Saturday, 22 October 2005

What about that!!

The IMS came up in something I read today so I had to go away and look it up. I think it is a really good concept and might explain much.
This term was coined by Gerald Lincoln, a researcher at the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, and came to public notice in Britain in early March. Presumably he, or the MRC’s press officer, coined it on the analogy of irritable bowel syndrome. Dr Lincoln claims that men of any age who suffer stress can experience sudden drops in testosterone level, making them bad-tempered, nervous, or easily reduced to tears. One suggestion is that testosterone replacement therapy may restore men to their usual state (whatever that is). The idea has received what one may describe as a mixed reception, with comment from the female of the species being particularly acerbic.
If irritable male syndrome does affect men, diagnosing it won’t be easy. It’s far from clear what normal testosterone levels are, while extra doses of the hormone may increase the risk of heart disease.
[New Scientist, Mar. 2002]
Q: What do you call a man who is always tired, miserable and irritable? A: Normal. Q: How can you tell if a man has irritable male syndrome? A: You ask him to pass the salt and he yells: “Take, take, take—that’s all you ever do!”
[Daily Mirror, Mar. 2002]

Here we go again!

I am a mug for new things. Generally so new that no one knows what they are about or if they work. Anyways, going through my RSS feeds (there's clever isn't he!), I came across something that said it was a further development of FireFox. Find out more here. So, this is just to see if it works for me. The Word for Blog thing works but mine seems to have gone a bit flaky the last few days. Plus - as I said, I'm a sucker for new things. This does not seem to even have a facility for those pesky html things so it is really great for the old and past-learning. Anyway, I have the maestro JamRolyPoly girl here next week so I might end up with a html black belt (or black eye knowing her!)

Heard in an extremists bunker

These are quite imaginery - I hope. Need to stick with the first few until one gets the idea.

Another view

I posted a picture on Friday of a female member of the US Marine Corps. A small degree of research has found this photograph of her doing what I am quite sure is the thing she does best. I am not a great fan of female body-builders but, having dabbled, I can appreciate just what it took to get to this degree. Ideal for for Blunkett if he ever took up the study of anatomy, Scare the shyt out of some Shite Muslim if he took her hostage and stripped her for the orange jump-suit!
If I cannot knock 50 years off my age - I wanna be a tattooist.

Marriage - defined

I read most things Julie Burchill writes with a strange fascination. It is almost as if I know that I should not but I cannot resist. Bit like the News of the World all those years ago with reports on paedophile Scout masters or reporters visiting prostitutes who always ‘made excuses and left’ as the knickers came off. Today, she is commenting on the Beckham’s marriage. That bit I’ll ignore – I care not if they have a genuine marriage or just present themselves as some marketing duo. What I do like today is her comment on what constitutes marriage. She says:
I don’t agree with the uptight, curtain-twitching theory that marriage is a sacred chalice and a public concern, and I say that as a Christian and a socialist. In my view, it’s about: (a) finding someone you don’t feel completely cross with at the prospect of having to turn down sex with other people for; and (b) finding a refuge from the demands of public life — that’s why it’s called a private life. I can see that definition as incredibly apt. Anything else one might include in Wiki-marriage is really contained in her 38 word Delphic Oracle.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Odds and sods of the day.

I wrote about the need for the 90 day detention in terrorist cases. Need not have bothered by the wave of comments but it is nice to see that an accepted writer seems to agree with me.
Trafalgar Day today. Bit of a sham really in celebration terms. We had that farce of a day at sea earlier in the year when we were not allowed to mention French and Spanish involvement. Given the sad lack of demonstrating our martial past, I suppose we have to be happy that it even got a mention. The VE and VJ celebrations are now all but dead. We seemed to be punishing ourselves more for being party to the atomic bombing over Japan that remembering just how many lives were saved by their use at that time. Where is Waterloo Day? It goes down well on the continent but seems to concentrate there on a French cry "We woz robbed". What about the Battle of Britain?. I suppose the Church would go all mealy-mouthed as they did with the Falklands celebration.
Poking about on the net and in the back rooms of my mind, I came to realise just what we have lost. Service of one's country was paramount - even amongst sailors forced into the navy courtesy of the press gangs. The army of today presents, to me, the image that it is seen as a career just like joining a major corporate entity where self-advancement is the motivation. Service as a vocation has gone.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Some things never change

Should have known this would happen once you give the job to a German guy

Regrets - I've got a few....

