Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.



Comments

I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Sunday 28 December 2008

Another Gem from Tom Petty

Here's another super song.

"Their A &R man said 'I don't hear a single.'" Superb.

No embedding again. Thanks for nothing, Universal.

Until the next time

A "Brain" in charge in Cuba

President Raul Castro of Cuba
Image source: here

The indispensible International Herald Tribune has an interesting story today concerning Cuba.

Cuba has experienced great difficulties, right back to the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Recently, three hurricanes which caused damage totalling $10 billion, together with the world economic crisis have hit the country very hard indeed.

In my view, the current President Castro appears to be a sensible man - far more so than the former "Lider Maximo."  He has told the people of Cuba that there must be economies, belt-tightening and austerity, grim, but it seems necessary, news.

Instead of continually spouting revolutionary slogans, President Castro talks sense.  For example consider the following quotes:

"The accounts don't square up.  You have to act with realism and adjust the dreams to the true possibilities."

"Two plus two always equals four, never five."

I think that the President's statements should be read by all the left-wing optimists and dreamers in the French trades unions, the CGT in particular - after all, President Castro could almost be quoting from Mrs Thatcher!

I hope that the incoming president of the USA will reach an accomodation with President Castro; the world is always better for sensible leaders.

And an article from the Daily Telegraph today suggests that things could soon improve, with President-elect Obama stating that he will lift travel restrictions and permit money transfers.  I think that this is a good thing, and hopeful for the future.

Until the next time

Saturday 27 December 2008

More Music

I mentioned in my last post that I am a guitar-player; sadly no longer active, I did make my living as a player for eight years or so.

Here is a video of one of my favourite bands playing my favourite song of theirs. Lead guitarist Mike Campbell, typically dressed in black (classic lead guitarist garb) has the job I always wanted! 

Sadly the video is not embeddable so I can only post this link.

The band? Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The song? King's Highway.  I am not sure which King's Highway Petty meant when he wrote the song - Wikipedia offers many choices.

Perhaps the following video will serve for a little atmosphere:



Until the next time

Lord Mr Ford

I am sure that all of you are aware of the extreme problems in the automobile industry, recently alleviated - probably temporarily - by the rescue package announced a few days ago by President Bush.

Some observers have laid part of the blame for the crisis in the industry at the doors of the manufacturers themselves; it has been pointed out that the US carmakers have been too slow to adapt to a changing world.

Perhaps the late Jerry Reed was a little prophetic in his perfomance of Dick Feller's "Lord Mr Ford!":




As a guitarist myself, I can only gasp at Reed's phenomenal ability:




Until the next time

Thursday 25 December 2008

Another Death: Eartha Kitt

No cynicism this time; Eartha Kitt was a true original talent.  It wasn't long ago I saw her on Jools Holland's show on BBC TV and she looked to be en pleine forme.  Sad.

An "old-fashioned girl":




Until the next time

Harold Pinter is Dead

Picture Source: Boston Globe

Harold Pinter (playwright) has died.

I've had trouble with my car.  It's getting colder again.

[Pause]

No more gardening for a while.

[Pause]

Are you going out?  Pick up 20 Player's for me would you?

[Pause]

Jim's back is bad again.

[Pause]

We'll have snow I expect.

Etc., etc., etc.

If you wish to be more contemporary, then you may add a few "fucks" if you wish.

Until the next time

All in a Day's Work

All in a day's work - for what are in my view, heroes.

Many of us have flown somewhere - many of you perhaps frequently.  As human beings, we adjust so quickly to norms of travelling that it is easy for us to forget the totality of what is involved - perhaps the forces at play.

The following video shows how "normal" airline pilots cope with extreme conditions, in these examples, violent crosswinds.

Hats off to them I say.




Until the next time.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I wish all of you the very best for Christmas, and I hope that 2009 brings you some joy.

Until the next time,

Paul

Sunday 21 December 2008

The Ungrateful Survivor

A big pig in the Snow. Image source: Here

In China there has been an on-line poll seeking "Animals who moved China."

The winner is a pig who amazingly survived burial for 36 days following the colossal earthquake at Sichuan last May.  According to the International Herald Tribune, the animal kept going by eating charcoal and drinking rainwater.

Since its rescue, the pig has been treated like the conquering hero, having been given a new home in a museum.  Unfortunately it seems that the pig's new life has rather changed its character; as the article reports:

"It's gotten fatter and lazier by the day," [the report] quoted staff as saying. "We used to take it out for a walk every morning and afternoon, but it's too lazy -- and too fat -- to do it."

