Saturday, 10 September 2005

Travel broadens the mind

Travelling amongst some strange bits of the world, one soon comes to realise that not only is there a lot of wisdom amongst seemingly illiterate persons but that they have a very good way to communicate their thoughts. I suppose it goes back to the tradition of story tellers who made their way from village to village. I think what follows is a neat example of what I am trying to convey.

Extensive travels across central Asia have taken me up the plateaus of Tibet, across the meandering middle of China, around the mountains of Nepal, and along India's littered river banks. Although each has had the power to captivate, India, without a doubt, is the most beguiling land I have ever seen. From India I journeyed North, into Kashmir-- a land of wealth and beauty, shredded by the claws of covetous neighbors.

A Kashmiri Mohammedan said to me, "God keeps men in three jars. Do you understand?"

"Yes," I answered, "you say God keeps men in three jars."

"In the first jar," the man looked at me, "God keeps the Americans. God keeps that lid very, very tight, for the Americans try their level-best (he used Indian phrases) to escape and rule the world."

I nodded, hinting a smile, saying, "God is right."

The Mohammedan smiled back, holding up a hand to quiet me, and continued, "In the second jar, God keeps the Europeans. But God does not keep that lid so tight," still holding up his hand, as if expecting interruption, "You see, God knows the Europeans also want to rule the world, but Europeans do not try hard."

"Is true, is true," I chuckled.

But, like a preacher, the man held his hand even higher, and continued on with a louder voice, "God keeps Kashmiris in the third jar, but God does not keep a lid on our jar. We also want to rule the world but every time one of us tries to escape, the rest pull him back down!" and he clenched his fist!

"Sir," my smiled faded, "It would be difficult to convey more truth with fewer words."

Going with Gonzo

"No More Games. No More bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."

That is what appears to be a final note from Hunter S Thompson before he shot himself with a .45 revolver whilst on the telephone to his wife. He was in pain and had been considering suicide for a number of years. When I was 30 I settled for departing at 50.

First of the super-models


This is Gia Caranji - she maybe started off the whole supermodel thing. She started in the seeming film script way of being spotted by a fashion photographer who saw what was almost an amateur photographers casual shot. She rewrote the way models lived and worked. Drugs, partying, lesbian lifestyle - all was turned on its head. She had the world at her feet - but miskicked it.
Doubtless, some will say she was just a good looking girl who got lucky. But, when you read what happened to her, it was anything but lucky. That original exposure set her off down a path of self-harm and hurt. Whether she was manipulated or just a foolish female who could not handle success does not really matter; the two feed off each other. She was someone who had looks and understood modelling. For what my opinion is worth, I think she should be better known and remembered. As someone who failed or someone who succeeded - I care not. Just remembered.

Friday, 9 September 2005

New Orleans

I have my own opinions about what went wrong. I do not have the ego that leads me to think that setting them out will reach much further than the end of my nose (which has to be close to the screen for me to read things). Part of my thoughts centre on what purpose is served by the critics who blast off before the facts are all in and whilst the whole scene is confused and highly emotional. I was pleased to read something written by a guy who is a news professional and who says what I would wish given wider circulation.

Back to moaning etc.

Gordon Brown will today set out plans for a $4bn (£2.18bn) international finance facility (IFF) which aims to save 10 million lives in the world's poorest countries. The money will finance vaccination schemes in 72 countries in an attempt to eradicate lethal diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, measles, diphtheria, yellow fever and tetanus. "What medical advance has made possible, financial stringency and the absence of creative thinking of long-term finance has frustrated," the chancellor says. "Now, by matching the power of medical advance with a wholly new innovative mechanism to front-load long-term finance, the IFF for immunisation which we are launching here today will enable 10 million lives to be saved and spare millions of families the agony of a loved one needlessly dying.
Bully for him then. I think we have some of these lethal diseases here. With MRSA as well. Most of our own Hospital Trusts are running big/massive overdrafts on their Budgets. Big in percentage terms, massive in actual money. In my school we learned to write by copying 'Charity begins at home'
In an interview with Transport Times, Alistair Darling says it makes no sense to continue operating trains and stations that have only a handful of passengers. The transport secretary says that "it is anti-train to continue to cart fresh air around the country and do nothing about it". He adds that while being in favour of keeping open local branch lines if possible, "there comes a time when a line is carrying two passengers in the morning and two in the evening, you do have to ask yourself what else we can do".
The 'Government' has been pressing for us all to use public transport. Then Darling picks up the wrong hymnsheet.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, leading doctors from the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh and Sheffield have accused the government of burying a report showing that the life expectancy of poor people is falling further behind the rest of society. A Department of Health spokesman said the claim was "nonsense".
Well thank Christ for that then. If the BMJ is right, I'll not longer have to put up with all this NuLabour crap.
Oh - and by the way. Seems that the exam results at A* level - published with great exposure - were in many cases achieved with exam marks of 40%. Some courses gave pass marks for 16%. Get your name and number right = get a result. God save us.

