Archive for May, 2009

No Royal Flush for BNP?

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

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(Your typical BNP poster boy…?)

If you follow the numerous news stories about the gibbon like decline & fall of the British royal family even a little bit, you won’t really need the following reminders.

So, you have the Queen’s husband Prince Philip, who specialises in remarks like the one he made to a gathering of English students in China, “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” There’s now even a ‘greatest hits’ compilation on the market, called, ‘Duke of Hazard: The Wit and Wisdom of Prince Philip.’

Then, there are Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the thrown and his eldest son, Harry, who are both good at spearheading the odd ‘race awareness’ campaign, as the following story shows:

“A former top aide to Prince Charles has told the Guardian that the monarchy needs to boost its efforts to recruit more ethnic minority Britons as senior advisers to the royal family. She gave her view after a week in which two race rows have involved the royal family. Prince Harry had to apologise for calling an army colleague a “Paki” and using the term “rag head”, a term derogatory of Arabs, while Harris said that Prince Charles’s nicknaming of an Asian friend as “Sooty” was due to his age.”

harry-nazi

(They don’t call him Dirty Harry for nothing…)


That’s the same Harry, incidentally, who likes to dress up in an S.S. uniforms:

“In January 2005, Harry attended a “Colonials and Natives” costume party dressed in an SS uniform from the Afrika Corps during World War II. The timing was particularly poor, shortly before the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In addition to being politically incorrect, the costume was actually incorrect — the Afrika Corps did not wear the Nazi swastika, and the swastika on Harry’s armband was backwards.”

Okay, I can hear the few remaining readers sigh and think, ‘Who gives a fuck about these inbred royal dinosaurs and their retarded remarks and buffoonish behaviour?’

Which is a fair point – and God knows that, normally, I couldn’t care less about them than I do about collecting ‘Kyle Minogue in Concert’ T-shirts.

It’s just that I had to think of all these royal racist remarks when I was reading the following story:

“A BNP assembly member who planned to take the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, to a Buckingham Palace garden party hosted by the Queen was today told he would be barred from attending unless he agreed to take another guest. In a letter to Richard Barnbrook, Jeff Jacobs, the deputy chief executive of the Greater London Authority, also warned him to “desist” from creating any further adverse publicity.”

Which just goes to show that life can be very unfair, at times.

So, here’s one of the few parties the BNP crowd could attend where they would be sure to meet and possibly recruit some very highly placed, like-minded souls and then they hear they might get barred from it.


English vicar says he wants to bury his flock alive

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

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(Alive and kicking the bucket…?)

Now, I dislike karaoke machines almost as much as mobile phones – and I like those as much as I do French kissing a halitotic halibut.

I still think a certain vicar is overdoing things a little bit:

“An Oxford vicar has criticised funeral bosses after they announced plans to axe crematorium organists in favour of a karaoke machine in a crude cost-cutting measure. The new music system effectively means organists will be out of a job as mourners are able to download tracks to be played during services. Oxford Crematorium bosses have ordered the hi-tech surround sound system to cut the cost of hiring musicians to play during services. But Rev Jonathan Sewell, of St Mary’s Church in Barton, Oxford, is now refusing to lead funerals unless there is live music.”

Call me an oversensitive drama queen or a funeral party poop but somehow I doubt many of the vicar’s funeral attendants will share his passion for live concerts.

I’d say the very last thing your average person needs, is to be rocking in his or her coffin.

So, I think it really would be better if the vicar would give his well-thumbed Edgar Allan Poe collection a bit of a rest.

Three perfect river songs

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

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You cannot bathe in the same river twice.

That’s what they say.

You know what?

Fuck that.

Here are three great river bathing songs:

1) Julie London: Cry me a river

2) Bruce Springsteen: The river

3) Annie Lennox: River deep, mountain high

Why Americans say grace when they take the piss

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

swine

(One man’s swill…)

It is often said that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’m not sure that’s always true. Any tabloid pundit who once called Mike Tyson a common rapist could, for instance, go the full twelve rounds with the boxer, have his ears and nose bitten off in the process and, somehow, still survive to mumble the tale through his broken teeth but I rather doubt that any ring side doctor would describe the condition of the victim as ‘stronger.’