And the pig is getting fed up with visitors, after initially being quite friendly.

"Now it just blocks the door to its bedroom when there are too many visitors outside. It's been increasingly difficult for us to convince it to open the door." 

Animals are like that: I remember as a child spending time trying to make a little "house" for the family cat.  Once "construction" was completed I tried to persuade the cat to enter his new home.  The result was a big fuss and some nasty scratches; a learning experience that has remained with me to this day.

Until the next time




Tuesday 16 December 2008

"Sock & Awe"


Some people are very quick off the mark indeed.

Wired.com reports that there has been a flood of screen games related to the shoe-throwing incident the other day. Wired published the illustration above.

No-one has commented on all the fora I have visited about how cool the President was; think about it: how would you like to be on the receiving end whilst in Iraq with some Baathist throwing objects?  Right afterwards the President was seen to smile.  I wouldn't be smiling.

I think that the games are great fun, but it's a shame that they will make a hero out of someone who is fundamentally a disgrace to his alleged profession - that of journalist.

Until the next time.

Monday 15 December 2008

A Nice Idea

I'll let the video speak for itself.



Until the next time

Sunday 14 December 2008

Offensive Weapon Warning

"Evil" hot pepperoni pizza
Image source: Here

Yes, it's a hot pepperoni pizza.

The Daily Telegraph reports that a pizza delivery man in Florida fought off a gun-slinging crook by throwing a steaming hot pizza into his face.  Three alleged miscreants have been arrested.

I expect that since the law in England is firmly on the side of the criminal, that had the events taken place in "Blighty" then it would be the delivery man who would now be in gaol, charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and were the "criminals" members of an "ethnic minority", with a "hate" crime also.  The miscreants, who would all of course claim to have been "abused" would be receiving "counselling" and probably a holiday at public expense.

I expect that just as law-abiding people are being arrested for carrying penknives, that soon carrying a hot pizza will also be an offence - in England.

Until the next time

Saturday 13 December 2008

Defence Developments

All my life I have found military technology fascinating.  The concept of Micro Air Vehicles as shown in the USAF/General Dynamics video below, has really taken me by surprise.

See what you think.




The cost will be very high I should think, but this must, I suppose, be balanced at the ever-increasing political costs of modern warfare.

Until the next time.

Apple News

Picture source: here

Wired.com has a good article here summarising the situation regarding so-called "Mac Clones": non-Apple computers that can run the OSX operating system.

Apple, renowned for its fearsomely litigious legal team, is seemingly unaware of the famous saying "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."  Or it has no desire to be flattered thus!

And I suppose many of you know that clones of the iPhone are big business in China and elsewhere.

It is interesting I think, to reflect on the fact that had Apple's attitude existed at the dawn of the motoring age, there might have been substantially less progress!

Until the next time

The Way we Were - Part IV

Hello again.

Here are some more old ads for my American friends; the first one is really most strange...




And now, another set. The second ad contains the memorable (?) strapline "Dristan's like sending your sinuses to Arizona."



Better than sending them to Colombia I suppose...

Finally, for those who like to laugh at images of doctors in white coats recommending Camels, how about this gem? Very scientific!



Until the next time

Friday 12 December 2008

Now He's Really Lost It

Whilst it has been obvious for a long time - to me at least - that "Doctor" Mugabe is more than a sandwich short of a picnic, now he's really out of control.

His latest wheeze is that the cholera that he said yesterday has been " arrested" was introduced, together with anthrax by the naughty British colonialists, helped by the USA.  The link includes a video which is informative.

The end of this tragicomical farce is long overdue.

Until the next time


Thursday 11 December 2008

The Way We Were, Part III

Another from my little collection of old advertising.

In today's example, we have the Rolling Stones no less, promoting Kellogg's Rice Krispies "Snap, Crackle and Pop" was the slogan.


Very cool...
Until the next time.

"Trust me, I'm a Doctor"

"Doctor" Mugabe has spoken.

There is no more cholera in Zimbabwe, he says.  In fact in this video you can hear the old tyrant say that "cholera has been arrested..."  So that's all right then.

Presumably his police have now beaten it to death.

Reminds me of the joke about the three teams, from England, France and Soviet Russia, who were called in following the discovery of a splendid mummy in a pyramid in Eygpt.

The English went in first and reported back that whilst it was obvious that the person was a senior personage, they were unable to add anything.  The French went further saying that they were certain that the person was a king but could not work out his name.

The Russian team, conspicuous for their long black leather overcoats, were in the burial chamber for two hours; "It is Tutenkamun" they said.  The other experts were amazed: "How do you know?"  they asked. "Easy" came the reply, "We have confession."

