27 September 2012

Shape of things to come

A non hit from 1979.  Shirl has the single.

Woman 1 Cleric 0

Old news I know but still worth a belated post. RFE/RL reported on this incident last week.

An Iranian cleric claimed that he was beaten up by a woman when he accosted her for being improperly dressed:

I politely told her to cover herself up," said Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti, an Iranian cleric in the city of Shamirzad in Semnan Province, describing a recent encounter with a woman he believed was improperly veiled.

"She responded to me by saying: 'You [should] close your eyes.'"

The cleric said he repeated his warning to the “bad hijab” woman, which is a way of describing women who do not fully observe the Islamic dress code that became compulsory following the 1979 revolution.

"Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she also insulted me. I asked her not to insult me anymore, but she started shouting and threatening me," Beheshti said. "She pushed me and I fell to the ground on my back. From that point on, I don’t know what happened. I was just feeling the kicks of the woman who was beating me up and insulting me."

He said he was hospitalized for three days following the attack.

For the past 30 years, Iranian women have been harassed, detained, fined, and threatened by the morality police, security forces, and zealots over their appearance. Women have fought back in different ways, including by pushing the boundaries of acceptable dress and criticizing the rules, which apply only to women.

Officially, the hijab is promoted as “protection” for women against evil in society. For many women, however, the hijab feels like a burden, an insult, a limitation of their freedom and an attempt to keep them under control.

Young girls often cite the mandatory hijab as one of the main reasons they want to leave Iran and move to another country. Women being mistreated by the police because of their hijabs have become a common scene on the streets of the Iranian capital and other cities, especially during the hot summer months when the hijab crackdown intensifies.

The situation has led to conflicts between women and religious zealots such as Beheshti, who believe that the Islamic principle of “commanding right and forbidding wrong” makes it their duty to lecture women about their appearance and choice of dress.

Mehr reports that attacks against clerics similar to the one involving Beheshti are not rare. The news agency issued the names of three other clerics, including a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who have been attacked.

Beheshti says he didn’t file a complaint against the woman who attacked him, despite going through “the worst days of his life.”

According to Mehr, the case is being reviewed by the judiciary. The region’s prosecutor told the news agency that the case is being investigated but wouldn’t give any details. The prosecutor has referred to the case as an incident of a "public beating."

Of course, when the same type of incident is reversed -- a "badly veiled" women beaten in public by police -- it’s simply a necessary enforcement of the dress code.

I don't condone violence but I must admit that I can't feel anything but sympathy towards the woman in questoin. I'm glad that she isn't receiving multiple beatings at the hands of the Iranian authorities

Kelvin Mackenzie has a nerve

As editor of the Sun Kelvin Mackenzie gave the go ahead  for some disgraceful stories but none worse than one titled "The Truth" in which the paper smeared the conduct of Liverpool fans during the Hilsborough disster in 1989. It claimed that Liverpool fans urinated on police officers and stole from the dead. Other papers did run the story too but couched it in conjectural terms and backtracked very quickly.  Hee is the Suns's front page fro that edition:

The  Taylor report into the disaster put responsibility for the tragedy firmly on the police. The recent findings of the Hillsborogh Independent Panel revealed the extent to which  the police conspired to shift the blame for the disaster from their shoulders and on to the fans. The false story of fan misconduct was a police fabrication.

Yesterday it was reported that MacKenzie had instructed solicitors to demand an “apology and recompense” from South Yorkshire Police over the newspaper's discredited reporting of the Hillsborough disaster. 

According to extracts published on the Spectator's website, Mr MacKenzie wrotes: "Now I know - you know, we all know - that the fans were right. But it took 23 years, two inquiries, one inquest and research into 400,000 documents, many of which were kept secret under the 30-year no-publication rule, to discover there was a vast cover-up by South Yorkshire Police about the disaster.
"Where does that leave me?"

Mackenzie apologised to the people of Liverpool following the ubliation of the Hilsborough Independent Panel's report. However he had remained steadfast in his belief that the the fans had commited those terrible acts right up to that moment.

