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!

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Is that all there is?

Peggy Lee famously recorded the Leiber and Stoller song whose title I have borrowed for this piece.

Here she is in 1969:

Some might find the lyric a little corny, but I think it is a great trigger for reflection.

Those of you who are similarly stimulated by this fine performance may start wondering how long you have to go.

Naturally, life insurance companies are extremely interested in this point and to this end elaborate computer models have been developed to enable them to be sure that they are not paying out a penny more than they have to (and most likely a good deal less!)

So for the curious and brave amongst you, here is a site which will help you determine your likely life-span. There are several available but this one at least raises a little smile before giving you the bad news!

Until the next time
(If there is a next time)

Sunday 17 January 2010

Nuclear Matters

I have been meaning to post on this subject for a couple of weeks, but lack of attention and problems with BLOGGER have delayed me somewhat. Actually the delay has helped because I remembered a jolly song about the elements (including the transuranic ones) composed and performed by Tom Lehrer which makes a nice complement.

The inspiration was reading a piece on Wired.com all about the potential of thorium as a much more acceptable nuclear fuel than are uranium or plutonium. The writer of the article gives some interesting background material as to why research into thorium was halted as the USA proceeded with research into U-235 and plutonium. Well worth reading and if the hypothesis is correct, then maybe we'll be able to get the cheap electricity that we were promised in the 1950s! (though I doubt it personally given the greed of the electricity companies).

In fact it seems that India, with reportedly 25% of the world's thorium reserves, is moving forward quite rapidly in this technology. Whilst it's true that there is no free lunch, it does appear that there is a number of advantages to using thorium.

As a reward for reading the above, here as promised , is Tom Lehrer's little song accompanied by an interesting video accompaniment.

Until the next time

Friday 15 January 2010

"Pigeon Impossible"

An excellent animated video offered as a Friday divertissement.

Until the next time

Chinese Cyber Attacks

Yesterday I mentioned that Google had reported a "massive cyber attack" that took place last December and which originated in China.

More has been reported today on this subject. The report from The Daily Telegraph, includes the following:

[Advised not to go to a Human Rights Conference] He added that in two other cases he had innocently asked public security officials: “How did you know that? I have not told anyone” and was told: “Who do you think we are?”


However, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Affairs ministry said that “Chinese laws prohibit any form of cyber attacks including hacking.”

Once again in the words of the immortal Mandy Rice-Davies "They would say that wouldn't they?"

I am absolutely convinced of the honesty of the last statement, but I do not see what that has to do with the issue under discussion!

Until the next time.

Thursday 14 January 2010

HTM Hell (Part N)

Ha ha!!

It's crazy isn't it? I have made three posts this evening so far and bingo! The links are back in the colour I selected last night whilst trying to correct the self-induced problem. I swear that I have done absolutely nothing except make a few posts.

How an enormous global industry can function with such a useless crackpot and unreliable system is entirely beyond my comprehension.

Until the next time (if HTM Hell lets me)

EDIT; I don't believe it! They've gone back to dark blue. HTM Hell is obviously reading this blog Grrrr

This is too much: I posted my edit and they've turned back again - this time what will happen??

Google News

The first "news" is that the rash of post on this blog is the outcome of a log-jam caused by recurrent problems with Google's "Blogger" which of course hosts this blog and millions of others.

Meanwhile, the French, who have great difficulty in digesting the fact that the Internet, although invented by an Englishman (Tim Berners-Lea) is largely dominated by the USA. The latest crackpot idea from France is a "Google Tax". The report in the Daily Telegraph includes the following:

"Besides Google, the tax would target other large [non-French!]operators in Europe such as Microsoft and Yahoo! whether or not their offices are in France. Google's European headquarters are in Ireland, but under the proposal, the operator would pay a levy every time a French internet user clicks on an advertising banner or sponsored link on its sites."

The article adds:

"Guillaume Cerutti, one of the authors of the report said the tax would put an end to "enrichment without any limit or compensation"."

One always thinks of the old saying "Not invented here" when reading about such French initiatives.

Google is so vast, powerful and influential, that inevitably certain people are apt to spot some sort of global conspiracy. As a result the concept of the "Google Toilet has been born:

Well, a little exaggeration is always good for a smile isn't it?

Finally, following a massive cyber attack which apparently originated in China, Google after demonstrating for over three years great patience with the very proscriptive Chinese Republic, has announced that it will no longer censor its output. This of course means that its presence in China will shortly come to an end - at least on the face of it although I read somewhere today of a very low-key response from China. Perhaps, just perhaps, Google is big enough to influence even the vast Republic of China itself?

We shall of course see.

Until the next time


With the news of the terrible earthquake that has struck, following last year's hurricanes, there seems to be no limit to the ghastliness that the poor people of Haiti must endure.

It is heartwarming to see the massive efforts being made by numerous countries to help the suffering people in Haiti and to try address the appalling chaos that prevails there.

Situated as it is on a fault line and exposed as well to hurricanes, one would think that Haiti is indeed most unfortunate. For it to have had to put up with appalling regimes on top of these natural problems - I think in particular of the disgusting "Papa Doc Duvalier" and his revolting fat slob of a son as examples - is little short of fantastic.

