Saturday, 6 May 2006

Delayed entry

So, no post for Friday then?

Short delay that's all. When I wok up the day looked bright but nothing special. By the time I had eaten breakfast though, the sun was out and it looked set for a good day. So - off and away. Down to the old stamping ground of the Yorkshire Dales. Good drive down - Scotch Corner was there before I knew it. Then, a slow ramble down Swaledale and over into Wharfedale. Lunch was at Kilnsey where they do just about the finest smoked trout I have come across. That includes Inverawe, the Loch Fyne restaurant and some of the hidey holes on the West Coast.

One of the advantages of the Dales is the footpath system. I think we know most of the favourites and a lot of lesser-known others. Just stopping the car and having a walk with the dog is much easier down there than here. I know we have access up here but I'm never sure about it. So, when we got home well after dark, the dog was tired and we were exhausted. Well worth it. I'd not want to live there - far too busy. The scenery is great but does not have the breadth and scale of what we get here. Bit of a honey pot for incomers - dread to think what some of the places cost. When we started going there we saw many places we could have bought on an overdraft never mind mortgage. Even Kilnsey has gone up market. When we first discovered it, it was just a fish farm with sales from a little stone hut. One bought fish by weight. Now it is very commercial. Good on them.

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This is a lady whom I would not wish to meet on a dark night. She has the right ideas; it's just that I'd worry about what she would think of my ideas.


I see little worthy of comment in the political matters of the past couple of days. There is talk of how badly Labour performed. Given the dire state of things that was revealed and hinted at (3 or 4 or 5 Shag Prescott?), they did well. Even as a disaster party, they retained much of their support. I reckon Johnoo has something on Blair to survive as he did.

My real sympathy is reserved for Jack Straw. He has clearly had a dewy-eyed moment with that nice Miss Rice and many photographs show chemistry even if his zip stayed zipped. The poor guy was just like an adolescent kid who has found Dad's stash of Playboy magazines. B Liar obviously removed him rather than risk a Prescott with his Foreign Secretary. We may end up regretting the end of their professional association if Condi gets to be POTUS - which she deserves and could do well - I reckon.

Not just me you know!

'Richard Smith, 77,

"always votes BNP" because there are too many foreigners in the
country. He says "they" burgled him four weeks ago. Asked how
he knew it was "them", he said: "We knew by the big foot mark.
I can't see many English people having feet as big as that."'

- The Guardian

Death of a young man - News : Autopsy: Martin Anderson suffocated is an item about the death of a barely-teenaged youth at an American boot camp.
I have watched a couple of tv programmes about these establishments. Totally out-of-control teenagers from UK were selected and then shipped out to undergo the treatment offered. The camps seem to be located in those wild and remote areas that America has a plentitude of. The kids are shown that their days of laissez-faire are gone and that rewards and comfort come from doing what they are told. Seems to work but I have reservations about the stick-ability once the cocky horror show gets back to their former environment.
Seems that youth may have been in the resist stage. An inquiry is running. I see another of my hobby-horses here.
I invariably reject the calls we hear about going for a replay of National Service as a way of sorting out problem kids. I underwent National Service and freely admit I went into it with some personality problems. The system ground me down and I came out after six months as a regulation hamburger not much different to the other lumps of meat that went through the mincer. However, with the current attention to rights and prohibition of conduct now called bullying, NS would not work today. Seems to me that what happened here is that irrestible force of a camp met an immovable object of kid.

Soldier soldier

Alternate Brain is a blog title that has resonance with me. There is a posting about US Marines and problems in Iraq over food rations. Behind the actual story, I find things that - had I not won the lottery and been born English - would make me proud to be an American.

A shortage was identified. Mom dealt with it.

Citizens heard of the problem. They got involved.

Employers were drawn in. They gave support.

I cannot imagine this chain of events here. Much media indignation is about all that one might expect. If that.
Then we have the guy re-upping to soldier on with his mates. Solidarity. His plans to go to law school and then into another community-serving profession show responsibility and planning.
I am not being disloyal but I wish this was a story about British mums and a British soldier.

