Saturday, 2 August 2008

Don't mention p.c.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why 40% of people don't bother to vote anymore? Have you ever stopped to wonder why, which ever party is in power, nothing ever gets any better? Have you ever stopped to wonder why all the three major political parties in the UK have broadly the same policies? The answer is simple - political correctness. This left wing ideology has very cleverly, and by stealth, replaced British politics. None of the main parties now dare suggest any policy that is not politically correct otherwise the PC Brigade will label them the 'nasty' party. Witness the Conservative party policy U turns. In a desperate effort to lose their 'nasty' party label they have become Blue Labour, a slightly diluted form of New Labour!

So we now have the three main parties all occupying the same small piece of 'centre ground'. Many people don't vote on the grounds that it is pointless - we get the same whoever wins. Some people don't vote because they realise that politically correct policies are what has got us into this mess in the first place.

Other people don't vote because they realise that career politicians are a self seeking, corrupt bunch of freeloaders who they wouldn't trust to run their whelk stall while they were on holiday. Notice that I say career politicians - this is the new breed of politicians that haven't ever entered the real world of work. They have left school, gone to university and then blagged a job as a 'research assistant' to a MP before realising that the job was such a doddle that they could do it themselves. They have never had to hold down a proper job, they have no management or other skills, hold no real political views and tend to migrate to whichever party looks most likely to win power. To survive in this fantasy environment all they need to do is to be politically correct.

And I do not see any change on the way

How the heck?

I mentioned that I was up and about early today. This was from the attentions of the nightmares that do not stop even when I am awake and sitting up in bed.

I have just been catching up on some of my favourites. In there was an image. Except for the fact that I was the child on the stairs, this is almost 100% how my spooky dream started. How the hell does that happen?

Worst way to die?

This really has to be the definitive article on my concern about the end days.

Image hosting by Photobucket

What is the worst way to die - and does it matter anyway?

NSFC (C?. Yeah - church)

My final final destination is not a great source of concern to me.

So, a little light viewing for those who stay at home on Sundays.

War on drugs

We are doing about as well in the war on drugs as we are in the other wars we have running. I got involved in a large-scale drug awareness programme in the Army back in 1968 and came to the conclusion that it would be one hell of a fight. At that time, one of the questions most often raised from our audiences involved drugs such as alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. If we tolerated these - where the health risk was pretty well known - why were we against recreational drugs. Some such as cannabis even had a place in pain relief. 

My response was that had we known about the drug aspect of these substances at the time they were discovered, we would have banned them. I do not think this had much influence. The video makes these same points. This is part 1 but there are links to the rest of the debate. I cannot see a great benefit from decriminalising; there is just so much profit from trading in drugs.

Friday Night is Chav Night

This is a painting by American artist George Bellow.

So, if he is American, how does he know exactly what goes on in some of our less-attractive areas?

On the same topic, I was getting petrol the other day and the pump on the other side of my island was being used by a Belgian-registered Austin Healey BN6. In immaculate nick and exactly as I remember the breed. Nearby, waiting, was a Belgian E-type Jaguar. The one with the bonnet made up entirely of louvres. I complimented the Healey driver on his car as a thing of beauty. I mentioned that he was OK at this end of Britain but the further South he went the more likely it was that his car would zoom off on the back of a slide and tilt one dark night. He laughed and said that they had entered via Newcastle for their Highlands visit for that very reason and because the very best roads to enjoy the car were up here. Just a tot seins and he was away with the full orchestra deployed.

My bum is cleaner than your bum

It is 2 am and the ghosties are keeping me from sleep. 

Looking around the news feeds that keep me abreast of what the world has to  offer I came across a real whizzer on YouTube. No wonder the owners of YT say they are too busy to censor input of things such as gross perversions and rape video.

See for yourself

Friday, 1 August 2008

Didn't do Dando

The main argument in the defence of Bruce George during his trials and appeals has concerned the forensic evidence attached to a fragment found in one of his jackets. If it could be tied into him, it established that he had fired a weapon whilst dressed in that coat. The defence claimed cross contamination and suggested that the particle came from a police firearms officer who may have come into contact with the jacket after a training session. No identification was made by defence of this officer or anything that confirmed the opportunity of contamination. The police insisted there was no dirty officer. They were faced with proving a negative.

Doctors who examined George after his arrest diagnosed an impressive array of psychiatric disorders: psychopathic personality, narcissistic personality, histrionic personality, paranoid personality and Asperger’s Syndrome (a disorder linked to autism).