Still, it’s definitely true that some adversity does help you cope with things. Living a few years in London will help you to deal with the most dodgy umbrella operating systems around, while dodging the eye-catching tips of their feral cousins’ spokes, for instance.

Life in Sweden may very well prepare you for marauding IKEA furniture and make you immune to ABBA…

… and I, having been raised in the proud shadow of Hans Brinker’s raised finger, am living testimony to a truth, not quite universally acknowledged, that you can be subjected to wooden shoes, tulips, windmills and sadistic barrel organ grinders and still not have enough hard evidence brought against you in court to seriously risk conviction as a serial killer.

So, it should not come as a huge surprise that a steady national diet of drive-through, semi-solid shit and suspect fizzy drinks has prepared your average American to grin and bear and ignore all that boring advice about the yellow snow:

At the international space station, it was one small sip for man and a giant gulp of recycled urine for mankind. A first for space was celebrated yesterday with ­astronauts drinking water recycled from their urine, sweat, and water condensed from exhaled air. “The taste is great,” said the US astronaut Michael Barratt.”

Scientists claim skin cancer makes you smarter

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

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(Cheesy…? Moi…?!)

Now, this is one of those stories that make Internet browsing such fun.

No, I’m not talking about yet another celebrity divorce, fuck-up or cult.

What’s great about the Internet is all those stories that swim there, mostly unobserved, minding their own business, always being upstaged by the big, Paris Hilton type fish but not minding this one little bit.

Stories like the following, that pop up occasionally, like a modestly flying fish – not making that much of a splash in the process but always fun to catch sight of:

“For decades parents have warned their children not to have cheese before bedtime to prevent bad dreams. But researchers have disproved this old wife’s tale and found that cheese could actually aid sleep. The study by the British Cheese Board, involved 200 volunteers in a week-long experiment. The cheese-munching volunteers reported no nasty dreams after a late night snack. After eating a 20g piece of cheese 30 minutes before going to sleep, 72 per cent of the volunteers slept very well every night, just over two thirds remembered their dreams and none reported nightmares.”

‘Cui bono?’ is what the old Roman consul & censor Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla used to say – and God knows how many detective writers after him.

I suppose ‘What’s up, doc?’ would work as a translation – if you can complement that with a mental image of a nervous Elmer Fudd who’s guiltily stuffing his wallet with big dollar notes.

In other words, it would have been more convincing if this passionate defence of cheese had not come from the British Cheese Board…

I’m not saying our Cheese Boys cheated but it does sound a bit like a ‘The water is lovely’ campaign by the Australian Shark Board, or some such.

All of which idle chit chat brings us to the news story that caught my eye, a bit earlier today:

“Being a sun worshipper could make you cleverer in later life and ward off dementia, claim scientists. Researchers found that increased levels of vitamin D, obtained from exposure to sun or eating oily fish, could help keep our brains in top condition as we age.”

Which will come in very handy, of course – when you have to make an informed & intelligent decision about which type of skin cancer treatment you will go for.

Cui bono…?

Hell, I don’t know.

Just don’t blame me when you stuff your face with cheese, right before bedtime and then dream of a chorus line of malignant moles in sharkskin suits, doing the background vocals for the Dick Cheney Quintet, who are surfing their water boards, while singing ‘Skin flakes keep falling from my head.’

Scientists say that if you drink too much Coke, crows will pick out your liver

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

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(Yes, there’s room for more where that one is going…)

First, this.

It’s not really a new story but it will serve to set the tone:

“What’s making toads puff up and explode in northern Europe? More than 1,000 toad corpses have been found at a pond in an upscale neighborhood in Hamburg and over the border in Denmark after bloating and bursting. It’s left onlookers baffled. The pond water in Hamburg has been tested, but its quality is no better or worse than elsewhere in the city. The toad remains have been checked for a virus or bacterium, but none has been found. One German scientist studying the splattered amphibian remains has a theory: Hungry crows are pecking out their livers.”

So, what happens is: Toads have this defence system. They will puff out their chests, to make themselves look bigger when anything threatens them. Crows are pretty smart birds though and they have found a way to use this defence mechanism against the toads. They will pick at the breast of the toad. Then, the toad does this self-inflating trick but with a small puncture in its chest – so, the added pressure makes the hole much bigger and innards & organs spill out.

