31 August 2011

Fame at last - well not really, but.....

A little while ago I had an email exchange with the planning editor from the ITV news programme London Tonight regarding the use of a couple of photos of damage to the Debenhams store in Romford during Romford's version of the riots that swept many of our cities earlier this month.

There wasn't much damage as you can see

The photos are to be used on London tonight at 6pm (BST).  I guess the story will be in relation to the conviction of an 11 year old who stole a dustbin during the disturbances. Hardly crime central but he deserves punishment.

It'll probably be a case of blink and you'll miss them but I am quite pleased!

Thieves get the horn... or not as the case may be

Thieves who broke into the Natural History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire thought that they had hit pay dirt  when they stole the horns from two rhinos in the taxidermy display.

 Rhino horn is extremely valuable and can fetch £60,000 per kg in the far east where it is prized for its supposed medicinal qualities. Weighing 4ilos their haul would have been worth £240,000 but for one thing: the real horns had been replaced by replicas made out of resin.

Police are investigating after the thieves smashed through the museum's front doors a. It is believed they removed the horns from the animals using a large hammer.

Manager Paul Kitching said: "We're deeply saddened by this pointless theft. The rhinoceros horns that have been stolen were replicas made out of resin, so they have no commercial value. We're now working with the police and urge anyone with any pertinent information to get in touch."

Sadly thefts of rhino horns from museums is on the increase. Replacing  real rhino horns with replicas in now commonplace. I hope the criminals are caught and sentenced.  In the meantime I would like to have seen their faces as they tried to offload the useless horns.

Better still I hope to see the end of the idiotic quackery that creates the market for the horns.. Rhino horns have no therapeutic benefit at all  as an antipyretic (which is what it is used for  in Chinese medicine and not as an aphrodisiac as commonly believed). Some traditional doctors might be well advised to find out about the benefits of a a compound based on willow bark extract. It is very cheap and is available at a fraction of the cost...


Old Boy

30 August 2011

Boys Keep Swinging

The case of the disappearing mosquitos

The BBC reports that Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are disappearing in some parts of Africa, but scientists are unsure as to why.

Controls such as anti-mosquito bed nets are having a significant impact on the incidence of malaria in some sub-Saharan countries. However,researchers say mosquitoes are also disappearing from areas with few controls.

Data from countries indicate that the incidence of malaria is dropping fast. Researchers believe this is due to effective implementation of control programmes, especially the deployment of bed nets treated with insecticide.

But a team of Danish and Tanzanian scientists say this is not the whole story. For more than 10 years they have been collecting and counting the number of mosquitoes caught in thousands of traps in Tanzania.

In 2004 they caught more than 5,000 insects. In 2009 that had dropped to just 14. More importantly, these collections took place in villages that weren't using bed nets.

One possibility for the reduction in numbers is climate change. Patterns of rainfall in these years were more chaotic in these regions of Tanzania. The scientists say this may have disturbed the natural cycle of mosquito development.

But the lead author of the study, Professor Dan Meyrowitsch from the University of Copenhagen said "What we should consider is that there may be a disease among the mosquitoes, or there may have been some environmental changes in the communities that have resulted in a drop in the number of mosquitoes."

The research team also found anecdotal evidence that their discovery was not an isolated case. "Other scientists are saying they can't test their drugs because there are no children left with malaria. They observed this in communities with no large interventions against malaria or mosquitoes."

The researchers are unsure if mosquitoes will return to these regions. If they do, one particular cause for concern is the young people who have not been exposed to malaria over the past five or six years since the mosquitoes began to decline.

"If the mosquito population starts coming up again" says Professor Meyrowitsch "and my own assumption is that it will, it is most likely we will have an epidemic of malaria with a higher level of disease and mortality especially amongst these children who have not been exposed."

This is interesting stuff. I suppose it is too much to hope that the disappearance will be permanent. As the scientists fear I would expect a return and an explosion of malaria in those areas. Given the lack of exposure among children I fear there will be many more deaths

words obsolete?

Last week the Independent carried an an item about words that are now obsolete according to the compilers of the Collins dictionary.

Other words which have passed out of use include "supererogate", which means to do or perform more than is required, while "succedaneum", something used as a substitute.

Language experts from Collins Dictionary have compiled a list of words which have fallen out of use by tracking how often they appear. These include wittol, a man who tolerates his wife's unfaithfulness, which has not been used much since the 1940s. "Drysalter", a dealer in certain chemical products and foods, "cyclogiro", a type of aircraft propelled by rotating blades, and "charabanc", a motor coach are all now considered obsolete.

The words consigned to history are those whose frequency of use falls below a certain threshold. "We track words using a very large database of language which is a very large collection of various texts from spoken and written language, including books, newspapers and magazines, so we can track language change over time," said Dr Ruth O'Donovan, asset development manager at Collins Language Division in Glasgow. "We track new words but we can also track for the frequency of existing words and when they get below a certain threshold we see them as being obsolete, though they may be used in very specialist circumstances," she added.

To be honest I had not heard of many of these words and the only one I have ever used frequently is charabanc. But then my parents are of an age where that word has meaning.

One word that is also included and quite surprises me is "aerodrome". know that it is not particularly common but I had no idea that it was obsolete!

Perhaps someone should tell the owners of Denham aerodrome in Buckinghamshire and Redhill aerodrome in Surrey! I daresay a Rex Warner novel does not know it has an obsolete title either!

More Magic Mushrooms After Hurricane Irene?

While the likes of Bachmann and Beck have described Hurricane Irene as some sort of blessing just about everyone else has a rather more negative view of such meteorological events.

On the other hand it appears that storms like Hurricane Irene encourage growth of psychedelic mushrooms.