I simply cannot believe that Mackenzie has the gall to try and portay himself as some sort of victim in this story albeit an indirect victim. Words fail me.

I will let the Liverpool Echo do the talking for me instead

This isn’t a sick joke. It’s beyond sick. Let’s just ponder this madness for a moment – Kelvin MacKenzie, a sad and miserable apology for a human being who seemingly didn’t care that he was defiling the memory of those who died at Hillsborough and defaming the survivors and the entire city of Liverpool, wants an apology.

... it’s the poverty-stricken tactic of a man who has been surfing the sewers for more than 23 years and is now desperate to save his own skin – and future employment opportunities on radio and television channels and in newspapers that might still be foolish enough to consider hiring him.

 MacKenzie wants South Yorkshire Police to apologise for the “vilification” he has received since his notorious front page. Why was he vilified? Er, because he happily accepted their allegations – their lies – as facts.

Kelvin MacKenzie, we know what you are – and, hopefully, the rest of the country now does, too. An apology? How low can you go?

20 September 2012

Just to tide you over

Here's a short film featuring Leonard Rossiter as Le Petomane Obviously it has plenty of inaccuracies (eg the San Fransisco Earthquake took place five years after Queen Victoria died). Still it is a lot of fun!

Stillnot blogging with enthusiasm

Much as I intned to keep the Poor Mouth going it's been hard recently to keep up the enthusiasm.Perhpas that is because of various things going on in real life and not just my uncle.

I think time for another rest. It may only be for a few days it may be for a bit longer.

19 September 2012

Le Petomane in sound and vision (but not both together)

Aparently this is footage of Joseph Pujol of an Edison film from 1900.I have no idea if this genuine. It would e great if it is.There is no soundtrack

I can't make out the French too well

Not forgetting that it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day today

Stalin the Banjo years

 I know I've posted this before but it still sort of amuses me. It's a detail from a group picture of Royal Engineers during WWIThat Shirl's father owns. The full photo includes her great grandfather

18 September 2012

Fire Devil

Chris Tangey is a very lucky man as he witnessed a 100-foot-high (30-meter-high) whirlwind of fire tore around a patch of Australian Outback on Tuesday (Sept. 11).

According to a report on Yahoo  filmmaker Tangey captured some very rare footage of the startling phenomenon while out scouting locations near Alice Springs, Australia.

Like the dust devils that spring up on clear, sunny days in the deserts of the Southwest, a fire devil is birthed when a disproportionately hot patch of ground sends up a plume of heated air. But while dust devils find their heat source in the sun, fire devils arise from hot spots in preexisting wildfires.

As the vortex rises and sucks the blaze up with it, its diameter begins to shrink and, like an ice skater pulling in her limbs to gather speed in a spin, its rotation accelerates.

Though humans rarely witness fire devils, they may be more common than we think. Their most likely home, the blazing heart of a raging forest fire, is usually hidden from our view, Because fire devils are filmed even less often than they're seen, not much is known on the range of dimensions and speeds the phenomena can take on.

Tangey's film might help to improve meteorologists' understanding of fire devils.

Perhaps it will advance meteorologial knowledge but for me it's a case of "Wow! Look at that!"

Does Romney want to win in November?

17 September 2012

Parthenogenesis found in wild snakes

Some eyars ago. I remember reporting on an example of parthenogenesis  b a Komodo Dragon. According to the BBC a  form of virgin birth has been found in wild vertebrates for the first time.

Researchers in the US caught pregnant females from two snake species - cottonmouths and copperheads - and genetically analysed the litters. They found that they reproduced without a male, a phenomenon called facultative parthenogenesis that has previously been found only in captive species.
It was thought to be extremely rare for a normally sexual species to reproduce asexually.
First identified in domestic chickens, such "virgin births" have been reported in recent years in a few snake, shark, lizard and bird species.

Crucially though, all such virgin births have occurred in captivity, to females kept away from males.
Virgin births in vertebrates in general have been viewed as "evolutionary novelties", said Warren Booth, from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, US.

