would surely be happier as a gentleman farmer being left in peace to indulge such eccentric theories as he may hold - and there are many. The attack on his vehicle added nothing to anything like other outbreaks of deeply unattractive behaviour.

Of course there is a lot of standard issue huffing and puffing about the disorder - although so far as I can gather no police officer or bystander was seriously injured and there was nothing on the same scale as the November Millbank events. Of course there have been counter-accusations as regards police over-reaction - no doubt with considerable force (so to speak) in many cases - how a student comes to be in need of emergency brain surgery requires some serious explaining - which no doubt will not be forthcoming. Certainly the practice of 'kettling' seems a recipe for cranking up the disorder by giving people a sense of being trapped in a kind of cage which they then try to break out of as a fairly elementary response. Just two points for the moment: firstly, although the protests are about tuition fees I suspect that there are a number of other issues bubbling under the surface, which presently lack articulation. If the protests spill over from the narrow issue of tuition fees to broader issues then the government is in huge trouble. When the rabbit was a revolting student the approach to any issue was to look for links with other issues. Secondly, where is the articulation - and in particular the generalising of disparate issues - to come from? It may even be that the extent of the disorder is a kind of blind rage - reflecting the lack of a coherent process of linking. The English notoriously dislike theory but some theorising seems in order. Do not expect the quintessentially useless Labour opposition to provide any of it, though. There's only one song to end with...


Thursday, 9 December 2010

I married a Deadhead...

A flying visit as time pressured with move back to London imminent. The above is I suppose a minority taste but raised a smile from the rabbit. Also of interest is a short piece by Deborah Orr in the Grauniad today on Julian Assange's little difficulties with the Swedish criminal justice system. I suspect that she's got about the right feel for the topic. I liked 'Assange hardly comes over as Prince Charming, but...'

Uh-huh.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The latest on WikiLeaks and what you can use your card for...

The rabbit's curiosity is aroused. Basically, there are two stories running here. Conspiracy theorists would say that there is one story with two threads. The first is the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday in relation to extradition proceedings brought by Sweden. To be exact as there has been much rumour and assertion and counter-assertion on the topic, the charges in respect of which extradition is sought are as follows:

The first involves complainant A, who said she was the victim of 'unlawful coercion' on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.
The second charge alleged Assange 'sexually molested' Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her 'express wish' one should be used.
The third charge claimed Assange 'deliberately molested' Miss A on 18 August 'in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity'. The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on 17 August without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.


Apparently in Swedish law rape is not founded on lack of consent but on the concept of 'sexual integrity'.


Assange was remanded in custody on the ground that he may fail to appear, a point underpinned in the mind of the District Judge by his 'lack of community ties' in the UK. This is despite an array of the great and the good including Jemima Khan and Ken Loach presenting themselves to the court to offer themselves as surety. Assange is of good character and had handed himself in voluntarily at Kentish Town Police Station. If he is extradited, apparently all defendants in Sweden go into custody (this somewhat surprises the rabbit as he was brought up to believe that the presumption of bail follows the presumption of innocence) but there is a two week timescale for charges and a three week timescale for trial. It would be interesting to know what the maximum penalties are for these offences - no doubt all will become clear. Below is the car carrying Assange arriving at court.


Now the US is undoubtedly out to get Assange. Are the extradition proceedings a part of this attack? At the risk of getting all lawyerish I think that the answer at the moment is 'no evidence'. At present, I don't buy it. The more likely view on present information is that Swedish prosecutors are doing some serious grandstanding. The US attack takes different forms. There is a lot of extreme rhetoric emanating form the US right calling for Assange to be variously executed, 'taken out' or 'neutralised'. It will be interesting to see if there is a serious attempt to extradite him to the US in due course. The problem appears to be that it is highly debatable whether he has committed an offence under US law. Oh and Swedish prosecutors say they will not hand him over - though whether such resolve would last following an extradition request remains to be seen.

For the moment, the attack appears to be twofold. Firstly, WikiLeaks links keep being taken down. The rabbit link here is frozen. It hasn't gone down but it is generally stuck. Secondly, US pressure is undoubtedly being brought to bear on commercial bodies to cut off WikiLeaks' sources of finance. Mastercard and Visa have suspended their links with WikiLeaks. PayPal and Swiss Bank Post Finance have also removed support for WikiLeaks. In the meantime hackers or 'hacktivists' have launched a counterattack named 'Operation Payback' and succeeded in closing down the Mastercard website. PayPal and Post Finance have also been on the receiving end of the hackers' attention.