Apparently one of the strange aftermaths of a hurricane is an increased amount of mushrooms, especially psilocybin. According to Casey Simon an addiction expert based in California, hurricanes create the perfect climactic conditions for the mushrooms to grow.

"Mushrooms are spores and they multiply in moisture and are spread by wind," he said.

Hmm watch out for a marked increase in magic mushrooms on the East Coast of the USA followed by a marked increased in "mushroom hunters", followed not long after by a marked increased in the number of third eyes getting a damned good squeegeeing (as Bill Hicks would say if he were still with us).

For me mushrooms are a thing of the distant past. There is no way I would ever want to try the bloody things again.

29 August 2011

Now Boris sees something tasty

We are in trouble!

Dying Echinops

But it'll be back next year

Al Qaeda's Number Two Killed.... Again!

Yesterday US Officials announced the death in Pakistan of Al Qaeda's number two man, the Libyan Atiyah abd al-Rahman.

He was apparently killed killed i Waziristan in a strike by an unmanned drone on August 22.

U.S. officials said: "Atiyah's death is a tremendous loss for al Qaeda, because (Zawahri) was relying heavily on him to help guide and run the organization, especially since bin Laden's death.The trove of materials from bin Laden's compound showed clearly that Atiyah was deeply involved in directing al Qaeda's operations even before the (May) raid. He had multiple responsibilities in the organization and will be very difficult to replace,"

Difficult to replace? I think Atiyah is the 847th deputy leader killed by US forces since 2001. Just three years ago Atiyah was the tea boy in Al Qaeda's office in Tuvalu so promotion can be quite rapid.

US forces are now hunting down Atiyah's succesor who is believed to be working as a sheepdog in the Brecon Beacons.

With so many number twos I am beginning to wonder if Al Qaeda is less a terrorist operation and more a serious case of dysentery.

28 August 2011

Spiral Moon

Gaddafi ready for transition talks…..about six months too late

The BBC is reporting that Gaddafi is ready to begin talks to transfer power. His spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, reportedly said the toppled leader's son Saadi would lead the talks. The rebels say they will not negotiate until he surrenders.

It was the the Associated Press news agency in New York that had received a call from Col Gaddafi's spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, who said the former leader was still in Libya although he did not specify where.

Mr Ibrahim, whom AP says it identified by his voice, said Col Gaddafi was offering to negotiate with the rebels to form a transitional government.

Those negotations would be led by Col Gaddafi's son, Saadi, said Mr Ibrahim, who told AP he was still in Tripoli and had seen the former leader on Friday.

Early this week, CNN reported it had been in email contact with Saadi Gaddafi who confirmed his desire to negotiate a ceasefire.
"I will try to save my city Tripoli and 2 millions of people living there... otherwise Tripoli will be lost forever like Somalia," he wrote.

Without a cease-fire, Mr Gaddafi added, "Soon it will be a sea of blood."

An official in the rebel's National Transitional Council (NTC) told Reuters news agency that they did not know where Col Gaddafi was and no negotiations were taking place with him.

"If he wants to surrender, then we will negotiate and we will capture him," said Ali Tarhouni, the rebel official in charge of oil and financial matters.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague described Colonel Gaddafi's offer as "delusional", saying the NTC is already in charge of the country.

By sounds of it Gaddafi seems to believe that he is in control. I wonder if he is currently in a Fuhrer bunkers surrounded by sucophants and still believing that there is the ghost of a chance that he can negotiate his way out of arrest and prison, perhaps even a date with the hangman (not that I would want to see the last happen). That or he is trying to buy time to effect some sort of escape to a friendlier country.

Whattever the reason it is far too late for negotiations. For better or worse (and I hope the NTC do not prove to be worse) he is history.

The New Tea Party?

Earl  Grey is a tea that you either love or hate. Like Capin Jean Luc Picard I am one of those who likes "Tea, Earl Grey, hot" lbut I must admit that my favourite daily tea is Lady Grey.

That said I can fully sympathise with my Earl Grey drinking brothers and sisters who have risen in revolt against Twinings which has had the temerity to change the flavour of its Earl Grey product.

The rebellion was sparked when Twinings relaunched its Earl Grey.
The company was so confident it would triumph by adding "a dash of lemon and a touch more bergamot" . In the eyes of loyal drinkers this was a trvesty and they are not happy.

A Facebook page was launched, demanding: "Bring back the original Twinings Earl Grey tea." As anger and desperation mounted, one lady, 30 years an Earl Grey drinker, even went so far as to suggest: "I'd rather drink PG Tips." (My God that IS damning!)
Twinings is refusing to capitulate, standing by the new version of its 180-year old tea, named after Charles, the second Earl Grey, who was a leading architect of the 1832 Great Reform Act.
Claire Forster, a company spokeswoman, insisted that since relaunch "our sales results have been the best ever, the highest ever volume share of the Earl Grey market. It was traditionally thought of as the tea you had when you went round to your grandmother's," she said.
"Now a lot of young people are getting into Earl Grey. All products need to evolve to keep up with people's developing palates. We kept it true to the original Earl Grey, just made it a tiny bit more refreshing. But whenever you change something, you can never please everybody."

Earl Grey rebels are being mollified by an offer of a "ten day challenge": £10 to try the new tea for ten days and see if it grows on them. Alternatively complainants who refuse to take part in the challenge, they get a year's supply of the old Earl Grey.

This has not satisfied a legion of hard line Earl Grey drinkers who are planning to demonstrate their anger by pouring several tones of the new tea into Boston Docks - Lincolnshire not Massachusetts...

