Saturday, 20 August 2005

Circular tour

Spent today on a big circle; down to Penrith on the other side of the country and then back via Newcastle along the A66. No special reason other than it started as a lovely day and I wanted to get out.Penrith is a small place out of market days but draws lots of tourists. It is still an ‘old’ town with nothing modern in the town centre buildings. Other attraction is that it has a superb deli. Which we always strip almost bare. Today was no exception.
Dog has retired to bed. She does not know about laying down in the car so she has almost walked all the way round the circuit with us. It was much too hot for her to stay in the car while we shopped so she had to suffer the indignity of being on the lead and wearing her collar.

Friday, 19 August 2005

So, what's so wonderful?

This is written in Blogger for Word. Came across it courtesy of The Demob Happy Teacher jenny tc. Please bear in mind that I am an ignorant person with very short fuse but I cannot seem to work out how to get an image in here or do a embedded link. Doubtless, you will all rush to my aid and tell me the answer is html. Well, sorry and all that, but html and I have agreed to differ. Still, I’ll keep on in my own funny way and perhaps it will all become clear. Reserved as drafts until the light shines through though. Dashboard will do me. So, Blogger for Word….

Suicide bull

I pass by this field quite often. The chesnut beast in the bottom corner is a fully-functioning bull. Except he isn't. There is always a separation between him and the cows. They stay away from him and should he get up and move, they all adjust their positions to distance themselves.
My theory is that he is some sort of suicide bull. He has got his reward of 72 virgins but, as one would expect, he does not know what to do with them.

Offensive speaking

Absolutely by accident and not as a Google Moment, I came across this quote:
Erik Estrada and Orson Welles were once in a room together. Erik, hot from "Chips", was trying to be friendly when he gave Mr. Welles, the genius behind "Citizen Kane", some advice on losing weight. He gave him one of those fresh juice and exercise spiels. Orson reponded with something like, "Mr. Estrada, I know I am fat and if I wanted to do something about it I could. But you, my friend, are an idiot and I'm afraid there's nothing you can do about that."
That will have to go into the right to be offensive file I think. I am also reminded that when I was about 22 or so, a young lieutenant commented that I looked like Orson Welles. I dismissed it saying, "More like 'orseandcart". Over the years, he got promoted and I met him then as a Major General. It was very formal with all sorts of nervous officers about. He came straight up to me and made the same remark - I gave the same reply. Considerable confusion amongst onlookers who were thinking up mutiny or worse charges. We had a good chat and he wandered off but my street cred was well raised.

Thinking think tank?

I was wittering on yesterday about people in ivory castle think tanks. Looking around for others of similar irritation to me, I came across this snippet. "The Institute of Ideas hosts a discussion at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 'the right to be offensive'. The debate will ask whether the proposed Racial and Religious Hatred Bill amounts to "a new kind of thought crime".
Obviously, my attention was drawn to ‘right to be offensive’ as this was right up my street. Good start but it was mainly concerned with racial aspects. I think the Institute of Ideas is a survivor of the group that was prosecuted for libel – and lost – when they accused ITN of faking pictures of Serbs/Bosnians in what they said was a concentration camp. So, they know what they are talking about when it comes to offensive.
I had a wander around their site so see if they had any other bright ideas and came across something about another of today’s ongoing saga. This is some of what they had to say about Multiculturalism.
“Part of the problem, I think, is a confusion between two different meanings of multiculturalism: what I would call multiculturalism as an ideology and multiculturalism as a lived experience. When most people say they think multiculturalism is good, what they mean is the experience of living in a society that is less insular, less homogenous, more vibrant, more cosmopolitan than before. Those who advocate multiculturalism as an ideology however are talking about something different.
Multiculturalism, they argue, requires the public recognition and the public affirmation of cultural differences, and the argument goes something like this: we live in a world where there are deep-seated conflicts between cultures embodying different values; different peoples and different cultures have different beliefs, different values and different lifestyles, many of which are incommensurate but all of which are equally valid in their own context. And in such a world social justice demands that individuals are treated as equal, but also that cultures are treated as equal, and indeed that cultural differences become institutionalised in the public sphere. The American scholar Iris Young put this quite well: groups, she says, cannot be socially equal unless their specific experience, culture and social contributions are publicly affirmed and recognised.”

So, I came to mock Ideas Institute, and whilst I do not praise them, they have some ideas that interest(d me).