Some comment has been made as regards things you can still do with your Mastercard etc. Well you can still join the Ku Klux Klan. They do have certain rather rigorous criteria. 'You must be a free white male or female of European descent, at least 18 years of age' they announce. Warming to their theme the would be member gathers that 'you must not be married to or date people of other races, nor have mixed race dependants, this includes adopted children'. Uh-huh. Furthermore
'under NO circumstances will we accept for associateship: homosexuals, atheists, or those who have been found mentally insane'. The capitalised NO presumably makes these things clear enough.

Above are some Klan members not being mentally insane (what other sort of insanity is there, by the way?) Is any of this a problem for Visa, Mastercard or Amex? Nope. The rabbit purported to buy a KKK flag from their website. Is this a problem? Nah! Course not... The Klan linked 'Christian books and things' are graciously please to accept Visa, Mastercard and Amex.

Nearer to home, anyone wishing to join the BNP can do so using an array of plastic: Visa/Visa Electron, Mastercard, Solo and Delta.

Then seek help.

Of course the BNP had to comply with that pesky equality legislation to render itself legal. The British People's Party , the body for people who consider the BNP insufficiently nuts, has no such grudging compliance with equality legislation. Would be members have to 'declare that I am of European descent and that I will work in whatever way I can to further the aims of White Nationalism'. We are in KKK territory here. They have lots of jolly merchandising, including a classy Adolf Hitler bust previously featured on White Rabbit, but with lots of new stuff too such as a tasteful SS Death's Head patch.


Visa, Mastercard etc do not deal with the BPP but there is a link to a PayPal account - another body to remove its link with WikiLeaks. In fairness, PayPal may not know who they are dealing with. If they did no doubt they would remove the link pronto. Wouldn't they?

By way of a little light relief, here are some Cadbury's Smash adverts. Smash was an instant mashed potato mixture from the 1960s/70s when such a thing was considered a pretty neat idea. Smash (they may still make it for all I know) tasted thoroughly nasty but their ads were pure quality. Enjoy!

!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Dr Spooner gets Tourettes...

The above cheeky chappie is William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), an academic and clergyman who gave birth to the Spoonerism - a form of wordplay in which consonants or half words get transposed between - erm - words. Huh? I hear you cry. Here are some examples, you'll soon get the hang of things.

'Kinkering Congs their titles take' (Conquering Kings their titles take)


'The Lord is a shoving leopard' (loving shepherd)


To a lady during an Oxford college reception 'You'll soon be had as a matter of course' (You'll soon be mad as a hatter of course)

'A well-boiled icicle' (A well-oiled bicycle)


'He was killed by a blushing crow' (He was killed by a crushing blow)

By all accounts a kindly, shortsighted and academically outstanding man, Spooner nonetheless muddled not only words but entire concepts, once stating of a widow that 'her husband was eaten by missionaries'

This is all very well, the rabbit hears you cry, but what's this got to do with anything? Enter James Naughtie.

For overseas readers etc, James Naughtie is a presenter of flagship BBC radio 4 morning news programme Today. Everyone who is anyone listens to it. Just before 8am yesterday the rabbit was vaguely playing attention when Naughtie attempted to introduce the Culture Secretary James Hunt who had come to talk about something or the other. Naughtie introduced him as - erm - James Cunt. Whoops!!!

Whether the unfortunate Cunt - sorry Hunt - was introduced as the Hulture Secretary remains obscure as Naughtie then lost the power of coherent speech in trying to read the 8 am news headlines. A lot of spluttering ensued. Hunt seemed to take it all in his stride. Naughtie blamed the unfortunate, and very dead, Dr Spooner.

Then it gets worse. Shortly afterwards, Andrew Marr hosted a discussion on the same station about the Freudian slip as a follow-up to his colleague's mistake. 'We're not going to repeat in quite the terms it happened' Marr promised.

D'oh!!!



That's exactly what happens. Marr repeats the 'C' word on air. 'It's very hard to talk about it without saying it' he explained apologetically.


