28 February 2013

Dermot Morgan 15 years on

Is it really 15 years since Dermot Morgan died. Here's a couleof non Father Ted clips. I wish I saw his standup routine

And y choice for the Contact page

My favourite photograph of a supremely talented artist

New Website

This is the cover photo for a new website I've setup for my photographs. Its only a Wix site.When I have oney I will create something better again. If you've seen my portfolio log or my Facebook photogrphy page then there's not a lot of new. content but I have created separate pages for Tim and for Li.

26 February 2013

Nominations for 2013 Diagram Prize!

The Diagram Prize  surely ranks with the Razzies and the IgNobels as one of the most coveted awards availale in this world today A few days ago the nominations for the 2013 prize were announcedandquite a fine line up there is as ever!

How Tea Cosies Changed the World – the 160-page follow-up to Really Wild Tea Cosies – is up against How to Sharpen Pencils and God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis to win the little sought-after accolade of the oddest book title of the year.

Loani Prior's tea cosy extravaganza, containing "24 vibrant new designs that transform the conventional tea cosy into a knitted piece of art", is one of six books shortlisted for the Diagram prize, alongside David Rees's "manifesto and a fully illustrated walk-through of the many, many, many ways to sharpen a pencil" and Tom Hickman's look at man's relationship with his penis.
A niche guide to pigeon housing, Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts, fairy hunter Reginald Bakeley's Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop and Was Hitler Ill?, an examination from a historian and a professor of medicine of whether Adolf Hitler was fully responsible for his crimes, complete the lineup for this year's Diagram prize

The Bookseller's Philip Stone said he was "particularly fond" this year of How to Sharpen Pencils, "not only because of its oddity, but because I find something beautiful in the fact a publisher has been brave enough to publish a book concerning a centuries-old implement in hardback in the digital age. Upon my next trip to my local independent bookshop, I hope to see it alongside all the pornographic literature that appears to be keeping the entire book industry in rude health."

According to Stone, the prize "draws welcome attention to an undervalued art".

"Publishers and booksellers know only too well that a title can make all the difference to the sales of a book," he continued. "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian has sold almost 1m copies to date, while books such as Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared perhaps all owe some of their success to their unusual monikers."

The winner will be chosen by a public vote at thebookseller.com and welovethisbook.com and announced on 22 March. The Bookseller's diarist and the prize's custodian Horace Bent said: "It remains a great honour of mine to represent a prize that draws attention to authors not called Hilary Mantel that may need a little help in gaining column inches and subsequently entering public consciousness and bookshop bestseller bays."

The shortlist

Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (Conari, £9.99)
God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman (Square Peg, £12.99)
How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior (Murdoch, £12.99)
How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees (Melville House, £12.99)
Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne (Foy's Pet Supplies, £51.50)
Was Hitler Ill? by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle (Polity Press, £20)

I cant wait to see who wins!

Astronomers break record for smallest exoplanet disovered

This may e a few days old but the BBC reported that astronomers have smashed the record for the smallest exoplanet beyond our Solar - finding one only slightly larger than our Moon.

To spot the tiny, probably rocky planet, they first needed to precisely measure the size of its host star.
They did so using "astroseismology" - effectively, turning tiny variations in the star's light into sounds.
A report in Nature describes the blistering, probably rocky planet, which orbits its star in just 13 days.
It is joined in this far-flung solar system by two other planets, one three-quarters Earth's size and one twice as large as Earth - all circling their star too closely to harbour liquid water or life.

Moving target The record for smallest "exoplanet" is routinely being broken, as astronomers get better and better at finding them.

The best tool in the planet-hunters' toolbox is the Kepler space telescope, which stares at a fixed part of the sky, trying to detect the tiny dips in stars' light that happens when planets pass in front of them: what is called a transit event.

In its earliest days, the Kepler team tended to find large planets - Jupiter- and Neptune-sized behemoths. In more recent years, the catalogue of exoplanet has seen an increasing number of so-called super-Earths, up to about twice the radius of our planet.But the new find is a planet just a third the size of that recent record-holder, smaller even than our Solar System's smallest planet, Mercury.

"I think it's an amazing technological achievement to be able to be able to detect small rocks like this," said Francois Fressin, a co-author of the paper based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It means we're really in the arena where it's possible to detect all the planets of our Solar System, but around other stars," he told BBC News.

The find of Kepler 37b and its two companions can in part be ascribed to a wealth of data from the Kepler telescope; it has been recording data for nearly four years, and signals that would once have been too small to see have been slowly accumulating, with smaller planets becoming more apparent.
But telling just how small a given planet is depends on a relative measurement: how much light there is when the planet is and is not in front of the host star. The degree to which we can know the planet's size depends on how well we can know the host star's size.

