Saturday, 11 November 2006

11am 11th November

Today is Remberance Day. Homage is due to those who gave their all in World War I and all armed conflict since that time. From reports, it seems it was well supported. In addition to formal events throughout the country, localised observance of the two minutes silence at 11am ssems to have been good. Department stores and supermarkets either shut their doors or ceased transactions, vehicles stopped and drivers dismounted.

I think the idea of such a day is universally supportable. Those who understand our heritage can honour those who died for their beliefs. Anyone with anti-war agenda can also use the scale and effect of the deaths to illustrate their cause. There are sales of red poppies to support care for those who served and are now on hard times. The peace-makers have a white poppy. I have no problem with whatever shade of poppy people wear. I think that someone who died fighting deserves acknowledgement regardless of what I might think of their beliefs and motivation.

One thing we do lack is education as to just what war really entails. To know takes individual effort and research. The way in which soldiers were recruited and banded together based upon geographical asociation meant that whole areas were stripped of an entire generation where the local regiment was one of the many that might experience casualty rates of 75% in the butcher baskets of the First World War,

Some idea of life back then is given a glimmer of publicity in the account of just how the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier was established and, in particular, a flag so very closely associated. I am trying to muster support for the reinstatement of the Flag. Anyone who can help - welcome on board.

Friday, 10 November 2006

So, a victory for Justice & Reason

This young lady says what I feel

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So, I will let her get on and say it

A Rum(my) do.

I don't know enough about the real story on von Rumsfeld but this piece of character assassination does ring true to me in many parts.

I include it here for comment from those better informed than I.