Professor Booth is lead author of a paper published in the Royal Society's Biological Letters that challenges this label. He and his collaborators investigated virgin births in wild populations of two geographically separated and long-studied species of snake.

They captured pregnant copperhead and cottonmouth female pit-vipers from the field, where males were present. The snakes gave birth, allowing the scientists to study the physical and genetic characteristics of the litters. Of the 22 copperheads, the scientists found one female that must have had a virgin birth. Another single virgin birth occurred within the 37 cottonmouth litters.

"I think the frequency is what really shocked us," said Prof Booth. "That's between 2.5 and 5% of litters produced in these populations may be resulting from parthenogenesis. That's quite remarkable for something that has been considered an evolutionary novelty," he said.

Parthenogenisis is not uncommon in invertebrates such as aphids, bees and ants.It also happens in a few all-female species of lizard; geckos and whiptails for example. But here it occurs across a generation; all females reproduce asexually via a process called obligate parthenogenesis.
But asexual reproduction by a normally sexual vertebrate species is still rare, having been reported in under 0.1% of species.

It was only in the mid-1990s that virgin births began to be documented in captive snakes, followed by a captive giant lizard in 2006 and a captive shark in 2007. To date this now includes around 10 species of snakes including a couple of boas, and a python, four species of shark, and several monitor lizards, including the endangered Komodo dragon. Recently the zebra finch and Chinese painted quail were added to the list. All were kept in isolation in unnatural conditions and away from any males.

So to find asexual reproduction in two species of snake in the wild on their first attempt was "astounding", according to Prof Booth and his collaborators. Virgin births should no longer be viewed as "some rare curiosity outside the mainstream of evolution, It remains unclear whether the female snakes actively select to reproduce this way, or whether the virgin births are triggered by some other factor, such as a virus or bacterial infection. Any answer is pure speculation at this point,"

The parthenogenicly born copperheads and cottonmouths are being raised and in in the next two to three years it will be known whether they are indeed viable, if they cannot survive and reproduce, then this is a reproductive dead-end.

"However, if they are healthy and can reproduce, that opens an entirely new avenue for research," said Profesor Booth.

Being able to switch from sexual to asexual reproduction could be advantageous; in the absence of males a female could still give birth and start a new, albeit inbred, population.
Her genes could still be passed on via her fertile male offspring.
Scientists believe that facultative parthenogenesis is more common in some lineages such as reptiles and sharks.

However it is unlikely that similar virgin births will be found among placental mammals, which include all the mammals aside from the platypus and echidnas. The interaction between the two sets of parental genes is required for embryos to develop normally.

This is utterly fascinating tuff... to me anyway

Environmentalist marries earthworms

The Telegraph reports that Taiwanese activists have married 70 "lucky earthworms" in an elaborate wedding ritual in a bid to raise awareness about the environment and the problem of soil erosion.

The worms arrived Sunday at Takang Park in Tainan city inside a traditional wedding sedan draped in red cloth to "tie the knot with the soil of the park", Takang Community Development Association said.

"The ceremony was implemented exactly according to traditional Taiwanese customs," said Huang Sen-nan, the leader of the volunteer group."We want to raise public awareness about the need to protect the land where we live."
Soil erosion - which can contribute to landslides during typhoons - is one of Taiwan's main environmental problems. The presence of worms can help the prevention of soil erosion by improving soil structure and drainage.

Well errr.....

Attack of the Giant Slugs

The Independent reports that a plague of “super-slugs” has arrived in the UK from Spain, travelling on imported salads and flowers.

 “The Spanish Slug (Arion vulgaris) and a close relative nicknamed the Spanish Stealth Slug (Arion flagellus) are both an invasion threat,” said Gordon Port, an invertebrate expert from the Newcastle University. “Both species are known to be present in the UK, but in mainland Europe they have produced plagues and it is only a matter of time before the same thing happens here.”