26 August 2011

Photohunt - Symbolic

The theme for this week's photo hunt is symbolic. This is the outside of  of the Shoah Memorial in Paris, The concrete facing is made into a Star of David patterns.

This is an old post where I have just changed the date. I had a notification that I have filled my Picasa storage limit... off to delete a load of lesser photos methinks!

The Rime of the Naked Rambler

Ex Royal marine Stephen Gough is a man on a mission; the mission being to ramble across this nation of ours wearing nothing but a smile on his face… oh and boots (he is not stupid, obviously).

The problem he faces is is that he has run afoul of the Scottish legal system (which is different to that in force in England and Wales, a holdover from the 1707 Act of Union) and has spent the last five years almost continuously in prison.

According to the Independent he has been jailed again, this time for almost 22 months.

Gough insists it is his human right to eschew clothing but the forces of law and order have deemed otherwise and he has been in jail almost continuously since May 2006.

His latest prison sentence of 657 days, his longest yet, was imposed after he walked naked out of Perth prison and enjoyed less than 60 seconds of freedom before waiting police arrested him for a breach of the peace.

The sentence comprises a year for breaching the peace, 90 days for contempt of court and the unserved portion of the 21-month sentence that he was released from early on 20 July.

His conviction for contempt of court came after he refused to wear clothes in the dock at Perth Sheriff Court during his trial. The hearing was delayed while court staff fetched a piece of paper for the naked defendant to sit on "for hygiene reasons".

Sheriff Michael Fletcher told him: "The court expects people to come here in a decent state of dress. That has been explained to you in the past. I gave you the opportunity to dress yourself."
Mr Gough said: "What I am doing is based on my belief about what I am and what I am is not indecent. Ordinary people have prejudices and intolerances." His defence, however, was rejected, as it has been at a succession of hearing over the last decade.

He came to public attention when he hiked from Lands End to John O'Groats naked apart from socks, boots, hat and rucksack. The 900-mile walk was intended to focus attention on public attitudes to nudity. It ended in January 2004 but, being punctuated by several arrests and two jail terms, it took him seven months to complete.

In 2005, while hiking across the Cairngorms with a companion as part of his 'Freedom to be Yourself' campaign, he told The Independent: "People talk about a healthy self-image and that it is important to be comfortable with your own body. We are challenging people to think about how they really feel about their own bodies."

Gah what an utter waste of time and money. While I think Gough could devote his time to other and far better causes, the actions of the Scottish police and judicial system are ridiculous. In effect Gough could spend the rest of his life in prison simply for not wearing cloths. There is no indication that he does anything offensive while naked (except being naked, if that offends).

I get the feeling that the Scottish police and courts system have better things to deal with…

Moomar and Condi sitting in a tree

Perhaps the strangest thing to come out of the Libyan revolution so far is the discovery of a photo album belonging to Muammar Gh
Ghaddafi’s in his fortified compound this week.


The subject of the photo album was Hilary Clinton's predecesor as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Ghaddafi once described her as a “darling black African woman.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described the US Government's response to this discovery as "Eeeewww this is creepy!"

Rice and Ghaddaffi met in 2008 when Libya was seeking to improve relations with the U.S. Ghaddafi was said to be very excited.

Ghaddafi had been an ardent fan of Rice even before their face-to-face encounter. In a 2007 interview with al Jazeera he described her as his “darling black African woman.” He referred to her as Leezza and said “I love her very much.”

Mercifully Ghaddafi is not believed to have suggested anything of a hanky or even panky nature at their meeting and none of the photos of Ms Rice are even remotely erotic.

It is believed, however, that Ghaddafi's ipod includes the following song

Robyn touches his nose

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

Something tasty this way comes thinks Robyn

25 August 2011

Mahsa Vahdat and Mighty Sam McClain - Earth

Trafigura’s nice little earner

Trafigura, the oil world’s cheeky chappies, have discovered an new way to make a nice little earner. This time it is by supplying gasoline to the peaceful and strictly non-violent democracy of Syria
According to Euronews oil market dealers confirmed that a Syrian government tender on behalf of state oil company Sytrol for gasoline has been picked up by our loveable rogues Trafigura and Valso itol. Syria exports crude oil, but does not have the refining capacity to meet its domestic needs and relies on petrol imports.

This came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an international boycott of Syrian oil and gas products, and sanctions against its oil and gas industries as the best way of putting pressure on the regime to stop its murderous repression of protests there.

Vitol and Trafigura will most likely source the gasoline from Mediterranean refineries in Italy, Spain, or France.

In April this year Vitol was the first company to organise the sale of Libyan oil on behalf of its rebel movement, freighting about 1 million barrels lying idle in Singapore to US refiner Tesoro.

Trafigura, on the other hand, has regularly featured in allegations of corruption and malpractice since its creation in 1993. These include being the first company contracted to sell oil produced in Sudan in 1999, a year after the US bombed Khartoum and had declared the country a state sponsor of terrorism, barring all US companies from doing business with the regime.

Trafigura was also named in the Iraq Oil-for-Food Scandal , and was convicted in Amsterdam in 2010 for illegally dumping toxic waste in Ivory Coast and fined 1 million euros, 2006 Côte d’Ivoire toxic waste dump , which a September 2009 UN report says led to 108,000 people seeking hospital treatment.

In the same year Trafigura tried to prevent reporting of a question in the UK parliament of the Ivory Coast affair in “The Guardian” newspaper by using a “super-injunction” gagging order, and brought a libel suit against the BBC’s “Newsnight” programme for their reporting on the story.

In February this year the public prosecutor in the Netherlands opened an inquiry into allegations Trafigura paid bribes to a leading politician in Jamaica.

I know Trafigura are not doing anything illegal but they have a track record of being amoral bastards in the pursuit of filthy lucre. It just seems that Trafigura’s lucre is particularly filthy.

