30 April 2010

Photo Hunt - Against a dark background

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is black. I always try to get a black background to my macro photos as it provides a good contrast to the subject. This time the soil provides the background to a crab spider in transit between flowers. It does not spin a web but sits inside flowers waiting for insect to drop in.

Watchful Robyn

The patriarch out and about

Photinia blossom

The Photinia tree (shrub?) in our garden is in blossom.

29 April 2010

Grape Hyacinth II

Meanwhile in Iran the next target is suntanned women

Finding things to post about the fanatical idiots who run Iran is like shooting fish in a barrel. Now, according to the Telegraph,, a national crackdown on opposition sympathisers would be extended to women who have been deemed to be violating the spirit of Islamic laws.

Senior Tehran police officer Brigadier Hossien Sajedinia said “women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins. We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

The announcement came shortly after Ayatollah Kazim Sadighi, a leading cleric,
warned that women who dressed immodestly disturbed young men and the consequent agitation caused earthquakes. Another preacher warned Tehran's citizens to flee before the inevitable punishment for flagrant behaviour was visited on the city.

"Go on the streets and repent for your sins," Ayatollah Aziz Khoshvaqt, one of the country's highest clerics, told worshippers during a recent sermon in northern Tehran. "A holy torment is upon us. Leave town."

Ach as ever the real blight on Iran is the rabble of misogynistic religious fanatics. Sustained repression over recent months has crushed protests but I am sure that it is only for now (causing scum like George Galloway and Seumas Milne to cum in their Stalinist pants)). The protestors’ time will come, that is certain.

28 April 2010

First bloom on the Tree Paeony

Warmer days are ahead when our species Tree Paeony (Paeonia lutea var.ludlowii)

Simulacrum ad absurdam

We’ve seen Jesus appear on may items including kitchen utensils and a terrier’s arse but it’s time for the Saviour to have a rest and let a mere mortal get in on the act.

According to the Wakefield Express Rich Rigby hurt his leg when he came off his motorbike. He escaped the accident with just a hurt knee, which swelled to an unusual shape due to titanium plates he had in his leg following a football injury in 2001. It was only at the pub, that friends started saying they could see the face of his favourite footballer Wayne Rooney.

"All his facial features were there, you could see his small ears, nose and he even had a beard like the real Rooney." He said

Mr Rigby said he hoped the bizarre swelling was a sign that Manchester United would win the Premier League and that Rooney would have a cracking World Cup for England.

And I thought it was Shrek.....

Forget Me Not II

Taken in my front garden (such as it is)

27 April 2010

Death of a good samaritan

Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax was stabbed at about 7:20 a.m. on April 18 as he tried to help a woman being threatened by a knife-wielding man.

Surveillance video from an apartment building captured Tale-Yax chasing the attacker before collapsing on the sidewalk.

Both the woman and attacker fled.

Over the next hour and 20 minutes, more than 25 people walked by and did nothing.

By the time paramedics arrived, it was too late and Tale-Yax was dead.

Most ignored him.

Some stared at him lying on the pavement.

One person even took a picture with his cell phone.

Another man rolled him over, exposing his bloody stab wounds, but then he walked away.

This took place in Queens, New York but it could have happened anywhere. No one place has the monopoly on the bad side of human nature.

I only hope that the people who passed Take-Yax by do not meet the same fate


26 April 2010

Oh dear what a shame, never mind

Spain’s most charismatic and popular bullfighter, José Tomás, was put into intensive care in Mexico after being badly gored by a fighting bull in the town of Aguascalientes.

A half-tonne bull caught Tomas in his upper thigh and dug his horn deep by raising its head before flicking him up into the air. The horn had penetrated 15cm (6in) into the bullfighter's thigh, damaging veins and arteries and causing a huge loss of blood.

The newspaper El País said Tomás's injury was so serious that the bullring doctors who first operated on him did not have time to anaesthetise him.

No tears to be shed for Tomas. He went into the ring to torture and kill a bull. The bull managed to put paid to that idea. Serves the macho arsehole right

Garden at Dusk

forget me not

25 April 2010

Music as rebellion - Burma

Stand up to a brutal regime and most times the regime will knock you down and then kick you repeatedly while you are down. This is something that has been seen time and again in Burma. One day the people will rise and the junta will be swept away. Until then rebellion is wherever you can make it.

According to a recent Guardian article It would seem that hip-hop is providing a subterranean vehicle for quiet, yet significant, dissent among Burmese youth. THis is the case fir artist Thxa Soe.