The stench of death and defeat that's now hanging around George
Bush's presidency is reminiscent of downtown Baghdad on a hot
day. There are bodies all over the place. And just as Saddam, the
architect of Iraq's pre-war abattoir got notice of his come-
uppance this week (a long drop and a short stop), the architect
of its post-war slaughter was also pushed from his perch (with an
admittedly softer landing, cushioned, no doubt, with lucrative
job offers from the defence industry).
Yep, in the aftermath of the Republican's wipeout in the Midterm
Elections, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld was given the job
of taking the blame. However, he doesn't exactly seem to have
been fired for the Iraq disaster and its wider fallout. Indeed,
as George Bush put it - we're presuming ironically (the wag!) -
when announcing the Secretary's noble sacrifice, 'America is
safer and the world is more secure because of the service and the
leadership of Donald Rumsfeld'.
The difference between Saddam and Rumsfeld is that Rumsfeld's
orders and actions killed all those people by way of some kind of
unfortunate side-effect (or at least that's what the remaining
supporters of the war, if you can find any, would have you
believe) whereas Saddam *really* meant it. That Saddam was a
monster but Rumsfeld merely a fool seems to be the perception. As
the epigram 'Hanlon's Razor' states, 'Never assume malice when
stupidity will suffice'. The road to Hell is paved with both good
and bad intentions. In the final analysis though, all those Iraqi
civilians are still fucking dead. We killed a lot of them and
then created the conditions for the insurgency to kill the rest.
Hanging one raddled former dictator doesn't bring them back or
make up for the chaos Rumsfeld set loose.
It's hard to overemphasise the careless malevolence of the man.
'As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not
the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time,' he
blithely told troops who'd had the audacity to point out they
were being blown to shit in Iraq for lack of proper armour.
'Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war,' he
said with his customary dark insouciance as if there was such a
thing as a war that wasn't depressing. Then there's Abu Ghraib
and Guantamano Bay. He even had the balls to say in his departing
speech that Iraq was a 'little understood, unfamiliar war'.
Whatever that means after three years of 24/7 news coverage and
countless inquiries.
Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State for disgraced President
Richard Nixon, once said 'it is an act of insanity and national
humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering
assassination'. That he also described Rumsfeld as the most
ruthless man he knew should give you an idea of Rumsfeld's
character. It's like finding there's someone the Devil looks up
to and envies.
It's a sign of how polluted the debate over Iraq has become that
by this point many of you are no doubt waiting for the obligatory
proviso about Saddam being a bastard and it's a good thing he's
gone (if not that he's going). It's still mandatory apparently,
despite being as unnecessary as continually reaffirming Darth
Vader's status as villain every time he comes up in conversation
lest you risk being accused of having sympathy for the atrocities
committed by vicious Stormtroopers. Can't we just take it as a
The thing is, Rumsfeld's demise, as sexually arousing as it is,
is only one part of the story and as such his sacking is
something of a distraction (for a few days at least) from the
wider problems of the Bush presidency. There's a very good
chance, for instance, that the newly-empowered Democrats will now
start rooting through the Republican's bins, turning up all kinds
of juicy bones on which to chew. The minutes of Vice President
Dick Cheney's secret meetings with oil industry chiefs in 2001,
for example. Or, tantalising for British viewers, the so-called
'Downing Street Memo' which purports to show that the British
Government knew the Iraq war was going ahead whatever and
'intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy'.
And it's not good news for Iraq either. Despite all the current
death, destruction, incompetence, death, torture, mismanagement,
arrogance, death, torture, and corruption (the Iraqi Government
is currently leaking up to $4bn a year - 10% of the country's
national income - with some of it finding its way to the
insurgency, according to US monitors), don't be fooled into
thinking the downfall of Rumsfeld somehow signals a change of
American, and therefore British, policy in Iraq. Since October 25
when Bush said of Rumsfeld, 'I'm satisfied with how he's done all
his jobs' and called him 'a smart, tough, capable administrator',
what's changed exactly, apart from a kick in the polls?
That being the case, you have to wonder what the point actually
was of replacing Rumsfeld with ex-CIA Director Robert Gates (a
man with his own murky CV). The Bush Administration clearly
thinks that they'll be able to implement what passes for their
'strategy' in Iraq if only it's presented by a friendlier face.
The military has been outspoken in their criticism of Rumsfeld in
recent weeks - maybe the troops and Generals were on some kind of
go-slow/work-to-rule thing because Rumsfeld wasn't a 'people'
person. Like office workers the world over, they had an arsehole
for a boss and felt disinclined to go the extra mile, the
unprofessional slackers. Maybe, like a football team, getting a
new manager after a run of poor form, they'll now up their game.
Bush, in a similar spirit in this new political era is asking the
Democrats to up their game as well. 'It is our responsibility to
put the elections behind us and work together', he said. Well, he
would *now*, wouldn't he, now that the Democrats control the
House of Representatives *and* the Senate. Only a few days ago,
according to George, it was the 'terrorists win and America
loses' if the Democrats won the vote. Now he needs these goddamn
terrorist-lovers' help. Over the last six years the Republicans
told the spirit of co-operation to go and fuck itself. It's
immature and probably bad for the world, not least for the people
of Iraq, but it'd be sweet, sweet justice if the Democrats told
George to do the same now that he's desperate.
Poor George. He must be feeling like the Jerry Lundegaard
character in the movie 'Fargo'. In what he thought was a stroke
of genius, he hired two sinister but incompetent hoods (in this
case, Donald Rumsfeld and the equally terrifying Dick Cheney) to
solve all his problems. Now, as things go inevitably, horribly
wrong and Donald is metaphorically fed into the woodchipper, can
the hapless Bush's downfall be very far behind?
- The Friday Thing

But, just to balance things, we get this

The Padres Flag

We are now coming up to the 11th November. A date that is, despite the attitude to things warlike, still commerated as a Day of Rememberance to those who gave their all - and mortgaged the lives of their families - in the cause of freedom.

An article in today's Daily Telegraph recounts the story of the flag that was used to drape the coffin of The Unknown Warrior at his formal burial in a place of honour in St Pauls Cathedral in 1920. Now, mirroring the fate of many an Old Soldier, it hangs almost ignored and basically forgotten in a side chapel. There are moves afoot to return it to it's original resting place alongside the Tomb.

I urge you to read this article and support it in any way you can. It is in no way jingoistic. It sets out, in the history of the flag during the horrors of WWI when the higher command had little concern for lives lost, just what millions of men bore. It has relevance for those who are anti-war just as for those who, like me, have had some insight as to what the human spirit is capable of. The actions of a brave man or just a plain man doing his duty as he sees it are not reduced by the justness of his cause. We are at a time when the profession of 'soldier' is under attack and I will not go down that path right now. Maybe just reading the background to this national treasure will inspire some - I hope so. 'National treasure' you might ask? We have today read that Her Majesty has had a painting restored which now turns out to be a Caravaggio worth something North of £30 million. I know which I would be most honoured to own. It is not Italian. Both have lain unrecognised and without honour in a backwater. Let the Padres Flag advance to front and centre say I.