Perhaps a few months scrubbing one of their tankers by had might change the minds of a few of Trafigura’s execs…


Tim and Celena yet again

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

24 August 2011

Celena once more

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

At play

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

Snow White, or the Seventh Dwarf

Discoveryon has an intereting article about a TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) called 2007 OR10.

Originally nicknamed ‘Snow White’ and the 'Seventh Dwarf' it is one of the largest small planets to be found beyond Neptune's orbit (Okay Pluto does sometimes come within Neptune's orbit but let's not split hairs!). It is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes, according to astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The new findings also suggested that the red-tinged dwarf planet might be covered in a thin layer of methane, the remnants of an atmosphere that’s slowly being lost into space.

“You get to see this nice picture of what once was an active little world with water volcanoes and an atmosphere, and it’s now just frozen, dead, with an atmosphere that’s slowly slipping away,” said Mike Brown, professor of planetary astronomy.

2007 OR10 was discovered in 2007 as part of the PhD thesis of Brown’s former graduate student Meg Schwamb – orbits the Sun at the edge of the solar system and is about half the size of Pluto, making it the fifth largest dwarf planet.

At the time, Brown had guessed incorrectly that it was an icy body that had broken off from another dwarf planet named Haumea; he nicknamed it ‘Snow White’ for its presumed white colour.

As expected, ‘Snow White’ was red. But to their surprise, the spectrum revealed that the surface was covered in water ice.
There is, however, one other dwarf planet that’s both red and covered with water ice: Quaoar, which Brown helped discover in 2002.

The spectrum of 2007 OR10 looks similar to Quaoar’s, suggesting that what happened on Quaoar also happened on 2007 OR10. “That combination — red and water — says to me, ‘methane,’” said Brown.
“We’re basically looking at the last gasp of Snow White. For four and a half billion years, Snow White has been sitting out there, slowly losing its atmosphere, and now there’s just a little bit left,” added Brown.

Fascinating stuff!

Femme Fatale

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

23 August 2011


© 2011 Shaun P Downey

At last the truth!

According to a study released Wednesday by the California Pain Medicine Center, subjects suffering from male- pattern baldness were found to experience a level of physical pain at least seven times more intense than that experienced by women during childbirth.

"Clinical studies show that as hair gradually separates from the scalp, men experience intensifying waves of all-consuming pain equivalent to having their insides ripped out through the thousands of tiny follicles on their head," said Vincent Kwan, who led the all-male research team that carried out the study. "While strong uterine contractions and tearing of the vaginal walls undoubtedly cause a degree of discomfort among women in labor, balding men would give anything to experience those sensations instead of lying awake and suffering all night as their hair thins."

Kwan stated that men's remarkable ability to endure years of excruciating agony without the aid of epidurals or other powerful analgesics was a testament to the sex's unrivaled tolerance for pain....

 Well the truth according to the Onion anyway!

A good old fashioned curse

I saw this little story last week in the Guardian

A group of Franciscan friars, absolutely fed up with the theft of bibles from their church in Florence, have taken the unusual step of praying for the thief to be struck down by diarrhoea.

Friars at the church of San Salvatore al Monte were angered when a rare and expensive bible disappeared from the lectern. THe were positively icandescent  when a replacement bible donated by a worshipper also went missing and within a few hours.

In a note, pinned up in full view of worshippers, the friars say they hope the thief sees the error of his ways. But in case he does not, they add: "We pray to God that the thief is struck by a strong bout of the shits."

This turn of events will, they hope, "encourage him to carry out no further thefts".

 "It is not exactly clean language," one of the friars said, "but we couldn't put  up with it any longer. The Lord and the faithful will understand."

Despite my general anitpathy to the Catholic church I m heaartened to see that some parts are still in touch with its traditional heartlands. If not quite fire and brimstone the friar's actions are certainly cascara and syrup of figs!

While I do hope that the thief returns the bibles it would be good to think that he suffers  a long bout of explosive diarrhoea for his sins.

If he is wise the thief will be making offerings to saint Polycarp for protection, Polycarp being the patron saint of dysentry sufferers!

Celena in the woods

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

22 August 2011

Vogue at it again

My thanks to James at Obliged to Offend for drawing my attention to this piece of utter tactlessness om the part of Vogue (this time it's Italian Vogue plumbing the depths.

From the Vogue Italia website

Slave Earrings

Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.

If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.

Unsurprisingly this article has gone down like a lead balloon - and with damned good reason.

Vogue Italia tried a firefighting exercising by changing the article's title from "Slave" to "Ethnic" earrings and then pulled the article - just like Ametican Vogue did with its appallingly sycophantic piece of drivel about the Assads back in March.

Perhaps Vogue will come up with something even more tasteless soon... Holocaust chice, perhaps?

Ach it;s just further proof of the utter worthlessness of the fashion industry

Now this is just weird

I know nothing about the Wiggles apart from being vaguely aware that they are Aussie children's entertainers.

The last time I saw something like this was after having partaken of controlled substances back in my early 20s!


I remember the Shadoks and the Gibis being shown on ITV back in the first half of the 70s butnthey passed from my memory until a few days ago.

Wonderfully absurd stuff!

21 August 2011

Futile defiance!

Guardian live reporting  now reports that two more of Gaddafi's sons, Al-Saadi and Muhammad, are in rebel hands.
BBC reports that an audio message said to be from Col Gaddafi is being broadcast on state TV.

He has called for Libyans to "save Tripoli"

I think that is what the rebels are doing!

Ghaddafi's son captured

BBC and Guardian live coverage both report that Ghaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, has been captured

Once again we will know whether this is true or not soon

Libya's Comical Ali?