This is the sort of thing that makes me realise I left the Army just a bit too early.

You've gotta be joking!

I just cannot believe that I have just read this report on actions of US troops in Afghanistan. If I have read it right, I cannot think of any bigger 'own goal'. The recruits to terrorism must be in a queue of great length all clamouring to start making new IEDs or strapping on their suicide belts.

US probe into 'Taleban burnings'
The US military has launched a criminal investigation into alleged misconduct by its troops in Afghanistan, including burning the bodies of Taleban fighters.

The move came after an Australian TV station ran footage of what appeared to be US soldiers burning the remains.

The footage shows other troops apparently taunting residents of a nearby village, which they believed to be harbouring the Taleban.

The act of burning corpses is regarded as a sacrilege in Islam.

Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak was "deeply shocked" at the report and has also ordered an inquiry, a spokesman said.

'Lady boys'

The SBS television footage begins with a warning of disturbing scenes, particularly for Muslim viewers.

It opens with shots of an American PsyOps unit using loud pop music to try to flush out the Taleban - who banned music when they ruled the country.

The most shocking footage in the film shows the corpses of two presumed Taleban fighters laid out facing Mecca and then being burned in what the reporter, John Martinkus, describes as a "deliberate desecration of Muslim beliefs".

You are too scared to retrieve their bodies - this just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be
Troops' alleged message

Later footage shows two US soldiers reading from a notebook messages which they said had already been broadcast to villagers.

"Attention Taleban you are cowardly dogs," the message reads. "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing West and burnt.

"You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."

A Pentagon spokesman said that, if true, the claims would be "very troublesome".

The US military condemned the alleged acts, saying they would be "aggressively investigated".

"This alleged action is repugnant to our common values, is contrary to our commands-approved tactical operating procedures, and is not sanctioned by this command," spokesman Maj Gen Jason Kamiya said.

In May, there were widespread protests, resulting in the deaths of at least 15 people in Afghanistan, after Newsweek magazine reported that US forces had desecrated the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay military camp.


The footage was shot in the village of Gonbaz outside the southern city of Kandahar by Australian cameraman Stephen DuPont, who was embedded with a US unit, for SBS's Dateline programme.

It shows a group of five soldiers standing on a rocky ledge, watching two burning corpses with arms and legs outstretched.

Islamic tradition states that bodies should be washed, prayed over, wrapped in white cloth and buried within 24 hours.

The soldiers initially said they were burning the bodies for hygiene reasons.

The TV report also suggests that the incident could be in violation of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of enemy remains, which states that the dead should be honourably interred.

Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission called on US forces to find those accountable and punish them.

"It is outrageous. The Americans are ignoring the basic principles of the international humanitarian law," said its deputy head, Ahmad Fahim Hakim.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Posted without further comment!

Oi mate - point of bleeding order!!

Admittedly, this is politics 'down under' but I had the feeling as
to how this might be Prime Minister's Questions here had Ken Clarke
got into the Leader position he deserves. This is from The Grauniad...

A heated exchange took place in the New South Wales legislative assembly
concerning improvements to the Pacific Highway, which the Backbencher
is happy to quote here.

