Saturday, 22 April 2006

Words come true

The original of this narrative poem was thought to have been written by a D.W. Nash around 1870, the time of the Franco-Prussian War which resulted in a crushing defeat for the French; the poem was full of foreboding about the future. In the 1918 edition, a new foreword suggested that those fears were justified and that the events of 1870 gave rise to World War I. Much of that prophecy is worthy of thought in 1995 - from the wavering of Altar and Crown, to the derision of words such as "honour" and "truth", and to the possible lack of wisdom to "yield to foreigners", for which read the EC. More about it at this guys blog.

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This comes from a very slim volume I seem to have had for quite a while. Certainly, I had read it long before the Hunting with Dogs saga was raised so it is a valid forecast there. The following verses are but selected extracts that seem to chime with what we are going through now.

Then round he turned his horse's head
And shook his bridle free,
When he was struck by an aged fox
That sat beneath a tree.

He raised his eye in glad surprise,
That huntsman keen and bold;
But there was in that fox's look
That made his blood run cold.

He raised his hand to touch his horn,
And shout a "Tally-ho"
But mastered by that fox's eye,
His lips refused to blow.
For he was grim and gaunt of limb,
With age all silvered o'er;
He might have been an arctic fox
Escaped from Greenland's shore.

"Huntsman" he said - a sudden thrill
Through all the listeners ran,
To hear a creature of the wood
Speak like a Christian man -
"Last of my race, to me' tis given
The future to unfold,
To speak the words which never yet
Spake fox of mortal mould.

"Then print my words upon your heart
And stamp them on your brain,
That you to others may impart
My prophecy again.
"Strong life is yours in manhood's prime,
Your cheek with heat is red;
Time has not laid his finger yet
In earnest on your head.

"But ere your limbs are bent with age,
And ere yours locks are grey,
The sport that you have loved so well
Shall long have passed away.

"Too well I know, by wisdom taught
The existence of my race
O'er all wide England's green domain
Is bound up with the Chase.

"Better in early youth and strength
The race for life to run,
Than poisoned like the noxious rat,
Or slain by felon gun.
"Better by wily sleight and turn
The eager hound to foil,
Than slaughtered by each baser churl
Who yet shall till the soil.
"For not upon these hills alone
The doom of sport shall fall;

O'er the broad face of England creeps
The shadow on the wall.
"The years roll on: old manors change,
Old customs lose their sway;
New fashions rule; the grandsire's garb
Moves ridicule to-day.
"Base churls shall mock the mighty names
Writ on the roll of time;
Religion shall be held a jest,
And loyalty a crime.

"No word of prayer, no hymn of praise
Sound in the village school;
The people's education
Utilitarians rule.
"In England's ancient pulpits
Lay orators shall preach
New creeds, and free religions
Self made apostles teach.

"The peasants to their daily tasks
In surly silence fall;
No kindly hospitalities
In farmhouse nor in hall.
"Nor harvest feast nor Christmas tide
Shall farm or manor hold;
Science alone can plenty give,
The only God is gold.

"The homes where love and peace should dwell
Fierce politics shall vex,
And unsexed woman strive to prove
Herself the coarser sex.

Trade shall be held the only good
And gain the sole device;
The statesman's maxim shall be peace,
and peace at any price.

"Her army and her navy
Britain shall cast aside;
Soldiers and ships are costly things,
Defence an empty pride.

Following these dire forecasts however, is a note of triumph as reason returns.

Old England's sons shall raise again
The Alter and the Crown.
"Rejoicing seas shall welcome
Their mistress once again;

Once more the banner of St George
Shall rule upon the main.
"The blood of the invader
Her pastures shall manure,

His bones unburied on her fields
For monuments to endure.
"Again in hall and homestead,
Shall joy and peace be seen,

And smiling children raise again
The maypole on the green.
"Again the hospitable board
Shall groan with Christmas cheer,
And mutual service bind again
The peasant and the peer.

"Again the smiling hedgerow
Shall field from field divide;
Again among the woodlands
The scarlet troop shall ride."