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Aftermath

The reconstruction or resurrection of New Orleans will take a considerable time. One of the biggest tasks will be the disposal of the rubbish and items they find that are not claimed. How they will go about this - I do not know but some idea of the complexity of the task can be gathered by what they had to do with stuff from the WTC after 9/11.

Medical update

Saw the sadistic doctor yesterday. I think she may have realised what it was that set me off last time as she was all sweetness and light. I have to see the cardiology specialist. In the meantime, I've got a new drug. Haven't heard of it but, seeing it must use all the tiles in the Scrabble set, it is easy to Google. Just glancing through the leaflet (how bored must I be to read that?), I see that it is also used to inhibit breast milk. So - two benefits for the price of one there then. Main purpose for me is as a diuretic. Don't know about 'I cried a river'. I've certainly piddled one since getting these.
New Orleans seems to be on the move to the back burner. BBC TV showed a collection of the local TV reports last night and these really brought home the scale of the disaster. I think the answer is to knock everything flat and start again rather than try rebuilding. The oil industry took a big hit on wells and refinery facilities throughout the Gulf. It will be interesting to track just how they do as compared to the government's efforts in the other sectors.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Self-critique

I have just been going back over my postings.
I read like a cantankerous, cynical and thoroughly cheerless old git.
So, today I will change my ways. Nothing I write today will be bad-tempered, contemptuous or depressing.



Catch up with me tomorrow – maybe.

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

NIMBY

This is just someone who can do maths better than wot I kun do. Just because he is clever does not mean he talks rubbish though.

75000 British Suicide Bombers and Allies...
So the dhimmi Stalinists at the Guardian rag commissioned a poll to tell us how threatened Moslems feel nowadays, and the headline reflects that-"Two-thirds of Muslims consider leaving UK "I considered running marathons and it made me feel faint. But reading on down to the very bottom of the article, we find"A small rump, potentially running into thousands, told ICM of their support for the attacks on July 7 ...
"Orright, there are over 1,500,000 Moslems in Britain. I looked at the PDF of the raw data, and FIVE PERCENT of the respondents told a stranger that "further attacks by British suicide bombers in the U. K. are justified". Not to be expected (that was 33%), or understandable, but JUSTIFIED.Now my math is that 5% of a million and a half actually does run into exactly seventy five thousand.Without speculating on how many bomb cheerleaders lied to the poll, that gives a pretty good recruiting and support base. If I had a product to sell and I could identify a population with 5% who already wanted to buy it, I'd be rich. It's a marketer's dream.Eliminate oldsters and children, and one or two out of every 20 british Moslems thinks MORE BOMBS ARE JUSTIFIED.20 Moslems working in your office or living in your building? One of them thinks that more bombs are right and proper.
Surrender, Dorothy.