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Twist and shout

Creeping around in the 'net, I was looking for some interesting detail about local places. I came across this little gem:
Marjorie Halcrow Erskine of Chirnside, Scotland, died in 1674 and was buried in a shallow grave by a sexton intent upon returning later to steal her jewelry. While the light-fingered sexton was trying to cut off her finger to retrieve a ring, she awoke. In her additional years of life after her first burial, she went on to give birth to and raise two sons. No one knows what happened to the sexton.

And the character of one's sexton is not all one had to contend with:
The 17th century saw a number of premature burials. Collapse and apparent death were not uncommon during epidemics of plague, cholera, and smallpox. From contemporary medical sources, William Tebb compiled 219 instances of narrow escape from premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial, 10 cases in which bodies were accidentally dissected before death, and 2 cases in which embalming was started on the not-yet-dead.
Some instances were especially heartbreaking. In the 1850s, a young girl visiting Edisto Island, South Carolina, died of diphtheria. She was quickly interred in a local family's mausoleum because it was feared the disease might otherwise spread. When one of the family's sons died in the Civil War, the tomb was opened to admit him. A tiny skeleton was found on the floor just behind the door.

Obviously, I shall have to alter my will so as to ensure that a fully-charged mobile phone is tucked into my y-fronts when they lay me out ready for the old pine box.


It seems such a short while that the complacency of age takes over from the passion of youth. Sad really. Yesterday's Sergeant Warden becomes today's Warden of an Old Persons Home.

Aged parent

This might be the Top News Article ( Top News Article ) but to my mind should be the subject of some of old Wing Nuts instant legislation. The fact that it was necessary to scuttle off to some unnamed 'former Soviet republic' should indicate how such things are viewed in a properly regulated world.
The ooh factor of lovelly diddumsy babby will gather supporters whilst the right-oners of the various women's movements will gather round their sister. Given the present state of the NHS, it would be akin to criminal if any public money is spent now or in the future on the pregnancy, childbirth or ongoing care for the result of this meddling with nature. Gosh - this is the sort of thing that should be written IN BLOCK CAPITALS and UNDERLINED in any proper rant.

Just once

I just want this to go out the one time which is why it is not part of my template.
Real music!

YOU DON'T KNOW ME (Willie Nelson)

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Monument Valley Days

I've often wondered about the value of photographs of one's activities. Is the benefit just one of playing with one's toys or is there some lasting purpose.
Whatever, this has drawn me back to a damned fine day at Monument Valley during the "Tour of the old farts in a Valley". More than the Technicolour rendition of that fabulous place.
Cheered me up.
Worth it for that.
Respect to digital camera.

Wish to Gawd I could go back there!

Homer (Greek not Simpson!)

Following something else through the Web, I came upon this comment on the works of Homer.

Turns out that I regard the Bible as Homeric. Maybe, with this late-in-life realisation, I can come to terms with what the Bible is saying. Or, rather, given my now limited exposure, what it was trying to say to me all those years ago.

Exactly what might be the benefit of this Sinner come to Jesus epiphany I cannot say. I was wont to say that all confession was good for the soul; that was back in the days when my superiors expected me to come back with one but the conviction is there.

I’ll keep you posted of any discernable benefits!