Back to the Good Old Days - Part II

Those not of my generation will not fully understand why and how this image kicked me in the lower part of my body - normally private. It came to me via a marketing shot that fell into my wife's mailbox.Twiggy - the woman in silver - was the super-model of the super-models in my youth. She was everywhere - except in the popular press for doing drugs or beating up her associates. One talks about the druggie image that Kate Moss gave when she first appeared - this lady was the shorthand for anorexia nervosa. She was really just a clothes hanger with legs. Skinny. Skinny. Skinny.So here we see her in later years. M & S make her their headline character in some very expensive advertising. She - with the support from some very iconic women - pushed their sales right off the graph paper. And here she is with breasts. My God - Twiggy with a chest! Good luck to her but what gets me is that she is not so in love with the image of her past as that she is content that they are - how can I say it? - what is accurate but not insulting? - yes, Droopy is the word. No Hello Boys, no cowboy round them up and move them out for her.A woman content with her appearance. Respect.. Great respect Lesley Lawson.
The foregoing is a copy of an e-mail I sent to a number of associates yesterday. The article that kicked off my post here about the good old days came in just as I hit 'send' on that message. The concurrence of these two themes struck me – is the word serendipity? Twiggy – as a package marketed by her Svengali-like manager – was very attractive. Not in a sexual way; after all, who would want sex in a bed full of coat hangers? - but as a lifestyle personification. She lived the life that all us twenty-somethings in the '60s desired. Sure – Kate Moss inspires me to go find a few k's of cocaine and her mobile number. Naomi might inspire me to a latter-day great train robbery and a good boxers' head guard. Instant take-it-or-leave-it pleasure or gratification. A bit dirty – not the sort of girl one could take home to meet Mum. Nothing that persists. Nothing that inspires or will live on like Twiggy. Maybe that is what marks me as ill at ease with today's mores and ideas.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Sir Paul Macca says "Now they tell me"

£30. Well worth the money.

Take me back to the good old days

As one who lived through the '60s and survived I do sometimes wonder about the way sex is currently written up. It all seems so free and easy but I wonder. One hears of courting contracts describing what couples will and will not do in a relationship. There are what are described as '(that 4 letter word) buddies' who come together (no pun intended) to assuage the fires of desire with absolutely no committment other than to do ones best for their partner. Date rape. Knock out drugs. Girlie boys. Whatever happened to that rustle of fine material followed by wham bam thank you mam?

So, it was a little bit comforting to read an article that seems to set out the real facts that today is not such a sensualist's paradise as one might think. Maybe it is better sitting on the sidelines with a well iced gin and tonic whilst dreaming of those '60s nights. When we could of us all dance like Mick Jagger. When it was possible to dance together whilst singing something from Dr Hook's latest masterpiece. When ligting two cigarettes and passing one to the lady was not some anti-social death dealing action. When one dressed up and not down to have a night on the tiles. When we all knew what Dr Timothy Leary meant.

See - those who say that if you can remember the '60s you weren't there are not 100% correct. I was and I can. I'm grateful for that.

England today

Still avoiding the serious stuff, I've found something today that seems to sum up the state this country is getting into.

The guest blog says it all. Witchcraft. Patients blindly accepting what the doctor says. Sheer defiance by the doctor of any procedure set up to inquire of her conduct.

Oh yes - one more thing.

The name of the Doctor is Pratt. Who in their right mind would accept a Doctor Pratt as their medical adviser?

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Possessed by evil

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Plotted - Yes. Achievable - hmm.

I wrote way back about the terrorist now on trial in London and his confession as to the terrorist attacks he had planned for England and America. My opinion then was that he would find difficulty in organising these as a co-ordinated plan of attack and extreme problems in putting his plans into effect.

There were reporting restrictions on the trial of co-defendants but the media had these overturned. We (Joe Public) now know a fair bit more as to resources. All this has done for me is to reinforce my opinion that he is some Walter Mitty character. There is talk of advanced counter-surveillance techniques which were precautions rather than response to any threat he had actually seen. He sounds - to me - to be someone living the life.