"Mr JOSEPH TRIPODI: When I visited Bonville, the local parliamentary
representative was somewhere in Sydney. He was unable to be found in
his own electorate. I was well received by the Mayor of Coffs Harbour
and the Mayor of Bellingen.
Mr ANDREW FRASER: Point of order: Sit down, clown! The minister has
made an attack on me, which was totally untrue. If he wishes to
attack me, it should be by way of substantive motion.
ACTING SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.
FRASER: There is. If he wishes to attack me, I suggest you tell him
to do it by way of substantive motion.
TRIPODI: Look, mate, the people who live in Sydney think that Coffs
Harbour is the place to go for holidays, not for the local member.
FRASER: You are a bloody liar!
TRIPODI: For the people who live in Sydney, Coffs Harbour is a place
to go on holidays.
ACTING SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Coffs Harbour will
resume his seat.
FRASER: Would you like a bloody drink of water, mate? I tell you, I
should ask you about the 13 deaths.
ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! I place the honourable member for Coffs
Harbour on three calls to order. I ask the deputy sergeant-at-arms to
remove him from the chamber.
FRASER: Christ! Thirteen bloody deaths! Thirteen deaths and you want
to lie about where I was on parliamentary business in Sydney, you
clown! And you stand there and do that? I won't take that, you bloody
liar! You are a bloody disgrace to this place and a disgrace to your
portfolio and your electorate!
[The honourable member for Coffs Harbour left the chamber,
accompanied by the sergeant-at-arms.]"

Account - To Beans £75,000

The Government says its new system for the regulation of lawyers will mean that getting legal advice is as easy as buying a tin of beans. I intended to write something here that was very witty along the lines of that'll be a cold day in hell before my learned friends in wigs would allow the simplicity of the English legal ststem into any transaction they would regard as 'Trade'. However, my man Oliver Pritchett had the same thought. I bow before the master!!

Actually, I still remember being a first-time buyer of a tin of beans and the whole process was pleasingly straightforward. It began with a letter from Hardy Smollett & Galsworthy, a reputable firm of certified comestible acquisition agents. The letter was headed "Re your proposed purchase of beans" and it enclosed a pretty simple document.
"For the purposes of this contract, 'beans' will be taken to mean a quantity of pulses of the haricot variety, or similar, which have undergone the process of baking and are drenched in a sauce claiming, avowing or purporting to be of a tomato flavour, and wholly contained in a tin," it said.
It went on to stipulate that, in exchange for certain monies, the supermarket chain, the grocer or his appointed agent would covenant to assign or surrender the demised tin of beans to me. Then all I had to do was sign the document, with two witnesses, and send Hardy Smollett & Galsworthy a preliminary cheque for £1,600 to show I agreed to their terms.
Things moved pretty fast after that. The customary "search", in which they carefully check that apparent grocers' shops are not in fact gunsmiths, vets' practices or petrol stations, took the usual six weeks and I was well on course. My tin of beans was looking like a piece of cake.
Two months later I heard from the comestible acquisition agents (who had been in lengthy correspondence with the grocers' chartered provisions retailing advisers) that my request for a tin of beans was "going to shop". This is a technical term meaning there would be a special hearing in a supermarket where a qualified CC (Customer Counsel) would plead on my behalf for the purchase of the beans. This can be particularly useful when two potential customers are going for the same tin. A date was set for the following autumn and we retained a brilliant CC for £10,000 a day. We also hired the best tin opener in the country.
We hit a snag when the day for the hearing arrived. It turned out that our CC specialised in those tins of baked beans that have the little lumps of slimy sausage in them. The rules of his profession say that lumps of sausage men cannot take part in non-sausage cases. It was really my fault for not being specific at the outset.
It turned out for the best, really, because we then retained an even more brilliant, and slightly more expensive, CC named Sir Geoffrey Bullingdon. Sir Geoffrey was noted for his eloquence; the clerk at my comestible acquisition agents told me: "That man could charm the bean tins off the shelves."
After half a dozen quite normal delays, the case came to the supermarket hearing and Sir Geoffrey arrived looking magnificent and followed by four juniors pushing trolleys. I felt quite nervous giving my testimony as he fixed me with his pale blue eyes, held up a piece of paper and said: "Can you tell the members of the tinned vegetable aisle, is this your shopping list? And will you tell the aisle, in your own words, what items appear on this shopping list?"
It was a complicated case and it lasted three and a half weeks. I seem to remember the legal fees in the end amounted to more than £750,000. It all hinged on an important retailing principle, known to the experts as tesco in propria asda, and there was a crucial precedent concerning the question of how small an instant coffee granule has to be before it is considered a powder.
It was agony hanging round in the supermarket car park waiting for the decision on my beans. At last Sir Geoffrey and his whole brilliant team came out to give me the fantastic news that I had been awarded a tin of spaghetti hoops.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Dream on Daddy-O