It was astounding that out of the brutal Soviet system there came such a rich tradition of black humour.

Sadly I doubt that there is much humour in Zimbabwe today.

Until the next time

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Antipodes

No, not Australasia, but William Skyvington's excellent blog.  William is of Australian origin, but now lives in rural France - the glorious Ardeche.  He writes on a very wide range of subjects and is always entertaining and often thought-provoking too.

He is an Apple fan, but this does not mean he has no sense of humour, as his latest post demonstrates.  He included the following excellent Simpsons video - amongst several others.




Until the next time

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Defending the Indefensible: Africa Shows the Way

Zimbabwe; the African Union speaks:

"We have a serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. We have cholera. Do they think that we can eradicate cholera with guns?"

No dear boy, but they could eliminate the cause couldn't they, you stupid twerp!  I mean by "cause", "Doctor" Robert Gabriel Mugabe, pariah, tyrant and I assume, deranged dictator and megalomaniac.

It's very simple, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President George W. Bush have said, it's time for him to go - it's amazing that he is still there.

Hasn't he caused enough misery and suffering?

Come on, let's get rid of this bastard and his atrocious hangers-on.  Shoot them like the vermin they are.

Until the next time

Sunday 7 December 2008

And Still More on Free Speech

Following my recent posts about Belgian Defence Minister Pieter de Crem and the New York Barmaid, Nathalie, who was allegedly sacked as a result of her blogging about his presence in her bar, we have a new free speech problem.

This time it concerns Baltic State, Latvia.  Until recently, Latvia was a shining star of economic growth in the Baltic region.  Sadly she has been hit hard by the international economic crisis.

A university professor, a Mr Smirnov was "unwise enough" to offer his views to a newspaper as the BBC reports:

University lecturer Dmitrijs Smirnov told a newspaper the nation's currency, the lat, was heading for devaluation.
Mr Smirnov. Picture source, BBC

The result of this was that Mr Smirnov was seized by Latvia's security police - the Latvian equivalent I suppose of those who unconstitutionally raided Mr Damian Green's office at Westminster the other day - and locked up for two days.  "Charges" (for what exactly?) are still pending!

This is the moment for what the Americans call a "reality check."

Latvia is ostensibly a Western European state, espousing all those wonderful, liberal "democratic" values so prized by the windbags who occupy the European Parliament.  It is this state that has imprisoned an academic for expressing an opinion in a newspaper.

IS ANYONE AWAKE?

At this rate one might as well be living in China, Russia or even Mugabe's bordel of country.

Historians have claimed for years that the West is in terminal decline.  I had imagined that this observation might have been proven correct by the activities of the beards and towels brigade (in the service of Allah of course) but I am beginning to wonder if the decline is now coming from within.

Until the next time.

Political Wit

This morning, I read a Daily Telegraph report about the Oxford University Press's new edition of its Childrens' Dictionary.  The new edition is distinguished in particular, by the many words removed, words such as "empire", bishop", "marzipan", "sycamore", "fern", "raven", "chestnut","sin", "oyster."  New entries include "celebrity", "MP3 player" "bungee jumping", "voicemail", "vandalism."

As might well be imagined,  the comments after the article display extreme rage and anger (to borrow a line from Private Eye, this is after all Sir Herbert Gussett's territory).  I am in total agreement: as far as I am concerned, the Philistines are not at the gate, they are well-established inside.  Fortunately I am not inside with them.

One who commented, in a way that suggested that his anger had rather run away with him pointed out that the UK Libertarian party had recently sent a copy of George Orwell's 1984 to each of the 659 Westminster MPs with the notation that the book was meant to be a "warning not a blueprint."  I like this kind of humour.

Reminds me of the car sticker that read "Come back Guy Fawkes, your country needs you."

The manifesto of the UK Libertarian Party, makes for interesting reading.  After a quick read, it seems to me that the party's principal objective is less government, an objective with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Until the next time.

Saturday 6 December 2008

Electrifying

The word "electrifying" brings to mind an appalling pun: "John TraVOLTa"

Sorry.

As we all learned at school, or should have done, one is always (electrically speaking) safe in a closed conductor or Faraday cage...




Until the next time

Russian Family Matters














Two Georgian mothers and a coincidence.

At the top is Vera Putina, who claims to be the mother of Russian Emperor Vladimir Putin.  She lives in Gori.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Putin's spokesman denies that she is his mother, stating that both his parents are dead. Meanwhile, Mme Putina says "I used to be proud of having a son who became President of Russia. Since the war I am ashamed."