As a boy he was diagnosed as suffering from attention hyperactivity disorder. George was also diagnosed as having somatisation disorder and concurrent factitious disorder.The interesting thing about these diagnoses is thatthey relate to personality traits which could innocently explain every part of George’s supposedly suspicious behaviour both before and after the Dando murder. A psychopathic personality is prone to lying and using aliases. A narcissistic personality is one who urgently seeks attention and admiration and has a heightened sense of self-importance. A histrionic personality will imagine they have a well developed relationship with someone they do not know at all in a personal sense. A paranoid personality has obvious ramifications for George’s suspicion of the police. Asperger’s sufferers have major problems with personal relationships and a tendency to become obsessive. Finally, somatisation disorder and concurrent factitious disorder explained his imagined illnesses.

George’s fantasy world was one in which he sought satisfaction, and doubtless attention, by pretending to be someone glamorous or connected to someone glamorous or to have been in glamorous or sensational circumstances. At various times during the twenty years prior to the murder he has claimed to be Steve Majors (a name derived from Lee Majors and the character, Steve Austin, he played in the TV series The Bionic Man), an SAS soldier by the name of Thomas Palmer (an SAS soldier involved in the Iranian Embassy siege), Paul Gadd (the pop star Gary Glitter’s real name) and Freddie Mercury’s cousin (for which he used the name Barry Bulsara) to mention just a few. He has at various times also claimed to be in possession of a rocket propelled grenade launcher and to be able to roller skate over four double decker buses.

George did not merely have fantasies he acted them out. When he was pretending to be Freddie Mercury’s cousin, Barry Bulsara, he went to Mercury’s home after the singer’s death in a hired white limousine and left flowers outside the house. He then proceeded to sign autographs for a while, having persuaded mourning fans that he was related to Mercury.

In 1983 he was arrested by police in Kensington Gardens near to the Princess of Wales’ home, crouched in the bushes, dressed in pseudo military gear and equipped with a knife and rope.

The police arrested him but did not press charges, although they searched his flat. The Royal Protection Group (RPG) did however, list him as a potential threat to the Royal Family. An RPG member also suggested him to the team investigating the Rachel Nickell murder in 1992 as a possible suspect.

In 1985 George was living in a bed and breakfast hotel in Gloucester Road, West London. There he came to know a family by the name of Dobbins. After they moved to a flat in Fulham George called on them unexpectedly dressed in combat gear and a balaclava. Once in the hallway of the flat he produced a handgun and fired a blank shot. He showed the Dobbins’ son, David, the blank rounds in his pocket and then left.

A further example of his exhibitionistic and obsessive mentality comes from his medical history. George attended no less than eighteen different surgeries in West London at various times and was known as a “heart sink” patient because he was constantly coming in with imagined ailments.

So, a very sad figure. This was capitalised by his defence who queried how such a disabled character could plan and execute a murder. Juries will have felt sympathetic and any natural doubts and reluctance to bring in a guilty finding would have been heightened.

So - he is free. I have to revert to the way police minds worked in the early '70s when the reaction would have been "Maybe he didn't do Dando but he is certainly the sort of bloke better off behind bars anyway" I just hope that his incarceration has not pushed him further off the rails such that he reverts to his previous behaviour and someone gets hurt.

Daze out - 2

Nice little sitting out areas abound.
The council greenhouses must rival Kew!

Not at all the sort of image that comes to mind
when one hears mention of a "Scots Pub"

Brightness abounds.

Today should have been another Mystery Tour courtesy the bus company. Ah well not all plans mature. I got ready for a lunchtime take off but then discovered that there is no midday service from here on weekends. Nothing daunted, into the car.
Melrose is very pretty and is kept so. Plenty of eating places to suit all tastes and wallets. Some really old fashioned shops - those with the yellow/orangey tinted plastic hanging inside the windows. Modern little boutiques selling chi chi goods. Alleyways that just call out for exploring. All inhabited by nicely dressed people peaceably going about their business with a smile for others as they pass. I saw not one piece of graffiti.
I had lunch in Marmions Brasserie. Very nice; light and airy.

