Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Just a quickie ..

... with Hat Tip to Charles Christian, just a quickie (as it were) from rabbit on the move. Oh dear!

Plus the rabbit's typo of the week award goes to the somewhat surreal 'jeep the faith'

Friday, 27 July 2012

Romney unites the nation ...

The above is a person named Romney. He wishes to be President of the United States and to that end is doing an overseas tour so he can look 'statesmanlike' and hobnob with overseas leaders. It's a routine gig. Romney hit London yesterday on his way to frighten Angela Merkel in Germany and get his orders from - sorry have discussions with - the odious Netanyahu. Below and from the glorious Steve Bell is Chancellor Merkel in receipt of correction from the present incumbent so it will be clear to all why the prospect of the Romney person causes her such alarm.

But the rabbit digresses ... The Romney person has proceeded to make a balls up of heroic proportions of his London visit. Not content with addressing leader of the opposition and panda lookalike Ed Miliband as 'Mr Leader' (note for overseas readers: absolutely no-one would call the leader of the opposition 'Mr Leader' - it just sounds ridiculous) the Romney person also announced that he had a discussion with the head of the British security services (memo to the Romney person: you don't do that) but above all he has got the entire UK population behind the London Olympics.

Now it should be explained that the run up to the London Olympics has puzzled overseas persons in that it has been greeted by a very British barrage of eeyeball rolling and muttering. The rabbit has joined in this. We're just like that. Get over it. The substance of the complaints may be summed up as follows:
London's transport system - a delicate flower at the best of times - is bound to either grind to a halt or at least be massively disrupted. This happens regularly without the extra load generated by the Olympics.

Being required to festoon London with 'Zil Lanes' so that the 'Olympic Family' (what a sick inducing expression) or at least the top honchos can whizz around untroubled by traffic congestion strikes everybody as elitist, annoying and bound to add to aforesaid congestion. Ordinary mortals get fined £130 for driving in the Zil Lanes by the way.

The security measures appear to be paranoid and practice for living in a police state. The bloated incompetents of G4S (the hierarchy of which have got very rich at employing people who can't find anything else to do and paying them very little for assorted incompetently executed and in some cases unconscionable 'security' activities) have managed to make such a hash of a huge contract that troops have been drafted in to assist (I don't mind this - the troops will no doubt make a better job of it but why the G4S clowns had their pockets lined to screw up in the first place ios a cause for mystification.

Rocket launchers being planted on people's rooftops without their consent and against their wishes (don't ask).

The corporate sponsors getting well above themselves as regards the 'protection' of their commercial interests. It was serious asked if people could go in to Olympic venues in Nike trainers (Adidas is one of the corporate sponsors).

The opening ceremony - which is this evening as the rabbit writes - sounds promisingly bizarre. It is to be directed by Danny Boyle and features farm animals - as in real ones. Don't ask me why - but Steve Bell has struck again by satirising the opening ceremony as featuring a cow reciting John Keats' Ode To A Nightingale. No - yet again I don't know why but sounds promisingly surreal.

Also promising was posting the South Korean flag next to images of the North Korean players (who were actually playing) in the women's football game the other day. The North Koreans had a predictable hissy fit and walked off for an hour. This sort of cockup is to be encouraged.

But back to the Romney person ...

The Romney person was interviewed by NBC yesterday and announced, speaking of the london Olympics, that stories about difficulties with security guards and threats of border staff strikes were 'obviously... not something which is encouraging'.

Guess what?

The one thing that will totally piss any British person off is being talked down to by a US politrician - and especially an obvious knob like Romney whose claim to
have made a great success of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics got short shrift from 'Dave' Cameron, a prime minister. 'We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world' opined Dave. 'Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere'.

Ooh cutting! Of course Romney has back pedalled futriously but the damage has been done.

And the rabbit's present attitude? Well I'm softening. There is force in all the criticisms but I don't want it to be a shambles. I prefer the Winter Olympics with lunatics jumping off ramps at speed into the air and the sheer violence of the ice hockey but I'll watch some of it. It will be overblown but these events are always are. Chance ofa s ense of proportions may be filed away under 'slight'. Oh and Romney has a horse competing in some equestrian event.


Friday, 20 July 2012

How cool is this?

'I was down in some low dive/talking all the usual jive' (Crooked Judge - New Riders of The Purple Sage)

One of the earliest White Rabbit posts is still the one that is most frequently revisited despite the passing of time, namely the posting on Becky's Dive Bar. I have just been contacted by a guy who does a blog called Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog. He is trying to track down the earliest example of the real ale pub and Becky's Dive Bar - and indeed the rabbit's posting - came to his attention and he contacted me. He also sent a couple of photos. Above is the entrance - and below amazingly is a picture of Becky no less! If you are not in the loop you have no idea how arare - and downright spooky - this is. If you are not in the loop also go read the original posting. Not all - but some things - will become clear!