Was this the end of the national pottymouth outbreak? Nope. We move to the House of Commons. The time is 3.46pm. James Herbert, the Home Office Minister in charge of police is answering questions.

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson makes her bid for Bore of the Month on the topic of the Northumbria police budget. 'Do you think these cuts to frontline policing will make my constituents safer?' she asks all sarcastic like. Herbert opens his mouth to reply.

'I don't accept those are cunts' he pronounces.

Apparently there was then a lengthy silence. One may ask what exactly is happening to the fabric of national life. Happily the news from Adelaide is good - rather wonderful. It almost seems to contradict the natural order of things. Crocodile Dundee, Dame Edna Everage, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo - your boys took one hell of a beating!!!

Above is the moment of victory. Below is little Ponting looking a tad unhappy. Bless!


Oh and with Hat Tip to the rather wonderful How to be a Retronaut via Things To Do In Balham When You're Dead, below is a 1927 film by Claude Friese-Greene showing scenes of London life and called The Open Road London.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Trains, urinals and nudges

The rabbit has just got back from an exasperating and semicircular journey from London to Birmingham. No trains at Euston due to signal failure somewhere or the other. Yes says woman on information desk. There are trains from Marylebone. The rabbit hops off to Marylebone. There are no trains from Marylebone to Birmingham today.
'Why did they say at Euston that there are trains from Marylebone when there aren't?' enquires the rabbit.
'Different companies' says the man behind the desk as if this was a self evident and entirely satisfactory explanation for the misinformation. The rabbit enquires as to whether modern technology could possibly disseminate this information from train company and station A to train company and station B. Given the two stations are perhaps two miles apart, a carrier pigeon could do the job but perhaps e-mail or website linking would be quicker. The man appears to have no opinion on this matter. The rabbit can get a train via Oxford at Paddington he announces. They are one an hour and the next is in five minutes. Back to Euston to see how things are as the chances of getting from Marylebone to Paddington, buying a ticket and making it on the train in five minutes seem slight. Things are exactly the same as before at Euston. Absolutely no movement.
To Paddington and a grossly overcrowded train to Oxford and then change it was then. The above urinal is quite famous and is at Schiphol airport Amsterdam he typed changing topics seamlessly.
The significance of the urinal is that it is an example of what is known as 'nudge theory' which is apparently loosely getting people to do better things by subconscious suggestion. The approximate relationship of the male urine stream and where it is supposed to go is well-known. Result puddles and sticky floor and soles of shoes. the theory is that the presence of the insect image will get men to direct their urine streams at said insect, thus avoiding nasty messes on the floor.
This is nudge theory or 'libertarian paternalism' (sic) in action. The relevance of this is that nudge theory is about to be given a try by the British Government in some as yet unspecified ways. It apparently derives from a man called Richard Thaler and involves highlighting the best option, while still leaving all the bad ones open. Obama is apparently taken with this theory and Cameron is equally taken with it. Albeit that clunking nannying from the last Government grated, nudge theory sounds no better - just different. Manipulation vs Bossiness. Not much of a choice. Watch this space...

Friday, 3 December 2010

No-one likes us and it's been snowing and it's cold...

For the footballingly challenged, the above is Sepp Blatter who is aged approximately 300 and is head of international footballing head honchos FIFA. There is presently an outbreak of national navel contemplating as England despite having - at least in the opinion of all persons English - by far the best bid, failed to secure the 2018 World Cup which has gone instead to Russia (see WikiLeaks for assessments of Russia as a 'Mafia State'). England, it must be said, not only failed but crashed and burned hugely with two votes - one of which was, erm, England's. Cue much muttering including absurdly seeking to blame the BBC and Sunday Times for whistleblowing stuff on FIFA corruption. The truth is that FIFA is an opaque and corrupt gerentocracy that doesn't like England anyway so sending out Beckham, Prince William and 'Dave' to grovel before them was a waste of time. Now let's move on. For example, by contemplating how things are shaping up nicely in Adelaide.

In the meantime, the British Isles are in shock as per usual when the weather turns very cold and it snows. Here are some images of Britain in the throes of a cold snap starting with a man feeding the ducks in Stockport.

Plus a rather fed up looking sheep in Kent.


And Brighton pier.

I think this is my favourite. A robin looking somewhat bemused in Manchester.

Lady St Mary church in Wareham, Dorset.