Double standards

Katie Price, otherwise known as Jordan, the former glamour model turned best-selling novelist, has delivered a withering attack on the organisers of the Cartier Polo tournament. In an editorial in today's Times - yes, the Times – she talks of her anger about being refused tickets to the event because, according to a report in last week's Mail on Sunday, she was too "chavvy" and would lower the tone.
The background to this is that Price had attempted to secure a table for ten in the 5,000-capacity enclosure operated by London’s Chinawhite nightclub (cost: £6,000). At first this went through, but then, according to her agent Claire Powell, she was told that, despite being a keen equestrian, she "was not the sort of person they wanted at the Cartier."
"It's pure snobbery," writes Price. "However good a horsewoman I am, I'm also a glamour model. That embarrassed them. I've met the Prince of Wales and the Queen before. I don't need to be photographed with the A-list, I’ve met quite enough celebrities. I wanted to watch the matches and give my family a treat.
"Polo should be for people who love horses, not a media charade. [It] should be for everyone - little girls, glamour girls, working-class girls like me. No one should be excluded."
When asked by the Mail on Sunday if Price was refused a table because she was too "chavvy", a spokesman for Chinawhite had said: "We wouldn't want to comment on that."
Rewind the tape a bit. Yesterday we heard how Chools had met a burlesque dancer Dita von Teese and chatted her up. He has asked her to perform at Harry's birthday bash. I do not compare the two females (Katie does nor need my support), but do the organisers really know just what Chools finds attractive? If he likes it, then that would surely be the result for poseurs Chinawhite.

A new look

I tried a new thing yesterday. Well, new to me anyway. I have had my free bus pass for a few years but never even knew where it was until a revised card arrived some while back. I think the difference is that I can use it with no limitation as to when during the day and it is totally Scotland wide regardless of the bus company. I can even use it to nip into England as far as Berwick to get to the railway.

So, yesterday, Norma was at her Quilters thing and had gone in the car. By 9 a.m. I had checked everything that might even remotely need adjusting. Checked the 'frig half a dozen times but nothing attractive had materialised there. Too restless in the brain to settle down and read until 5 pm when she was due back. The image of a small photo-id card came into view and I found it - that was an omen and sign in itself! Checking on t'net showed where I could go. Limited to just one itinerary and just the one bus per hour but I was now a man with a mission. Off to Galashiels.

The drive is one I like. About half an hour in the car but almost all over open country on a winding and up and down road, Sitting higher on the bus gave views missed in the car. My bus went all round the houses to serve isolated patches I would never get into were I driving so bus time was an hour. Comfortable. No more than a dozen passengers with only routine proportion of mobile phones deployed to advise the world "I'm on the bus". Couple of what at one time must have been school maternity uniform wearers with their kids in tow. Though now dressed in what seems to be some fashion of short short shorts over tights and bosom display whilst giving off a strong sense of chav, they did control their three four or five'ish year old nippers very well so that was OK. Remainder of us seemed to be aged persons; all female other than me. Very well dressed blue-rinse brigade who all seemed to know one another although they got on a different stops. Once again, I was drawn into musing how it is that the female of the species manages to kill off the male and then go on to live a nice life thank you.

Galashiels is a different place when deposited on foot in the town centre bus station. Our visits have been confined to Tesco or ASDA but there is another world there. Some grotty patches including one pub that should be preserved as a memorial to Scots drinking habits. There is a nice little river that runs through the middle of the place. Clean, bright brisk flowing water. No shopping trolleys or other junk. Ducks and seagulls. I went into town a bit deeper and bought a loaf of bread to feed the river birds but reserved some for feeding the crows and pigeons in the park area. All again clean and tidy with a very ample supply of benches under the trees. More exploration but I think there is plenty left for another day. Back home ahead of Norma's return. She never knew I had escaped!

This was rehearsal for when the nice kind and solicitous man tells me I am too aged for driving myself.

I think I might have another go today. Different place. Different time of the day. Norma is off with a fried but the car will be here. I'll save carbon and petrol costs by letting the bus take the strain.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Talking to dogs

Ross is a member of 2 Para. He was home recently on R & R leave. His mother wrote about her feelings and concerns.

Her story includes this passage. I can think of many hours I spent confiding in a dog.

Ross never told us that he didn’t want to go back, but I overheard him, in the early hours, telling the dog. And to have him home and safe, and then to send him back to this utter madness, is the cruellest and most insane act that I will ever experience.

Breeding like rabbits

WalMart does not seem to have a greatly inspiring name across America. I do not know anything but I like the video presentation that charts their viral growth.

And we were worried about the spread of Tesco.