On the left [picture source Life] is Mme Ketavan Jughashvili mother of notorious Soviet Russian Dictator, Josef Stalin.  It is a strange coincidence that both her terrible son and Vladimir Putin were apparently born at Gori.

There is possibly a second coincidence, this time concerning Russia's relationship with Georgia. The latest events in Georgia are probably too familiar to be reported here, but bear them in mind when thinking about the brutal absorbtion of Georgia into the Soviet Union: the so-called Georgia Affair.  Curious is it not that at the times of this and also the recent war, that arguably the second-in-command in Moscow was a Georgian (I suppose I should add in one case allegedly).

When Stalin was in control, a detachment of his special (presumably NKVD) troops was sent to guard his mother's house.  According to "A.I. Romanov" who was in reality B.I. Baklanov, a NKVD defector, there was a joke circulating in Russia at this time: it was said that the troops had not been sent to guard Mme Jughashvili, but in fact to prevent her from producing another Stalin.

I have not yet seen any reports of a guard at Mme Putina's house; perhaps Putin's spokesman is telling the truth!

Until the next time

Friday 5 December 2008

More about the Belgian Defence Minister and the Blogger

I have received a comment from "Nescio" which included a link to a video, which I attach here.

It shows Mr de Crem making a statement about the affair to the Belgian parliament.  Mr de Crem's speech was well received I must say.  Someone has obligingly added English subtitles.



So if all he said was true, then why was Nathalie sacked from her job?

All very strange; I rather hope that this runs a bit longer.

Until the next time

Thursday 4 December 2008

Yet Again: Free Speech

Q. What is the connexion between the sacking of a New York Barmaid and the Belgian Defence Minister?

A. She keeps a blog!

The story was reported today by the Daily Telegraph.

Well, well; I have previously discussed free speech a number of times here and in particular I mentioned bloggers in one post.  Admittedly, Belgian citizen Nathalie Lubbe Bakker (for it was she) has not yet been jailed, but to lose one's job in these difficult times is no small thing.

It seems that she was shocked by the behaviour of one Pieter de Crem, Belgium's Defence Minister, when he appeared in her bar and took more than sufficient liquid refreshment.  She decided that this event would be good subject matter for her blog "Living in New York."

Unfortunately this was picked up by a Belgian Newspaper and Nathalie was sacked without explanation...

Belgian Defence Minister Pieter de Crem receives a smart salute
Picture source: here

Ironically, Mr de Crem was quoted as saying "The internet helps close the gap between the citizen and the politician."

Mr de Crem has had to face parliamentary questions (quite right too) and the Telegraph report includes the following:

"Belgian bloggers are up in arms over what they perceive to be a threat to free speech and a Facebook campaign has been set demanding Miss Lubbe Bakker is reinstated in her job."

I have managed to find the blog and article concerned - well at least I think so, as it's in Dutch.  If any of you would care to translate the article I should be delighted to post the translation here.

Free speech - that is the maintenance of the right of it - requires great vigilance...

Nathalie's blog article has received over 340 comments (I can only dream of such a response).  I have posted there , so go on, give her your support - you know you want to.

Until the next time.

UPDATE

I have just been mailed by Nathalie herself; she is going to provide an English translation, which of course I shall post here.

UPDATE II

In Mr de Crem's speech to the Belgian parliament - see video here - he states that Nathalie Lubbe Bakker is in fact a Dutch citizen.

The Way We Were, Part II

Another one for my American friends; this time it's Pepsi-Cola, from 1950.

And yes, that is James Dean plugging a nickel into the nickelodeon!




Until the next time

Wednesday 3 December 2008

The Way We Were

There is nothing new about people grumbling about television advertising: either it is too long, too banal, or evidently aimed at cretins - or perhaps all three.

However, after an afternoon's research I found that advertising from years ago is quite fascinating and provides an interesting insight into "the way we were."  To me I have to say that the old advertising demonstrates a degree of what seems now to be a surprising naïveté.  I have collected a few and propose to run a short series.

With respect to my American visitors, who far outnumber the rest, I start with an advert promoting the Beatles' tour in the early 1960s; after that, a collection of old adverts from Britain.

I hope you enjoy them.





Sorry, but the English ads' sound is only on the left channel! Typical!!



Until the next time

Saturday 29 November 2008

Bandits IV Revisted

"The black Stalin/Hitler"** with some of his gilded  popinjays :
Nyezhov, Ngoebbels, Nhimmler etc.
Source: here

Well, as has been widely reported, "Doctor" Robert Gabriel Mugabe's Rhodesia is going from bad to worse; the poor people having now to endure a cholera epidemic to add to the sum of absurd inflation plus famine, ballot-rigging and brutality.