If the Greeks regarded the Trojan War as the defining moment of their culture, they did so because of the poetry of Homer. It would not be unfair to regard the Homeric poems as the single most important texts in Greek culture. While the Greeks all gained their collective identity from the Trojan War, that collective identity was concentrated in the values, ethics, and narrative of Homer's epic poems. Just as the Greeks were obsessed about the Trojan War, they were equally obsessed about the Homeric poems, returning to them over and over again, particularly in times of cultural crisis.
The Greeks didn't believe that the Homeric poems were sacred in any way, or even flawless history. For most of Greek history, Homer comes under fire for his unflattering portrayal of Greek gods. The Greeks understood that the poems were poetry, and in the Hellenistic period came to the understanding that the poems had been deeply corrupted over the ages. So unlike most ancient cultures which rooted collective identity in religious texts of some sort, the Greeks turned to literature. As the Trojan War was the product of Mycenean culture, the Homeric poems were the product of the Greek Dark Ages.
Whatever happened at Troy, the events were probably so captivating, that the Greeks continued to narrate the stories long after they had abandoned their cities and abandoned writing. The history of the war was preserved from mouth to mouth, from person to person; it may be that the stories of the Trojan War were the dominant cultural artifact of the Greek Dark Ages.
These stories probably began as short tales of isolated events and heroes; eventually a profession of story-telling was established—classical scholars call this new professional a "bard." This new professional began combining the stories into larger narratives; as the narratives grew, the technique of story-telling changed as well. Whereas early bards probably memorized their stories with great exactitude, the later bards, telling much longer stories, probably improvised much of their lines following sophisticated rules. Maybe. We have evidence from the classical age in Greece of people memorizing the complete poetry of Homer word for word (over 25,000 lines of poetry); it may be possible that the Homeric poems were memorized with more exactitude than scholars believe.
No matter what the case, by the end of the Greek Dark Ages, these bards or story-tellers were probably the cultural center of Greek society; their status improved greatly as Greeks began to slowly urbanize. On an average night in the late Greek Dark Ages, a community, probably the wealthiest people, would settle in for an evening's entertainment. The professional story-teller would sing the stories of the Trojan War and its Greek heroes; these songs would be the Greek equivalent of a mini-series, for the stories were so long that they would take days to complete. The Greeks believed that the greatest of these story-tellers was a blind man named Homer, and that he sung ten epic poems about the Trojan War, of which only two survived (although the Greeks seem to have known them).
As a group these poems told the entire history of the Trojan War; each poem, however, only covered a small part of that history. Many classicists believe that the two surviving Homeric epics (probably the only Homeric epics) were in fact composed by several individuals; in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, most classicists accept the overall Greek idea of a single author.
Whatever the compositional history of the poems, they were set down into writing within a few decades of their composition; the growing urbanization of Greek society led to the rediscovery of writing (learned from the Phoenicians this time), and the Homeric poems were committed to writing very quickly. Time and transmission added much extraneous material to the poems, but in their basic character and outline they seem to be the original compositions.

Marching to a different drum

As one who regularly allows himself the luxury of forthright comment on matters where others maintain a politically correct silence, I have a sympathy with those who are denied the ability or opportunity to express themselves for other reasons. An example of what I mean is here.

The problem is exacerbated when the non-conformity is not so apparent. I think too few are aware of this situation. This wider application is the subject of today’s Guest blog. (I've lost the formatting somewhere - bloody html!!)

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Deportation following conviction? Yeah - right on!

An Englishman's Castle: Lost control seems to have dropped a whole heap of manure on B Liar and Whiskers' plans to improve the deportation following conviction.
Something else we get courtesy of that nice bunch of guys across the water. The ones who only really see illegals as they pass through on a headlong rush to get here. And why here? Because that nice MR Liar has made them so welcome in the past.

thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse

Just a few thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse. That is, I fear, a prospect if things are left to any US initiative or, rather, lack of any initiative. There cannot be two less likely parties to any negotiations than Iran and USA. The world's impression of Iraq, rightly or wrongly, is that things are in a mess. The massive resources of America are negated when it comes down to one determined suicide murderer and a few guys on the ground. This is bolstering Iran's attitude. They see Bush as an Emporer devoid of new clothes. Few of those in the decision process will have any real idea of nucleur weapons and may well have been mislead as to how the technology can be cosily tied into smart bomb targetting. Too many briefings where cruise missiles ring the door bell and run away will have blunted the horrors of muskroom clouds. Unless directly sought to be otherwise, bombs can be quite clean in terms of radioactive over-kill. Just a big old cuddly old high explosive. War is war - people are gonna' get killed. Welcome back Dr. Strangelove.