This damned application

So, I got fed up with the way this blog showed. A little thin stripe one tenth of the yellow bit of an Afghan's backbone and three or so inches of blank space either side.
My clever friend amended it an everything was lavely dahlink. Until the Nostalgia post and it has reverted.
My clever 'lady what knows' suggests I am using a dirty word processor and it is that that has screwed things up. Yes - I use Google docs; good save cycles as I work and it is not taking up room on my machine.
So - just for old times sake, this is written in Blogger. Using the 'compose' page. 
See if it goes back to the wide open space of a wide Blogger.

Memory 2, change 1.

No doubt about it - nostalgia isn't what it used to be! By chance, I saw the tv on Tuesday night where the Essex pig-farmer visited Kielder. It had been a number of years since we were in that small corner of Northumberland and the scenery drew me back. Bellingham would lead on to Hexham where we used to stock up on game and on fish pies and then to Corbridge which has a super-deli full of guilty secret continental stuff.So, on a invitingly sunny morning - we were off. The organic meat place was soon ticked off. A very small and un-developed farm shop but with Northumberland charm oozing everywhere. The countryside around was in very good nick. Well cared for, breath-taking in the views and obviously productive in beast and crops.The drive to Hexham was cunningly planned so as to have us passing The Hadrian in Wall just as lunch was announcing itself in two noisy bellies. This stop had always been a given in our days of holiday-cottaging. I felt a bit of a cheat sitting down to my favourite mince and dumplings. This belt-strainer used to be the self-awarded reward for a twelve mile or so tread along Hadrians Wall. I would be thrown out at Steel Rigg and told the car would be waiting for me when I had finished. Me and the old dog had some great times chasing Roman ghosts doing that. Only once had we been forced off the actual Wall during blizzards that Scott of the Antarctic would have given up in. The Romans built a road which paralleled the Wall for just such conditions.Hexham came up OK. All looked the same except Waitrose had taken over the supermarket site in the main town car park. Civilisation is afoot! It was as we walked towards the path into town that I recalled how steep this was for about 800 yards. It was a bit of a puffer when last tackled - what? 10 years ago. Yesterday, it was a climb where one kept looking for the Stations of The Cross. Luckily, the upper two-thirds has shops selling art - never have windows been so welcome to allow us to regain some sense of life.Hexham has changed. I cannot say how exactly but it is more tourist-attractive in some way. Benches. Hanging baskets. Extra - but discrete - sign posts to the attractions of this ancient old town. To us though, the changes were a mixed-bag. There used to be a pair of twin sisters who ran a gentleman's clothing shop. It was unchanged for many many years. Glass fronted drawers racked one upon and alongside another held ancient treasure. Men's underpants in that silky light grey wool with legs down to the knees. Round necked vests if Sir did not like the new and modish V-neck style. Nightshirts that would suck all the passion out of a night of torrid sex. Spotty handkerchiefs? A dozen or more colours to choose from.Well, the old ladies have gone. I cannot imagine their stock setting Antiques Roadshow afire so it must be road fill. The game butcher and the fresh fresh fresh fish shop have also gone. Thankfully, the vegetarian cafe is still there. Hexham Tans is unusual in that is operated by the local mental health trust as a means to get people back into work.They prepare the meals and serve. Ordering a meal and discussing alternatives with the staff was always a bit of a demanding task.So - adding the new and subtracting the losses - time has not been good to Hexham. We gave Corbridge a miss. We had spent more time than planned communing and re-walking with spirits of dogs long gone and those who only recently left us.

On the way home, I decided to see just how good - or otherwise - my satnav was. We were in a part of the country where I knew half a dozen variants from A to B; most often via H. I told it to bring us home. As expected, she wanted to go by way of Jedburgh. That was out as I had gone that way and I am still programmed not to form routines. Anyway, we had been diverted to a damned quilt shop as we passed through and I did not want to risk a repeat visit so soon. I set out towards Rothbury. Just two attempts to get back onto track and then she consented to guide me My Way. Other diversions had the same result - just one did not click with her and she was pleading that I turn around and go the way she had sorted.

So - nostalgia result was that whilst the places we visited had changed somewhat the basics - the scenery and the people - still remained more than sufficient to drag us back. As MacArthur said - We Shall Return!!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Seek and ye shall find

A Sikh commentator in the Grauniad sets out to celebrate what he declares is a triumph.