Now the mass-murderer, marxist, tyrant and all-round verminous Stalin-impersonator has a new problem that no doubt, he will blame on the "British imperialists": his soldiers are unable to withdraw more than the equivalent of 50 pence per day (the price of a single banana apparently***) from the banks; unsurprisingly, to take a leaf from P.G.Wodehouse, they are not exactly gruntled about this development and have chosen to express their displeasure.  With his great political judgement and wisdom, Mugabe, he of the many degrees - presumably beaten out of the examiners - has started to have his repellent police imprison the soldiers.

Smart move (ironically speaking), but the police will have to work even harder now with all their oppression duties to see to.

It is my wish that finally Mugabe will receive the beatings that he is so happy to dispense elsewhere, resulting in his deserved death, an occurrence unlikely to be mourned by anyone, with the exception of his few favourites who will no doubt escape to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth in some other appalling country willing to accept these scum - who would be most unlikely to want to stay at home where the oppressed population would probably want a "word" with them.

Soon, I may write a short piece about Mugabe's predecessor: war hero, sane and utterly incorruptible: Mr Ian Douglas Smith.  In the early '80s I met a chap and his wife who had arrived in England from Zimbabwe - they had wisely got out.  They told me that already the black people they knew were saying that they wished that Smith was back in charge.  I wonder what they would say now?

Until the next time

**No description is sufficiently offensive for this bastard
† Thanks to the late Lord Hives for this expression
*** Here in France I can buy six bananas for a  little more than a euro.

UPDATE!

In a radical move, Harare City Council is now offering free graves - for cholera victims.

Well, I admit it: I was wrong.  Mugabe has achieved something: free graves.  Well done Robert.

A Bit of Fun for a Change - The Uber-Tuber

Re-reading my recent posts, I have to admit that I have been in heavy rant mode lately, so now's the time for a bit of light relief.  (I have opted not to comment on the appalling events in Bombay ("Mumbai") recently; my regular readers should be able to guess my views on this outrage).

Most of us like chips (English); French Fries (USA); Frites (France) or "Freedom Fries" (Bush administration).  The following video shows a splendid way to make real chips from real potatoes and have fun at the same time!


Bon appetit!

Until the next time

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Good News

It has been reported today, both by the BBC and the International Herald Tribune, that the Afghani authorities have arrested ten individuals apparently belonging to the Taliban in connexion with the acid attack I reported here, on eight girls and four female teachers in Kandahar.  The BBC link carries a video, showing some of the injuries received.  

President Karzai says that those found guilty will be executed.

Good riddance; somehow I doubt I'll select a black tie.  The date of their despatch will be more of a champagne day I think.

As an aside I note that the BBC spells "Taliban" as "Taleban."  I suspect that the BBC is using the "approved" spelling, so I shall stay with "Taliban", by which I mean (if MI6 is reading this) the spelling"Taliban."

And once again, all the best to brave Shamsia.

Until the next time

Sunday 23 November 2008

More on the Sirius Star

The Sirius Star is the Saudi-Arabian tanker which, with its $100,000,000-worth of oil has been hijacked by pirates from the Republic - sorry bordel - of Somalia.

Another fat-headed islamist sheikh has now stuck his oar in, as this extract from the Daily Telegraph article describes:

"If the pirates want peace, they had better release the tanker," said Sheikh Ahmed, a spokesman for the Shebab militant group in the coastal region of Harardhere, where the Sirus Star is anchored.

Yeah - and my dad's bigger 'n yours...

Over to the pirates:

"We are the Shebab of the sea and we can't be scared by the Shebab of the land," Mohamed Said said. "If anybody attempts to attack, that would be suicide."

Hmm, "Mohamed Said"; fine Irish name...

The pirate expands a little:

"Every Somali has great respect for the holy kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have nothing against them but unfortunately what happened was just business for us and I hope the Saudis will understand,"

Personally, I am absolutely certain that the Saudis will see the joke.  "What happened" - ho ho...

Dear God!  What a farce.

Until the next time.

In Case You Didn't Know...

Sorry everybody, but Sunday has turned out for me to be a bit of a blood-boiling day.  Perhaps I should stop reading the news?

Anyway, it seems that it's official: some creep (the son of what is, I hope, the late Osama Bin Laden) has written to the government of Iran, thanking it for its help in setting up terrorist cells in Yemen (another bordel) and for its assistance in the suicide bombing of the American Embassy there.