Hear this Harriet Harmen

Here’s a little something for our touchy-feely government.
Give free iPods to aged persons.
The benefits are that it will offset the onset (that’s clever writing!) of Alzheimer’s by keeping their brains exercised and nimble.
My machine has something over 3,500 tracks. These came from CDs which I bought either because of the artist, sound unheard, or because there was some song or music that I really liked on the CD. When the little disks were all neatly filed, there was little incentive to go through them searching for the bits that I actually liked. However, when I put the music onto my p.c. preparatory to loading up the player, I gave my favourites 5 star ratings. This means they get selected ahead of other tracks when the Pod plays a shuffle.
Up will come something like Run Rabbit Run. This does not really make me think of Dad’s Army but rather things that happened towards the end of the war. There is a Frankie Lane song about hula hula skirts that was all the rage when I joined the Army. I have Arab belly-dance music that drags my mind back to a cabaret girl I knew in Port Said. In addition to these melodies that relate to a general situation, I have songs that tie-in with one specific memory. Fats Domino was mentioned in reports from New Orleans. He used to sing about Blueberry Hill. When we left our wedding reception in Kuala Lumpur, this song was playing in just about every juke box in every cafĂ© we passed. Blue Mink singing Banner Man takes me instantly to a particular confrontation in Belfast.
There are others that get to me just because of their general message. ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose’, ‘I’d trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday’, ‘You can take my other suit and give it to the Salvation Army’, ‘Take this job and shove it’ Golden sounds from golden years. I looked down at my denim-clad legs today and thought ‘I’m over 40 and still wearing jeans’ Hell – I can nearly do twice that.

Baby sittinbg

Maybe this shows the risk of men baby-sitting?

What a gay day!

This is a "Brief Note" as to what our political masters and wannabe-masters plan on doing today. I will just put two questions here - up front as they say - 'cos I'm sure none will read to the end.
Question 1 - Do you see anything here which will, in itself, improve your life or will change things whilst you are still above ground?
Question 2 - If none of this happened at all, would we find ourselves in a New Orleans-type situation?
OK. Get ready. GO.......

In Brief
Prime minister Tony Blair holds bilateral talks with Chinese leaders, with the focus likely to be on ways of promoting trade and investment between the two countries, as well as sporting links ahead of the Beijing and London Olympics. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana delivers a speech in Shanghai at the China Europe International Business School.

Ruth Kelly has threatened to close failing schools that do not improve within 12 months. Speaking at a conference organised by the Local Government Association, the education secretary will say that a new 12-month deadline will form a key plank of the white paper set to be published this autumn. "We must not allow our children in our weakest schools to suffer too long before we intervene and turn things round," says the minister. "Being in special measures for more than a year must become a thing of the past."

Two opinion polls have found that Ken Clarke would be the most popular leader of the Conservative party. A BBC survey found 40 per cent of those asked supported his candidature whilst a Populus poll for the Times gave the former chancellor 41 per cent. If Clarke was to replace Michael Howard, 12 per cent told the BBC that they were more likely to vote Tory. Only 10 per cent backed David Davis whilst 33 per cent said they had no preference between any of the candidates.

Charles Clarke holds a press briefing at the Foreign Press Association ahead of this week's meeting of European Union justice and home affairs ministers. The home secretary also holds talks with EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott, Commons leader Geoff Hoon and Europe minister Douglas Alexander represent the British EU presidency during a meeting of the European parliament in Strasbourg.

Education secretary Ruth Kelly and children's commissioner Professor Al Aynsley-Green speak at a Local Government Association event on the role of local authorities in delivering learning.

Foreign secretary Jack Straw meets former North Korean prisoner Kang Cheol Hwan.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell speaks at a seminar hosted in London by the British Paralympic Association.

Employment relations minister Gerry Sutcliffe, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber and CBI deputy director general John Cridland address a Department of Trade and Industry conference on working hours and productivity. Sutcliffe said today that "creating a culture where we work smarter rather than longer is key to improving worker satisfaction, as well as improving competitiveness, productivity and retaining skilled workers".

Malcolm Wicks has announced that a record 152 oil and gas production licences are on offer to 99 companies under the 23rd oil and gas licensing round. Speaking at the Offshore Europe 2005 Conference in Aberdeen, the energy minister says: "I'm determined that we maximise the exploitation of the remaining reserves which could be between 22 and 28 billion barrels of oil equivalent. I'm impressed with the drive and determination of the companies that are seeking to make this goal a reality."

Culture minister David Lammy launches a consultation document on the 1954 Hague Convention on looking after cultural property in times of armed conflict.

Transport minister Derek Twigg is in Merseyside to launch the Highways Agency's North West regional control centre. Twigg said: "We are investing billions of pounds to improve this country's road network. Minimising the congestion caused by accidents and managing traffic flow efficiently is vital if we are to ensure the smooth operation of our motorways for both travellers and businesses."