Silence of the Somali lambs

I am not a fervid supporter of the theory that a child's early development and environment determines their adult life. There are some circumstances where I bloody well hope this thinking is wrong. It could mean we get men like the justice seeker here coming to Britain seeking asylum.

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Product of a violent childhood indeed!!
And I don't want too many immigrants with this mindset either please.


Damn! Just how much do I want one of these things?

Die spammers

Those of you who use Firefox (and if not yet, why not?), might be inetrested in a new feature which does not just intercept spam but actively fights back. Seems as if the spammers are ganging up on it as well so it must have something going for it.

Close-up and confidential

I see from the Times that there will be not one but two inquiries into the sort of perks the DPM enjoyed whilst going about his official business. We've heard about his Bill Clinton moment whilst he was Going Through His Boxes (will that ever achieve the same status as "Uganda Discussions" did through Private Eye's boosting). I find it ironic that the inquiry will focus on abuse of the government car service. Rather like Al Capone being done for tax offences rather than his Italian connections. Abuse of a civil servant investigation is obviously ruled out as she was so obviously, as they say, "Up for It"

However, there is obviously tremendous faith somewhere as to integrity of the investigators who in one case will only have to slip along to the next-door office to interrogate the man himself. Still, might be an opportunity for someone to get a honour or two without having to donate.

Wonder why they did not ask the paratroopers to carry out the Bloody Sunday inquiry? The Met could have done the Stephen Lawrence job.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Have a go day.

Something of an experiment I think. Instead of posting a Guest blo, I'm going to open things up for comments. Just that - not necessarily a comment on an item I've posted unless that is something you wish to do anyway. Anything goes. Just get it out of your head.

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So, come on! Get contributing.

Do as I say, Don't do as I do ........

A still-serving police officer makes a neat comment.
I see Charles Clarke, Home Secretary, continues to refuse to resign over the debacle about allowing foreign criminals out onto the streets of the UK as officials ‘forgot’ to deport them to the countries from whence they came.
One of the reasons quoted on the TV & national press for his ignorance, sorry, determination, is that he needs to stay in post to put the matter right.
You may remember a certain David Westwood saying exactly the same thing in 2004. You remember him, he was the Chief Constable of Humberside who took the blame for the intelligence cock-ups in the Soham Murder case. Then, Home Secretary David Blunkett, called for his resignation over the issue and Westwood refused to go stating he needed to stay in post in order to sort the problems out. The Police Authority backed the Chief and refused to suspend him.
Blunkett then went to the High Court and obtained a ruling forcing the suspension of Westwood. So no double standards there, then.
In a strange twist of fate, Westwood was later reinstated, although agreeing to retire early, and Blunkett was forced to resign over allegations of his own indiscretions some months later.

Monday, 1 May 2006

Never let it be said.....

She has had her moments of glory. This is on the Simonside Hills. Out of sight behind her is a sharp little scramble over some rocks. Posted by Picasa

No toking in the guest bedroom please

I am a little intrigued about the finding of cannabis in Dr Reid’s residence. End story is that there was a very small amount, it was in a guest bedroom and was aged.

My main query is about the actual find. It seems it was found by a police dog. My direct experience of police dogs is somewhat aged. I can fully understand a dog trained to detect explosives being taken to the home of a high risk minister. It is most unusual for an explosives-detection dog to be able to act in a drug detection role. So, I am driven to think it was a drug dog that found it. So – what made the police think there was anything to be served by deploying a drug dog?

As an ancillary. Dr Reid earns a fair wage. One would expect he employs cleaning staff. So, how was a quantity of any foreign matter left for so long in a drawer in guest accommodation? As he is a Scot, I would expect him to demand a higher standard of workmanship than is suggested here.

Whilst his liking for cigarettes and alcohol – now controlled – is well known, there has never been a whisper of whacky baccy even in undergrad years. Given the state in which his Party currently finds itself – just as well eh?

Yoi - Chihuahua

I am a dog person. I like dogs. They seem to like me. We understand each other down at very basic level right up to complex matters.

What I have never really understood is "Why Chuhuiahua?" Just what were they put here to do? What is their role and function? Then I came across this. The concept of feral draught excluders is one I find very funny.