Talking of cool - the rabbit has spoken to his public via a podcast on all round top bloke Charon QC's blog. Highlights not mentioned in Charon's preamble to the podcast on his blog include Charon nearly lighting the wrong end of his cigarette and the rabbit offering a medal to anyone still listening ...

Have a good weekend all ...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The day the music died

The rabbit has been slow in reporting the major international incident that took place in Hyde Park last Saturday aka the Springsteen concert due to pressure of work but I can now finally pronounce. Given the endless rain that the UK has been inflicted with over the 'summer' due to something called the Jet Stream that normally drenches Scandanavia moving south, I had wondered whether the concert was going to take place at all. A Kylie and Jason reunion concert (ermmmm ... ) at the same location on the previous Tuesday was cancelled - the surface of Hyde Park being described as 'emulsified'. Nice word that ... Help was however at hand in the form of 800,000 square metres of wood shavings (yes really). Here are some of the wood shavings having been spread over the ground. The effect was bouncy, safe and distinctly smelly in an agricultural sort of way.

Through the warm up acts it didn't rain very much at all. Although some people had sensibly come well prepared.

The final warm up act, and the only one to get any traction with the audience who had basically come to see Springsteen and only Springsteen was John Fogerty. He put on a good show and got an audience reaction. Towards the end of his set the big screen showed Springsteen sitting otherwise out of sight to the side of the stage. Cue much cheering. Then a little later Springsteen came on to duet in the final Fogerty song. Like so ...

And the actual Springsteen set? Well his concerts are a cross between a huge karaoke session led by Bruce and a revival meeting. That's not to knock it. I think the guy is a total class act and an honest performer. He is one of those performers who you sense is actually on your side and not on a corporately sponsored cynical exercise in squeezing one last payday out of the punters. His workrate is phenomenal - as is the length of his sets (with consequences known now to everyone not in one of the remoter regions of Papua New Guinea). For the first hour it didn't even rain. Then the rain started. The wetter it got the more Bruce cranked up the energy levels. It is fortunate for the rabbit's dignity - which is of course immense -  that there is no record of him singing and dancing along to Darlington County/Working On The Highway.

The young rabbit was absolutely blown away by Springsteen's early work. Was it possible for rock music to get any better? The young rabbit doubted it. The signs that the man was mortal after all first surfaced with the simultaneously released Human Touch and Lucky Town in 1992 which were okayish and no more. There hasn't been a subsequent decline like say Bob Marley's - from red raw stuff like the Catch A Fire album generally to twee rubbish like Three Little Birds. The later stuff is good - some of it very good indeed (see below). And the guy is a supreme performer. Then of course among the E Street Band were Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren - sightings to make for a very happy rabbit. The Ballad of Tom Joad and Shackled and Drawn stood out in the middle passage. Then working towards the end, full on karaoke session with Born In The USA, Born to Run, Dancing In The Dark and Glory Days. The last of these like so ...

By this time it was pushing 10.30 and Springsteen had been on stage for about 3 hours not counting the John Fogerty bit piece. On came Paul McCartney - not being a huge Beatles fan, the rabbit was less than impressed but a decent duet to I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout with a little bit of La Bamba thrown in for good measure followed. What happened then? Well we all know ...

What do i think? Well yes it was officious but the (not very many) people who live around Hyde Park are very rich, very well connected and hate the concerts in the first place. There are no doubt penalty clauses in the hire agreements for over runs. The organisers were no doubt getting jumpier and jumpier. Then someone threw the switch. The music didn't so much stop but fade away over a few seconds - a very strange effect.

Oh and guess how many complaints Westminster Council received as regards the over run? Two. Finally - here is a recent Bruce song to demonstrate that he can still hit the heights. It's not from the concert but was performed at it. Shackled and Drawn - Pure quality.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Whiskey in the Jar

I found myself idly wondering how an old Irish folk song managed to acquire one of the rock guitar riffs of all time via Thin Lizzy. the answer to this particular question still remains obscure, but I do like the lyrics - not the chorus, which is aload of nonsense words, but the verses. Who was Captain Farrell? Wikipedia suggests a military or government official which sounds a likely answer. I also like the phrase 'took me easy' that appear in a lot of the online lyrics but unfiortunately that would appear to be amis-hearing of 'tricked me easy'.

Just to give a bit of background, here is Irish traveller and traditional musician Pecker Dunne (calm down American persons - he's called Pecker for an entirely innocent reason - see linked text) with his version of Whiskey in the Jar. He's 79 now, was born in a horse drawn caravan and is still around. And, no - I dont know why he seems to have a hole in his forehead either. Otherwise happy weekend to all  - the rabbit is off to see Springsteen in concert in Hyde Park tomorrow - it's still on despite endless rain thanks to 8,000 cubic metres of woodchip deposited over Hyde Prk. the rabbit is taking the plastic anorak thingy he got for Maid of the Mist - the boat that takes you up to Niagara Falls through a barrage of water droplets.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Electronic cigarette terror and geobuck clam

Proof that as the Olympics grow ever closer the authorities are losing whatever grip on reality they may ever have  had came yesterday with an electronic cigarette. The rabbit has a friend who has taken these up - they are another nicotine replacement therapy (in passing the rabbit is not a fan of the same - they just feed the addiction in a less harmful way missing the point that the answer is to overcome the addiction) in which a nicotine vapour is released. The end glows green when the user takes a draw - a nice touch. Now unlike cigarettes they are legal everywhere - including on coaches. We go to a coach travelling from Preston to London where someone saw what turned out to be a passenger 'smoking' an electronic cigarette, a 'genuinely concerned member of the public' concluded I am not quite sure what except that she thought he was behaving suspiciously and called the police.