What I do find worrying is the assessment of active terrorists living in UK. Just how many of these are sleepers waiting a call to arms and how many are engaged in plots we cannot know. If one of the aims for Iraq was to polarise Islamic warlike actions outside US and UK, it seems to have failed to live up to whatever expectations that POTUS and the self-appointed POTUK may have had.

Who will follow?

So, where i was on about newsreaders is one of today's topics in the Daily Telegraph. Only thing, they do not have the photographs.

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Announce or dance?

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Low flyers - beware

This is not my dog but I put it here to illustrate just how keen the German shorthaired pointer breed is when it comes to getting hold of flying objects. Sable, my dog, can do this with low flying ducks, pigeons and almost any small bird. She has had them up to about 6 feet off the ground. This is why I call her a four-legged shotgun!
So - why no photographs of Sable doing it? Easy. At the time I should be clicking the shutter, I'm jumping up and down and shouting her on. Much better than cheering on some overpaid sports star.

What does that lever do Daddy?

For those curious enough, here is a review of the way that a judicial hanging works.

I have a little doubt about the guy who put on weight to avoid his fate. The drop tables were drawn up from the fact that fracture of the third vertebra requires a force of 22 cwt. There is a mechanical formulae to calculate the velocity the body needs to attain. Simple really.

I once saw ropes that had been used to hang three soldiers in Egypt. They had a thick leather covering to the noose element. The force exerted was such that this leather had been extensively split and torn. Those who were involved in the plot to kill Hitler, were hung with piano wire. Think on that.

Cherie and Me - by Saddam Hussein

The guest thing is so very complete that it needs no amplification here. I might just tease out Swiss Tony for friends outside the spread of the BBC.

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Oh dear, they're going to hang him!!

Maybe there is a way?

There is a report in some of today's media of ultra-religious Jews and Palestinians coming together for joint action. They oppose something. No, not Syria. Not Hezbollah. It is a pink agenda. Gays in Jerusalem are planning a march and this has met with joint condemnation from Jewish and Palestinian leaders alike. I'm all in favour of this coming together. Perhaps we could tip the scales a bit by shipping out to the Middle East all the gays, lesbian, transsexuals and bi-sexuals we can find. This would increase the concern felt by locals and cause them to work together and form an understanding of one another. Once we have a good basis for matters of real Middle Eastern import, the gay etc. community could disperse. Nice little holiday in the sun for them - chance to acquire more pink from sub-burn - and a bit of peace and quiet for those of us not in Palestine.

What really attracted me to this story was not the potential benefit that gay action might produce but rather the photograph showing the burning of rubbish as part of a demonstration. It has a dark brooding menace about it. The sort of evocative painting one might find in the museums of Antwerp or Amsterdam. The lighting, unorthodox clothing and the buildings in the background are pure Breughel.

And now for something completely different

These two luscious items are really BBC newsreaders and presenters. Fiona Bruce - her with the legs - does quite serious work such as Crimewatch. Natasha the dancer is a relative newcomer having paid her dues in a number of positions in smaller companies. She has been adopted by the BBC bosses as as figurehead for their dumbing down agenda. She appeared in a Dance Competition where a 'face' is matched with a professional dancer who teached their partner the basic moves and then works out a performance. This is judged by professional judgers and a home audience. Each week the bottom pair are voted off. Natasha won her series of the show. She went on to present a number of award ceremonies and these somewhat illustrated her tendencies.

Fiona is a long term lady. Very professional. Very cool - almost remote. Much loved by those who mimic - one had her saying "There's never a hosepipe ban when I'm in the room" The photgraph here shows her performance in the charity money raising show to save children in need. She and a number of fellow presenters did a replay of Queens' Mama Mia.

Ok, that is the personalities. My blogging these minor earth shaking matters arises from the fact that for the past couple of nights they have been together presenting the main evening news programme. Intentionally or otherwise, this has developed into a battle of the divas. Fiona chose a skirt in place of her normal trousers and Natasha went to town on the make up and figure-hugging clothes. Most enjoyable. For my money, Fiona smashed her into the corner, dragged her out and beat her up again. It was that sort and magnitude of victory.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Out Damned spot

I have had to switch on the moderation feature in Comments. Sorry about this but I refuse to allow spamming adverts and the moderation seems to be the only way that I can keep them away from you, the readers.

