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.


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I mentioned in my last post that I am a guitar-player; sadly no longer active, I did make my living as a player for eight years or so.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


No more gardening for a while.


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


Jim's back is bad again.


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,


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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