Burma has a history of protest music. Traditional known as thangyat, were once used to air grievances, both small, against neighbours, and large, against authority. Following the 1988 student uprising, however, the music was banned outright by the ruling military junta.

But hip-hop's fluid lyrics wrapped in rhymes and youthful argot make it a perfect modern format for subtly spreading an anti-authoritarian message. Thxa Soe is one of Burma's leading hip-hop stars, and one of its most outspoken. He first heard hip-hop as a student at the SAE Institute in London, instantly admiring the quicksilver rhymes and daring lyrics of Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

But he also had an interest in the traditional music of his homeland, and began researching the hundreds of documents held in the UK. "In the British Library, I discovered these traditional songs, [with] original Burmese-language lyrics, that nobody had performed for hundreds of years. They were taken from Burma in the 1780s. Many songs that people had never heard."

He began combining the two art forms, meshing the ancient melodies with computer-generated beats, and near-forgotten Burmese-language words with his own modern lyrics. "I like, and people like, the freedom of hip-hop. There is not much freedom in rock, but in hip-hop you have freedom to express, express your ideas. And this is our hip-hop, for Burmese. I have too many words, not only me, too many teenagers have too much to say. Because our country is a very closed country, and the older people have a closed mind, a concentrated mind."

The 29-year-old flew under the junta's radar with his first album, but he is now a victim of its success. Its popularity has meant he is closely watched by the government censors. Outright criticism of the government is forbidden, but he skates close to the edge of what is acceptable in the junta's eyes, and his songs are regularly banned.

Thxa Soe says he has chosen to stay in Burma, despite the risks, because he sees his voice as important in his homeland. "It is very difficult being a musician in Myanmar. You are not free. You are always being watched, for what you say, and you are being told what you can say and what you cannot. [But] I believe music can change a country, not only our country, but the whole world."

And there are others in Burma finding an outlet for dissent in music. A group known as Generation Wave, its exact membership unknown, secretly records and distributes anti-government albums across the country, dropping them at the tea shops that are the social hubs for Burma's underground political network.They write songs such as Wake Up, a call for young people to join the pro-democracy movement, and Khwin Pyu Dot May (Please Excuse Me), the story of a young man asking his mother's permission to join the struggle.

Most of its members keep their identities a secret, after high-profile member Zayar Thaw was jailed for six years for forming an illegal organisation. But the threat of prison has not stopped Burma's young flocking to the group, as fans and as members.

"We welcome young people to participate in our movement against the regime," a performer known only as YG says. "Our songs honour mothers and revolutionists. We want young people to be active and interested in politics. Every youngster can be an activist."

I have little to add but to wish Thxa Soe and his fellow musicians the very best of wishes and hope that they can contribute in some way to the end of the junta

Grape Hyacinth

Freight train

What a delightful duo

Oldish news I know but last week Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took a trip to visit one of his firmest friends (apart from Hugo Chavez that is).

The visit did not go down well with everyone. Morgan Tsvangirai condemned it as "a colossal political scandal" and "an insult to the peace-loving people of Zimbabwe and Iran".

The MDC statement on the visit was scathing about his visit: "His visit will definitely send a wrong message about the kind of company that we keep at a time when the people of Africa and the rest of the world have begun to see us as a nation working hard to restore democracy and good governance."

It added that while the Ahmadinejad would be "wining and dining" in Zimbabwe, nine opposition activists in Iran faced death sentences for contesting the outcome of last year's presidential election.

"Choice of friends defines character and inviting the Iranian strongman to an investment forum is like inviting a mosquito to cure malaria.”

How very true

24 April 2010

Off to the pub

Been busy today and now am off for a beer. Enjoy Flann O Brien on a pint of plain...

Atomic Theory via a vis the bicycle

Make of this interpretation of one of the highlights of Flann O'Brien's prose what you will!

23 April 2010

Photo Hunt - Big Pigeon

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is paranoia.

Here is Big Pigeon.
Big Pigeon lives in London.
Big Pigeon watches people.
Big Pigeon watches me
Big Pigeon has a plan
Big Pigeon will not diclose his plan
Big Pigeon just watches
Big Pigeon waits
Big Pigeon is watching me....

Damn the theme is addiction not paranoia! Ah well I didn't have any addiction photos anyway!

Can't visit tonight Will be visiting tomorrow or Saturday

Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen

Robyn is elated at being 81 in cat years

Today England celebrates.....