Look back in sadness

I was going to make a Welsh joke here but that would be a bit obvious. How can one imagine Taffy getting so demonstrative?

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This created a lot of attention at the time. Would we be so quick to condemn if it were said now? What was that about prophets and honour in their own country?

Friday, 21 April 2006

Short shrift

Well, a haircut cured most of the hair problem. What is left looks OK. I don't think I'll do a repeat 'solution' as the dye grows out though!

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Google is getting big, very big. Maybe, even, very very big. But not, it seems, big enough to really do as it wants.

April 21, 2006 7:41 AM PDT
Google flap: Doodle dos and don'ts
Once again, bloggers are in an uproar over copyright issues.
This time the hubbub surrounds one of Google's "doodles," the little drawings the search engine uses to replace its logo on special occasions. On Thursday, Google put up a doodle in honor of artist Joan Miro's birthday.
But representatives for the artist's family were not impressed, saying Google had not asked permission to reuse several copyright images of his work. Google has since taken down the doodle, although the company said it does not believe it infringed on copyright.
Predictably, bloggers were shocked and appalled at the complaint. Whether the whole matter could have been avoided if Google had simply asked for permission first is unknown.
Blog community response:
"Google just wanted to celebrate the surrealist artist's birthday with a tribute--and one would guess they have enough lawyers to defend an obviously noninfringing work. But hey, no problem--someone else can go defend creative rights."
"That's a shame, since the logo is clearly designed to pay tribute, and is a great, noncommercial way of exposing hundreds of millions of people to Miro's work. Of course, the news story probably got them even more publicity, so maybe this was a smart move."
"Stories about patents stifling innovation have become pretty common. It's unfortunate that some are abusing the copyright system to prevent the world from being a more beautiful, visually interesting place."

Don't sit facing a mirror

Seems there is never a dull moment in the life of pensioners!
Viewers of my Profile picture will see that the skin of my head is shared with hair. Whilst this is shorn in the fashion of a cockney crook, all is well but as it grows out, it is a bird of a different colour. Bits are white - which is OK but other areas look that shade of grey one sees on the coller of old men who like the company of small boys. I decided enough was enough and got myself some hair dye. That in itself is a whole day's outing. There is the all at once solution in various shades from blonde to Afro black. Alternatively, there are products that allow one to deal with the grey over a period of time. This, to me, is a joke. Bad enough to face the looks of a sudden one-off job but what about dealing with a situation where it seems as if the Dorian Gray picture has gone into reverse?
The instructions are very simple. One of the few instances where the maker acknowledges that the end user may not be the full shilling in the comprehension stakes. Nice large print. Copious photographs. Stages all numbered from 1 to 4.
So howm given all this, did it go so wrong? I now have neither white or fiddler grey but I do look like Ronald Reagan on a bad hair day. In addition, some of the dye seems to have stained the skin so I will have to deal with the youth soliciting drugs from the African guy. I'm practising my "Do I look bovvered?" responses to comments but I foresee a hard couple of days.
Linking into my guest blog - perhaps I will have to make sure I do npot sit facing towards a mirror?

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We have all laughed at the spiritual excesses of the Islamic religion presented by the fanatics who seek to show thier followers that they have influence over our Government. This however, has got to take the biscuit,

Jail toilets face away from Mecca
Facilities in a prison are being built so Muslim inmates do not have to face Mecca while sitting on the toilet.

The Home Office said two new toilet blocks are being installed as part of a refurbishment at Brixton jail in south London.

Faith leaders had told prison bosses it was unacceptable for Muslim inmates to face Mecca while using the toilet.

"The refurbishment has been carried out with due consideration for all faiths", a Home Office spokeswoman said.

"Following consultation with faith leaders within the prison, various small adjustments were made to ensure the faith issues of all prisoners are taken into account."

She added: "The money spent did not affect the overall cost of the refurbishment programme."

Without being gross, I would have thought that to sit FACING Mecca was the least offensive posture> Turning them round means that their ..........., Get my point?