The BBC's live reporting carries a quote from Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim who has appeared on state TV, telling viewers: "Our country will be safe, in peace and in tranquillity soon.. These are the moments of the last battle in which we will be victorious God willing and the remnants of these gangs which are acting under Nato's orders will be destroyed."

Ah well that's alright then: Viva Ghaddafi... Pah!

The end surely in sight now for Ghaddafi

The Telegraph live coverage is citing reports from  Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera that  ghaddafi's presidential guard has surrendered to rebels.

We will  for sure if this is true soon

Rebels close in further on Tripoli

According to both the Guardian's and the Telegraph's live coverage of events in Libya  the  Libyan rebels are now only seven kilometres away from the centre of Tripoli and are meeting no resistance. Civilians from the capital are pouring out of their homes to welcome the convoy.

When regimes topple they topple fast so it seems

Endgame in Libya?

Recent reports of senior regime henchmen deserting, the near encirclement of Tripoli and the start of uprisings in the city surely point to a swift end to Ghaddafi's end as Libyan dictator.

It's been a long time coming. Like many I had hoped that the rebels would have swept him aside sooner. But that was not to be.

But Ghaddafi's downfall is just the end of the beginning. It is unlikely that the fighting will not continue in the form of an insurgency form regime friendlier areas.

A bigger problem will be uniting the country.  I hope that the National Resistance Council is up to what will be a massive job.

As ever there far better commentators on world events than I cold ever be

A belated happy 70th birthday to Dave Brock

Taken at the release party for Take Me To Your Leader, The Borderline, September 205

19 August 2011

Shirley enjoys a nice cup of tea (Photohunt)

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

The theme for this week's photo hunt is drink. For once I won't be stretching the theme so far as to snap it. Here is Shirley (The not-wife) enjoying a nice cup of tea...

Common sense on appeal

Ursula Nevin took no part in the Manchester riots but was sentenced to five months in prison for handling a pair of shorts looted by her lodger.

The day after the riots Nevin had tried on and decided to keep a pair of shorts her housemate Gemma Corbett, 24, stolen from the Vans store in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.

A week later Nevin, who has two young children was freed on appeal.
Judge Andrew Gilbart QC sitting at Manchester crown court said the sentence had been "wrong in principle" because she had not been at the scene of the disturbances.
The apeal court handed down a revised sentence of  75 hours unpaid work instead.

Richard Vardon, representing Nevin at the appeal hearing, said the doting mother had been put in a terrible position by her housemate – and had been devastated to find herself separated from her children and in jail.
Judge Gilbart said: "Ursula Nevin did not go into Manchester city centre – we regard it as wrong in principle that she was made the subject of a custodial sentence." He told her to leave the court and go and look after her children.
I fully agree that the rioters should be punished but some of the sentences handed out have been ridiculous, smacking of politically motivated vengeance than any justice.

This woman should have been punished but should never have been sent to prison. I am glad that the  Court of Appeals is more level headed than the lower courts. Now to see if the guy who stole a bottle of water is freed from prison...

Boris awakes

17 August 2011

More of the Demon

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

Baby Preacher or nascent metal star?

Kanon Tipton "preaching" at the tender age of 21 months, Apparently his father and grandfather are pentecostalist preachers. He is now four years old and still at it.

With a voice like that he would be far better off ditching the preaching gig and getting to front a metal band. Perhaps a band like Slayer....

And another view of the Perfidious Madonna

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

The Perfidious Madonna returns

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

16 August 2011

Der Woofen SS?

While perfidious Albion was ploting to give Der Fuhrer a nice pair of jehoobies Hitler had his own war winning strategies.

According to a book titled "Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities," Nazi specialists attempted to train a fleet of "intelligent" dogs to read, write and speak.

The research comes from Cardiff University associate professor Dr. Jan Bondeson, who found that the Nazis collected pups from across Germany and put them through intense training during the 1930s at the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA (School for Dog-Human Communication) in the town of Leutenberg.

"The Nazis were sentimental enthusiasts who were really fond of animals and liked the idea that dogs were intelligent and could communicate with people," Bondeson said.

Under trainer Margarethe Schmitt's direction, the institute trained dogs such as Rolf the Airedale terrier, who was said to be able to discuss religion, contemplate complex mathematics and communicate with humans by tapping out an alphabet code using his paw.

Another dog, Kurwenal, supposedly cracked jokes like a comedian and was a symbol of the educated canines of Germany.

But Hitler's presumable pick of the litter was a pooch named Don, who apparently barked "Mein Fuhrer" when asked who Adolf Hitler was.

Apparently the Germans seem to have had hopes that the superior dogs would eventually communicate with their SS masters and act as the ultimate guard dogs.

"Why would the Nazis allow such a bizarre project to continue in a country ravaged by war unless they had an interest in studying dog-human communication?" Bondeson asks.

Perversely the Nazis had strong feelings about animal rights. Some Nazis even wrote letters to local authorities about the pets that were being left behind when the military began forcing Jews into concentration camps.

"When the Jews were deported from certain German cities, nobody bothered about them, they said 'good riddance,'" Bondeson said. "But as for their pets, people thought, 'Well, they can't bring those with them to the concentration camps, surely we must do something. It's a completely forgotten aspect: A good Nazi was a friend to animals."

This story is rather old but I do love the far-fetched nonsense that governments will entertain in wartime. I daresay that deep down in the files there were plans to counter the intelligent uberhunds with a battalion of giant mutant bulldogs that spat explosive bumblebees….