Murderer "Papa Doc" Duvalier, with his fat slob of a son

For those interested in reading further about the appalling Duvaliers, this link is an excellent start. Meanwhile, "Baby Doc" (born 1951) lives in Paris; to me this should be a gross embarrassment to the Republic of France. Since he has lived in France since 1986, obviously the embarrassment is insufficent to encourage the French to throw him out. Pity.

My sympathies remain with the long-suffering Haitian population.

Until the next time

HTM Hell Again

Apologies for the dark blue links; these have appeared spontaneously thanks to the usual problem I have with HTML.

I posted my last article and as quite often happens, I was advised that there were errors in the HTML! Why? I had nothing to do with HTML (I know better than to interfere with this nightmare).

Anyway, after i had deleted all the so-called bad scripts, bingo! The HTML is buggered up.

Regrettably I can do nothing except hope, that as before the blasted thing puts itself right.

Until the next time.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Film Stuff

I admit it: I am a misfit.

When I was a boy, I would, like my friends, go to the "pictures" as films or "movies" (ugh) were known at the time in England. In those days, at least in my circle, a film was usually defined by the principal actor and/or actress appearing in it e.g. "Have you seen the new John Wayne film?".

I can remember my first date: the girl's name was Diana Terry and we went to see a Gregory Peck film called "The Counterfeit Traitor." The date was a wash-out incidentally, though I do not think that Mr Peck, his supporting cast or even the director of the film (whoever he might have been) were in any way responsible for the disappointment.

At some time in succeeding years I became aware that films began (or so it seemed to me) to be identified by the name of the Director. I simply do not understand this business; I suppose that there are people who without prior knowledge, could possibly know who directed a particular film, rather as a Master of Wine could perhaps identify a year or vineyard etc. at a wine tasting. I think of a Director as a bloke with a canvas folding chair with his name on the back, a pair of riding-breeches and one of those telescope-type things around his neck. God knows what (generally) he does.

I have my favourite films of course, a number of which I have watched many times; in some cases I can name the director, but to me this is more or less a duty these days!

Anyway, one of my favourites is "The Third Man" which starred Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard and of course, its Director Orson Welles. At Christmas time I saw a documentary in two parts about Welles, and began to realise why he made such good films - that is films I enjoy.

The experience prompted me to research Welles on the Internet and whilst doing so came upon some quotes from another Director one Ingemar Bergman. Here is his opinion of Welles:

"For me he's just a hoax. It's empty. It's not interesting. It's dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of — is all the critics' darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it's a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie's got is absolutely unbelievable." Source

I once saw one of Mr Bergman's films. It was dull, depressing, unintelligible rubbish and very boring, even Truffaut's "Last Metro" (one that made little or no sense) wasn't as bad; I suppose that Bergman is to films what Pinter is to plays.

Anyway the same source provides more quotes from Bergman. The next I offer is profoundly precious and makes the man a worthy candidate for Private Eye's 'Pseuds Corner':

"I don't watch my own films very often. I become so jittery and ready to cry."

Well Mr Bergman, I felt like crying too when I wasted a couple of hours on one of your efforts.

He is interesting though on Antonioni ("Blow Up" being one of my favourites):

He's done two masterpieces, you don't have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up, which I've seen many times, and the other is La Notte, also a wonderful film, although that's mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection I have a copy of Il Grido, and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade... He concentrated on single images, never realising that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don't feel anything for L'Avventura, for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded. And I thought his muse Monica Vitti was a terrible actress

I do think though that he is profoundly out of order in using the adjective "boring" - to me he wrote the book on boring!

Until the next time.

Sunday 3 January 2010

The Best Job in the World


And a happy new year to you all.

You might recall that about six months ago, a young Englishman won a world-wide competition for "The Best Job in the World." The competition was organised by the Australian state of Queensland, the idea being to promote tourism in the region.

The job involved living in a luxury house on an island, fooling about swimming etc., and writing some blog articles on the subject. For this, Mr Southall was paid $110,000. Sadly close to the end of his six-month engagement, Mr Southall received a very nasty sting from a tiny jellyfish.

Quite apart from the jellyfish, which sounds most unpleasant, I have to say that whilst living in a luxury house anywhere is extremely attractive, I could never imagine myself at any age, being cast in the rôle of the rather hyper-active Mr Southall.

Ben Southall
Image source

No: someone else has my dream job!

This lucky individual is Paul Lahmiesc; his job? To lie all day on a bed in a shop in Rome as a publicity stunt. How nice! Unfortunately, even were the job to be vacant, just as I could not (at any age) hope to compete with Mr Southall, I could not, for different reasons, and again, at any age, hope to compete with Mr Lahmiesc. He is very good-looking and has a fine head of hair to boot!

Paul Lahmiesc
Image source
Oh well, back to reality for me. Perhaps I'll win the lottery by way of compensation - no, wait - I said "reality"...

Ho hum!

Until the next time