...the feast day of the patron saint of syphilitics

Celebrate or don't celebrate, whichever is your choice... nobody's forcing you one way ot the other

22 April 2010

Schwarzwalderkirschtortegate: in court tomorrow

Dave Osler is one of three bloggers to face libel proceedings from Tower Hamlets Tory Johanna Kaschke.

Dave is in court tomorrow. A pre trial review an application notes will be heard in the High Court of Justice at 1030.

If you are unfamiliar with the case here is a brief summary from an earlier post:

In 2007 Kaschke nominated herself as Labour candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow but she received just one vote. Shortly after she defected to the Respect party then a little later to an unnamed Communist Party. Not long after she became a Conservative. This is a matter of record. However, Kaschke contends that listing her affiliations denies her the right to freedom of association under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court case will also be asked to decide whether calling her 'one cherry short of a Schwarzwalderkirschtorte'. Is libellous. This was not written by Dave Osler but by a person leaving a comment on his blog.

Clearly this is an idiotic case brought by someone who might need to have her sanity tested. I hope the case is given the regard it deserves and is struck out tomorrow.


A shed load of microbes!

I have reported before on the ongoing Census of Marine Life which has turned up many strange and wonderful denizens of our oceans

One thing that is surprising, even if it should not be so, is the amount of microbial life in the seas.

According to an item on Phenomenica the census estimated there are somewhere in the order of a "nonillion" — or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 — individual microbial cells in the oceans, weighing as much as 240 billion African elephants.

Wow! I suppose that is a hell of a lot of tuskers.....

21 April 2010

The last leader of Argentina’s Junta gets 25 years

The Times reports today that Reynaldo Bignone, Argentina’s last dictator, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses, including kidnappings, torture and murder committed during the country’s “Dirty War”

Bignone, 82, served as Argentina's de facto president between 1982 and 1983. He was convicted with five other former military officers for ordering the torture of dissidents at the Campo de Mayo army base, a clandestine interrogation camp, in the late 1970s. Of the 4,000 political prisoners incarcerated at the prison, only 50 emerged alive.The military also ran a secret maternity unit where dissidents who gave birth had their babies taken away to be adopted by army families

Relatives of victims of the military regime held up photos of their loved ones and cheered as the judge handed down the ruling. “Like with the Nazis, wherever they run, wherever they go, we will find them,” some chanted.

General Bignone, who is currently under house arrest, has been ordered to serve out his sentence in a civilian prison but is likely to appeal on grounds of ill health.

Better justice comes late than never at all. Luckily for him he will not face that which many thousands faced at his hands

Dog track from a dirty window

I'm sure Philip Zec would have seen the BNP in a similar light

Phlip Zec was a political cartoonist who pulled no punches. THis is how he viewed the Nazis then.. If he was still with us there would be no doubt that his view on the BNP would be equally caustic. The BNP may wear suits but they are still violent thugs at heart.

20 April 2010

Off seeing Robyn Hitchcock here's an office

Somewhere in London

An excuse for some Nick and Kylie

My post blow about Sabrina Sidney, made me think.. Eliza Doolittle, Eliza... Thomas Day, Day... Eliza, Day, Eliza Day... Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue, where the wild roses grow and there you have it.. an excuse for my favourite song featuring Kylie Minogue!

Making the earth move makes the earth move

If you want to hear a cleric make an idiotic statement about people’s actions resulting in natural disasters then all you have to do is wait. Floods are inevitably God’s wrath against gays and so on..... Now it seems that it is painted hussies inciting extramarital sex that cause earthquakes in Iran.

Last weekAyatollah Kazem Sedighi told worshippers at Tehran that: "Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes...Calamities are the result of people's deeds, We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers."

The Islamic dress code is mandatory in Iran. This means that all women and post-pubescent girls must cover her hair and bodily contours in public. This does not stop many women from pushing the rules as far as they can, wearing makeup, shorter, fitted manteaus and smaller head scarves.

Clearly women who flout laws incite more sex, during which (in some cases) the earth moves. The more people making the earth move, the more chance of an earthquake. Iran is seismically active so it is therefore feasible that additional, sexually generated , ground vibrations could indeed induce motion in the faults. It is therefore clear that people in all seismically active areas should refrain from sex forthwith. Any Jezebels luring innocent men into actions that could lead to an earthquake must be stoned immediately for the good of the nation. I will personally ensure that all such women are stoned forthwith by importing some finest skunk!

Believe that and you will believe anything! Some people are full of shit, Clerics (along with politicians, ad execs, management consultants, estate agents and newspaper columnists) seem to be over-represented in this category.