Miller – or liver – Time for the crows…

Now, let’s stick with food issues and bodily functions, for a bit – and the way one species tries to use certain information about the behaviour of another species, to make predictions about the long time health of the latter.

Change the poor doomed toads into Coke guzzlers and the crows into white coats and you get the general idea.

Though I have to say I have more sympathy for the suffering toads.

exploding_toad_1

Also, crows are better at this game than scientists.

Crows get to eat fresh liver. All the scientists get for their lugubrious pains is some lukewarm headlines in the tabloids:

“Drinking large amounts of cola every day can cause muscle problems, an irregular heartbeat and even paralysis, doctors have warned. Chronic consumption of the drink can cause a condition called hypokalaemia, in which levels of potassium in the blood fall, in some patients. Symptoms can range from mild weakness and constipation to paralysis. Researchers said that family doctors should look out for muscle problems in people who drink large amounts of cola, after finding that patients who drank between two and 10 litres a day developed the condition.”

First of all, I think people who drink 10 litres of Coke a day deserve to have their livers picked out by crows – though I’m not sure these livers would make very healthy snacks for those crows.

On the other hand, it seems to me that folks who drink so much of that crap might have other things to worry about than hypokalaemia or peckish crows.

It’s a bit like someone who’s standing on top of the Eiffel Tower, with a Colt .45 in his hand. So, yes, he really wants to shoot himself in the head but he also can’t stop worrying about falling to his death, afterwards…

In other words, drinking that much Coke will hurt (and quite probably kill) you anyway, even without the hypokalaemia. Especially, when you consider the rest of the diet of such a person.

Somehow, I find it very hard to believe that anyone who drinks that much Coke a day, will follow a more sensible diet, the rest of the time. I think it more likely for buckets of KFC lard to be dumped into those inner Coke lakes than for a sad few leaves of salad to float forlornly on top of them.

To be honest, hypokalaemia could be the best thing to happen to these kinds of consumers. Paralysis would at least assure they would no longer be able to drink (and perhaps eat) all of that shit.

Only in England: Where tortoises wear crash helmets and ducks can fill the Royal Albert Hall

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

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.                     (They kill playwrights, don’t they…?)

You know that old Greek fable about the tortoise and the hare, I suppose. If not, here’s a very brief summary:

They held a race. The hare lost.

(As far as I know, the tortoise wasn’t tested for steroids.)

Of course, these days you wouldn’t be able to organize such a contest – not without the Health & Safety mob breathing in your neck and turning a simple running track into a highly complicated steeple chase circuit, inside a rubber tiled maze.

For one, I’m sure they would make the participants wear crash helmets. Especially the tortoise. You know how those creatures love speeding and are so vulnerable that, if you drop them from great height, this will always lead to fatalities.

Not resulting in the demise of the tortoise, of course. If we believe another Greek story, that is, in which it is claimed that the playwright Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise that had fallen from great height on the writer’s head, after it had been dropped by an eagle (which may or may not have mistaken Aeschylus’s bald head for a bit of rock.)

Anyway, talking of tortoises – and crash helmets:

“Vets have fitted a ‘crash helmet’ on a giant tortoise to protect him while a hole in his shell grows over. Timmy is thought to have been hurt in a fight with a rival tortoise at their home in Paignton Zoo, Devon. Zoo vets came up with the idea of covering the wound in the Aldabra giant tortoise to keep it clean and protected during the slow healing process.”

Which, you have to admit, makes quite a bit more sense than you would have any right to expect from a story that carried the words ‘tortoise’ & ‘crash helmet’ in its headline.

Unfortunately, you can’t say the same about the following animal related tale – but that’s not all that surprising. When it comes to common sense I would bet on a zoo vet against any more posh kind of white coat, whenever the twain would meet to compete.

It’s like that tortoise & hare story, really. The hare might have a string of impressive doctor titles after its name but you just KNOW the tortoise will beat it handsomely, with or without the benefit of a crash helmet.

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Onto the story itself though.