And finally another image from Dorset, from the town of Wimborne at night. Hat Tip to BBC for the above lot.




And finally and with Hat Tip to Babybarista, here is another in the occasional rabbit educational services explaining how not all is well with the world economy.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wikileaks - The truth is out there - and it may be quite dull...

The above cheeky chappie is Julian Assange who is founder of Wikileaks and - shall we say - not the most popular person on the planet so far as the US government is concerned. The rabbit has refrained from commenting on the barrage of leaks of US government material hitherto but would comment that when Hillary Clinton etc complain that they imperil lives, the rabbit thinks they do protest too much. The leaks are really in the realm of the embarrassing only so far. And many of them are less than surprising. From a British perspective, it is unremarkable to learn that David ('Dave') Cameron and his understrapper Gideon ('George') Osborne are 'lightweights', albeit that the source of this opinion namely The Governor of the Bank of England is somewhat eyebrow raising. Equally that Prince Andrew is a boorish oaf hardly constitutes much of a disclosure.

Ranging further abroad, the US government assessment that it is hard to tell where the Russian government ends and organised crime begins seems a statement of the obvious. That the bloke with the pointy beard in charge of Saudi Arabia would like the Americans to whack the Iranians and that the Chinese would be prepared to abandon Kim Il-Bonkers etc and see Korean reunification is more surprising but not exactly a sensation. What is more interesting is the reaction to the fact of the leaks.

US senator Mike Huckabee would like whoever it was in the US government who leaked the above stuff and the rest executed for treason but there is a general consensus that Huckabee is not playing with a full deck. Another US senator, Joe Lieberman has struck in that his call for amazon to stop carrying the Wikileaks feed has been successful. 'I call on any other company or organisation that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them' yelped Lieberman. As the rabbit is neither a company or an organisation this blog will continue to carry the Wikileaks feed and there is a message for Lieberman from Spokane below. 'If amazon is so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books' commented Wikileaks.

However, the really weird thing is this. Assange is in some trouble in Sweden. On 20 August 2010, an investigation was opened against Assange in Sweden in connection with an allegation that he had raped a woman on the weekend of 14 August after a seminar, and two days later had sexually harassed a second woman he had been staying with in Stockholm. The evidence in relation to the rape allegation appears to be nonexistent and the harassment allegation tissue thin at best. Ha! cry the conspiracy theorists: we have a US attempt to frame and by extension destroy Assange here. As to what actually happened, I copy and paste from UK journalist Dennis Spence on the Charon QC blog: 'the complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsr√∂relsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden’s Social Democratic Party. She had invited Julian Assange to a crayfish party, and they had enjoyed some quality time together. When Ardin discovered that Julian shared a similar experience with a 20-year-old woman a day or two later, she obtained the younger woman’s cooperation in declaring before the police that changing partners in so rapid a manner constituted a sort of deceit. And deceit is a sort of rape. The prosecutor immediately issued an arrest warrant, and the press was duly notified. Once the facts were examined in the cold light of day, the charge of rape seemed ludicrous and was immediately dropped. In the meantime the younger woman, perhaps realizing how she had been used, withdrew her report, leaving the vengeful Anna Ardin standing alone'.

A crayfish party?

For further details read here. So far so bonkers and it looks as if Assange was a victim of some - erm - curious Swedish approaches to sexual crime except it seems that the story still has legs. Assange's details was added to Interpol's worldwide wanted list last Tuesday under 'sex crimes' and says the warrant has been issued by the international public prosecution office in Gothenburg. Swedish prosecutors said yesterday that they would issue a fresh arrest warrant in respect of Assange, the last one apparently suffering from technical defects.

So, what to make of all this? The rabbit reserves judgement. The allegations look thoroughly silly and we have - sort of - been here before. The fact that they suddenly resurrect at this point with a serious international attempt to arrest Assange seems odd but, though the rabbit is partial to a good conspiracy theory as the next warren dweller, we shall have to see. Oh and allegedly the British police know where he is but are doing nothing.




Here is the rabbit's response to Senator Lieberman via a street sign in Spokane, Washington. On a completely different topic, there was a wholly unexpected but nice comment on my piece on - among other topics - Len Shelley from Richard Purnell, who used to live with him. Here is the link to his obituary for Len Shelley and his wife Ang.