Monday, 31 August 2009

Oh dear and bear...

Hat Tip to Ute. The clip below shows what declining media standards look like ...

Friday, 28 August 2009

Bouvet Island and Teletubbies

These are dog days. Everyone is either on holiday or wondering why it has to be them sitting around waiting for something to happen when the rest of humanity gets back from holiday. I look out of the window in central Birmingham. The weather is cranking into action for the Bank Holiday weekend - it is grey, cold and raining. The signs of autumn are upon us - the Edinburgh Festival, Notting Hill Carnival very imminent. Then the Last Night of the Proms, the slippery slope to autumn and winter.

I had thought of doing a blog on how I would have liked to cross-examine the now late Senator Edward Kennedy as regards Chappaquidick - complete with a list of awkward questions. I would have enjoyed doing that. Maybe some other time. The appalling nature of what he did still echoes through the decades but the territory is well enough explored by others.

Instead a mention for Bouvet Island (picture above). It is the most remote island in the world, the nearest land being Queen Maud Land (Antarctica) 1,600 miles away. It is a Norwegian dependency and is basically ice covered volcanic rock. Unsurprisingly its population is - and always has been - zero. Strangely, a boat with supplies was found on the island in 1964 but the occupiers of the boat were never located or even identified (the coast is mostly inaccessible). Mildly amusingly, a map of Bouvet Island shows a coastal feature called Cape Circoncision - no translation needed, I surmise. Don't ask me why.

The weird thing is this. Despite being uninhabited, Bouvet Island has an internet country code top level domain (.bv). Why? What's the point? You could construct the most delicious conspiracy theory out of this. In fact feel free to.

Talking of weird, something for the (Bank Holiday) weekend - Pink Floyd's early offering See Emily Play complete with - erm - the Teletubbies. Just enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The monument to Viscount Rowland Hill

This is - as the young people say - a bit random but I went to Shrewsbury today and further indulged my mild fixation with the monument to Viscount Rowland Hill. For the uninitiated, Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire - loosely speaking north of the West Midlands, east of north Wales and south of Cheshire. It needs to be defined in relation to other places as frankly it is a bit of a backwater - rather a pretty and historic backwater but a backwater nonetheless.

Shrewsbury has some rather splendid street names such as Abbey Foregate, Wyle Cop and - my personal favourite - Dogpole.

It also has the most over the top monument I have ever seen - okay I haven't seen the pyramids or the Taj Mahal but you get my general drift. By the Shirehall - the name may conjure up an image of a bosky old building but it is an overblown 60s or 70s monstrosity of a county council building with unprepossessing Crown Court bolted on the side - is the monument to Viscount Rowland Hill.

Now it's not as big as Nelson's Column. It just looks that way. And at least Nelson was famous and the surrounding buildings in Trafalgar Square are in proportion with his column. Hill was a sidekick of Wellington's and fought with him at Waterloo, did various other military things and ended up in charge of the British Army compliments of his old mate Wellington who by then had become Prime Minister. That's about it - in particular he's not the bloke who invented the postage stamp although I assume they were related.

As a monument it is just completely over the top. I wouldn't pull it down, though. It's so over the top it's quite entertaining.

On a completely different subject, I'm still just about resisting putting up the Ponting spitting blood pic. Here is Phil Tufnell - to be on Strictly Come Dancing - it has just been announced (almost but still not enough to make me watch it) together with the Wooden Urns and his Ashes Song. Daft or what? It's something to do with Marmite - can't stand the muck personally

Monday, 24 August 2009

Friday, 21 August 2009

strange but true and lookalike...

Corpulent persons are being specially catered - if that's the right word - for on Brazilian trains by the installation of special chairs for local salad dodgers. The chairs (see above) are nearly twice as wide as normal chairs and can support a person weighing up to 550lbs and still not buckle under the weight. Above each supersized seat is an icon of a differently slim person and the legend 'priority seat for obese people'. Apparently takeup is disappointing as it is thought the punters are too embarrassed to use them.

Nick Griffin of the BNP is undoubtedly a horrible fat slug. Has anyone noticed the resemblance between him and Danny De Vito as 'Penguin' in Batman Returns? (Griffin is the one on the left)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Tiny Terrorists...

I report without further comment that the Metropolitan Police have used the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop and search 58 children aged 9 or under (and therefore below the age of criminal responsibility). There is no need for reasonable suspicion before effecting a stop and search under the Act. Breaking another promise not to comment further, so far as I am aware, terrorism among the under tens is not a major problem. The painting is 'and when did you last see your father?' by W.F. Yeames, a nineteenth century imagining of a fictional Civil War event.