It’s about a duck called Daisy and some daffy scientist from the University of Salford:

“Scientists say they, with the help of a farmyard duck called Daisy, have sunk an enduring theory that a duck’s quack does not produce an echo. Acoustic expert Professor Trevor Cox began the investigation at the University of Salford after hearing the myth referred to on several TV and radio programmes. First Daisy was recorded quacking in a special room with jagged surfaces that produces no sound reflections. Next she was moved to a reverberation chamber with cathedral-like acoustics. Finally, the data was used to create simulations of Daisy performing at the Royal Albert Hall.”

That last bit really does sound silly, doesn’t it?

I mean, why not let the duck perform in the Royal Albert Hall itself? That would have been the cheaper option, no doubt.

What’s more, I’m sure our Daisy would have been vastly more entertaining than the ‘Land of hope and glory’ crowd that usually manages to fill the place.


Many US prosecutors are like Barry Bonds: They gladly lie and cheat to keep a perfect score sheet

Monday, May 18th, 2009

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(Until proven innocent…)

Gods but this really makes me very angry:

“In an age of advanced forensic science, the first step toward ending Kenneth Reed’s prolonged series of legal appeals should be simple and quick: a DNA test, for which he has offered to pay, on evidence from the 1991 rape of which he was convicted. Louisiana, where Mr. Reed is in prison, is one of 46 states that have passed laws to enable inmates like him to get such a test. But in many jurisdictions, prosecutors are using new arguments to get around the intent of those laws, particularly in cases with multiple defendants, when it is not clear how many DNA profiles will be found in a sample.

The laws were enacted after DNA evidence exonerated a first wave of prisoners in the early 1990s, when law enforcement authorities strongly resisted reopening old cases. Continued resistance by prosecutors is causing years of delay and, in some cases, eliminating the chance to try other suspects because the statute of limitations has passed by the time the test is granted. Mr. Reed has been seeking a DNA test for three years, saying it will prove his innocence. But prosecutors have refused, saying he was identified by witnesses, making his identification by DNA unnecessary.

A recent analysis of 225 DNA exonerations by Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, found that prosecutors opposed DNA testing in almost one out of five cases. In many of the others, they initially opposed testing but ultimately agreed to it. In 98 of those 225 cases, the DNA test identified the real culprit.”

The New York Times article gives more examples of prosecutors trying to circumvent or, if you want, sabotage the law. Some of these examples are truly disgusting. Like the one where a prosecutor claims that, since the original jury was “convinced of defendant’s guilt without DNA,” such a test wasn’t needed now.

It was even stated, without blushing, that the fact that 175 convicts were already exonerated by DNA was “statistically insignificant.”

Which is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever heard a law officer say.

Not so long ago, the prevailing thought was that it was better to let an X number of guilty go free than one innocent be imprisoned. That is no longer the case, it seems – but it is easy to see where and how things went so scandalously, so criminally wrong with the justice system.

I am no legal expert but it is not difficult to understand how a jury system, with both a defender and a prosecutor trying to convince this jury of the innocence or guilt of a defendant, can’t help but become a personally adversarial system, in which the egos of both defender and prosecutor become so inflated that the whole judicial process can become tainted beyond salvage.

In other words, for these two opposing parties winning becomes much more important than trying to determine whether the accused is actually guilty or not.

Prosecutors are by no means the only villains in this play. The law and the rules of law enforcement  have become so complicated, so bizarrely Byzantine, that there are defenders who specialize in finding loopholes and even the tiniest procedural mistakes to get any defendant off, even if they privately believe their clients to be guilty, be it of tax evasion or mass murder.

However, the state is more powerful than any individual defendant, so the prosecutor should be most careful when he or she uses the full powers of that state against any of its individual citizens. Playing ego games has, or should not have, any part in this.

It is also easy to see how the politicizing of the criminal justice system has helped to corrupt it. When judges and prosecutors have to campaign to get elected or appointed, building up a healthy résumé becomes overly important. Again, winning cases becomes more rewarding than seeking justice.

So, it should not surprise us that so many prosecutors are trying to sabotage the law that enables the convicted to have these DNA tests.

This obstruction has nothing to do with justice. It simply serves to help these prosecutors keep their positive score sheets. Like certain sports players, they don’t care all that much if they have to play the system, or outright cheat, to get these results.

To these ‘players’, their egos, public status and financial rewards are much more important than playing fair and being honourable. Winning has become all…

… and if that means locking up a thousand potentially innocent people rather than to blot their score sheet, lots of prosecutors are more than willing to have these people pay that price.