Der Fallen Fuhrer mit der big boobies

 hitler tits - pichars.org
see more lulz pichars

I love the hare-brained schemes that are proposed during wartime, be it seagull sub spotters, tsunami and gay bombs. No it seems that the British security services considered a plan to bring out Hitler’s softer side by secretly adding female hormones to his food Fuhrer's food.

According to a new book Secret Weapons: Technology, Science And The Race To Win World War II by British professor Brian Ford, the idea that Hitler's violent quest for world domination could be subdued with steady doses of oestrogen was one of the strange ideas dreamt up to bring down Nazi Germany.

"There was an Allied plan that they would smuggle estrogen into Hitler's food and change his sex so he would become more feminine and less aggressive," Ford said. "Their research had showed the importance of sex hormones - they were beginning to be used in sex therapy in London,"

The agents allegedly conjured up a bevy of options to win the war that seem far-fetched now, according to Ford. Other ideas called for dumping glue on Nazi soldiers to trap them, disguising explosives in the fruit tins that Germany imported and releasing poisonous snakes on enemy lines.

Ford uncovered the scheme while looking through stacks of recently declassified files from World War II. Unsurprisingly none of these seem to have gotten off the drawing board.

I can only imagine how the world would have turned had Hitler grown breasts and spent the rest of his days admiring them in front of a mirror….

At last some important news

After all this fluff about phone hacking, economic crises, a right wing lunatic running amok in Norway and riots on our strets, it is heartening to see that the Independent has undertaken some real journalism.

After literally seconds reading some mag or site called Bang Showbiz the Indy can report that  the rich bitch worthless waste of space Paris Hilton has lost two of her iPhones.


The single-digit IQ mouth breather discovered that they were missing when she arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines last night, but officials believe the communications devices were missing before she arrived in the country.

The clueless oxygen waster is in the Philippines to work on a new venture, partnering with Century Properties to become to official ambassador for their Azure Urban Resort Residences in Manila and to design their Clubhouse.

The media whore’s PR team said: "I look forward to working with Century Properties and feel confident that despite a complete lack of talent or architectural experience I will develop an amazing and aspirational destination for people as equally worthless as I am. I look forward to raking in a shit load of cash for doing absolutely sod all. I will then personally take a huge shit on the next ten common people I meet”

Reuters reports that at least 37 people committed suicide when they heard the news of Hilton’s loss. Meanwhile in an unrelated development it is believed that her recently sacked PR team is currently receiving waterboard treatment in a Cuban “resort”.

15 August 2011


© 2011 Shaun P Downey


© 2011 Shaun P Downey

A tale of two water fights

Earlier this month the Grauniad carried this report

In the 40C heat of an Iranian summer, what better way to have fun and stay cool than a water fight with friends? In the Islamic republic, however, things are a bit more complicated.

For one group of boys and girls, their game turned serious when they were arrested for taking part in a water pistol fight in a park in the capital, Tehran.

Last Friday hundreds of enthusiasts used plastic pistols and empty bottles to play in the ironically named Garden of Water and Fire for hours and, to the surprise of many, without police interference. But the event – organised on Facebook – prompted criticism from conservatives when pictures of it emerged online days later.

The head of Tehran's morality police, Ahmad Roozbehani said: "A mixed-gender event took place on Friday ... They had been asked to bring water pistol toys, which most of them had in hand ... they acted against social norms."

Iranian MPs also condemned the water fight, spreading the debate nationwide. Hossein Ibrahimi, a conservative MP, said such events would spread "corruption" and were "shameful".

The arrests of the organisers and participants of the event came after conservative websites urged the regime to identify those behind the water pistol fight.

Organised on a Facebook page called "Tehran's water pistol fight", the event attracted more than 14,000 people and prompted pages promoting similar events in other cities such as Isfahan and Karaj.

Potking Azarmehr, a London-based Iranian blogger who has written a post in response to the arrests, said: "There are two issues here which have troubled the regime: people having fun and people organising a gathering through the social media. Both are perceived as a threat by the regime."

Now fast forward to England, 15 August in the year of our lord 2011. Today the Guardian reports:

A man will appear before magistrates next month for allegedly attempting to organise a town-wide water fight through his mobile phone.

The 20-year-old from Colchester, Essex, was arrested on Friday after Essex police discovered the alleged plans circulating on the BlackBerry Messenger service and Facebook.
The unnamed man has been charged with "encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence" under the 2007 Serious Crime Act, police said.

He was arrested with another 20-year-old man the day the water fight was allegedly due to take place, and has been bailed to appear before Colchester magistrates on 1 September. The second man was released without charge.

A police spokesman declined to disclose whether Essex police had been monitoring the service since the riots. "Essex police use appropriate measures for whatever the crime and wherever our investigations lead us," he said.

The prime minister said last week that the government would investigate whether social-networking platforms should be shut down if they helped to "plot" crime in the wake of the riots.

Speaking during last Thursday's parliamentary debate on the riots, David Cameron said he would investigate whether social-networking sites should be shut down if they helped to "plot" crime. The prime minister said he would "look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality".

He has received support from some Tory backbenchers, including Louise Mensch, who likened such a ban to closing a stretch of rail network after an accident.

The Iranian government regularly blocks phone and social networking sites on the basis of what it describes as criminal activities.

TO me this sounds like a massive over reaction to what looks to me like a trivial nuisance. But then it features Facebook and Blackberry Messenger so it must be evil and stamped out. I can only imagine that Essex Police are riding the wave of hysteria following the riots and are looking to clamp down hard on anything that even smells remotely of public disorder, however remote.

Hopefully when things calm down a little cooler heads will prevail and some of the idiotic ideas being mooted (shutting down social media networks, using the army in riot control, water cannons firing AIDS infected Rotweiller/African Bee hybrids etc) and we will get down to sorting out the root causes (there will be more than one cause) of this problem.