The giant Spanish slug, which can grow up to 15cm long, has already travelled as far as Wales. They produce hundreds more eggs than native slugs meaning they are capable of overrunning British species. They could also spread parasites and diseases that could wipe out native slugs.

The slugs aren't picky when it comes to eating. They've been known to eat through dead rabbits, dog faeces and even their fellow slugs. Drivers are also at risk. The plagues of slugs are known to cause slicks on the road where they have been run over and squashed.
Another non native species that has the potential to cause trouble. Not the first and won't be the last

15 September 2012

Or perhaps this

I doubt some americans would like the lyrics to this one

Mars Curiosity Rover Theme

 A Facebook page for the Mars Curiosity Rover is asking for suggestions for a soundtrack to the mission. Here's a choice but I doubt Americans would like the lyrics.

14 September 2012

An old cat enjoying his rest

He my look pretty decrepit these days but he still going strong-ish. Sometimes we do wake him up to make sure he hasn't died on us

Kate Middleton Topless Pics

Will not be found here.  You don't have to be a royalist to consider them a gross invasion of privacy. I get the feeling that the editor of Closer (the French version, not the British version which owned by a totally separate company)will rue the day she authorised publication.

12 September 2012

Ex-Tory MP unlikely to be welcome in Liverpool

Sir Irvne Patnick was the Tory MP for Sheffield Hallam until he was booted out at the 1997 generl election. He seemed to be a generic right wing arsehole supporter of clause 28 and the death penalty and opposed sanctions on  South Africa.

Today's report named Patnick was one of the sources of the lies printed by the Sun about the behaviour of Liverpool fans (Apparently he was named earlier but today the story is widespread). Strangey he is refusing to talk to the press.

Shame he wasn't so reticent in 1989.

There are calls for him to be stripped on his knighthood. Probably won't happen but I daresay the old bastard doesn't have many friends right now

Apology or not Kelvin Mackenzie is still a shit

23 years ago Kelvin Mackenzie, the then editor of the Sun ran a story titled "The Truth" which claimed that Liverpool fans robbed and urinated on the dead and dying at Hillsborough.

Even six years ago  He was bullishly defending this position.During an after-dinner speech to New Calstle law firm Mincoffs Solicitors LLPon 30 November 2006, he said:

All I did wrong there was tell the truth. There was a surge of Liverpool fans who had been drinking and that is what caused the disaster. The only thing different we did was put it under the headline "The Truth". I went on world at one the next day and apologised. I only did that because Rupert Murdoch told me to. I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now because we told the truth.

 Today he has changed his tune offering this statement:

Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline.
I too was totally misled. Twenty three ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium.
I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster.
As the Prime Minister has made clear these allegations were wholly untrue and were part of a concerted plot by police officers to discredit the supporters thereby shifting the blame for the tragedy from themselves.
It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth.
I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong.

 A case of too little too late, Im afraid. Somehow I doubt that poor contrite Kelvin will be seen enjoying the "Sene of Sight" at the Walker Gallery any time soon.

The Sun was not the only paper to carry such lies but they all retracted the story quickly afterward. It was not until 2004 that the Sun apologised. and it took until today for Mackenzie to utter these words. Mackenzie is still a scumbag.

Hillsborough Indepenent Panel reported today

I won't dwell on the findings of the Hilsborough Independent Panel's findings to long. They are hugely covered by the press

23 years ago 96 people died at an FA cup semi Final at the Hillsborough stadium as a result of being crushed after police utterly mishandled control of Liverpool fans. While the police were held responsible for the disaster by the subsequent Taylor Inquiry  not a single officer was disciplined for the day's events. Worse still the Sun and the Express vilified the fans with tales of Liverpool fans robing and urinating on the dead and dying. To this day the Sun sells relatively few copies in Liverpool.

Today the Hillsborough Independent  released its findings and the findings are damning with plentu of shame to go round. The police and the Ambulance service were far more interested after the event in covering up their misgivings the police then devoted significant efforts to vilifying the fans.