Unfortunately for the "towels" the communication has been intercepted by Western Intelligence.

Whoops.

I suppose that "Dinner-Jacket" will be obliged by his bearded masters, the Ayatollahs, to deny everything and continue with his atomic bomb.  Perhaps they can hire "Mr Whippy" who by now, probably considers himself a master of public relations!

God!  How they piss me off!

Until the next time

Wacko Jacko Reinvents Himself?

"Bad"  Source: here

Michael Jackson has excelled himself: he has become a Muslim and may be seen in the picture above elegantly turned out in some sort of black tent.

There is no doubt that Jackson is talented.  Really I have to say it's all very sad.  Perhaps now he will be greeted by Mr Whippy in Somalia?  Better give up the dancing (at least with ladies) Michael (now "Mikaeel").

???????????????

Until the next time

Le Hot Dog

The relationship between France and the USA is complex.  Despite occurrences of diplomatic abrasiveness, the fact remains that the French have a soft spot for American culture. So it is in France that one may find pinball machines in many places, American brands of cigarettes readily available in most Tabacs, and the French have long had an affection for American cars which may often be seen on the roads in France.

As for the title of this piece, yes, hot dogs are a popular snack and easily found in France.  And yes, the snack is known, probably to the great distress of the guardian of the French language, L'Académie Française, as "Le Hot Dog" and not "Le chien chaud." (Curiously, football is known as "Le Foot").

These reflections led me to investigate the subject of the hot dog.  As a snack sold in a roll, its origins have been the subject of some debate and argument, but reading the excellent site Hot Dog City reveals that the snack first appeared some time around the middle of the 19th century. The historical section of the site contains the following excellent paragraph:

The year, 1893, was an important date in hot dog history. In Chicago that year, the Colombian Exposition brought hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. People liked this food that was easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive. Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus at Roosevelt University, says the Germans always ate the dachshund sausages with bread. Since the sausage culture is German, it is likely that Germans introduced the practice of eating the dachshund sausages, which we today know as the hot dog, nestled in a bun.

"Hot dog historian", wonderful. The site also tells us that in US stores alone (excluding Wal-Mart) in 2007, 740,000,000 packages of hot dogs were sold.  Big business indeed since this excludes the millions sold at sporting events.

As one might expect, Wikipedia has an excellent piece on this toothsome subject, a piece that includes a picture of the world record hot dog - all 60 metres of it:

Source: Wikipedia

The hot dog is especially associated (or so I believe) with Baseball; and I have here an excellent and amusing video all about a hot dog launcher developed by the Hatfield company and used at the Philadelphia baseball ground.  High technology in action.





Makes me feel quite peckish!

Until the next time

Couldn't Resist This one

Apropos Sudan etc.

This cartoon is quite poignant I think:

Source: Boston Globe

Until the next time

Saturday 22 November 2008

An Islamic Twerp Raises his Profile

A short while ago I mentioned in a post about various Islamic brutalities and nonsense, one repulsive individual who rejoices in the name "Sheikh" Abdirahim Isse Adow.


Mmm, nice!
"Mr Whippy"  Image source: here

Yes this is Somalia's "Mr Whippy", if this does not seem too light-hearted for a bigoted, misguided, anachronistic, misanthropic, muslim barbarian.  Well, he has raised his head - and beard - once again.

Adow is very upset that the pirates who seem to have an easy time in hopeless Somalia, have hijacked what the cretin calls a "muslim" ship.  I wouldn't want a "muslim" ship to carry my $100,000,000-worth of oil: not much use to have a ship that turns around and faces Mecca three times a day!

Anyway he is referring to the Saudi-Arabian oil-tanker, hi-jacked last week by the pirates.  He says that the hi-jacking of a muslim ship (sic) is much more serious than the hi-jacking of any other ship, and in consequence says that his revolting followers will deal with the pirates.

With whips perhaps?  I should like to know if the Koran, as interpreted by Adow, deems that hi-jacking a "muslim" ship is naughtier than ladies and gentlemen dancing together.

It seems that this may be more complex than the "sheikh" imagines, since it is said that some of the worthy, god-fearing, upright islamites are sharing the spoils with the pirates (as are, by some accounts certain elements of what passes for the Somali government).

Quel bordel!

For some reason, this reminds me of a recent item in Private Eye, which reported how a police chief in Ghana was unable to explain how 2 tonnes of cocaine "disappeared" from his police headquarters...

Quel bordel!

Until the next time


Thursday 20 November 2008

$7,000,000,000

I have been following with great interest the ups and downs of the world economic situation since the trouble began a few months ago. This has introduced me, as no doubt it has many, many others, to enormous numbers, by which I mean brobdignagian sums of money.