Look back at leisure

Just been recapping on the Katrina thing to see what is now about. I did find a very good transcript from someone who had a scanner on the police radio net. Interesting only if you can read the messages with some idea of what else is going on. However, I did come across something that shows just how much people got together to assist survivors. It has that irritating thing about blogs where the latest news is first so reading it as a story means you have to scroll down right to the first and read from there.

Monday, 17 October 2005

All together - aah

Don't touch me - I'm a terrorist

Those who have a problem with the "up to 90 days" anti-terrorist legislation should read this article.
The main opposition comes from the people who claim to be acting in defence of human rights. The arguments I have heard completely deny any discussion other than "human rights". They completely deny the merest suggestion that there are any balancing rights. What about my human right to go about my business or pleasure without being spread all over the walls of some building? Why should I be subject to additional procedures and searches brought about by people who have no respect for human rights and who are quite prepared to sacrifice themselves in pursuance of their selfish demands? I do not see this as a black and white situation - there are shades of white and shades of black. It is not that suspects will be fitted with iron masks and committed to some deep deep dungeon for 90 days.
I rather like the idea of a supervising judge in terrorist investigations. Those countries that have some form of the Napoleonic Code criminal procedure employ this system and I have always liked it when working as part of such a system.
The increasing use of computers and spread of an investigations across numerous countries involving different languages and criminal codes means that the current 14 days is insufficient. Given the volatility of the 7 July-type terrorist, there is a grave danger of carrying out investigations until guilt and involvement is clear and potentially dangerous players have to be taken out of the game at an early stage.

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Rude word - B*ea*t

This is a victory over the mean-minded who objected to - it seems - one word and one phrase in a radio broadcast in America. I've been to Lexington (base for the State University) a couple of times and it does seem to have a large number of little old ladies with blue-rinse hair who wear voluminous dresses and trainers. They are quite nice - I was asked to present a major prize at the Junior League Horse Show just because I was English - but I suspect their narrow faces reflect the fact that they have minds as narrow as a chopping axe.

How UK's radio station banned, and unbanned, Keillor (UK here is University of Kentucky)

By O. Leonard Press and Al Smith
Special to The Courier-Journal

Fans of Garrison Keillor are relieved to know that "The Writer's Almanac," the famed humorist's weekday five-minute radio show that they learned Friday morning was banned from the Bluegrass -- Central Kentucky, that is -- was unbanned Friday afternoon.

An outpouring of protests from Keillor's Kentucky fans apparently saved the show, the same day that the killing of it for too strong language was reported on the front page of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The poems Keillor has been reading have featured language that is just too offensive to risk being fined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said Tom Godell, general manager of WUKY, the public broadcasting station operated by the University of Kentucky, earlier in the week..

"I don't question the artistic content," Godell told a reporter for the Herald-Leader, in explaining why he dropped the program Aug. 1, "but I have to question the language. It's not that he is behaving like Howard Stern, but the FCC has been so inconsistent."

And then, in what seemed to be one of the historic cave-ins of the principle of free speech and academic independence at the commonwealth's "flagship" school, which aspires to be a top 20 university, Godell added: "We don't know where we stand. We could no longer risk a fine."

Then the protests started.