Thursday, 20 April 2006

No jokes please

Tailor-made condoms

Individually tailored condoms that are anatomically designed to fit each penis perfectly are going on sale in Germany.

Businessman Oliver Gothe, 36, is behind the Cologne-based company Lebenslust (Lust for Life), which has invented a system to make personalised prophylactics.

Using a machine that measures each member to produce a unique 3D computer image, Gothe then lets his customers choose the thickness of the condom and add extra details.

Gothe said: "These condoms will fit so well you will hardly notice you are wearing one. We can make them wafer thin or fist thick and 'engrave' them with your signature wrapped around the base."

The service will cost around £600 for a "large but an as yet unspecified number" but Gothe insists the price is worth it as his condoms are comfier and safer.

I wonder how much he charges just to use "a machine that measures each member to produce a unique 3D computer image"? I tend to question his statement that a "fist thick" condom will be more comfortable. Possibly more comfortable than a traffic cone but even that must depend if one is a giver or a receiver.

How do you know when politicians are ...........

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Two guests in one day?
Yes, why not. It's a big house. Besides, I like political comment.

Recently read a speech by Tony Blair on Iraq where every sentence was a lie. With George Bush of course, it is impossible to remember a sentence he has ever said that contained any truth. There's an old joke - how do you know when a politician is lying? When they have their mouth open.

When I was seven my beloved grandfather died. My grandmother wrote me a letter I have always kept. The core of it was this 'Hoping in all your life to come, you will try and live your life according to your Grandad's standard of honour. Remember to never touch strong drink and never lie about anything whatever the provocation might be. Do all you can in trying to help others and always remember that right always triumphs over wrong.' He was a good man, Charles Young, a 'gentleman to his bootstraps' as my grandmother also said. A lot of talk about honesty in politics lately. One reason is that governments in recent years have become more and more ideological, more and more determined to push a policy irrespective of the facts - the Iraq war springs to mind, and global warming, and tax cuts for the rich, and social security policy, and voting fraud and .... As a result, when it comes to communicating with the public about what is being done they can't produce the real reasons, the public almost certainly won't like them, and so the truth must be bent. And this is the other process going on. Not so much outright lies, necessarily, sometimes these come back to haunt you, but spin. Politicians have become expert in recent years at giving words new meanings, of phrasing things in ways that can have two meanings, and of commanding those around them not to tell them the facts so they can deny later ever knowing what was going on.

I have heard commentators defending this ducking and weaving and playing fast and loose with the truth as just the way it has to be in politics. People like me, believing in being honest, are presented as naive for thinking it can be different. But why should politics be different to everyday life? Do you deliberately mislead your friends? If you are a nurse or teacher or a farmer or in business, do you deliberately withhold information, or tell lies to your patients or students or clients or customers? Maybe I should send a copy of my grandmother's letter to all current politicians and aspiring ones. But surely they also had grandparents who brought them up to tell the truth? Was there not a grandmother DeLay, a grandfather Cheney? Did Rumsfeld's grandparents teach him nothing? Where do these people get their morals and values from?

And how do I rate against my grandad's measure? Well, not 100% I'm afraid. I do like a drink or two.

Cancelled Visits

Today was to have been Adventure Day 06. I had been thinking about a trip to the Yorkshire Dales. No reason; just a return to a place where many happy memories lie. However, as the start of the day is damp and misty, the Adventure has been called off. Little point in saying, "Remember the day I almost ran up that bloody big hill?" when the view is as misty as the recollection. It will be done though. Just a case of getting inclination matched with pain-free hip and weather for long views. I had been looking forward to showing Sable some of Sheba's favourite and comparing her reaction. What would have been superb would have been a reenactment of the cavalry charge into the ducks just as the serious camera-man had them lined up to his satisfaction. Way back then I almost rolled into the river with laughter so Lord knows where I would end up if we could do it again.
My guest blog also concerns a visit that was cancelled. By DIY rather than weather though.