The Sikh schoolgirl Sarika Watkins-Singh's victory at the high court to wear her "kara", the steel bangle worn by Sikhs, is a reflection of British tolerance and a common-sense approach to different cultural communities when compared to the more fundamentalist approach of countries such as France. Twenty-first century France still cannot come to grips with a turban-wearing schoolchild. But it is sad that Sarika had to go to the court at all. As her solicitor said, each generation seems to have to go through the same struggles.

All the articles and practices of Sikhs signify the various concepts of Sikh philosophy. The articles were enjoined to the Sikhs by the gurus, particularly the 10th and last of the gurus some 300 years ago. The Sikhs have dutifully maintained them.

My initial comment is that a mature belief system is one that does not require that it be worn on the sleeve. As I understand it, there are five items (Khalsa) that identify Sikhs,

Khalsa initiation

The 5 Ks date from the creation of the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The Guru introduced them for several reasons:

  • Adopting these common symbols would identify members of the Khalsa
  • Because all members of the Khalsa wear the 5 Ks the members of the community are more strongly bound together
  • Each K has a particular significance

The meaning of the 5 Ks

The 5 Ks taken together symbolise that the Sikh who wears them has dedicated themselves to a life of devotion and submission to the Guru.

The 5 Ks are 5 physical symbols worn by Sikhs who have been initiated into the Khalsa.

The five Ks are:

A simple, plain circular steel bracelet
Kara - a steel bracelet�
  • Kesh (uncut hair)
  • Kara (a steel bracelet)
  • Kanga (a wooden comb)
  • Kaccha - also spelt, Kachh, Kachera (cotton underwear)
  • Kirpan (steel sword)

Kesh - uncut hair

Various reasons and symbolisms have been put forward for the Sikh practice of keeping hair uncut.

  • Throughout history hair (kesh) has been regarded as a symbol both of holiness and strength.
  • One's hair is part of God's creation. Keeping hair uncut indicates that one is willing to accept God's gift as God intended it.
  • Uncut hair symbolizes adoption of a simple life, and denial of pride in one's appearance.
  • Not cutting one's hair is a symbol of one's wish to move beyond concerns of the body and attain spiritual maturity.
  • A Sikh should only bow his head to the Guru, and not to a barber.
  • It is a highly visible symbol of membership of the group.
  • It follows the appearance of Guru Gobind Singh, founder of the Khalsa.

Sikh women are just as forbidden to cut any body hair or even trim their eyebrows, as Sikh men are forbidden to trim their beards.

Before you ask: A Sikh is not allowed to cut hair from any part of the body.

Kara - a steel bracelet

  • A symbol of restraint and gentility.
  • A symbol that a Sikh is linked to the Guru.
  • It acts as a reminder that a Sikh should not do anything of which the Guru would not approve.
  • A symbol of God having no beginning or end.
  • A symbol of permanent bonding to the community-being a link in the chain of Khalsa Sikhs (the word for link is 'kari').
  • The Kara is made of steel, rather than gold or silver, because it is not an ornament.

Kanga - a wooden comb

This symbolises a clean mind and body; since it keeps the uncut hair neat and tidy.

It symbolises the importance of looking after the body which God has created. This does not conflict with the Sikh's aim to move beyond bodily concerns; since the body is one's vehicle for enlightenment one should care for it appropriately.

Kachha - special underwear

This is a pair of breeches that must not come below the knee. It was a particularly useful garment for Sikh warriors of the 18th and 19th centuries, being very suitable for warfare when riding a horse.

It's a symbol of chastity.

A display of swords and knives arranged in the shape of the Sikh Khalsa symbol
There is no fixed style of Kirpan, the ceremonial sword�

Kirpan - a ceremonial sword

There is no fixed style of Kirpan and it can be anything from a few inches to three feet long. It is kept in a sheath and can be worn over or under clothing.

The Kirpan can symbolise:

  • Spirituality
  • The soldier part of the Soldier-Saints
  • Defence of good
  • Defence of the weak
  • The struggle against injustice
  • A metaphor for God

For a Sikh the fact that the Guru has instructed the Sikhs to wear the 5 Ks is an entirely sufficient reason, and no more need be said.

The symbols have become greatly more powerful with each passing year of Sikh history.

Every Sikh remembers that every Sikh warrior, saint, or martyr since 1699, and every living member of the Khalsa, is united with them in having adopted the same 5 Ks.

Note in the opening 

  • Adopting these common symbols would identify members of the Khalsa
  • Because all members of the Khalsa wear the 5 Ks the members of the community are more strongly bound together.