19 April 2010


Penguin Group Australia has had to reprint 7,000 copies of a book called the Pasta Bible last week after a recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto suggested a rather unwelcome ingredient.

The recipe called for the dish to be seasoned with "salt and freshly ground black people" instead of black pepper.

The reprint cost A$20,000 ($18,000; £12,000), but stock in bookshops will not be recalled as it is "extremely hard" to do so, Penguin said.

I can see a proof reader getting their arse kicked over that one!

The real Eliza?

I can’t say I am a fan of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion but I can say, thought, is that I intensely dislike the musical My Fair Lady (Just not a big fan of musicals at all, one or two excepted). What I certainly can’t say is that I had no idea that there was a real tale behind the story of the Belgian-Cockney flower girl who was groomed so that she could pass muster in high society.

The true story of Sabrina Sidney, the English girl behind the myth of creating the perfect bride, is to be told for the first time in a book at the centre of a publishers' bidding war. Author Wendy Moore, is negotiating a British publishing deal for How to Create the Perfect Wife which details how Sabrina was taken out of poverty in 1769 and trained up to become the ideal partner for a gentleman.

The Professor Higgins character in real life was philanthropist and poet Thomas Day (see above). Born in 1748, Day was a man of independent means and modern ideas. He was heavily influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and in particular by his book Emile (1761-62) which contained revolutionary ideas about the power of education. He was also a supporter of the anti-slavery movement and advocated American independence.

Having been rejected as a suitor by a friend's sister at the age of 21, Day decided to make a perfect woman for himself. He visited foundling hospitals and adopted two young girls, one brunette and one blonde, he thought suitable for training. He named the 11-year-old Sabrina, and the second, who was 12, Lucretia.Taking them to France, the trio lived together until Sidney dropped Lucretia, his spare, for being either "invincibly stupid, or impossibly stubborn". She was apprenticed to a London milliner and later married a linen-draper.

"He kept Sabrina on though, and taught her how to read and all about science," said Moore. "At 17 she was described as being a very beautiful, very refined lady – not that this was what Day wanted." Day's preference was for simple, obedient girls. "He liked plump, white arms, and women who dressed very plainly and covered up their ankles. He wanted her to be hardy and completely subservient," said Moore.

Giving up on the project in 1771, Sabrina was sent off to boarding school. When she left school Day gave her an allowance.. She made friends everywhere and at 26 she married Thomas Bicknell: Day gave her a dowry of £500 and a wry blessing: "I do not refute my consent to your marrying Mr Bicknell; but remember you have not asked my advice." Within a decade she was left a widow with two small sons and then became housekeeper to the family of Fanny Burney's brother Charles. Here she stayed, loved and respected, until her old age.

Day did finally marry a "paragon", Esther Milnes, an heiress from Chesterfield. They settled on a small estate in Essex and Esther was never allowed to contact her family.

Well there you have it...

The sky is still blue in my world

16 April 2010

Photo Hunt Covered

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is covered, Here are a couple of photos ofour incinerator which of course has a lid to cover it. I like that fire shoots out of the hole n the cover.

Ted - Lord of?

Ted would be nonchalant anywhere

15 April 2010

Well endowed abs or well endowed?

The crucifix in the church I passed many a boring hour during my childhood was very conventional right down to the nails being in the wrong place... as usual. It never caused any complaints as far as I am aware.

However the same cannot be said for a crucifix in St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Warr Acres which has generated a series of complaints from people who believe it shows Jesus’ genitalia. The controversial hangs over the main altar of

Critics of the crucifix take issue with what appears to be a large penis covering Jesus’ abdominal area. The priest Rev Philip Seeton said the portion of the crucifix in question is meant to be Jesus’ abdomen "showing distension” — not a penis.

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has stated that it has received no complaints about the crucifix. However, numerous current and former church parishioners have apparently expressed outrage at what the describe a "pornographic” depiction of Jesus.

Parishioner Rita Cook said the crucifix is one of many recent decisions by Seeton, who has been at the church since 2008, that longtime parishioners are concerned with. "The crucifix is the straw on the camel’s back,” said Cook, who has attended the church for 35 years. "I think it’s an embarrassment to our Lord. I think it’s an embarrassment to our parishioners. And I think it’s an embarrassment to our visitors.”

Seannene Smith, said."I was horrified.... if I hadn’t been prepared already, I think I would have just been ill.” Smith said she grew more concerned upon learning that students from the neighboring catholic school regularly attend Mass in the church. "I’m already very sensitive because of the pedophilia issue,” Smith said, referencing sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church in recent years.