Barry Bonds

(Barry Bonds: Still not struck out for prosecution…)

The problem with pets: When you have more ads for cat food than for phone sex

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

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(Attenborough in action: Eat that, Tarzan…)

Okay, I have nothing against animals, per se. In fact, I’m quite a fan of all that walks, flies or swims. I love the smell of a good roast, the sight of a Peking duck and the taste of sushi. I also admire the animals that don’t end up on my plate. You can put me in front of a telly at any time that David Attenborough is on.

Truly, I’m not the kind of person who would hand out sharp-pointed umbrellas when it’s raining cats and dogs – and still, there’s the rub: I do have my problems with some of our domestic animals.

Some pet hates, if you like.

Again, my dislike is not so much for the over bred, silly looking and ridiculously spoilt critters themselves as for the way their owners interact with them. You walk the isles of any supermarket and you’ll find there are more varieties of dog and cat food on offer than there are hand-jobs in a whole edible string of Korean massage parlours. You have pet pedicurists, pet cosmetic surgeons and pet shrinks.

Trouble is, we know what happens if you spoil kids. They become egotistical monsters, whose sense of entitlement is only matched by their disregard for others.

There are times, when I travel on a train or walk through the centre of town that I think that the rat catcher of Hameln had the right idea. Never mind those rats: The real pests are those fucking kids – and now, all over spaceship Earth, millions and millions of people are also turning their pets into the most spoilt and horrible creatures this side of Caligula.

All of which can only end in tears, of course. You can’t just use poison on cretinous kids or pesky pets, the way you can with rats – and these days, of course, our hero from Hameln wouldn’t get a permit anywhere, no matter how righteous his cause.

Anyway, as the following story shows, even if we finally would decide to do something about our pet problem, poison might not even be a long term option:

“Rats across Britain are evolving a resistance to poison that makes them almost impossible to kill, scientists have warned. Genetic mutations have produced a new breed of “super rat” with DNA that protects the vermin from standard toxins. Swindon in Wiltshire is the latest town to suffer an infestation, with exterminators reporting a 500 per cent increase in the rodents. Many are turning to traps, air rifles and even dogs in an effort to keep the populations under control. There are now thought to be around 80 million rats in Britain, a rise of more than 200 per cent since 2007.”

Truly, that’s all we need: A poison-resistant, fast breeding, feral army of spoilt ex-pets, looking for revenge.

Although…

Yes, it might almost be worth it, if, before they come for us, our former pets would grant us the pleasure of seeing Paris Hilton being eaten by her own chihuahua on what will be, most definitely, her last action tape.

‘Titbits of Paris’

Yes, that does have a nice ring to it…

… and it would be a perfect grace note and monument to our collective passing, of course.

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An English judge praises the character of a man who tried to pick up a hooker for his 14-year-old son

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

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(Come on, daddy, you can always make an expense claim…)

Now, here’s a truly Biblical story for you. Well, Biblical in the sense that I can throw in an old Bible quote. John 15:13, to be precise:

‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’

Or, in the following case:

‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man find a lay for his son’:


“A father tried to hire a prostitute to initiate his 14-year-old son in the “ways of sex” but ended up propositioning an undercover police officer, a court heard. The Polish man took the boy out in his car and allowed him to pick the prostitute, who was standing at the side of the road of a red-light district. But the teenager chose an undercover police officer and the 42-year-old father was arrested, the court was told. Judge Jonathan Teare said he was not sending the defendant to prison because of his excellent character.”

Yesss…

An excellent character, of course.

Setting your 14-year-old son up with a street hooker is, as we all know, indeed a sign of excellent parenting.

You know, sometimes I do worry a Hell of a lot more about the character of the average English judge than about the people being hauled in front of a jury of their peers.

Mind you, it must have taken some doing and some serious police time to find such a jury. I mean, how long must those poor undercover policewomen have worked the street before they found twelve men, good and true, who were looking for a hooker to deflower their 14-year-old sons?

If you follow the news a bit it’s obvious that it would be much easier to fill Wembley stadium with expenses fiddling politicians (or sexually perverted judges, obviously) than to round up twelve other curb crawlers of the same excellent character as our Polish superdad.



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