The result: a major anti-terrorism operation was launched, the coach was stopped in Staffordshire and armed police officers with military back-up shut the motorway for seven hours having detained the coach for four. They escorted the 48 passengers off the bus, telling them to walk with arms stretched out whereupon they were further told to sit in silence in a makeshift pen on the road while being checked by sniffer dogs (see above). 'I thought I was going to be shot. Everyone was terrified. Some people thought it was a bomb or a suspected terrorist attack while others thought we might have an escaped prisoner on board' announced the splendidly named Vermilion von Kangur, a passenger on the coach who seems at least to have got her 15 minutes fame out of the episode.

The response, which could fairly be described as 'enormous' involved police, army bomb squad and fire service. The overkill seems demented. Is there no proportionate way of finding out if there is a problem?

And above all, the suspicion remains that the paranoia around the Olympics is now colouring officialdom's attitude to absolutely everything. In a completely unrelated story, a 71 year old with an airgun looking for rats was arrested by anti terrorism police - complete with attendant helicopter! 'Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both'. Benjamin Franklin.

On more serious matters, a comment by JopJo yesterday set the rabbit on an online search for the geoduck clam. And here it is and a fine looking fellow it is too I'm sure all will agree. Natural habitat: the coastal waters of Washington State, British Columbia and - erm - trousers.

And before it is too late, the rabbit would wish to blow his annual raspberry at Wimblebore. Tennis or watching paint dry? Pass the brushes.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Circumcision, extradition and Angels' Share

This isn't new news - as it were - it broke last week but bears further consideration. A German court - in Cologne to be exact - considered the case of the circumcision of a 4 year old boy in accordance with the wishes of his Muslim parents. It constituted bodily harm, the court concluded (the matter became contentious as the boy began to bleed profusely two days after and had to be hospitalised). The boy's right to physical integrity and self-determination trumped the parents' religious freedom.

This as may be imagined became just a touch contentious. Jewish and Muslim commentators were predictably hostile. The Turkish Europe Minister offered grumpily to send the Germans 'scientific circumcisers' to 'show the Germans how to circumcise'. Very thoughtful, I'm sure - although there does not seem to be any suggestion that the procedure was carried out defectively. The fact that it was a German court ruling in a Jewish practice caused raised eyebrows.

And I think? well on one level the ruling seems unanswerable. To use a sharp instrument to remove  a section of someone's flesh is prima facie an assault. There are possible defences - namely necessity and consent but neither applies to the routine circumcision of infants and boys too young to give an informed consent. So does religious freedom trump the boy's right? Well maybe but if that is the case then the invidious result follows that parents motivated by religious factors have a defence but non-religious parents having their boy circumcised out of a belief that it is the appropriatev thing to do do not.

Hygenic arguments? Try soap and water. Plus all surgery carries a risk - albeit an extreme example, a link story shows 11 boys contracting herpes through a bizarre form of circumcision (TMI alert for details).

And therefore? I wouldn't make circumcision a criminal offence or actionable in damages generally. I'm not quite sure why I wouldn't but that's the view I reach. Incompetent execution of the circumcision or inherently unsafe 'techniques' (see link) must be at least actionable in damages in any event. Hopefully the practice will fade away with the passing of time without any martyrs to the cause.

I've blogged before on the unequal nature of UK/US extradition arrangements - the above young man is Richard O'Dwyer who gruesome secretary heresa May has approved his extradition to the US for -er - copyright infringement. He faces a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment for offences - which if offences they be - were committed in the UK and would attract a maximum 6 months imprisonment here. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has organised a petition. Feel free to sign.

Finally - and briefly - the rabbit hopped off last Sunday to see The Angels' Share. Go see. It's quality. I won't explain what the angels' share is for the uninitiated. You'll just have to see the film.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Fourth of July

It is the time of year again where it is customary for the rabbit to send Independence Day greetings to his American readers. Previous greetings have featured such gems as Brad Neely's Washington, the same person (Washington that is not Neely) crossing the Delaware and Springsteen's Darlington County - the connection being the 'me and Wayne on the Fourth of July' in the lyrics.

The rabbit is pleased to announce that he wil be celebrating Bastille Day - the 14th July - at a Springsteen concert in London so - Independence Day it is for this year ... Different sort of independence but there ya go.

Expect a posting on foreskins (legal issues pertaining thereto) and extradition tomorrow from the law blog that makes the others look pretty stupid :D - well most of them. Honest.