The crucifix was created by Janet Jaime, a local iconographer known for her religious artwork. It is based on the San Damiano cross, an icon that originated in the 12th Century and is associated with St Francis of Assisi. Her husband Reggie, said his wife will not discuss the crucifix publicly until she meets with officials from the church and Oklahoma City Archdiocese to discuss the controversy it has caused.

He said critics of the crucifix probably aren’t aware of its history and meaning to the Catholic Church."This isn’t just a subjective drawing. This is a historical icon of the church. can’t help what you see in things, or she sees in things, or anyone.”

Me? I saw some well defined abs when I first looked at the pic of the cross.. the sort of stomach you can grate lemon peel on. I suppose it does make Jesus look like he was rather well endowed in the loincloth department but I don’t think that was the intention. I can't speak for what others might see or think

The power of advertising

14 April 2010

Dirty War pilot extradited to Argentina

Back in September I posted an item about the arrest of Transavia pilot Julio Alberto Poch at Valencia airport.

Poch, was a military pilot at Argentina's Naval Mechanics School, a butal torture and detention centre during the Dirty War. He is alleged to have been involved in the so-called "death flights", in which political prisoners of Argentina's military were drugged and dumped into the sea from the planes.

Poch had boasted about hurling drugged prisoners into the River Plate or the Atlantic Ocean during Argentina's Dirty War."He told me that on board his planes, people were thrown into the sea while still alive with the goal of killing them, and he justified the practice by saying that the people were terrorists," one fellow pilot stated.

It is pleasing to report that Spain approved his extradition to Argentina to face charges on Friday.

If this is true then the bastard can rot in jail then rot in hell

Passing strangers III

Ultravox - Passing Strangers

Passing strangers II

13 April 2010

Souad Massi = awham

Passing strangers

People on a train passing the train I was on. Taken at 1/8000sec at f4 at ISO 1600, hence the grain!

Another view from a dirty train window

Niloofar Rahnama - Iranian Artist

Following a recent conversation with my friend Elahe Heidari I have added a new link in my Artists and writers section, the website of a young Iranian artist Niloofar Rahnama. Niloofar is 34 years old and has exhibited hwe works extensively in Iran and also in India.

I am not a great art critic - Don,t ask me to write at length about works I love -I tend to have visceral reactions to art rather than anything cerebral. That said I love Niloofar's work. It is visually striking and utterly beautiful. She is certainly a hugely talented artist. Her website is definitely well worth a visit

12 April 2010

Bishop Giacomo Babini in his own words

Thanks to Modernity I am able to post a transcript of what Babini said. The translation may not be perfect (Not my translation, my Italian is virtually non-existent)but it shows Babini for the vile piece of shit he is.

The Church must seek forgiveness? And for what," asks Bishop Giacomo Babini, Bishop Emeritus of Grosseto.

Eccellenza newspapers and some isolated voices calling the Church a sort of public forgiveness for pedophile priests:

"I think it's time to say enough. forgiveness we have asked too much and we do also to mass every single day. Anglicans think of it, and many of them have decided to become Catholic, now I hope that we board a nice dose of gay. He adds: "pedophilia is a horrible thing and just one event to kick up a fuss, but I am aware that in other denominations and there are proportionally greater than that of the Catholic Church."

But who orchestrated this operation?

"Enemies always cattolicesmo or Freemasons and Jews, and the intertwining of them sometimes is a little easier to understand." "I think it is more ... A Zionist attack, given the power and refinement, they do not want the Church, are natural enemies. After all, historically speaking, the Jews are God-killers. "Now jump," there is little to jump he Scriptures say it nice chiaro.Magari they were unconsciously, have enjoyed the cowardice of Pilate, yes, but are God-killers, the Crucify him have told them and not others. "He states:" Their offense was so serious that Christ premonizzò what would happen with them not weep for me, but for your children.

"What do you mean?"

the Holocaust was a disgrace to humanity, but it should look without rhetoric and with watchful eyes. Do not think that Hitler was just crazy. The truth is that the criminal Nazi fury was unleashed for the excesses and economic mismanagement of the Jews strangling the German economy. A so vehement reaction must even at this, Germany was tired of the harassment of those who practiced usury interest rates. "His speech is not a politically correct" just bad, but it is the duty of bishops to speak clearly, yes, yes, no, no They were God-killers and this does not say Babini, the Gospel says, you deny it or change it?Certainly for goodism you get this too. "States:" Christ is the Redeemer, also died for the salvation of Jews and each and every one of us daily crucify the sin, but from the historical point of view, this was deicide, beautiful and good. "Perhaps there is also the gay lobby:" I do not doubt it, even if they can pull on the Church.