They are common symbols. No more. Just as a cross is a symbol of Christianity. We have had news readers, BA staff and others denied the opportunity to wear the symbol of Christianity. They still are. There was also the question of Islamic head scarves. A number refused.

I lived in Malaya for a number of years in a state that had a considerable Sikh community. Nice friendly guys - although it was best to stay away from the women so I cannot comment on how they might have carried and displayed all five symbols. I never saw any male Sikh with the full size sword. Some had small toy versions about the size (and, to me, significance) of a pair of nail clippers. Hardly the symbolic display of a soldier?

The other point of interest concerns the concept of Kesh - uncut hair. The young lady we saw on tv had longish hair but it had most certainly been cut since she came into the world. No Crystal Gayle she!

And what about body hair? Does the young woman shave under her arms or trim her eye-brows? I will concede she looks an unlikely subject for any full Mexican hair treatments.

There was a moment that to me explained it all. It was said that a photograph of the England cricketer Monty Pasar was produced as evidence. He is wearing a bracelet or, certainly, something tinny on one wrist. The forensic point of this was to illustrate that Sikh men wear bracelets. We saw no photographs of any Sikh woman with something metallic on her wrist. "He does so we all do" is a dangerous alteration to our laws. Next, they will say that no one can be Miss UK unless she resembles the dress and life style of Amy Whinehorse. Could they not have produced someone who might have been questioned along the lines of my concerns? A Sikh jurist or holy bloke. Why no photographs of a nice brown-skinned lady in her kachha - or does young Sarika favour M & S for her calico underwear?  I do not expect her to go the whole 5K hog but to pick and choose her symbols is not religious. It is fashion; maybe street-cred.

No. To me it is yet another example of the government's desire to be all things to all people. Ah - it is a right. No it isn't. Oh - OK, we will make it one. Should get us a few votes from the ethnics. I am reminded of the Python version of Camelot.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


I don't know if it is still too soon to post this. But, what the heck, it makes the point that I would if confined to just writing.

Horrific 120-Car Pileup A Sad Reminder Of Princess Diana�s Death

Bang, crash, wallop!

There are just a very very few sometimes when I realise that there are some downsides to living where we are now. Every so often I read a review of something that is happing in London and find myself wishing I could just nip out and go see it.
This applies especially to shows such as Stomp - the percussion performers. They have a tremendous creative ability; not just in the way they make musical sounds from whatever is to hand but the performance they craft around that sound and item. Quite often their extremely athletic dancing is enough. I first saw them about 12 years ago and, when in London, used to get to them every time they came. I was lucky enough in that most of my trips caught up with the main group led by Luke, the guy who started it. When a guest on corporate hostility visits, I got to visit the crew backstage a couple of times. At first sight, not the sort of people you might want to meet on some street on a dark night. However, they were great fun.

Safe hands

This is a photograph of Chinese special forces personnel resting after drills to ensure the safety of the Olympic Games in China.

The regimentation sums up the impression I have from media reports that the SF troops will do a good job if they are called upon. They seem to have all the toys and go about their drills with considerable élan and professionalism. I have greater confidence in them than I have for the German forces back at the Munich Olympics.

Man for the job

We seem to be due a change in the Prime Minister of this country. All the likely suspects for taking over his job are busily eliminating themselves from the cup of poisonous cold vomit that is the job.
Australia seems to have a good PM. Obviously has a government whose attitude supports his beliefs as to how things should run. Maybe we could encourage them to do the Aussie walk-about thing and spend a couple of years temping here.
Here is what makes me think we need him

Prime Minister John Howard -Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'
'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'
'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!'
'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'
We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'
'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,
'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted' 

Rape, she screamed

 When I was an investigator, one of the bees in my bonnet was the subject of rape. Women who complained of rape were regarded as slightly fantasist or not truly satisfactory complainants and witnesses. In many cases, they were convinced that their allegation was unlikely to lead to any conviction and would be embarrassing to them personally. Investigators were mostly male and their own prejudices and doubts got into the approach to the enquiry. I was unable to see why sexual violation was different to any other serious assault and dealt with rape allegations as all other inquiries. I think I had a good record in taking cases to court and a high percentage of convictions.
There does not seem to have been much of a change in the way that rape is regarded. The executive summary in a enquiry

  • Incidence: At least 47,000 adult women are raped every year in the UK.

  • Perpetrators: The majority of perpetrators are known to the victim.