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Whilst I have to admit that my performing minor surgery on #1 son with a Swiss Army penknife may have influenced his reaction to pain and a preference for DIY medicine, I do not think that his medical treatment ever matched this account. However, if it did - I apologise.

He had gone and gotten Rob's set of tiny drill bits and drilled though his own fingernail. The blood had spurted out and was, by all accounts, very cool. And most importantly his finger didn't hurt anymore. He said he knew that if I brought him to the ER that they would insist on giving him some sort of shot for the pain and he didn't want that. Ah yes, a shot of lidocaine would be much, much more frightening than having a drill taken to your fingernail.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006


Teach me to do damned stupid tests just for a laugh

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by

Memories of a 20-pinter

Maybe need to explain this title. A "20-pinter" is a measure used by the brutal and licentious soldiery to define the amount of drink that needs to be consumed before a female looks drop-dead gorgeous.
The scale runs out at 20 pints. Beyond that, there is a serious likelyhood of death intervening.
I'm sure she is a nice girl though!

Thing is, she is such a big girl that she has killed my divider and Guest Blog heading. However, the intent can still go even if the presentation is not normal.

The guest blog was going to be appropriate anyway. This is a lady who is quite adventerous in her diet. Certainly this is something that will not figure in our Jamies Cook Book For Schoolkids.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

A sort of cartoon incident

There is a article that might help to understand the hoo-ha about those cartoons, I felt that what the newspaper was trying to do was demonstrate just the sort of trouble contributers might face. This comes from the horse's mouth of a Islamic media man.

I used to work for the people who publish Arab News. I can truly confirm the points he makes as to the atmosphere.

Fawaz Turki
Saturday, April 15, 2006;
I was unceremoniously fired this month by my Saudi newspaper, a leading English-language daily called Arab News.
It didn't matter that I had been the senior columnist on the op-ed page for nine years or that my work was quoted widely in the European and American media, including this paper. What mattered was that I had committed one of the three cardinal sins an Arab journalist must avoid when working for the Arab press: I criticized the government.The other two? Bringing up Islam as an issue and criticizing, by name, political leaders in the Arab or Islamic world for their brazen excesses, dismal failures and blatant abuses

Upton Park - 2 stops short of Barking

The flat seems quiet today. The feeling of new life from the week-end is fading. The dog keeps looking up and around as if she can sense the ghosts of our visitors.

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As someone who had quite a few members of my mother's side of the family living in Barking, I sort of grew up there alongside almost-Cockney aunts and uncles and old friends of same. One of the pubs where I conducted my romantic bits was there also. Although it was not Alf Garnett land, it was close. So, I was sad to see the claims of a Labourite (friends of the common people eh?) government as to how an election might pan out. However, seems I am not the only one.

I couldn't help linking my experience on Sunday with some of the stuff in the weekend papers about the BNP - it was sad to see a Posh Lady in the cabinet talk about how the likes of Barking have changed as if she'd only just realised it, and you have to wonder what's wrong with our education system when people grow up that stupid to think that voting for a bunch of Nazis is acceptable.

Because here was a world that's about to disappear - that old white working class community, the one that drinks together, looks after each other - under threat from economic forces and other factors. Did these old folk really want a world in which their children and grandchildren couldn't afford to live in the town there were brought up in? Did anyone ask them if they wanted to see the fabric of their home town change totally within a decade? Of course not. Will anyone campaigning in the local council elections recognise this? No. Their fears will go unchallenged, helping the wicked lies cooked up by the far-right spread.

So it can't be a surprise when they end up turning to a bunch of fruitcakes and nasty bastards who can put on a better show of "listening" than anyone else. Think it couldn't happen here? In Ireland, Sinn Fein uses the same tactics and is now a serious political force as well as the friends of terrorists. Voting for Nazis is never, ever acceptable - but it hardly takes a degree in politics to realise why people are being pushed into their embrace

Butch Cassidy rides again!

Never mind Fuego. Butch lives to ride again. Hands are nicely low down. Good stirrup position. Perhaps he is a natural?
See what I said about the horse?