It is things like this that make me glad I turned my back on catholicism over 30 years ago

On a lighter note - the Metric Resistance

From The Big Fat Whale

Catholic child abuse? It was the Jews all along

Not my view I assure you but that allegedly of a retired bishop. Giacomo Babini, the emeritus bishop of Grosseto, is alleged to have said on a website that he believed a "Zionist attack" was behind the criticism of the Vatican’s stance on sex abuse, considering how "powerful and refined" the criticism was.

Allegedly speaking to the spoken to the Catholic website Pontifex, Babini, 81, was quoted as saying: "They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers."
The interview was spotted on Friday by the American Jewish Committee, which said Babini was using "slanderous stereotypes, which sadly evoke the worst Christian and Nazi propaganda prior to world war two".

On its website, the American Jewish Group Committee quoted bishop Vincenzo Paglia, an official at the Italian Bishops' Conference, as saying Babini's remarks were "entirely contrary to the official line and mainstream thought of the Catholic church".

As the interview appeared on Italy's main newspaper sites today, complete with the American reaction, the Bishops' Conference rushed out a statement quoting Babini denying he had ever given the interview in the first place. "Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me," he said.

Babini has previously been quoted on the Pontifex website accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust, as well as criticising homosexuality.

If Babini did say what he hi is alleged to have said then he truly is a vile old throw back who the world is far better off without

11 April 2010

New ancient ancestors?

According to Friday’s Independent a series of well preserved fossilised skeletons found in South Africa and identified are a new ancestral species of hominid that could have been the direct ancestor of humans.

The species lived about 1.9 million years ago, walked on two legs and shared many other human features, but it also retained clear ape-like traits such as very long. Researchers claimed yesterday that the species, named Australopithecus sediba, possesses such a mosaic combination of ape-like and human-like traits that it might belong to the group of "apemen" who evolved into the Homo genus – the human family.

The Homo genus came into existence around two million years ago, possibly evolving from the Australopithecines, that lived in sub-Saharan Africa before this period. However, the paucity of the fossil record for this period in human history has cast doubt on exactly how the ape-to-human transition occurred. Now, however, with the discovery of four skeletons belonging to Australopithecus sediba scientists believe they may have found the immediate ancestor of all subsequent species of Homo, from the primitive species such as Homo erectus and Homo habilis, to the anatomically modern Homo sapiens.

The scientists discovered the first skeleton in 2008 from a pit-like excavation at Malapa, near "I thought it was an antelope fossil but as I walked over to him, five metres away I realised he had a hominid clavicle [collarbone] sticking out of the rock. When I got to the rock and turned it over there was a hominid mandible and canine sticking out of the back," said Professor Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg, the leader of the study.

Although the species has very long forearms like tree-dwelling apes, its hands and fingers are short and powerful, more like those of humans. They stood about 1.3m tall and their pelvis indicates they could walk and run easily on two legs. They had small heads and their brain was less than a third of the size of modern human brains. Their legs were long, but the anatomy of the foot was "primitive", the scientists said.

The remarkable preservation of the fossils occurred because the creatures had probably died after falling or climbing down a vertical "death shaft" leading to the underground cave system. Within days of their death, a sudden rainstorm and mudflow probably washed their bodies – along with the bones of sabre-toothed cats, hyenas, wild dogs and horses – into a deeper, waterlogged recess where they were quickly encased in calcified rock.

The proportion of creatures that get fossilised after death is tiny so to find any hominid remains is good fortune. Fascinating stuff!

Iain Duncan Smith dangerously distorts scientific research

Cameron’s recent predecessors as Tory leader could at the very best be described as ineffectual. Perhaps the worst of the lot was Iain Duncan Smith who was viewed as such a liability that he was axed before he could be humiliated at the polls.
Strangely Cameron has appointed Duncan Smith as social policy tsar. It would seem that Duncan Smith has been distorting research into childhood neglect and its effect on brain development

Duncan Smith has asserted that children from broken homes and dysfunctional families have undeveloped brains and start school with the mental capacity of one-year-olds

He has even attempted to draw a link between brain development and crime. In a private speech at the Centre for Social Justice, Duncan Smith said neuroscientists had identified "physical signs" of neglect that could indicate a child's likelihood to commit crime in later life, including "the scale and size and capacity of their brains to be able to deal with challenges".