Please be assured that my oversight of Comments before they appear will never result in any true Comment being withheld, altered or otherwise messed about. I know the requirement to copy some incomprehensible set of code can be a pain in the nether regions. If any one of you finds this as annoying as I do, contact me on my email ( and I'll make sure the Comment gets placed.

I had a number of emails from readers of my blog about the ethics question on children born with a disability. Most prefaced their communication with something along the lines of not wishing to comment publicly on such a minefield. I have to respect their reticence but can say that those who wrote supported the idea that such measures were appropriate in severe instances.

I experienced a sort of coincidence or alignment with my blog the day after I posted it. Whilst enjoying some retail therapy (it's not just ladies and shoes you know!) I was served at the check-out by a young woman who displayed the symptoms of what I know as cerebral palsy. If that is now an unacceptable description, please forgive me. Also, I am not being
condescending when I say that she was extremely good at what she was doing. She made conversation, helped with the Ali Baba trick of plastic bag opening and was quick and accurate at what she was scanning. When the time came to pay, I realised my wallet was still in the car and told her things would have to wait whilst I got it. This did fluster her and she became animated but told me what I had to do. I got the wallet and paid. I felt guilty at having disturbed her but the thought came to me that this lady was one who might not have got out of the delivery room alive but here she was leading what seemed to be a full, happy and productive life. So, who are we to theorise? I do not want to identify her save to say she was an Asda employee and they are to be commended for giving her an opportunity to contribute. For those outside UK, Asda is the English arm of Walmart of whom I have read criticism over employment practises so even better for them.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Nice idea

Whilst basic meditation requires that one allow the mind to go blank and see what happens, there are themes for those who have advanced a stage or two. One I found for today is,

"What do you have to do? Pack your bags, Go to the station without them, Catch the train, And leave your self behind. - Open Secret by Wei Wu Wei"

Ah, would that I could. Buddhist version of the soldiers' "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile" I suppose. Wei's words are meant only as a starter.

Can one get all one's 'things' into a neat package? Just how does one empty oneself so that only the physical departs? Where is the train headed? Johnny Cash had a song about leaving which included the words

"You can give my other suit to the Salvation Army. I'm moving on"

Wei's words indeed but the idea is not wholly his.

I'd like to move on. Footloose. No responsibilities. No bits and baggage.

Suffer little children.......

There is a move afoot to consider the ethics of allowing children born with serious disabilities to die immediately after delivery. I'm not going to get into this too deeply. There are people's religious beliefs involved. The sanctity of life must be highly regarded. What I do remember is that when I was young, one did not see so many people with - forgive me if this is the ' wrong word' - disabilities as are about today. The story told was that such infants were not resuscitated or given care but allowed to breath their last in the peace and quiet of the delivery room. At the time, I reasoned just what time and attention was required and how the lives of the parents developed. I was especially aware of the effect upon siblings. Just what love and time and attention they were deprived of. They were entitled to this just as much as the child that lived on.

Modern times means that much more can be done for kids with disability. At some time, the parents will be unable to care and will die. What then? The stories one reads about children who are different are uplifting but often reveal a life that one may consider as sad. For my money, if there really is a 'better place', then it must be reasonable to allow them to progress to that 'better place' rather than have to exist in this cruel world on earth.

From the horse's mouth - sorry lady

Mrs Welcome to the World and I have lived in Islamic countries throughout the world for a longish period if it were all added together. Some were more strict than others. An almost universal comment that arose whenever friendly discussion turnd to the respective benefits of lifestyles was the Muslim claim that their women were safe on the streets.

As a sort of policeman I knew this was not exactly the words of The Prophet. My wife was well used to lewd comment from local menfolk and the occasional kindly intentioned check for lumps in her breasts by passing cyclists. None of this did we take seriously although I did once have to ask the Benghazi detectives attached to my unit to deal with a particularly heavy-handed fondler.

So, from the guest blog, have things got worse or are people beginning to be open about this facet of Islamic mentality?

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It is not easy being a woman!