And below for no other reason than it came to mind and still amuses me hugely is Alexei Sayle's Hello John got a new motor?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Killer on the loose...

The person above is Justice Sharon Keller - commonly and appropriately known as 'Killer' - of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Our heroine is in a spot of bother. I have blogged on the death penalty and Texas before here but in a so far as I know unique development, Killer is on trial herself! She closed her court before a death row inmate could file an appeal and is presently otherwise engaged on an ethics trial and faces five counts of judicial misconduct.

The case turns on the execution of a man of a convicted rapist and murderer named Michael Richard. The execution was set for the 25th September 2007 but on the morning of the same US supreme court had agreed to rule on whether execution by lethal injection - the case was an appeal from Kentucky but the same method was used in Texas - amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Not surprisingly in this context Richards' lawyers got busy in drafting an application for a stay but hit computer problems. They contacted Keller, who had by then headed off home to deal with a worker doing some repairs to her house (plainly hugely more important than life and death and constitutional rights and suchlike). At 4.45pm, they requested a postponement of the execution and received the reply from Killer 'we close at five'. Richards was executed later that evening and of course uproar ensued. She now faces charges including denying the rights of a condemned man and is the highest-ranking judge to face misconduct proceedings. I will leave to the reader's imagination whether or not I wish her well but will leave a couple of clues.

A previous gem from Killer was when she attracted a certain amount of oppobrium by denying a man with learning difficulties a retrial despite DNA evidence that appeared to prove his innocence.


Oh and all is not well on the personal probity front either. Killer is in a spot of bother for failing to disclose all of her real estate holdings as required. This was unintentional and not an attempt to hide assets, her attorney (plainly a busy man) helpfully explained. It quite slipped her mind or something to disclose at least seven properties valued at $1.9 million. I wonder if any of them had a duck house or a moat.

There are moves afoot to impeach this charmer. Wonder why?

Monday, 17 August 2009

This one is doing the rounds...

It's very tiresome for a squirrel when a couple of humans try to muscle in on its holiday snaps, I'm sure you'll agree.

Pic originating in Canada and now all over everywhere like a rash.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Mr Fitzpatrick doth protest too much

The glum looking fellow above is Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Canning Town and Poplar. Apparently his constituency is 35% Muslim. Mr Fitzpatrick has caused a bit of a stink as a result of his well publicised walkout (or in Daily Mail speak - storming out) from a Muslim wedding. How so?

Our man and his wife were invited to the wedding of two of his constituents at the London Muslim Centre, a part of the East London Mosque. Having discovered that they would have to sit in seperate 'halls' (so far as I can follow one is the upstairs bit and one is the downstairs bit) Fitzpatrick and lady wife were offskies. Fitzpatrick announced 'we left so as not to cause offence'.


Now I'm wholly unenthusiastic to say the least at the idea of gender segregation at this sort of event. But plainly the happy couple were not of this view and there ya go. It was their day and not Mr and Mrs Fitzpatrick's. Would Mr Fitzpatrick insist on sitting with his wife in an orthodox synagogue and storm out following the inevitable refusal? Somehow I don't think so.

And then suddenly the walkout is all over the media like a rash. Again, how so? Who put the story in the public arena? If it was Fitzpatrick, then he is behaving arrogantly and boorishly and one must ask to what end. Presumably he and his wife were invited to the wedding in good faith by people not in the public eye. It seems a little surprising that at least the possibility that there would be segregation by gender had not occurred to them. If Fitzpatrick went bleating to the media and turned the walkout into a media stunt, then he is an odious little squirt. If, finding himself apparently facing 'Gorgeous' George Galloway at the next election and I daresay having squeaky bum time at the prospect he was pandering to the white working class vote in this episode, then he is worse than merely an odious little squirt.

Googling reveals that there is another Jim Fitzpatrick, an Irish artist. Here is an example of his work.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Silly but...

I came across this and was suitably amused. Testing the British propensity to take the piss to destruction...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

In praise of Shorpy...