“We keep going back, and as you track back you begin to realise that actually, for far too many people in society crime began before they were born. And that is a really strongly held belief of mine now, and more and more work was done in both social science, but even particularly now backed up by neuroscience demonstrates that the damage that we start children with, is damage that they keep, and that damage becomes more and more difficult as they go through.

"We now know that we can pretty much figure out where an 18-year-old will be at the time that they are two and a half or three years old. Signs are there. There are of course physical signs, including the scale and size and capacity of their brains to be able to deal with challenges. But it is also in their behaviour."

He added the inability of a child to have "imbibed the concept of empathy" from their parent could have profound impacts on their later life.

Duncan-Smith has based these assertions on work undertaken by Dr Bruce Perry, who runs the respected Child Trauma Academy in Texas. Dr Perry is not desperately pleased at the way his research is being used stating that said Duncan Smith had "greatly misrepresented" and "distorted" his work.

Perry’s research assessed the brain development of children who suffered extreme forms of neglect – such as those locked in a basement without human contact – and he said it was wrong to apply the findings to children who have undergone far less severe neglect, such as those from broken homes.

Dr Perry concluded Duncan Smith's comments were an "oversimplification" that "greatly misrepresents the way we would explain the impact of neglect or trauma on the developing brain".

"I do believe that overstating and misunderstanding the neurobiology can lead to confusion, anger, distortion and potentially to bad policy," he said, adding that the claims appeared to be "a terrible distraction from the important issues related to the need to create family friendly, and developmentally informed policy that is aware and informed about the importance of early childhood and brain development".

Duncan Smith denied he had misrepresented Dr Perry's work, whom he acknowledged as the source of his claims about brain development. "I haven't misrepresented his findings. I don't talk about every single child," he said. "The brain size is an example of what happens at the extreme end of that neglect and abuse, which is something I know that he has written about."

Duncan Smith is being stupid or perhaps even dangerous in manipulating research for his own political ends. He’s not the first to do this of course and sadly won’t be the last. But I shudder to think what damage will be caused by distorting research in this way.

There was a good reason why the Tories dumped him as leader. He was bloody useless. Now he is being potentially dangerous in his current role.

09 April 2010

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is vertical. What you see in these photos is not a defunct lamp post. It is a defunct sewer vent at the top of my street. It used to vent gas build ups in the sewer (and probably stunk) when the street was built in the early 1880s. Luckily it is disconnected from the sewer so the worst smell around folows a plate of beans or other such carminatives!

I'm out on Friday.I'll be visiting tomorrow

Ted won't get out of bed for less than a Siberian Tiger

Ted is unconcerned by a Sabre Tooth Tiger

08 April 2010

Vulture Funds outlawed... for a year anyway

At the last gasp before Parliament is dissolved prior to next month’s election our politicians did something to make this country proud. By passing Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill the UK became first country to ban ‘Third World Debt’ profiteering by the scum who deal in Vulture Funds

This is how the Jubilee Debt campaign’s press release described what is truly a momentous act.

“A landmark bill to protect the poorest countries in the world from profiteering by so-called vulture funds became law today after passing in the House of Lords during the ‘wash-up’ at the end of the Parliamentary session.

Jubilee Debt Campaign welcomed the successful passage of the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill, which is the world’s first law to restrict the ability of Vulture Funds to sue some of the world’s poorest countries for full repayment of debts that they have bought up cheaply.

Last November two Vulture Funds were awarded $20 million in the High Court from Liberia – the second poorest country in the world - for a debt dating back to the 1970s. This law is expected to make that verdict unenforceable.

There was an outcry last month after the bill was blocked at third reading by an unidentified Conservative MP – thought to be backbencher Christopher Chope. But the Government made time for the Bill in the wash-up, after securing cross-party agreement with a sunset clause which will mean the law has to be reassessed to be made permanent in a year’s time.

Andrew Gwynne MP, Sponsor of the bill said:
“I am absolutely thrilled that my bill has been passed into law. It was completely unacceptable that a small number of companies were ever allowed in the UK courts to profiteer off the third world debt market. These “vulture funds” were completely unjust and it is to the credit of this parliament, and the efforts of the Jubilee Debt Campaign that we have finally managed to pass this law. I said I would put a stop to these vulture funds, and I did.”

Whoever wins the next election had better reassess the bill and ensure this law becomes permanent, In the meantime it is one huge FUCK YOU to the scumbag Christopher Chope who tried to derail the bill. More importantly it is an even bigger FUCK You to shit stains like Michael Sheehan and Paul Singer who have made millions feeding off the very poorest.