But what makes my blood boil is the revelation that 41 of the dead might not have died if the police and ambulance service not been utterly incompetent. That is not to say that all of these would have been saved but it is possible that the appalling death toll might have been smaller had they done their jobs properly.

Sadly I doubt than many or any of those responsible for this appalling disaster will end up in court.

11 September 2012

No Big Surprise

The BBC is reporting that new evidence seems to back the idea that the Roosevelt administration not wishing to antagonise its wartime ally,  helped cover up Soviet guilt for the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish soldiers.

More than 22,000 Poles were killed by the Soviets on Stalin's orders. Soviet Russia only admitted to the atrocity in 1990 after blaming the Nazis for five decades.

Documents, released by the US National Archives, supported the suspicion that the US did not want to anger its wartime ally, Joseph Stalin. According to a review of the documents by the Associated Press, they show that American prisoners of war sent coded messages to Washington in 1943 saying they had been taken to see corpses in an advanced state of decay in the Katyn forest near Smolensk, in western Russia. The group of American and British POWs had been taken by the Nazis against their will to witness the scene.

What they saw convinced two Americans, Capt Donald B Stewart and Lt Col John Van Vliet, that the killings must have been carried out by the Soviets, rather than the Nazis, who did not occupy the area until 1941.

A statement from one, Captain Donald B Stewart, made in 1950, confirmed he sent a coded message, the gist of which was: "German claims regarding Katyn substantially correct in opinion of Van Vliet and myself."

They were apparently persuaded by the advanced state of decay of the bodies - suggesting they must have died before August 1941, when the Germans seized the area. They also saw items found on the bodies, including letters, diaries and other items, none of which was dated later than the spring of 1940.And the good state of the men's boots and clothing suggested the men had not lived long after being captured by invading Soviet forces.

It has long been believed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not want to question the version of events put out by Stalin, an ally whom the Americans were counting on to defeat Germany and Japan.  According to the report by the Associated Press, information about the massacre was suppressed at the highest levels in Washington.

Katyn expert Allen Paul told AP some of the material did not appear in the record of Congressional hearings in 1951-52 held to investigate the massacre, suggesting it had been deliberately kept hidden.

NO real surprise that the guilt over Katyn was suppressed during wartime.I am surprised that the evidence didn't come out early in he Cold War. Or perhapsthe US government did not want to highlight the fact that it had not acted on the information.

With a soviet admission over 20 years ago it's all a it academic.
One headline I've seen call it a fairytale in New York (as opposed to J P Donleavy's A Fairytale of New York or the Pogues song which misses off the indefinite article) But Andy Murray has become the first Briton in 76 years to win a Grand Slam tennis title.

I'm not a tennis fan - I don't find tennis to be very engaging. I don't for a second belittle the skills of the top players though.

Just when the country was about to have a huge sporting hangover following the succces of the Olympic and Paralympic games, Murry provides the perfect book end to a  great British sporting summer which started with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France. Wiggins and Murray also added to the cheer by winning Olympic golds.

The rest of the year will be an anticlimax but choosing the BC Sports personality of the year will be a tough one. I thought Wiggins would be a shoo-in but it will be a bit closer now.I daresy it will be  toss up between Wiggins Murray and Mo Farah and perhaps David Weir and possibly Jessica Ennis and Sarah Storey.

10 September 2012

A prediction

Whether you think it right or wrong (personally I don't mind it at all) but will be plenty of honours awarded New Year's Honours list ro our olympians and paralympians. I only hope that coaches and all the others who made the success possible are properly recognised as well. Still here re my predictions for knight- or damehoods:

David Brailsford the performance director of British cycling and one of the driving forces behind British dominnce of track cycling in recent years

Bradley Wiggins the first British Toure de France winner who also won his seventh olympic medl and his fourth gold.

Ben Anslie who won his fourht consecutive Olympic sailing gold medal. He had also won siver in Atlanta. His medal tally means that he is the most successful ever olympic sailor.