The Dark Planet

Last week Science Daily carried a report on the discovery of the darkest known exoplanet

The planet is TrES-2b a distant, Jupiter-sized gas giant, that reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it blacker than coal or any planet or moon in our solar system.

The discovery appears in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

"TrES-2b is considerably less reflective than black acrylic paint, so it's truly an alien world," said astronomer and lead author David Kipping of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
In our solar system, Jupiter is swathed in bright clouds of ammonia that reflect more than a third of the sunlight reaching it. In contrast, TrES-2b (which was discovered in 2006 by the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey, or TrES) lacks reflective clouds due to its high temperature.

TrES-2b orbits its star at a distance of only five million kilometres. The star's intense light heats TrES-2b to a temperature of more than 1000 degrees Celsius -- much too hot for ammonia clouds. Instead, its exotic atmosphere contains light-absorbing chemicals like vaporized sodium and potassium, or gaseous titanium oxide. Yet none of these chemicals fully explain the extreme blackness of TrES-2b.

"It's not clear what is responsible for making this planet so extraordinarily dark," stated co-author David Spiegel of Princeton University. "However, it's not completely pitch black. It's so hot that it emits a faint red glow, much like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove."

Kipping and Spiegel determined the reflectivity of TrES-2b using data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Kepler is designed to measure the brightnesses of distant stars with extreme precision.
The team monitored the brightness of the TrES-2 system as the planet orbited its star. They detected a subtle dimming and brightening due to the planet's changing phase.
TrES-2b is believed to be tidally locked like our moon, so one side of the planet always faces the star. And like our moon, the planet shows changing phases as it orbits its star. This causes the total brightness of the star plus planet to vary slightly.

Kepler has located more than 1,200 planetary candidates in its field of view. Additional analysis will reveal whether any other unusually dark planets lurk in that data.

TrES-2b orbits the star GSC 03549-02811, which is located about 750 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Draco.

Nothing to add form me except to say wow! Who knows what wonders and terrors lay out there in space.

Journal Reference:
1. Kipping D. M. and Spiegel D. S. Detection of visible light from the darkest world. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1–5 (2011)

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Darkest known exoplanet: Alien world is blacker than coal." ScienceDaily, 12 Aug. 2011. Web. 15 Aug. 2011.

14 August 2011

Catwalk diva

Fascinating Aida - Dogging!

A bit of bawdy fun

Creature of the night

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

More woes for Irish church?

The Irish Examiner  carries a short item about another report that will cause trouble for the Catholic church in Ireland. The report, into the diocese of Raphoe in county Donegal  is expected to reveal how 20 priests abused hundreds of children in a Co Donegal diocese over 40 years.

The report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church will be published later this month.

Worse still, the report will also severely criticise the Church for a continued cover-up.It is reported to have found that the Church was "uncooperative, obstructive and misleading when gardaí became involved in a number of investigations".
Although there have been plenty of other damning reports into abuse in the Catholic church in Ireland I wonder how this one will be received given the  reaction to last month's report on the diocese of Cloyne.

Relations between Ireland and the Vatican are rather strained at the moment. I wonder if this report will add further fuel to the fire

13 August 2011

Enough of the riots here's some William Topaz McG


by William McGonagall

Dear Johnny, I return my thanks to you;
But more than thanks is your due
For publishing the scurrilous poetry about me
Leaving the Ancient City of Dundee.

The rhymster says, we'll weary for your schauchlin' form;
But if I'm not mistaken I've seen bonnier than his in a field of corn;
And, as I venture to say and really suppose,
His form seen in a cornfield would frighten the crows.

But, dear Johnny, as you said, he's just a lampoon,
And as ugly and as ignorant as a wild baboon;
And, as far as I can judge or think,
He is a vendor of strong drink.

He says my nose would make a peasemeal warrior weep;
But I've seen a much bonnier sweep,
And a more manly and wiser man
Than he is by far, deny it who can!

And, in conclusion, I'd have him to beware,
And never again to interfere with a poet's hair,
Because Christ the Saviour wore long hair,
And many more good men, I do declare.

Therefore I laugh at such bosh that appears in print.
So I hope from me you will take the hint,
And never publish such bosh of poetry again,
Or else you'll get the famous Weekly News a bad name.

Plenty more of where this came from at McGonagall Online

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool...

 ...than to speak out and remove all doubt. David Starkey should have borne this quote in mind before spewing shite on Newsnight

Things got out of hand and we’d had a few drinks....

...We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets.”

David Cameron 1986

Boris being Our  august mayor of London. You've got to love the hi jinks of the upper classes

12 August 2011

Photohunt - One

All photos © 2011 Shaun P Downey

The theme for this week's photo hunt is one. So why a photo of two people? They are not an item (although they are good friends).

My newphew Tim and Celena are excellent models who have a unique chemistry which allows them to act as one.

They are also of course excellent solo models!

Mr Pot and Mr Kettle!

Our Deputy PM does not seem to enjoy being reminded that when he was younger he was convicted of arson himself.... (at around 5 minutes into the interview)

The following is from a Daily Mail article (I know I don't usually source info from that rag but this time....)

Oh, the cactus,' he says, placing his head in his hands for a moment, then rubbing his face. 'I just behaved very, very badly. I was on an exchange in Germany and I drank far, far, far too much. I was a teenager. I lost it, really.'

Lost it? He does seem genuinely agitated. 'What I mean is I was drunk...' Yes, he said that. What on? 'They had this beer brewed in monasteries near Munich. Kloster Andechs. Unbelievably strong. Which clearly I couldn't take.'