Joining the Club

It was not all fun and games on that visit you know. Liberty had to undergo indoctrination to the feared Quilters web.


Don't know how many of you saw the TV interviews of parents of the officer latest to be killed in Iraq. The father is a Brigadier but, even taking this into account, they show tremendous fortitude quite different to the images of a shattered life one normally sees. This is a poem that has been attached to a forum

And though you be done to death, what then?
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only, how did you die?

Differing interests

This is interesting - well, to me anyway. It scopes out the posting volumes per day by content.
Whilst we may have had a parochial interest in the events of 7/7, elsewhere seemingly mundane events attracted the same volume of postings. Thinking back to the tsunami of the London bombing posts, who would have thought that a Intel version of Mac would come close to that degree of interest.
Oh - and look at the number of posts. 50,000 per hour. Makes me look at my hit counter in a new light. Elsewhere, this chart announces that a new blog is created every second and more than 80% are still running after 3 months.

I don't know exactly why or what makes this amusing to me but it has been haunting me since I first saw it about three hours ago. It is not often nowadays that cartoons have this 'stickability' with me. Just for that, the original poster gets a place in my guest blog spot. Welcome sir - please come in.

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Here he is. The man who made me giggle - and has done many times. I think the Old Peoples' Home setting is great

Monday, 17 April 2006

My Dog and dirty doings.

Sable has been very funny whilst the kids were here. Obviously, having to take second place is scary for one who insists on 100% attention but she has gone to extremes to demonstrate how she feels. She kept a very close eye on them all the time. Any time she thought they were too involved with me, she forced herself into the group. Yesterday, Norma took her to the beach with Caroline and the children. Plot was to drop dog and visitors at one end and they would walk down to a pick-up at the other end. She went off quite happily but then realised she had no 'owner' with her. She came back. She was encouraged to go back to the kids and went but would not stay. She obviously thought she was being given away and was two paws into the rescue dog place. In the end, Norma had to do the walk with them but the dog still stayed close to her.

This morning, when they were off, they came to me for kisses and hugs. She saw this and jumped onto my lap and gave me a million kisses. All the while with her eyes towards the children to make sure they were taking it in.

So much for dumb animals! Huh

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Now, this is very spooky. Even if one can resist conspiracy theories - I read and enjoy them as fiction but avoid the tinfoil hat - this could be very serious if even partly true. The fact they are claimed to be using irregular forces that very recently targetted US Forces makes it all the more cynical. I wonder what is in it for them if they come out on the winning side?

Are We There Yet?
by digby

Following up on my post from Friday highlighting Colonel Sam Gardiner's statement on CNN that the US already has troops in iran, I see (via robelicit at kos) that Dennis Kucinich has sent a letter to the president asking if such reports are true.

Gay Times

Not a lot of time right now for a personal bit. I'm hot on tracking something on Newsgator. If you are someone who reads a lot on the Internet, this is a Godsend. My Bookmarks page had got to almost two pages and was very cumbersome. My reader has made a heck of a lot of difference.

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This is from a gay male contact site - don't ask how I got there! The - I suppose c.v. is a good as name as any - that this guy gives is not so very different to those from others on the site. It does not, however, reflect the sort of c.v. one sees (I see) at lesbian contact sites. Wonder why that is? He certainly reveals himself. It is just the language. Is it that I am more homophobic than I thought? Anyway - it's here because I doubt that many of us see this sort of thing. So - insight into another's world.