I mentioned I didn't know there was a city named Chihuahua. Probably not, because apparently it's a state. Oops. Then L. went on to say that Chihuahuas are from there. Makes sense, right?

Then she told me there are wild packs of Chihuahuas that live in the hills in caves.

I pondered this. In my mind's eye, I was visualizing wild packs of rat dogs terrorizing old Mexican ladies wearing black lace veils over their gray hair. Old men waving specially-shaped guitars in anger at town hall meetings held near a church with an adobe steeple and belfry repenting the day some idiot decided the feral Chihuahuas should be a protected species. Osama Bin Ladin sharing a meager crust of bread with his only cave-dwelling friend, a wild Chihuahua named Jose Ricardo Gonzalez III.



May First

"Call me early for I'm to be Queen of The May"

Not with today's weather you're not.

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I'm a sucker for conspiracy theories. Not the actual theory itself but in digging back and seeing where the so called 'facts' originate. There is a Yorkshire Lass who is adding to one about the 7th July bombings. One of the victims wounded in that incident has a good basis for the possibility of a link between race riots way back and the London incident. Yorky has a link to this woman. Go follow it and read back a bit. The wounded Rachael relates a rape she suffered. One severe trauma in a life is bad enough but this girl claims two.

Sunday, 30 April 2006

3 Shags

Max Clifford has signed up to represent the media interests of Prezza's second mistress. Seen here in the hot tub at one of his palatial official residencies.

When I was a child ...

I have written before about my conviction that I was an undiagnosed sufferer from Asperger Syndrome. Undiagnosed because it is a condition that had not been identified when I was a kid.
Although there is no single feature that all people with Asperger syndrome share, difficulties with social behavior are nearly universal and are perhaps the most important criteria that define the condition. People with Asperger syndrome lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction (sometimes resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend and so on, finding it hard to know what is "acceptable") and also tend to lack the ability to broadcast their own emotional state.
Non-autistics, often called neurotypicals, are able to gather a host of information about other people's cognitive and emotional states based on clues gleaned from the environment and the other person's facial expression and body language, but people with Asperger syndrome have an impairment in this ability, sometimes called mind-blindness. To be mind-blind is to find it difficult or even impossible to figure out things a person implies but does not say directly (more colloquially, to "read between the lines"). This is not because they cannot imagine the answer but because they cannot choose between the possibilities; the mind-blind person cannot reliably gather enough information to do so or does not know how to interpret the information that they do gather.
Children in the late 1930 and 40s had a very clearly defined position in society. Mainly summed up as ‘seen but not heard’. Oversight came not just from parents and teachers but from any adult who felt that a child was exceeding the very narrow bounds of proper behaviour. Corporeal punishment by parents and teachers was quite common. Being isolated from other children and their activities and sent to one’s room was common.  I was regarded as a naughty child; mainly for conduct such as one would expect from someone with the problems I have described above. It was made very clear to me that certain actions were quite intolerable. The ‘proper’ way to behave was drummed into me. This ‘treatment’ was carried on when I joined the Army. I was conditioned to be like the other guys. Any unusual trait was jumped upon and brought punishment. The Army was good at discipline by this method and I learned what was and what was not appropriate.
I now know that my condition was not cured but was suppressed.
What seems to be happening in my old age is that the syndrome is again rearing its head. Where I would have stopped and thought about a remark or action, I now react quite impulsively. Within the last ten days or so, I have had a serious falling-out with the host of a forum over something that 99.99% of people would consider insignificant. I responded in a manner more assassination than explanation to someone who wrote me what I thought was a overly-critical email. I was in a Comet store killing time by looking at the latest household wonders when an assistant asked me if I was being ‘looked after’. I knew very well what she meant but chose to reply as if she were suggesting I had lost my carer and would start licking windows at any moment. It is not just that I am getting to be a crusty and curmudgeonly old man; it is regression.
I must do something about this. The traits of AS are even less acceptable in these days of political correctness where even the truth must be suborned.