  • Reporting: There has been a progressive increase in the number of rapes reported to the police for more than 20 years; during 2005/6 13,712 rapes were reported.

  • Conviction: In 2004 the conviction rate for rape was 5.3% - the lowest rate on record.

  • Support services: There are only 15 Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) for victims of rape.

  • Public attitudes: Nearly a third of people (30%) say a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was drunk

  • International: A study found the only European country with a lower conviction rate than the UK was Ireland.

    A comment on the matter was  In no other crime is the victim subject to so much scrutiny during an investigation or at trial; nor is the potential for victims to be re-traumatised during these processes as high in any other crime.” (HMCPS & HMIC, 2007)

I have just been reading "The Diary of an On-Call Girl" which was written by a woman police officer using the pseudonym WPC E E Bloggs. It gives a no holds barred view of today's policing; not very comfortable or reassuring. There's a revelatory chapter on how rape is handled at local police level: "Sex, Lies, and CCTV". She writes of a rape inquiry "Mandy wanders out into the street and out into the night. I watch her go and wonder what possessed her to go to a party in a strange house with a man she hardly knew and then agree to go upstairs with him?" 

PC Bloggs then describes how the police would act if a nice girl from a good family is snatched off the street and raped. Great police effort would be expended. But, she claims, that the usual rape victim is a girl like Mandy. Vulnerable, inarticulate and lacking the verbal skills to explain herself - or act in a sensible manner on a night out. The rapist is generally someone they know, maybe an ex boyfriend. They do not struggle or cry out. They receive no injuries. There are no witnesses or cctv. They have been attacked before and they may not report this one for days or even weeks afterwards.

Does this mean it didn't happen? It really has no import either way. Does the manner of the attack mean that the chances of proving the offence in court are zero. Probably. But women like Mandy keep coming forward, ever-hopeful that some mystery witness will be discovered in the corner of the crime scene or the prosecution barrister will do aIronside in court.

He won't. A lot of police officers believe that most rape allegations are simply made up. She is sure some are.

Then comes the really striking part of Bloggs' account. She is a serving police officer of good character, who does not drink much or take drugs; yet, the sad truth is that if she were raped other than by a total stranger she is not sure she would bother to report it.

We have seen the film of how some young females end up after binge drinking. The 'kiss and tell' magazines reveal just how ready some females are for sex with ships that pass in the night. Add these to what Bloggs says and it may eplain why rape is treated as the summary above states. A sad state of affairs.

A little more background on Mandy.

Mandy met a guy at Fleas Nightclub and a week later decided to go to a party at his mate's house. She doesn't know where the house is.

Mandy went into a bedroom with the guy. He kissed her but when he tried to take off her top she said no, at which point he had sex with her against her will.

She did not struggle as she feared he would murder her, and she did not scream as she was embarrassed. She was also raped two years ago, she tells me, but she didn't report that attack.

A detective turns up. 'So you met this guy at a nightclub? How exactly did you start talking?'

'I think I said, "You got any coke?"'

'I see. And when you went to this party, how much had you drunk?'

'About seven beers.'

'Is that a lot for you?'

'Are you joking? I usually have ten or 12. I had those seven at home.'

'Do you take any medication?'

'Yeah, Prozac. I've been depressed.'

'Why's that?'

'Dunno.' She holds out her arms to show cuts on the insides of her elbows. 'The kids have been getting me down.'

'How many children have you got?'


'And the father?'

'Jodie's dad is dead, Ryan's is a deadbeat. We broke up when Charlene was born. Charlie's old man is just drunk all the time.'

'And was it one of these guys who raped you two years ago?'

'No, that was Matt. He got me on to crack when I was pregnant with Ryan.'

Now and again, a nice girl is attacked by some b****** in a balaclava. She'll be believed and supported and when, as is likely, her rapist is found he will be brought to justice (or sent to jail for a couple of years, anyway).

Monday, 28 July 2008

The missing man

Just over a year ago and no one has found this man. He must still be there. All the while this goes on, it fosters the claims of the great unwashed (and, doubtless great unwaged) that agents provocateurs are operating at large scale events.

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This story stands up well. All too well me thinks

A whole new language is required

This is in the nature of an old man's bitch at the way things are going. It has to be here in full rather than just linked as it is behind a subscription only screen. Read it slowly. Stop for a sip of the amber nectar as required. When a sentence is incomprehensible - there are a number - go back a bit and start again. I have done such as I recommend and only about three words in five come across. What the heck is it all about? I accept that the changes in our country are significant since we became the last refuge for the worlds' oppressed but just how did things get so bad that arrangements as I think I understand here have had to be made? Where went our ideas of right and wrong that these maters had to be put into concrete form? And how was such a matter put into language that, I am sure, the majority of those  concerned will never ever understand.