England cricket team stars Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Simon Jones, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard have backed the government's campaign to encourage people to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and take plenty of exercise as part of a healthier lifestyle. "The days of cricket teas involving stodgy cakes and biscuits are long gone. We take eating fruit and vegetables very seriously as we need to be on top form for our game," Flintoff said. Public health minister Caroline Flint added: "We're delighted that the England cricket team are bowling for our side and helping us spread the 'five a day' message by supporting this initiative."

Speaking his Wiltshire constituency today, Michael Ancram implicitly criticises Kenneth Clarke's attempt to downplay his pro-European beliefs during the Tory leadership election. Ancram says the future of Europe "cannot just be swept under the carpet". "Moreover it is quite absurd to argue that the French and Dutch referendums have somehow made Europe a non-subject. Certainly not in the hearts of Euro-federalists in Brussels."

Sir Malcolm Rifkind begins a tour of Britain aimed at boosting his bid for the Conservative leadership. He delivers a speech today in Derbyshire and also plans to meet activists in London, Edinburgh, Ayr, Cardiff, Swansea, Wakefield, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicestershire, Bath, Newcastle and Croydon over the coming month. "Our plans for rebuilding the party must be focused on how we can win back support in those areas of Britain where Conservative support has declined," Sir Malcolm said. "That's why I have deliberately chosen to concentrate on areas of Britain in which there are few Conservative MPs and where the Conservative Party needs to build its strength if it is to return to government."

At an event hosted by the NHS Confederation, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley delivers a speech on his vision of future Conservative public service policy.

Labour MP Andrew Miller and Conservative MP Sir George Young are among the speakers at a Westminster eForum seminar on 'spam, scams and security'.

The deadline passes for nominations to stand as Scottish Labour candidate in the Glasgow Cathcart by-election caused by the resignation of MSP Mike Watson.

Andrew Davies, Welsh minister for economic development, begins a four day trade visit to San Francisco.

London mayor Ken Livingstone holds his weekly press conference in City Hall.

At a press conference in Strasbourg, British MEPs call for legislative meetings of the European Council to take place in public. Timothy Kirkhope, leader of Conservative MEPs, said: "Making laws behind closed doors is plainly wrong. Transparency and openness are essential if the EU is to gain the confidence of its citizens and make its politicians more accountable. The fact that the leaders of all the British delegations have come together demonstrates the strength of feeling on this issue." Also backing the call are Labour group leader Gary Titley, Chris Davies of the Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party and Jean Lambert of the Green Party.

Kofi Annan chairs the first replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The United Nations secretary general speaks at the opening session of the conference and will attend the pledging session that follows. Talks with chancellor Gordon Brown, foreign secretary Jack Straw and international development secretary Hilary Benn are likely to take place at the event, which EU development commissioner Louis Michel also attends.

The Audit Commission launches a consultation on ways of cutting the costs assessment and inspections on English district councils.

OECD chief economist Jean-Philippe Cotis hosts a media briefing on the outlook for OECD economies.

Sir Anthony Holland, chairman of the Standards Board for England, delivers the closing speech at the fourth annual assembly of standards committees, hosted in Birmingham by the standards board.

The public is largely opposed to the government's plans to relax the licensing laws, according to a Populus poll for today's Times.

The survey found that voters oppose the licensing law changes by nearly two to one, with women more strongly opposed than men.

But young people favour the proposals and do not believe that they will cause more disorder and binge drinking.

The poll found that 62 per cent oppose the changes, with 34 per cent in favour.


Reports and Statistics

Up to 3.7 million people in England and Wales did not register to vote in 2000, according to a report from the Electoral Commission. Chairman Sam Younger said "it is vital that a system of individual registration is introduced as soon as possible". Shadow constitutional affairs secretary Oliver Heald said: "The government's obsession with electoral 'modernisation' has compromised Britain's traditional reputation for free and fair elections, and undermined both the integrity of the system and public confidence in it."

The Institute for Public Policy Research publishes a report on teacher turnover. It says that increasing pay levels is not the answer to the problem.