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Clearing the settlements

I am most impressed by the way the clearing of the Gaza Stip settlements is going ahead. As usual, the TV reports focus on the most dramatic actions and one can see just what is happening. The settlers have resisted as one would expect. They deserve praise for the manner of their defiance. They have made their point but in what one might call a lawful or disciplined manner. Given that they are a vocal, demonstrative and determined race there was a real potential for trouble.
The IDF have acted with great discipline on this occasion. We have seen and read of the apparent gung-ho way they treat demonstrators when the intefada come calling. Whilst there is nothing wrong with their fighting spirit, one would not expect them to figure in a Trooping the Colour. Here though, they show every sign of understanding just what is needed. Many of them are crying as they go about their work. To act with restraint hour after hour in the face of provocation - often of a religious nature - calls for discipline of the finest order.
Well done to all involved. The decision to vacate has been a bold one; the Americans and B Liar feel it was wrong to negotiate with terrorists such as Hamas. Do they remember nothing - we dealt with the Irgun and Stern Gang in the usual trick of getting them to stay quiet long enough for us to march with colours flying and bayonets fixed to the boats and away. We cared little about the Muslim nations all queueing up to attack the new state of Israel.

Thinking inside Tanks and other bits

Now, I have no great opinions for or against Think Tanks. What does grip my pipe though is busy-bodies offering opinions from ivory towers. The source of funding for the Tank is rarely divulged or investigated by those who pick up on these ‘learned comments’ and run with the ball – generally to the detriment of the team effort. Here are a couple of ‘reports’ and also this:
“Government must do more to consult business to ensure that Britain is fully prepared to deal with the threat from terrorism according to a report published today by Demos, the leading independent think tank. Joining Forces: From national security to networked security, argues that central government, the Police and Security Service need to work more closely with business in planning for and responding to terrorists attacks.
“It is time to dispel the dangerous myth that government has a monopoly over security”, says the report’s author Rachel Briggs, Head of International Programmes at Demos. “The unwritten, unspoken assumption remains that government leads and business follows; that government has a monopoly on useful information and intelligence; and that ultimately it is the state that ‘delivers’ security for the UK.”

Exactly what those with experience of business can contribute to the national fight against terrorism escapes me. I am unable to think when my job would have been made redundant or easier just by having some over-fed, pin-striped, Director of Finance standing by my shoulder. His umbrella might deal with some of the backwash from water-cannon but little else. The Bosses are there to increase benefit to shareholders. That is what makes their minds tick. They could only bring this attitude to terrorism. The disclosures of the last couple of days in the case of the waxed Brazilian show just how complex are the news management skills still less the direction of anti-terrorist forces. The idea of three hours lunches in COBRA scares me.
Just to counter any slight suspicion that all I do is moan, think about this:
When a 9-year-old Florida girl disappeared from her bedroom last week, the sheriff's office coordinating the search for her immediately posted a front-page alert on its website.
In the following days, countless sites around the country -- charitable organizations, churches and other groups -- joined the search for Jessica Lunsford. The sheriff's department received at least 300 tips, and dozens of sites posted details about Jessica on the web in the form of brief alerts or, in some cases, lengthy and regularly updated discussions of her case.
And while she's still missing, the sheriff's department says the internet has proven to be a powerful tool in trying to find her.
"It's very safe to say that it initiated a lot of our tips," said Gail Tierney, the public information officer for the
Citrus County Sheriff's Office in Florida. "It's multiplied many times over the number of websites out there (that) have also included her description and photo and contact information. So it's been kind of a force multiplier for us." This is somewhere that business might assist in carrying the news on their own intranets.
Time for a bit of light relief methinks. This snippet is about a guy who got fed up living in a red-light area. Police did nothing so he took his video camera onto the street and filmed some in-car action. Damn sight more amusing than in-car with Schumacher I bet. Police get the tapes and prosecute. He even offers a service where wives can give him details of hubby’s car and she will be first to view any film. Ooh Ooh – Big Brother watch out!

Wednesday, 17 August 2005


Apparently science has now been able to illustrate the changes that arise during the time that PMS takes over the female body!


Nothing special guys - just messing about to see if I can do this html thing. Comes from these people but some of it I have to work out for myself!