 Given team GB's continuing succes in rowing performance director David Tanner may also be knighted

Srah Storey added four gold medals to the two cycling golds she won in Beijing and the 5 golds, 8 silvers and 3 bronzes she won in swimming at the Barcelona,  Atlanta Sydney and Athens games. She is now our most successful paralympian

David Wir who won 4 golds in London dding to the 2 golds 1 silver and 1 bronze he won in Beijings and the silver and bronze he won in Athens

I don't think Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis will receive a knight- or dame-hood this time. If they retain titles in Rio then they will be shoo-ins. Ellie Simmonds is too young.

I would put money on Sebastian Coe becoming a Companion of Honour

As for Chris Hoy he is already a Knight batchelor. Give him another knighthood?

Our Revels now are ended

I'm not a huge sports fan well when I say that I mean I have no interest in cricket (boring), football (nonimlly I was a West Ham fan but my last interest was killed in the fighting in the game against Millwall in 2009) Formula 1 big american games. Mind you I've always enjoyed athletics (not that I had any talent that way apart from being very modestly fast over 100 to 400m) and cycling since the days of  Sean Kelly, Robert Millar and of course Stephen Roche.

That said the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been a wonderful feasts of sport with particular success for British competitors.  For a little while football mercifully took a back seat whci cn only e a good thing.

Perhaps the best thing was that the naysayers had to shut up. Okay there were a few glitches (the North Korean flag thing) but they were minor. The transport system held up, people came in droves and things generally went very smoothly

Will things change? I would like to think so but it won't be long before refugees are vilified again despite this man's achievements:

That's Mo Farah if you have already forgotten. It also won't be long before the tabloids are painting  people with disabilities as benefits scroungers again.See my previous post: Leo McKinstry has already started that shit again.

Despite my cynicism I really do  hope that both games inspire a generation.

09 September 2012

Hack Journalist recommences war on the vulnerable

The greatest Paralympic games ever are all over bar tonight's closing ceremony.For all the fine words expressed it proably won't be long before the hacks are back to providing distorted and inaccurate stries about disability fraud.

It looks like one particularly unpleasant hack, Leo McKinstry,restarted the war ahead of schedule. in an Express article on 5 Septebmer titled THE PARALYMPICS SHOW UP A CORRUPT BENEFITS SYSTEM McKinstry starts off with praising the games and the participants to teh high heavens:

"The Paralympic games have shown the human spirit at its most inspirational. In every arena, we have witnessed astonishing feats of endeavour, skill and determination from competitors who refuse to be held back by their physical disabilities...  Just like in the Olympics last month, the British parlympic team has performed magnificently over recent days, reaching second place in the medal table.And our country can also take great pride in how superbly these Games have been organised and supported.
The crowds at the venues have been at capacity. Such enthusiasm reflects well on our enlightened attitude towards disability....."

But then the tone changes:

Yet some have refused to join the celebrations. Throughout the Paralympics, there has been a constant soundtrack of grievance from welfare rights campaigners who complain that coalition government’s support for the Games is in graphic contrast to their policy of social security reform... The anger of the welfare rights lobby over the Paralympics is just part of an increasingly hysterical campaign against the Government over benefits reform....

What ministers are trying to do is reform the welfare system so that it no longer rewards fraudsters and scroungers, but instead targets its funds at those most in deed... Claims have rocketed in recent decades because the system is so lax. In fact, the definition of incapacity has been remorselessly expanded to widen the scope for dependency.

No fewer than 77,000 drug addicts and alcoholics receive Disability Living Allowance because of their self-inflicted conditions, while claims for incapacity benefit are dominated, not by the physically disabled, but by those with mental health problems like depression, stress and behavioural disorders. ..  
The bill for all forms of disability and incapacity welfare now reaches over £25 billion.

Can't speak for the number of alcoholics and drug addicts on such benefits but his sneering tone about depression, stress and behavioural disorders are a disgrace. Perhaps it should be pointed out that mental health problems can't be sorted out by shouting at a person to snap out of it.persones with psychiatric

AND the anti-reform campaigners are in denial about the extent of this costly failure. They are fond of telling us that fraud represents just 0.5 per cent of disability claims, but that is a completely bogus figure.