DrugScope publishes data on average UK street drug prices. It reveals that ecstasy pills can now be bought for as little as 50p in Portsmouth, dealers are selling 'two for one' heroin and crack 'party packs' to win new clients, and the price of heroin in Sheffield has halved to make it cheapest in the UK. Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "This shows that, far from winning the war on drugs, Labour haven't even begun to fight it."

At least 70,000 pupils skip school on average every day, according to research published by New Philanthropy Capital. Shadow schools minister Mark Hoban said: "It is very sad indeed that this government has spent over £1bn on tackling truancy and bad behaviour, and yet they still have no results to show for it."

A report from Action On Rights For Children says that nearly two-thirds of children questioned by police as possible truants were not found to be skipping school. Director Terri Dowty said: "It is unacceptable that those going about their lawful business should be subjected to police questioning."

A report on the free movement of people in an enlarged European Union is published by the European Citizen Action Service.

The British Retail Consortium publishes August's retail sales data. It finds that like-for-like sales fell one per cent.

Figures published by Incomes Data Services show that pay deals in the three months to July dropped 0.1 per cent to stand at 3.1 per cent.

The Scottish Executive publishes figures on recorded crime and domestic abuse in 2005/06; Scottish Qualifications Authority examination results in Scottish schools in 2005/06; cancer incidence data for 2002 and mortality figures for 2004; immunisation statistics for Q2; dental statistics; NHS Scotland workforce statistics; information on the care and dependency needs of older people; data on patients ready for discharge in NHS Scotland; prescribing statistics; selected data from the quality outcome framework 2005/06; and homelessness data.

The National Assembly for Wales publishes figures on farm incomes for 2003/04 and its response to the consultation on the statistics programme for 2005/06 to 2007/08.

The Office for National Statistics publishes the index of production for July, and weekly deaths registered in England and Wales.

The European Central Bank publishes the consolidated financial statement of the eurosystem.

Eurostat publishes retail trade figures for June and July.

Monday, 5 September 2005

Living like an animal

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

No longer the only one

I gained the fame of being the only one in the village way back when someone did a Google search. However, the good lady was looking for a Blogger not "only one in the village" Daffyd. However, I do now think that there is a Daffyd in Duns. I've seen him twice. He is short-ish and seems to scuttle about quite quickly. On both occasions I have seen him he has been wearing very tight short shorts. I have always been in the car when I've seen him so have not been able to come out with the greeting "How bona to vada your dolly old eek again"
Might be well to keep out of his way for a bit. I've re-installed Mozilla FireFox and am using that. It gave me considerable aggro before but it is just so good that I wanted to give it another chance. If it does go tits up, I'll be in no mood to talk palome to Daffyds.
Sir Digby Jones leads a delegation of UK business leaders to China and, later this week, India. The CBI director general said: "There has been much legitimate talk about the competitive threat posed to the developed world by the soaring growth of industries in China and India. Of course they are a challenge, but they also represent a huge opportunity. The number of senior business leaders heading East for these vital summits proves that the UK is facing up, head-on, to the challenge of China and India."

Yes - I suppose so. Given that economic opinion includes comments that we no longer manufacture very much but mainly provide services, it is difficult to see how. Our 'trick' of gaining contracts which we then out-source to areas of cheap labour and un-protected employment such as Indian call-centres will not work in opposition to Chinese labour which is even cheaper and more exploitive. Again, that friend of Brazilians, Mandelson has not covered himself in glory in his dealings with China relating to bras and other finished textiles. He can afford to get his undies from Victoria's Secret or La Perla whilst those who thong M & S will have to dig deeper.
PS - Aged gentlemen should be aware that the last four links are dangerous on the grounds that fibrilliation can harm one. Any othet -ation should also be avoided.

Sunday, 4 September 2005

News for Flopsy etc.

Of course, the best way to commit bunny suicide is to pop up in front of Ms. Beaky, but, if you are looking for alternatives, these do exist.

Eccky thump

So - perhaps one does not learn by experience.
I have been in some places where the temperature gets quite high. I've seen eggs fried on the pavement and I have sat in some very hot rooms and Turkish Baths. Little Japanese girls have pushed me under bath water that would cook chopped liver.
But - today has been too hot for me. Except for the bit where I sat with my legs in river water up to my knees. Hold that thought.

Er - where did Saturday go?

I just didn't stop all day. Buzzi Buzzi Buzzi.