The seven billion dollars in my title seems almost pathetically small in comparison to some of the trillions that are reported almost daily in the financial and business pages of the media.

Well, this "pathetically small" sum has been called for by the United Nations, as aid to four African countries. Readers of this blog will know that I have written in connexion with three of these so-called states; the fourth, which ludicrously includes the word "democratic" in its official name, today makes its debut in these pages.

First we have Sudan, whose president, one Omar al-Bashir is wanted for trial on genocide charges. Basher's régime has been very busy over the last few years, raping and murdering the people of the Darfur region. Curiously the African forces sent there to prevent this have been very ineffective.


Next up, and also in East Africa, we have the shambles of Somalia, in the news headlines as home to large number of pirates who are very busy off the coast hijacking vessels for ransom. Somalia is also notable for its cretinous islamic fundamentalists, mentioned here just a few days ago.



Unlike the two above, this one is not islamic, but given the disgraceful governance and brutality that prevails there, the proverbial visitor from Mars might be inclined to think the reverse. Yes, it's "Doctor" Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, a particularly disgraceful case, for whilst the two above have never achieved much, Zimbabwe (or really Rhodesia) was the most successful economy in Africa. Thanks to the inspired leadership the country is now an economic ruin.  The Zimbabwe government's website is still available.  A visit to the section  of the Ministry of Finance offers inflation statistics; unfortunately the last entry was for April 2005, at which point inflation was running at 129.1%...  The Finance Ministry offers an informative mission statement: "To effectively facilitate sustainable, socio-economic development, in consultation with stakeholders, through efficient mobilisation and allocation of resources to achieve macro-economic stability in Zimbabwe." So much for that.


And finally to the newcomer, which calls itself "The Democratic Republic of Congo." I suppose that if the population actually voted for a government whose troops instead of defending the people, rape, murder and pîllage the citizens, then I suppose it is democratic. Henceforth I shall refer to the country as Congo. It is there that enormous misery has been caused by the rebellious activities of one "General Laurent Nkunda" who appears to be at least as brutal as the government troops. To me, for whom Africa is nearly always very depressing, it appears that as usual, this war's causes are tribal in origin. 3000 additional UN Peacekeepers are to be sent. I should like such international forces to be given proper rules of engagement, so that when the opportunity arises they can blow away these scum.

So: four countries, all a complete mess. To me the time is long past when "colonial guilt" should apply (despite Mugabe's rantings) but once again the rest of the world must take care of the innocent. After all, contrast these sorry tales with say India; Africa, so rich in natural resources has had many chances and stupendous sums of aid, much of which has ended up in the numbered offshore bank accounts of the pirates who run many of the countries in the continent. 

I find it difficult to hope for much improvement whilst belief in witchdoctors is widespread together with all kinds of other barbaric superstitions - which merely serve to enable the bandits to stay in power to the great disadvantage of the people.

Until the next time

**Source of flag images: Flags.com

Monday 17 November 2008

"Realeconomik"

Yes, that's right: policies that address the real world!

Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA is renowned as a resort, and well known for its gambling facilities as well as other entertainments, sports etc.  The city was, I imagine, proud to have introduced a total smoking ban in its casinos just seven months ago.

As is the case elsewhere in the world, banning smoking meant effectively banning customers too. For the city, the current economic crisis has proved to have been a bit of a wake-up call and the City Council has relaxed the ban to the extent of permitting the casinos to install "ventilated smoking lounges away from the tables" according to this article in the Daily Telegraph.

To an inveterate smoker such as myself, I think a "ventilated smoking lounge" is a long way from my idea of say, a proper poker game!

Until the next time

"Newspeak" in Russia Today

As time and life go by, my respect for George Orwell increases.

His wonderful concept of "Newspeak" that he introduced in "1984" is alive and well in Russia in 2008.

In Putin's Russia, bad news is evidently not acceptable according to the Daily Telegraph which reported on a survey of public attitudes to the Russian economy yesterday:

 "And sure enough, at a time when their country is locked in its worst financial crisis in a decade, they [The Russian people] are more optimistic about the economy than they have ever been. According to opinion polls, 57 per cent reckon it is flourishing, up from 53 per cent in July.

The survey's findings are a triumph for the state, proving that the Kremlin has not lost its touch when it comes to manipulating fact. Obeying orders from the top, Russian television has banned the use of words such as "crisis", "decline" and "devaluation. "

Soon no doubt, official policy will be that belief in fairies is mandatory!