Sometimes, I think that life is going by so fast. I wonder if I am taking time to smell the right type of flowers. I am so blessed with a healthy life, an amazing business, incredible parents, fantastic friends, and the mystries of what is next for me.
I am not your typical man.... I ask very little of those in my life, to be my friend/lover/partner/???? I do require absolute honesty. I live freely and freely give love to those who will be truthful to themselves.
Life is a cup, full of suprises, my cup got something I never thought it would. A wake up call that said it was time to get healthy; mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and become financially accountable. I have done just about everything I thought I needed to do to fill my gay cup and decorate it with things that don't really matter. Now I want people in my life who only put good things in my cup.
I believe we meet people for three things in life:
1. A Reason-that brief moment to make you realize that you are better off than most.
2. A Season-of time that taught you the lesson you didn't expect.
3. A Lifetime-of moments that make your heart skip a beat.
As for what I am looking for:
I don't know who he is yet but.... Someday the universe will have our paths connect and we will walk together for a lifetime. We will define our relationship to our liking. Sometimes the path will get very rocky and I might fall and he would pick me up and carry me to safer ground. Occationally I may have to step in front of him to show him the way and maybe carry him piggyback style. Who knows how it will all go? I welcome the day it all begins.
Feel free to say hello. I wish everyone health and happiness
One more thought: I am HIV positive, and I meet many people who look at me with a look of disapproval, disappointment, or pity. Try not to assume someone got infected by sleeping around, or someone didn't want to take the time to play safe.
Educate yourself.
And just because he is your new boyfriend and he says he is HIV neg. Doesn't mean it is telling the truth.
Many people are infected everyday. Knowledge is power. Ignorance is delusional bliss.

Easter come, Easter go

Today, grandchildren go home. I think they enjoyed themselves - at the very least, they will have been bored in new surroundings so that was a bonus. We've enjoyed having them here. It has caused us to put ourselves into 'entertaining guests' mode and that is always pleasant. We have seen things from a slightly different viewpoint and have had to think more about things we say and do which are an alteration of our now very ritualistic lives. Only thing is they have awful preferences in television viewing.

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This deals with what happened in Argentina when the country achieved Freedom. Just a quote from a General on the 'liberating' side says it all. One of the generals of the Argentine army said to International Herald Tribune in 1977, "First we will kill terrorists. After that, we will kill collaborators. Later we will kill the supporters. And, finally, we will kill hesitant people." That was the climate of our time. That was our adolescence. Not all popular movements should be so-called

Sunday, 16 April 2006

What's wrong with this?


I took myself down to the Tally Ho Tavern
To buy me a bottle of beer.
And I sat me down by a tender young maiden,
Who's eyes were as dark as her hair.
And as I was searching from bottle to bottle,
For something un-foolish to say.
That silver tongued devil just slipped from the shadows,
And smilingly stole her away.

I said: "Hey, little girl, don't you know he's the devil.
"He's everything that I ain't.
"Hiding intentions of evil,
"Under the smile of a saint.
"All he's good for is getting in trouble,
"And shiftin' his share of the blame.
"And some people swear he's my double:
"And some even say we're the same.
"But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose,
"I'll only live 'til I die.
"We take our own chances and pay our own dues,
"The silver tongued devil and I."

Like all the fair maidens who've laid down beside him,
She knew in her heart that he'd lied.
Nothin' that I could have said could have saved her,
No matter how hard that she tried.
'Cos she'll offer her charms to the darkness and danger,
Of somethin' that she's never known.
And open her arms at the smile of a stranger,
Who'll love her and leave her alone.

And you know, he's the devil.
He's everything that I ain't.
Hiding intentions of evil,
Under the smile of a saint.
All he's good for is getting in trouble,
And shiftin' his share of the blame.
And some people swear he's my double:
And some even say we're the same.
But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose,
I'll only live 'til I die.
We take our own chances and pay our own dues,
Ah ha ha ha.

The silver tongued devil and I.

And some say that country music is rubbish!

Watchers of CSI beware

As someone who was asking questions in criminal investigations a long time ago, I am interested in the advances of forensic science. These have made the lives of investigators much easier. But - and isn't there always a But - they have made legal matters more complicated. Defence lawyers love having opportunities to cast reasonable doubt on evidence. With advances at the cutting edge, these opportunities are many. Maybe too complex for the jury made up of the average layman. I personally see little difference if the chances of a DNA match are that only one person in, say, six billion will match are reduced by defence work to one in six million. There will be other evidence.