Just a very short posting in praise of Shorpy (link to left). It's basically an online collection of old photographs. It's absolutely fascinating and with a large number of contributors there is nearly always something new. The above is 'teen dance party 1950s' but the photos - which appear to be pretty much all American - go way back deep into the nineteenth century. And the name? The blog is a kind of virtual memorial for child miner from Alabama with the wonderful name of Shorpy Higginbotham who was photographed in 1910 by a man - I don't know if he was a professional photographer or enthusiastic amateur - named Lewis Wickes Hine. There was no happy ending for the Shorpy story. He was killed in a mine collapse in January 1928 aged 31. Shorpy had married the previous November and became the posthumous father of a boy in the summer of 1928. His now very elderly son has been located but didn't want to talk. Here is Shorpy at the front with his pals. Have a look at the blog. It's well worth it. The collection of old posters is a cracker too!
Talking of very old things, should Mark Ramprakash be recalled after 7 years absence for the Ashes decider? My heart says 'yes', my head says 'no'.

An elderly gent...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Totally without comment and carwash...

Okay people, time for a silly season story! Tesco are to start selling a range of extra large condoms following 'overwhelming customer demand'. It turns out that the average condom is 205 mm long. In imperial terms this amounts to 8.0708661417 inches in case anyone was wondering. The extra large condoms are 10 mm longer and 1 mm erm - wider. Nicola Evans, healthcare buyer for the retailer, said: "These new condoms are designed to allow larger men more comfort than ever before".

Which is nice.

"In the last year there have been more than 200 calls from customers requesting the availability of an extra large condom" added Ms Evans, warming to her theme.

Quite so.

I said I wouldn't comment but can't resist saying 1 mm wider hardly helps, does it? £9.53 for a packet of 12 should you be wondering.

Fat tip (snuck) to Siberian Light for Stalin condom pic -

Plus some helpful stuff on how to wash your car (complete with rude French word)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

bonkers conspiracy theories and the joker

I've been in two minds about whether to blog about this for a while. It's mostly about the bonkers conspiracy theory doing the rounds that Obama is inegible to be President of the United States because he was in fact born in Kenya and not Hawaii and is therefore ineligible by virtue of provision in the United States constitution that "no person except a natural born citizen... shall be eligible to the office of President". What a natural born citizen is gets a bit complicated but includes McCain (who was born in Panama) but apparently would exclude Obama if he was born in Kenya as opposed to Hawaii. For the benefit of those of you who have been asleep for several weeks as the thing gained traction, the conspiracy theorists are called 'birthers'.

Now this is nutcase central and there is no point in reciting the arguments why it is obvious that Obama was born in Hawaii and not in Kenya save to say that if he was not born in Hawaii then the Health Diirector of the State of Hawaii is in on the fiendish conspiracy by authenticating the electronic copy (records were digitised some time ago) by reference to what must be a forged paper birth certificate and the Obama parents showed remarkable precisience in putting utterly phoney birth announcements in the local press to skank around the US constitution so that their son could become President on a false prospectus. Sneaky stuff or what? But conspiracy theorists treat all material adduced in refutation of the conspiracy theory as further proof of the evil conspiracy. the more cogent the material in refutation, the more fiendish and thorough going the conspiracy.

Amusingly, the birth certificate was originally produced to address blog rumours that Obama's middle name was - guess what? - Mohammed! I can only declare my surprise that his middle name was not rumoured to be Satan (more of this later).

Bizarrely - a Kenyan birth certificate duly appeared for our man - headed the then (at his date of birth) nonexistent 'Republic of Kenya' - whoops! Memo to forgers: do your research!

The US Republican Party appears to be running scared of the 'birthers' to the extent that it is not joining in the lunacy. What is the matter with these people? You don't have to be infatuated with Obama - which I am not - to see the birther thing as drivel. At least Obama is not Bush (good), has reduced the Israel lobby to spittle flecked apoplexy (also good) and has produced a lot of okayish mood music but I am still deeply scarred by (I confess blushing) being very pleased when war criminal Tony B. Liar was elected in 1997. I reserve judgement until it becomes clear beyond peradventure that Obama is not an American Blair.Other bonkers conspiracy theories to be mentioned are 'Obama is a secret Muslim', my personal fave 'Obama is the Antichrist' and Obama is an Indonesian citizen called Barry something-or-the-other (I think at this point I declare conspiracy theory fatigue).

One question that puzzles me is this: what does the constitutional provision that Obama is supposedly President in breach of add to anything? It seems to contravene the principle that citizens of a republic are equals. In Orwellian terms, it seems that some citizens are more equal than others. Why not just get rid of it? Problem solved.

While not approaching the level of lunacy of the above, posters of Obama as The Joker with the word 'socialism' - a shock horror word in the States - have mysteriously appeared in the Los Angeles area. It put me in mind of the Steve Miller song of the same name. Here ya go...