Come home Laura Norder - all is forgiven

Lord Woolf today calls for a new approach to law and order which would see a major shift away from punishment towards the solution of problems which generate crime. "We need wider understanding and acceptance that the principles of sentencing are not just founded on punishing offenders," the lord chief justice writes in the Guardian. "Whilst I firmly believe that for serious and violent crimes there is no alternative to a custodial sentence, I also believe passionately on taking steps to turn people away from crime," he says.
Comments from others have also been sought.
Oh yes, sure to work. There are a large number of people who prefer to have a quick return on something illegal rather than undergo the stultifying 9 to 5 weekly routine. At what cost will these initiatives to counter crime start to work? This is a view from the Bench where few who sit have any real concept of life at ordinary level still less the sub-culture of those who feel deprived or ill-done by. I see little difference between the violent street crime that deprives me of my Rolex and the burglar who comes into my home and steals some item of great sentimental value.
What I expect of Laura Norder is that any criminal – irrespective of his/her speciality or crime – is locked away for a long time. This is not to punish them but to protect me and mine from crooks and their crooked ways. I cannot see how making me feel better about myself or my life would deter me from the easy pickings of crime. Whatever it was that convinced me that crime does not pay was instilled at an early age and it is there that reform is needed but least likely to be introduced. After all, schoolchildren have their Human Rights don’t they? (Here insert sardonic smiley)

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Photo opportunity missed

No - the weather here in the Borders has not got this bad. This is just to introduce a bit of blarney.
Since we moved to this area, I have made a habit of doing a particular excursion on my birthday. Near to the picnic area where pointy nose and I go every other day is a bit of a hill. I've climbed it every 15th August just to prove to myself that I can still do it. Daft but there it is; it is something I have always had I suppose and is not connected to the adrenaline junkie thing.
Strongest influence was at a place in the Yorkshire Dales. It's location was nowhere near where we usually took a cottage but we went past it often when driving hither or even yon.
During the summer, it just looked as if it were a high bit of ground with the hardest walk below the summit proper. In winter - that is it above. Not really a place to go to. Liable to white-out and plenty of opportunity to get into really bad land if navigation was adrift.
It seemed to leer over me and in time the challenge became serious. In time, I planned a long week end in the area with the intention of facing the challenge. I had my GPS kit, good maps and even a SARBE beacon should things get really exciting.
The weather forecast was dismal as I drove up. There were blizzards from the Midlands up along the A1. The night I booked into the hostel was one long snowfall. Next morning was calm but with more snow in the air. I managed to get to a good start point and set off.
Within a short while I had added almost all of my spare clothing as the wind was increasing the chill factor well below zero. There were, obviously, no tracks or obvious stonewall to follow and the snow was 12" deep in places. Twice I thought it was just too selfish to carry on but was in that state of mind where one does not give in. Eventually, I reached the summit plateau, heated some food and drink and had a wander round. I took some compass readings to get a good walk back without retracing my route up and then came down - possibly with more difficulty than I had going up as the storm was well advanced. All in all, I was away from the car for some seven hours and it was dark when I got back to the car.
However, every time I drove along the valley after that, I was able to do so without any sense of some mystic challenge from the high ground.
I've tried to instill the same sort of challenge in my Borders on my Birthday thing. Yesterday of course, I was not in the Borders. Have to wait and see tomorrow whether the hill gloats at me. Still, there is always 15 August 2006.

Big city boy

No photoblog today. Truth is, I'm still getting over yesterday. Whilst there is no way I would want to go back to living on the edge of a city, it is nice now and again to get into the bright lights. I knew London very well - all the little nooks and crannies where I could enjoy myself out of the limelight of Old London Touristy Town. Just the shops and the general atmosphere was exciting. So, because of this, I enjoyed yesterday's birthday boy visit to Edinburgh. Not because of what I know of it as that is precious little but it was good to get about somewhere where there were largish shops and a good variety of goods
So, no pictures today at my photo site place.

Gaza pullout

Israel plans to send 45,000 troops to evacuate 9,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, Israel's defense minister said Tuesday -- a massive deployment that reflects concern that some resistance to the pullout might be violent.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insisted Tuesday that opposition will not stop the operation. Many settlers are expected to offer passive resistance, but security officials have issued repeated assessments that militant settlers or their backers from outside Gaza might open fire”
Given their relatively recent heritage, it is surely understandable that the settlers resist the orders to leave a place provided by their government as a refuge. Even in my sheltered upbringing, I would see this as totally unacceptable – even without the land being given to those I have been indoctrinated to regard as an enemy. More so, when the new owners have adopted terrorism as a negotiating point.
Whilst I have this sympathy, I also feel for the troops and police who will have to enforce the orders. Israeli security forces have even more understanding of the ways of Hammas and it’s supporters so to proceed against one’s own countrymen for the benefit of those they regard as enemy takes even greater discipline. T Bliar talks loudly of very tough methods about undesirables in our country but I am certain that he would never show the moral fibre displayed by PM Sharon and Israel’s leaders. From a coalition government, this is amazing (to me).
Let us truly hope this sacrifice will achieve something. Given that the Muslim agenda remains to drive the Jews into the sea, I am not very confident. All the while Islamists need the Palestine situation as a stick to beat The Great Devil and friends, they will retain it.