Just don't believe all you see on the CSI series of TV shows.

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Running in America is a case where a woman alleges she was raped by a number of members of a sports team. It has raised considerable contraversy regarding DNA evidence. Someone who admits to being a militant feminist put a number of questions to experts in the DNA field. She has highlighted one of the responses as being - sorry to do this - seminal to the matter.

Simon Ford
Trained primarily in molecular biology and biochemistry, Dr. Ford is the Founder and President of Lexigen Science and Law Consultants, a firm that specializes in providing advice to lawyers about genetic evidence since 1988. He has personally reviewed the DNA evidence from thousands of criminal investigations and has conducted numerous workshops for agencies on the analysis of STR test results.


For your information, I've not been following the reports of the Duke rape case allegations, all I know is that the incident allegedly involves multiple potential assailants, and that the initial DNA report failed to establish a link with any of the individuals tested from the Duke team — that's about all I know.

One important issue underlying the media coverage of a story like the Duke incident is that TV shows like CSI have raised unrealistic expectations in the general public of what forensic science, and specifically DNA testing, can do. People get the idea that you run a test, it takes just a few hours, and you get a definitive answer yes or no. In truth DNA testing takes much longer, can produce ambiguous results and has always got to be considered in the framework of the specific question asked and in the context of other biological tests, such as microscopic observation of cell types (for example sperm in a rape case) or serological tests for body fluids (such as semen). Also there are different types of DNA tests. Many labs start with the standard autosomal STR test on sex assault cases. This test looks at regions of DNA which differ from person-to-person and are scattered across the non-sex chromosomes. In some instances, for example samples which contains large amounts of (female) victim DNA, the assailant's DNA may get swamped out, and so the lab can use one of the Y-STR tests, which homes in on variable regions only found on the Y-chromosome (which men have and women do not). In cases of this type, the initial (autosomal) STR DNA report may fail to report a match with the suspect but a later Y-STR DNA report may incriminate. There can also be other simpler explanations for a negative initial report being followed by a later incriminating report, such as refining the choice of samples to test. I would not read too much into a negative report until the whole testing scenario has been completed.

With regard to your specific questions. I don't know much about testing for latex and detection of condom use. The question regarding mixtures is easiest to deal with. A mixed DNA profile will consist of the DNA profiles of the contributing individuals superimposed, one on top of another. It can be quite complex, because not all contributions are going to be in equal amounts, causing unevenness in the profile, and the DNA profiles of the individuals who contribute least to the mixture may well drop below detectable levels. So the first potential problem is that minor contributors may be missed. Beyond that though, it is still possible to answer the question as to whether a specific profile can be excluded as being a potential contributor to the mixed profile.

Once you have determined that a particular profile cannot be excluded the problem is how to express the significance of that observation; and this is were statistics comes in. The statistical calculations for mixture cases can be quite complicated. In single source cases labs often report stats in the trillions and quadrillions but in mixture cases the stats can be dramatically eroded — the more contributors, the less powerful the stats — it is not uncommon to see stats in the tens or hundreds in mixture cases. The presence of multiple contributors can erode the statistical power of the test to the point whereby, if there are enough contributors, the test really doesn't have any useful meaning any more. All the lab would be able to say is that there were a large number of contributors, but no further conclusions could be drawn.

Your two remaining questions are more difficult to answer, because they deal with DNA evidence without giving the context of the specific question being asked for that case or information about other biological testing. Every case is different and has its own nuances. With regard to DNA it all hinges on whether the specific allegations claimed by the victim are amenable to being proven right or wrong by DNA. If the claim is such that one would expect to see biological material and none is found, then sure it may be an indication of a false claim, but there are really so many other potential explanations, particularly when just dealing with the first round of DNA testing, such as issues like condom use, vasectomy, choice of test (autosomal STR v. Y-STR), choice of samples to test, many other things like this can all play a part.

Sorry I can't be more definitive, but I hope these comments help illustrate the difficult challenges that labs and attorneys face with regard to the real world usage of DNA evidence in criminal cases.