But this is the Government's OWN  assessment of Disability Living Allowance fraud. More money is paid out in error by the Department of Work and Pension than due to fraud. Clearly McKinstry does not consider the government's own figures to be reliable.Perhaps because they don't back up his worldview.

In the courts there is a constant parade of cases involving serious benefits fraud, like the conviction last week of serial cheat Barry Brooks, who grabbed £1.8 million from the taxpayer by pretending to be confined to a wheelchair.

Brooks did not cheat on benefit ut he set up a fraudulent company which claimed that amount in bogus disability access grant. He is a fraud but not a benefits scrounger. It is a bad example of benefits fraud

In addition, the assessments carried out by the muchmaligned ATOS have helped to expose the widespread levels of abuse.  More than half of those examined have proved fit for work...

And yet  39% 0f appeals against DLA assessments are upheld. Not exactly a good statistic.

The "reality"painted by lazy hacks like McKinstry serves only to demonise the vulnerable but then that is what bullies do.

Another Southern Hawker Dragonfly close up

Another Southern Hawker photo

07 September 2012

Enjoying the September Sun

Another Garden Spider

A dominance other competitors can dream of

Dutch tennis player Esther Vergeer has just won the women's wheelchair tennis title for the fourth time  thus joining the the small number of olympians and paralympians who have won gold medals at four or more games.

While some events such as swimming  lend themselves to winning large number of medals (see Trishca Zorn with over 30 gold medals from six games) Esther competes in a sport where it is simply not possible to win so many medals ( she has won a total of six golds and one silver the other medals being won in the doubles event, which she is not competing in in 2012)

Outside of the papralympics her dominance is amazing including 42 grand slam titles. What is most astonishing is that she has been undefeated in her last 470 singles matches. That means that she has not lost a match since 2003!

Very few sportsmen and women can come close although Jahangir Khan was undefeated in 555 squash matches between 1981 and 1986. Somehow I get the feling that Esther may ust break that record!

06 September 2012

World to change on 12 December according to soap star

Coronation Street' star Bill Roache believes  that the human race is moving on to a 'higher vibration' and that after 12 December the world will 'change dramatically'.

Roache, made the comments about his beliefs in an interview with spiritual and metaphysical interest magazine 'Silent Voices'.

Speaking about the date of 12 December, which ancient civilisation the Mayans believed would signal a cataclysm on Earth, he said:

“This will be the Golden Age, when a majority will know they are love and they are spiritual beings. The earth will continue to cleanse itself while material and negative things will collapse and cease to be.“I am not now, nor have I ever been a spiritualist” he added. “Understand we are all pure love, made in love, living in love. It is urgent to get this over. Time is running out. The energy and light of the Creator is love. Love is the life force, it is everything, it is the law of attraction. I have always known that there are beings around me, loving and guiding, and never more so than now.”

Roache also apparently entered into telepathic communication with a homeopathic doctor. He went on to say that we shall all communicate in this way in the future.

“He was able to appear on the astral plane, come into a dream and actually speak to me that way,” he said of the doctor.

In January this year, he said that he had used animal psychic Jackie Weaver to communicate with his dog Poppy.

“Jackie said Poppy even did an impersonation of my on-screen wife Deirdre, saying, 'Oh, Ken' in a drawn-out, exasperated way,” he said.

“I wasn't aware she'd ever watched me in the show.”

Well there you have it. Clearly the Mayan doomsday prophecy doesn't take place on 21 December  but on the 12th. ut then a dickhead who gets pet psychics to talk to his dog and communicates telepathically with a homeopath is a tinfoil nutter to be listened to!

Internet has no offswitch

Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the world wide web has denied there is an "off-switch" which could turn off the internet across the globe. He said the only way the internet could ever be entirely shut down is if governments all over the world co-ordinated to make it a centralised system.