One could I suppose,  characterise recent Russian history in Orwellian terms: 

From Animal Farm to 1984 in twenty years!

Until the next time


Sunday 16 November 2008

Strictly Come Dancing? I think Not

Alternative title:
THE BARBARIC, THE TRAGICOMICAL & THE COURAGEOUS.

I hate once again to give you a rant, but once again here it is! It is about those wonderful, progressive, humanitarian peoples, full of the milk of human kindness, tolerance and generosity, guided (so they say) by their holy book.

My alternative title is inspired by the fact that this piece is based on three recent news items, as usual taken from the International Herald Tribune.

The first item, splendidly illustrating how holy men can provide comfort and support for populations in struggling countries, comes from Somalia. There, 32 people, 25 women and 7 men foolishly decided to take part in a traditional dance. In consequence, they were all whipped.

"We arrested 25 women and seven men who were dancing near Balad (town). We released them after whipping them. We warned them many times, but they wouldn't listen," he told Reuters.

"The dancing of men and women together is illegal and totally against Islam. We neither killed them nor injured them, but only whipped them according to the Islamic law."

Thus spake one Sheikh Adow, a fine example of Islamic fundamentalism. A bullet in the back of the Sheikh's head would, I think, improve conditions in that locality. What a miserable example he is! "We neither killed nor injured them, but only whipped them..." Arsehole.

By an amusing coincidence, the second story concerns dancing too. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, is apparently Vice-President of Iran and he is in big trouble. Mr Mashaie is responsible for Culture and Tourism and presumably in connnexion with his official role, attended a ceremony in which women in traditional dress carried a copy of the Koran (the Islamic bible if you didn't know) accompanied by music. This has been described as a "dance" and is viewed as being very naughty indeed. There are calls for the Vice-President's resignation. Sounds very moderate to me; perhaps they'll not injure him - just give him a little whipping? Next time perhaps the women will carry a copy of the Satanic Verses or Plato's Republic - or even Tom Jones (!) instead.

Finally my third item shows real courage which I can only boggle at. I should say that I am well aware that sitting here in the West at my keyboard, it is easy to be "brave"; the story of Shamsia in Afghanistan puts all of us bloggers to shame.

Shamsia, a 17-year-old schoolgirl at Kandahar, was in a group of girls who were attacked by some of those fearless servants of Allah and Mohammed. No doubt inspired by the Koran, they ripped off the girls' headscarves and threw acid into their faces. Shamsia is made of stern stuff; covered in ointment and with one eye damaged she said:

"I'll continue going to lessons. I'm studying to be able to build our country."

In Afghanistan where the appalling Taliban who were most likely responsible for this fine holy act, hold sway over much of the country, Shamsia has great courage to speak out thus. I wish her every success.

Until the next time.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Free Speech: President Sarkozy Eats Babies!













                                                                                                                                                                     
It is reasonable for a reader to ask whatever prompted me to compose the eccentric headline above.

Well I am simply exercising my right to free speech, supposedly guaranteed by the United Nations, The European Union, and by all the countries that subscribed to the Helsinki accord.

You could argue that by making such a childish statement (sorry for the pun) I am abusing my right of free speech; of course it was inspired by the nonsense propaganda that circulated in England during the First World War concerning Kaiser Wilhelm II.  Further than this the real prompt was quite another matter.

A friend has sent me a news item from PCinpact.com concerning an appointment at the Elysée Palace - the official residence of the President of the Republic of France.  The appointee is a 24-year-old, Nicolas Princen by name; he was appointed last March.

His function? To monitor blogs, websites etc. for "false rumours and misinformation" concerning le Président de la République.  The Elysée helpfully commented that it is quite normal for the République to monitor such things, as it does with press and radio etc.  Apparently there is no plan for a particular course of action in the event of abusive content: the function of this office is merely to inform...

However the plot thickens.  The French Ministry of Education has issued an invitation to tender for further monitoring, including identifying the themes and assessing the likely impact and many other criteria, including "locating the opinion leaders" and "to alert and make recommendations."

Now on the face of it this doesn't seem so terrible, but having reported British plans connected with the Internet, let us say that I am at least sceptical if not downright suspicious.

So I shall just wait and see if my silly headline causes panic at the Elysée...

And by the way, it's not just the politicians and departments of state: a while back I wrote a piece about the Raytheon drone "Killer Bee." And the very same day, I found that my blog had been visited by someone in the corporate offices of Raytheon itself; my hopes that I had a new loyal supporter in high places were dashed however, as I do not think they have ever come back for another look at all the wonderful stuff I post here.  So disappointing...

Until the next time