That is where the science of astroseismology comes in - and a team of experts in this area of science at the University of Birmingham in the UK took a look at the data.
"Inside stars it's a very noisy environment, and that noise sets up sound waves that travel all the way through the star," said Birmingham astrophysicist Prof Yvonne Elsworth.
"Some of (the waves) will resonate, just like a musical instrument - the turbulence causes them to ring at frequencies that are characteristic of the star," Prof Elsworth told BBC News.
"If we look at the star we can see those oscillations, the amount of light we get from the star varies - slowly and by a very small amount - at frequencies that tell us what's going on inside the star."
And also like a musical instrument, those "resonant" frequencies tell researchers just how big the star actually is.

'Decade of discovery' Together, the analyses point to the presence of three planets. Kepler 37b and c are about 30% and 74% as large as the Earth, and Kepler 37d is about twice Earth's radius.
  An artist's conception shows what the smallest of the three planets, Kepler 37b, may look like
The three orbit their star in 13, 21, and 40 days respectively - all within orbits just 20% of the Earth-Sun distance.

It is, in short, another interesting solar system to go in the burgeoning catalogues of exoplanets - and the notion that exoplanet news has been in plentiful supply in recent years is not lost on Dr Fressin.
"I understand that people could get bored by these successive announcements," he said.
"But hundreds or thousands of years from now, this will be remembered as the decade where discovery of other worlds of all kinds has been made possible."

What more to say but that this is truly fascinating stuff

Arctic Convoy Medal and Bomber Command Clasp Issue Imminent

The Guardian is reporting that surviving veterans of the Arctic convoys and Bomber Command will receive new medals or clasps within a fortnight following the government's decision to acknowledge their bravery during WWII.

Up to 250,000 veterans (So many? unless this includes relatives too) will be eligible for the decorations, but those still living or their widows will receive the awards first, the defence minister Mark Francois will announce on Tuesday.  Production of the Arctic Star medal and the Bomber Command clasp will begin this week after the final designs were agreed. The former has been based on the second world war stars, and the clasp is similar to the one given to veterans of the Battle of Britain.

The decision to award the decorations was made last December following a review by the former diplomat Sir John Holmes, who was asked by the prime minister to review the rules on military medals.

The Arctic convoys are credited with having played an important role in buoying Russia as Hitler mounted an invasion. The supplies helped the Red Army to push back against the Nazis, but this effort came at a cost.
More than 3,000 seamen were killed during 78 convoys that delivered 4m tonnes of cargo. Eighty-five merchant ships and 16 Royal Navy vessels were destroyed. It is thought 66,500 men sailed on the convoys, but only 200 are alive today.

Once again good news but too late in the day for the vast majority of Arctic Convoy and Bomer Command veterans. Still I am sure my father will be pleased to have a clasp to his 1939-45 star

18 February 2013

Waiting to die?

On Friday and Satuday Robyn looked as if he was about to give up the ghostHe didn't even want is Dreamies. But he's picked up again.Still it's only a matter of time before he dies.  He is a very old chap but he's had a good life


12 February 2013

Decided on a name for new cat - Jack!

Well if Ted was a lack and white cat named after Father Ted then Father Jack would provide the perfect name for his replacement!

11 February 2013

A new Ted Arrives on Wednesday

We hadn't planned on getting a new cat until after Robyn dies but a cat that looks rather like Ted needs a home so he will be with us on Wednesday.

04 February 2013


26 years ago today Meena, the founder of RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) was assassinated (whether by fundamentalist scum or scum in the pay of the soviet puppet regime, it is not known... although the balance of suspicion falls on the regime scum). She was just 30 years old and had devoted all of her adult life to the stuggle for women's rights in Afghanistan. The world lost an inspirational figure that day.

Meena called the women of Afghanistan sleeping lions, pledging that one day they would awake and roar. In 1977, at the age of 20, she launched the country's first movement for women's rights, calling her group the Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Its goals: the restoration of democracy, equality for men and women, social justice, and the separation of religion from the affairs of the state. But in a country mired in tradition and occupied by the Soviet Union, Meena's beliefs were threatening enough to get her assassinated. Ten years after founding RAWA, she was kidnapped and killed.

Although she was only 30 when she died, Meena had already planted the seeds of an Afghan women's rights movement based on the power of knowledge. She believed that if women were able to read and write, that if they could communicate and learn about the world, they would discover their own strength and could make a difference in their own society. After the Soviet invasion in 1979 she established schools and orphanages for refugees pouring over the border into Pakistan. Those schools offered opportunities never available previously to young Afghan women. "Meena didn't just give me an education; she taught me that I had the right to live a better life," says Sahar Saba, an early student at RAWA's first school in Quetta.

Although the status of women has advanced a little since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001, both the Karzai regime and its western backers are at best lukewarm on women's rights and the Taliban are resurgent. RAWA are needed as much today as they ever were.

In 2006 Meena was nominated as one of the Heroes of the past 60 years by the Asian edition of Time Magazine.  It was heartening to see her name alongside those of Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Aung Sang Suu Kyi