Speaking at the launch of the first ever global league table classifying countries which put the web to work best, the Berners-Lee said: "The way the internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system. At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off-switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off. In order to be able to turn the whole thing off or really block, suppress one particular idea then the countries and governments would have to get together and agree and co-ordinate and turn it from a decentralised system to being a centralised system. And if that does happen it is really important that everybody fights against that sort of direction."

Asked about rumours that he himself was one a handful of people who had the ability to switch off the net, Sir Tim joked: "I am afraid that now that you know I will have to shoot you. I have put on filters which allow me just to investigate just every single word that any of you have said to each other. You won't know what is happening but as you talk to each other it will be quietly modified to appear to be whatever I want you to be saying. I will take a deep control of the world. Apart from that, everything will remain as usual."

"The free exchange of ideas is what is behind democracy or any kind of open way of living and when you control the press, when you control television, radio or now what you might call the web, all the transactions of knowledge that flow between people, individuals and countries, when firewalls are put around that, when information is not allowed in or out of a country, it is pretty much inexcusable."

So no off-switch  Sir Tim? Everyone knows that he is the Grand Elder of the Internet with the power of electronic life and death over us all!

05 September 2012

New nations on the Paralympic medal table

The paralympic games are in ful swing and there has been plenty of fine sport to watch. At present 70 nations have won mealsjust six short of the the record 76 nations that won medals in Beijing- and there are over four days to go.

Three new nations have joined the all time medal list with podium places in track and field events: Fiji (gold), Ethiopia and Sri Lanka (bronze medals).

Here's hoping that the meal table for the London games will be longer than that at Beijing with more countries winning their first medals.

Scotch: The Final Frontier

The BBC reports that A limited edition whisky has been launched to mark a unique experiment in space.

A rocket carrying vials of chemical compounds from Ardbeg's Islay distillery was blasted up to the International Space Station last year to test the effects of near zero gravity on the maturation process.
The micro-organic compounds will spend up to two years in space interacting with charred oak in near zero gravity conditions.The results will be compared with a control sample currently maturing at Ardbeg's Islay distillery.

Dr Bill Lumsden, director of distilling and whisky creation at Ardbeg, said: "So far so good. The experiment went live in January when the scientists broke the separating wall between the two components. "We will not know the results for another year or so but in the meantime we thought we would celebrate the experiment by the introduction of Ardbeg Galileo - our own earthly tribute to the scientific experiment taking place far up in space."

Ardbeg has now released "Ardbeg Galileo" to celebrate the event. The limited edition 12-year-old single malt whisky is a vatting of different styles of Ardbeg laid down in 1999.

Ardbeg was invited in late 2011 by Texas-based space research company NanoRacks to take part in the two-year space experiment. The vials that were launched by Soyuz rocket from Baikanur in Kazakhstan in late 2011 contain a class of chemical compounds known as "terpenes".

Ardbeg said the experiment could explain the workings of these large, complex molecules and help uncover new information about the change they undergo in a near zero gravity environment.
The test should also help Ardbeg find new chemical building blocks in their own flavour spectrum and could have applications for a variety of commercial and research products.

The space programme helping the wisky industry. That's what science is for! I wonder how a single malt will rank against Romulan ale and Klingon blood wine.... time will tell!

04 September 2012

The second part of the Final Countdown IT Crowd

And perhaps my favourite IT Crowd episode

And some ight relief - why I love the IT Crowd

From "The Speech" Jen wins Employee of the Month. Roy and Moss have fun with her convinving her that a small box is the internet.....

Boss Douglas Reynholm finds love with a journalist of a magazine that awarded him their shithead of the year accolade. However when she tells him she used to be a man he initially thinks she said she was from Iran.....


Well closure came today with Denis's funeral. He had a full catholic requiem mass  then burial then back to the church hall for a mini wake.It helped that it took place on a bright sunny day. I expected mum to be upset but it seems that she has come to terms with losing her two surviving siblings within a few months. No tears no sombreness ust a reasonably happy day (as happy as such a day could be) celebrating the life of a kind and gentle man.

Now to sort out his financial affairs. This is going to be a pain in the arse.