Vulture Funds bill passes the Commons

I received this piece of excellent news from the "Shame on you Christopher Chope" Facebook group

"Today history was made when the Government pushed the Debt Relief Bill forward as part of their ‘wash-up' package of legislation before the General Election, and all major parties supported its passage.

All we need is for the Bill to pass through the House of Lords afternoon and then it will be law. This is a massive accomplishment and it is almost unheard of for a Private Member's Bill to be passed as part of the wash up."

So long as the Lords don't do anything stupid it will become law.

Up Yours Christopher Chope!
From 1964 I think

07 April 2010

Another Meme - Langtons

I was tagged for this meme by Knatolee last month. Better late than never.

Here's what you do:

1. Open your 1st Photo folder.
2. Scroll to the 10th photo.
3. Post the photo and the story behind it.
4. Tag 5 or more people.

The first folder is a mish mash of photos I've either posted before or planned to do so but never got around to it. I don't think this one has made it to the Poor Mouth before but it was take at Langtons in Hornchurch, a small 18th century house that is now used as the Borough of Havering's registry office and for functions, mainly wedding breakfasts. It has is a pleasant but simple garden.

The photo was taken with my older digital SLR, my Nikon D50 whose sensor could take infra red photos with the light blocking filter. Although it looks like snow on the ground green is shown as white in infra red photos.

I'll leave this open to anyone who wants to try it

Meme Time - Scrap Award

A little while ago Alice Audrey gave me the Honest Scrap Award

You are supposed to nominate seven other bloggers for it, who can then do with it what they will. The other portion of your assignment is to blog ten little known and interesting facts about yourself.

As for nominating seven people I will offer it up to both readers. I will leave it to them to decide who does the meme three times and who does it one more time than he or she...

Ten facts? Here goes...

1. I had two pet rats as a student: Rancid and Cuddles

2. I have less grey hear than I did this time last year.. Sadly this is not due to some miraculous reversal of pigmentation but the fact that it is falling out faster than it is going grey. (sighs)

3. I have five tattoos: two on my left arm (a dolphin and a Celtic cross) and three on my right arm (two tribal symbols and a half band which consist of a pattern of stylised tree fern leaves

4. I don’t have any piercings

5. My camera equipment is several times more valuable than my car... That’s what comes of driving a 20 year old car.

6. At one point in 1984 I probably knew more about than the noradrenergic innervation of the mucosa and submucosa of the rat colon

7. I am a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society

8. The not-wife could never understand why, when taking a leak beside my favourite musician, Robyn Hitchcock I never sneaked a peek at his membrum virilis. She really doesn’t understand urinal etiquette

9. I once wrote the lyrics to a song about spanking without resorting to the most obvious rhyme

10. Err that's it.I really am a saddo aren’t I? But that is not a little known fact, Hiho....

Deepak Chopra owns up to earthquake

While the U.S. Geological Survey blamed day-to-day seismological changes for the 7.2 Magnitude earthquake along the U.S.-Mexico border on 4 April, Deepak Chopra, a charlatan who peddles bullshit, claimed to have been responsible.

"Had a powerful meditation just now -- caused an earthquake in Southern California," Chopra wrote on Twitter "Was meditating on Shiva mantra & earth began to shake," he tweeted. "Sorry about that."

Chopra has made millions from fleecing gullible idiots... sorry, I mean from popularising Transcendental meditation (TM), and from the allied books, DVDs and Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, Calif.

An hour after Chopra's Twitter confession, he vowed to one Twitter user, @WhiteMoon7, "Won't do it again -- promise."

Ah well, I suppose someone who is laughing all the way to the bank from being a charlatan can afford the odd weak joke...

06 April 2010

Good news on Vulture Funds legislation?

This is on the Jubilee Debt Campaign website

The Government has just announced that the vultures bill - the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill - will be included in the 'wash-up' which takes place before the General Election. The 'wash up' is a mechanism through which the party whips agree to take forward bills in the final days before a Parliament is dissolved for a General Election.

This means there is cross-party support for taking the bill forward and means it has a real chance of becoming law this week. We will keep reporting on proceedings in Parliament in coming days.

This is heartening. Here's hoping the Bill becomes law despite the actions of the bastard Christopher Chope

Look! XXX FREE Dogging pics!

Just to prove that you don'g have to go far for explicit sexual subject matter! As ever there will be quite a few disappointed searchers who come here looking for human action only to find ladybirds in flagrante, unless...... perish the thought!