Clegg was 16 years old, a public schoolboy abroad. So what happened? 'Yeah... I, erm, I was at a party and I drifted into a greenhouse with a friend, saw it was full of cacti and lit a match to find our way, as there were no lights on. The flame accidentally touched one of the cacti, which glowed rather beautifully.'
Was it an accident, then? He looks at me. Only at first, it seems. 'We did that to a fair number of the cacti. Not really knowing what we'd done.' 

I can't help but laugh, at the story and the look on his face, but he objects. He treated this like a joke when, cleverly, he made it public at a fringe meeting in 2007, before the leadership election. He doesn't think it's so funny now. 'No, it's not... I mean, genuinely.It was the leading collection of cacti in Germany.'

The greenhouse belonged to a professor of botany whose life's work had been to gather and nurture exotic specimens from all over the world. 'He'd been to the jungles of Brazil and stuff to find these cacti.'

The boys weren't arrested, because they ran away. 'We didn't know what we were doing. We were teenagers, we'd drunk too much - frankly, we did behave appallingly, irresponsibly, criminally. Next morning, one of the organisers of the exchange rang me up and said, "We know you did this." I came clean.' 
 I doubt,somehow, that he would have if he wasn't confronted...
 Make of this what you will. Cjearly arson is no bar to progression so perhaps there is hope for some of the looters yet....

You will pay for this

10 August 2011

And another Ambassador for Romford!


A true Ambassador for Romford...

Romford may now hold the dubious distinction of being the home to the youngest person to appear in court in connection with the riots.

An eleven year old youth appeared at Highbury Corner Youth Court, where he admitted being part of a gang that attacked the Romford branch of Debenhams on Monday night.

According to the Telegraph the youth apeared in court wearing an Adidas tracksuit. He spoke only  to confirm his name, age and date of birth.

He pleaded guilty to burglary, after stealing a waste bin worth £50 from Debenhams. A charge of violent disorder was dropped.During the brief hearing the court heard the boy has already been given a referral order after being convicted of a separate offence just last week. No details of the conviction were given.

Prosecutor Steven Davis told the court: "This was 10.30pm on Monday evening with a background of serious violence in Romford. "Police saw a group of 20-30 youths who were approaching large stores, breaking windows and looting. They saw Debenhams had had its windows broken and they saw [the boy] approach the window that had been smashed, lean in, take a waste bin and run off with it."

He said when police stopped the boy, he said: "I was just taking it to pass on to somebody else."

Mr Davis said the bin was worth £50. The damage to the windows was £6,000 but it is not alleged the boy broke them.

Defending the 11 year-old, Vicky Thompson said he was given a referral order after being convicted last Wednesday, but it had not even begun yet.

The youth was supported in court by his ten year old girlfriend, their three year old twin sons and his nineteen year old mother....

Smell the pretty flowers

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

And then a little breeze

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

09 August 2011

The best comment on the riots I've heard

This video of a brave Hackney woman seems to have gone viral. As I support her sentiments I will push it out a little further

H/t to Martin in the Margins

Iran condemns British police

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast urged the British government to order the police to stop their violent confrontation with the people, 

Mehmanparast asked the British government to start dialogue with the protesters and to listen to their demands in order to calm the situation down.  He  also asked independent human rights organizations to investigate the killing in order to protect the civil rights and civil liberties.

This looks as if it is from the Onion when in fact it is a Press tv report! Given Iran's sensitive and gentle approach to policing disturbances the protest is of course utterly justified... Ha!

The Iranian Government has a nerve to lecture anyone on policing disturbances . The diplomatic response would be to tell them to rearrange the words "off" and "fuck" into a well known phrase or saying

Rioting in Romford... sort of

Early evening last night I saw a few rumours on Twitter and Facebook that Romford was set for distrubances. I kept an eye on Tweeets about Romford and after a while rumours abounded - Primark was burning, McDonalds and Costa Coffee had been smashed, even Romford station was ablaze!

I love quite close to Romfrod town centre. A quick check outside my back door confirmed that the sky was not glowing orange from anything other than light pollution and there was not much screeching of sirens.

In a moment of impetuousness I loaded my tatty Lowepro camera rucksack with my old Nikon D50 and a couple of lenses and headed towards the centre.

Victoria Road, the main location of fast food joints and Chinese and Indian restaurants was largely deserted, the eateries closer to the centre  being shut. The area outside the station was deserted except for  groups of police officers and a few people exiting a railway station that was clearly not in the slightest bit ablaze.

The South street bars and clubs from the Goose (once the Mawney Arms) to Yates's (formerly office accommodation if I remember rightly) ere all closed but it was clear that neither McDonalds nor the Costa coffee shop were smoking piles.

Moving further on into the pedestrian part of South street it was clear that Primark was  fully intact. However there were a number of youths milling around  further on so I decided to head home. Nothing to photograph.

Mercifully I missed the disturbances. It seems that there were disturbances in the market place:

The shop being atacked was Debenhams

This afternoon Romford was much quieter than one would expect even on a non-market day. By 2.30pm the banks were shut Other shops although the two branches of Greggs were already closed (a casus belli?)

In the daylight some minor damage could be seen: A pane broken at Debenhams

Smeone must have decided they fancied something a bit less chavvy for their girlfriend

 And finally some sort of attack on a chav couturier

Amazingly last night the one place that was open (or at least had the lights on behind the solid doors) was the knocking shop on South street that masquerades as a sauna. Perhaps they were the ones to embody the Blitz spirit!

Ach the chocolate teapots that pretend to be our Prime Minister, Deputy PM, Home Secretary and Mayor of London have cut short their holidays. Far more police will be on the streets tonight. I wonder what will happen across the city tonight.