Some digging by the Lexington reporter Jamie Gumbrecht turned up two poems Keillor had read that mentioned the word "breast" and another that had the phrase "get high."

Although Godell at first told the reporter that reaction to the cancellation had been minimal, apparently he hadn't begun to get the angry calls or yet read the buzz of internet correspondence and commentary we were reading, which mocked a university "in free fall" over "breast" as in breast cancer, over "get high" as a metaphor for joy, and suggested, darkly, that the ban was the act of a manager with a conservative ideology determined to silence a critic of President Bush.

On Friday afternoon in a statement put out through UK's public relations office, Godell said that in response to "many of our listeners" he was restoring the "Almanac" to a new schedule -- at 7:01 p.m. as part of National Public Radio's Fresh Air program. At the same time, he cautioned, "The concerns we have are real about the use of language that the FCC has fined stations for recently. . . . We have put in place an editing process . . . to delete such language. . . . "

Godell, whose station still carries Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" on weekends, might have noted that the FCC has added a woman described as "an anti-indecency activist." Critics charge she is there to give the religious right a voice at the FCC. By why WUKY's action against Keillor, who sings old-time hymns on the radio?

It is hard to believe that the FCC, which tolerates the language on "Law and Order-Special Victims Unit" and the scripts for "Desperate Housewives," would pull the plug on Garrison Keillor reading "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and the "breast of the new fallen snow." But Keillor himself, queried about WUKY's ban of his poetry readings, asked, "Should it become a shoulder or an elbow? I don't think so."

Godell may now have discovered that playing it safe is the most unsafe thing an educational station manager can do. He is terribly out of touch with the public-radio mainstream, and insensitive to the university community it serves if he believes that all he has to do is hit the delete key -- and all potential problems will disappear.

O.L. Press is the founding director of Kentucky Educational Television. Al Smith hosts KET's Comment on Kentucky. They live in Lexington.

My day day dreaming

I seem to have spent most of today reflecting. No – not as a mirror reflects but rather thinking back over things that have stuck in my brain for one reason or another that I am unable to determine. It started off this morning when, for no reason, this snippet of William Blake popped into my head.
A robin red breast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

I used to tie it in with Keats and his Belle Dame
And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Then there was the old music hall song (and soldiers’ dirty ditty)
Her beauty was sold for an old man's gold,
She's a bird in a gilded cage.

I always used to wonder at this theme of captivity and the conduct of birds. If a robin red breast in a cage were so terrible, why are there song birds who spend their lives in cages. In my youth, Chinese men would have competitions as to whose caged bird could sing the sweetest note. Surely they would not sing if the caging were so dreadful. Why would a woman sell herself for old mans gold if the down-side was captivity – albeit in a gilded cage?.
My day dream continued. The radio reports of voting in Iraq sent me down this track.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like Arabs,
And silently steal away.

What was this about referring to Arabs packing their tents and silently stealing away? Anyone who has watched TV over the last few years can have no concept of Arabs doing a lot of silently doing anything. I can understand that a night with music will deal with cares – I have experienced it often when the horrors and hate of the external world are lost in the musical entertainment of a good sergeants’ mess.
This seemed to drag me into another fragment of a semi-learned past –
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends -
it gives a lovely light.

Together with -
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

No great soul-searching question about either of these. They are sentiments and suggestions I happily accept and, in the past, have adopted as maxims for the way I chose to live my life. There were times when my candle was also lit in the middle. This because I also remember this from that same period -
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.

In my time I had been a mover and shaker. Insignificant in a worldly scope, even in a national relativity but in my own small world – certainly.
Just as I sat down to put this gibberish into the wibbly wobbly world, I had two other themes swimming around in that stuff that works as a shock-absorber for the brain. I shall let these soak and see what answers come to the surface. This is almost as good as meditation………….
Is it better to have dreams that will never come to pass, or to have no dreams at all?
If you could only have sex once more in your life, when would you do it, with whom, and where?
This is more than just a hypothesis folks.