Monday, 15 August 2005


Off to Edinburgh - by train no less. I like to get up there with the camera as there are some interesting shots with all the people doing the leafletting dressed in fancy or comic dress.
Was very quiet this year. Very few costumed people. There were lots of youngsters but they were in the fancy dress that seems to go with being young rather than dressed for Fringe duties. Had started lunch when the rain started so had to dash from outside into the Filling Station proper. OK as I had eaten most of my salad but the rain was getting into my Michelyob. I had to have five or six more to make up for the diluted one!

Edinburgh day out

Wasn't I good?
I was as close as this to the super cigar shop.
It was my birthday.
I was alone and unsupervised.
I did not buy any cigars
Wasn't I good?

Sunday, 14 August 2005

WTC. 9/11

Recordings and transcripts of communications from those trapped in the building have now been released. Very poignant for someone totally unconnected and I am sure they will haunt anyone in any way connected with those killed in the building.
This is just one of the transcripts

We had found out we were having our first child that morning. I was off of work that Tuesday. We were just talking and the next thing that was said to me was -- clear as day, I hear it every day in my mind -- she said, ``Oh, my God.'' That's the last. She saw something, she felt something. For me, it was something that scared her for that split second. I heard like a noise real quick. I thought it was her falling on the chair and disconnecting the phone line. I waited a few minutes and I tried to call back. And I called back and it said all circuits were busy. I just knew that it was pretty bad because the hole was pretty high. I kept saying, ``Not now, not my wife, not just when we heard this news about the baby

Yet another brave Soldier

This comes from an animal welfare site in America. Seems the dog was found tied to a tree at a shooting range. My nasty mind assumes his owner took him there to shoot him but was unable to think about shutting those lovely eyes for ever.
Soldier’s right front leg (his only front leg) is a little crooked. When he puts his weight on it, it slightly dislocates his shoulder, so it’s tough for the big guy to get around. Plus, he’s overweight. He can’t move very far at one time. He’s a smart dog though, and takes 10 to 20 steps before flopping over for a rest. He’s also figured out that if he falls forward, he can use his back legs to propel himself down the hall, a doggie wheelbarrow without the wheels.
So, they got him a doggon cart. He trots around and is a bit of a traffic hazard to smaller dogs. He is losing weight and is happy. I don't know whether I could have done all this and a proper end might have been better. His obvious enjoyment here proves that vets don't always know best. Lots of luck Soldier!

Random ramblings in web-land

My dog is trained not to approach people unless and until OK’d by me. I thought this was necessary in this day and age as not all people are accustomed to dogs. Very different to the world where I grew up and dogs were still seen as man’s best companion. (I’ll admit it here – cats are woman’s best companion) I was told – by whom I cannot now remember – how to know if a dog was dangerous or unhappy in any way at me. Then I was left to get on with meeting and greeting dogs. I learned something from everyone that bit me. Same thing went for dog mess. If I trod in it, I was slapped on the back of the knee and told to look more carefully where I was walking. Reading this, I think my current approach to dogs and the wider community is the best for the times in which we now live.

I had a look at my hit counter today. The bit that identifies search hits was quite fascinating (to me – yawn. What a sad life). Some of them I’ve listed here. Bit scary in a way that what I peck away at in my cold and damp little garret gets stuck out there like a fly in amber in the big wide world and can be called up by such weird selection of search terms as these. Don’t know how many of you have hit counters but they are quite interesting. Mind you, I got very excited at a report that someone in Uzbekistan (phonetic spelling I’m afraid) had looked in on me. Little map with Uz. Displayed by red dot and everything. I had it checked out and it turned out that my fiery Soviet horseman playing with a headless goat was a retired teacher in Welse Wales. Counter had fouled up; one of those Little Britain moments where computer says no. The bit about hizb-ut-tahir was quite scary as I imagined crowds of black-clothed men abseiling through my windows with blast grenades and Glock pistols ready to put seven rounds into my poor grey head should I twitch as much as a toe-nail. middlesex university&sourceid=mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org

I would not bother tracking them down – it’s the weird word association that gets me amused. Easily pleased aren’t I?