All the best,

Simon Ford

Time changes all things

Ok. Having the kids here proves it. Their visit before last - what, eighteen months ago, I led the charge up the sand dunes at Bamburgh and was King of the Castle. Out with them all day and still kept up with their antics - pressed at times but triumphant. Yesterday, there was no climbing required thank the Lord as I found myself lagging behind in just walking. Today, the bones and joints and muscles are all conspiring to tell me that my days as King of any Castle are over. Oh well! It was fun while it lasted. Thankfully, they are old enough to realise I'm old and not disinterested in what we do.

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This is very nice. Romantic. Heart warming. Uplifting. The date is 1 April 2005. Sadly, I see no mention of candle lighting in April 2006. No mention of any significant other. Looks as if things went to pot as they so often do in human relationships. Sad when things looked so perfect a year ago. Time has been at work here also.

April 01, 2005


Today I lit a candle for you. It was the same one you lit for me exactly a year ago today.

I remember waiting in the airport, leaning against the column, thinking of our first kiss - the kiss I had yet to experience. I looked up in time to see you walking toward me, your hair slightly mussed, eyes looking a little sleepy. You stopped in front of me. You were smiling. You reached out and wrapped your arms around me, pulling me to you. I had to tilt my head back because you're so tall. Remember me telling you how much I like tall?

You looked into my eyes and then we kissed. It was a wet kiss, not unpleasantly wet, just wet. I melted. I'd waited so long, not realizing I'd been waiting.

That's the funny thing about you. I'd waited all my life to meet you and never even knew it until the moment we finally did.

So many things ended and began one year ago. The course of our lives changed, for ill or for good. Some may consider it all one big April Fools Day joke, but it isn't. It never has been.

We've danced our dances and cried our tears. We've laughed 'til our sides ached and we've exchanged angry words. We've kissed and made up. We've said hellos and goodbyes. How many times? Does it even matter? All I know is that I cherish the time spent with you, be it face-to-face, over the phone, or however we've had to make contact. I wouldn't trade this last year for anything.

Today I lit a candle for you. It was the same candle that you lit for me exactly one year ago today.

Here we go again

Well, look at this. New layout, new colours, new links, new toys. Still the same author though so maybe the old adage "different day, same shit" will apply.

The idea of having a Guest Blog is to try and force me to be 'creative' each and every day and not cheat by merely posting someone else's hard work and giving a link. I still get the option to showcase the work of those I admire, agree with, support or otherwise deem worthy of such publicity as this blog might give them. So, that is Intent & Purpose defined. Go now and wander about. Get touchy feely. Nothing is going to hurt you.

Credit for what I think is a damn fine template and attached bits goes to Gemmak. She has a button here. I recommend anyone wanting a design or update to anything existing visit with her. Most of what is here only originated in my stubborn head - without the slightest knowledge of what was possible and what was realistic. Gemmak (no - I don't know where the name came from; go ask her) not only told me very plainly when I was asking for the impossible but came up with the next best thing. I have to say that her next best thing was most often superior to my original.

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Just looking at what the robots are expected to accomplish prompts me to think, “Did all this initiative come from some decorated wheelie bins in Doctor Who?”

An anonymous reader writes "A European version of the DARPA Grand Challenge is being held in Germany next month. Instead of a race through the desert, the EU challenge is split into three events. Urban, non-urban, and landmine detection will be the 'courses', with multiple winners in each event. Interestingly Sebastian Thrun, winner of last year's Challenge, has been forbidden from taking part despite being a European citizen." From the article: "The trials will take place in and around Hammelburg, a mockup of a town used by the German military for training exercises. In the non-urban course the robots will have to contend with a one-kilometer route containing ditches, barbed wire fences, cattle guards, fires, narrow underpasses, and inclines of up to 40 degrees. The urban and landmine 500-meter trials will require the robots to negotiate doorways, stairs, partially collapsed buildings, and poor visibility from smoke or partial lighting. Along the way, they will also have to search for designated objects and report their findings back to base."