OK - here we go.

    • Monday July 28 2008

Another chapter in the ongoing David and Goliath struggle between Southall Black Sisters (SBS) and Ealing Council came to a dramatic end recently when the council withdrew from the judicial review hearing at the high court in the middle of a two day hearing. One-third of SBS funding has been provided by Ealing since the 80s to provide domestic violence services to black and minority women. Last year, Ealing announced that it was going to use that same pot of money, £100,000pa to provide a borough-wide service for all women facing domestic violence because it had identified gaps in provision, most notably for white women – a laudable aim, if properly funded.

They embarked on this course of action without carrying out a race equality impact assessment (EIA) on how their change of policy affect black and minority women, which is a statutory obligation. On legal advice, users of SBS services started judicial review proceedings. At the eleventh hour, the council caved in, delayed the tendering process, carried out an impact assessment and as suspected, came to the same conclusions as before but threw in an additional £50,000 to deal with any possible negative impact.

At this point, it became obvious that the council was not for turning. SBS realised that it may never regain their financial support but that important principles were at stake which could benefit other specialist organisations locked in a similar struggle with their local authorities and decided to continue with legal proceedings. TheEquality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) agreed that guidance was necessary and intervened as an interested third party, thus lending the proceedings further gravitas. The case sets a precedent especially in relation to the cohesion agenda and duties under the race relations legislation.

The council's actions amounted to policy based evidence gathering rather than evidence-based policy development. The judge ruled that the council should have had due regard to its duties under the race relations act which means carrying out an EIA before policy is changed and not after the event to buttress its case.

The judge also ruled that there was no dichotomy between cohesion and specialist services, a very important clarification at a time when other councils are using this argument to cut their specialist services. He argued, like SBS had done, that providing such services promoted equality and therefore, cohesion. This was in stark opposition to the council's position that "single" group funding reinforced segregation. By a delightful coincidence, Darra Singh, the author of the report, Our Shared Future (pdf), published by the Commission for Integration and Cohesion, is also the chief executive of Ealing council. He was unable to implement one of the key recommendations of his report on his own patch, an irony much appreciated by SBS and its supporters.

One of the more ridiculous arguments made by Ealing was that SBS was, itself, in breach of the Race Relations Act because its name prevented white women from accessing the services. Counsel for the EHRC suggested that, on those grounds, SBS should be called Southall Black and White Siblings!

On a more serious note, Ealing now has to go back to the drawing board to develop a carefully considered policy on domestic violence services. Until a new provider is in place, they will have to carry on funding SBS.

Costs were awarded against Ealing council. The amount? You guessed it. £100,000. Now what was the sum of money that was up for grabs? Perhaps a concerned Ealing resident should launch proceedings against the council for such a gross waste of taxpayers' money.

I really am listening

Eye dropping on the week-end's social life, I came across this photo. It shows (someone or other female inconsequential) spouting off at a male so low in the pecking order that the snapper didn't even ask who he was. 
Nostalgic for me. Locked away (I Hope) but more likely recycled (a more polite term than 'thrown away') are many shots of me in this situation. A female gabbles away with something she finds important (maybe after a few too many G & T) and one has to look interested and serious. I think the guy in this shot is doing a damn fine impression of caring and giving a sh*t.

Prison reform programme

The proportion of prisoners in Iran who return to crime has always been low.
A new initiative this week-end is considered likely to drive this figure even lower.

TEHRAN, July 27 (UPI) -Twenty-nine convicted criminals were hanged in Tehran for offenses ranging from murder to adultery, Iranian state media reported Sunday.Iran's judiciary issued a statement saying the executions were carried out to deter those contemplating such offenses as drug dealing, armed robbery, arms smuggling, murder and even being a public nuisance while drunk, CNN reported.

Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency had earlier reported that 30 prisoners were set to be executed and it wasn't clear if a prisoner had been spared. (Maybe he was just not feeling too good after his interrogation?)

Iran executed 317 people last year, second only to China's 470, reported the human rights group Amnesty International.

Fire! Fire! Fire!

So, tell me. Just how does a structure built on steel supports and surrounded by water become such a fire risk that it gets into a state that it cannot be controlled by a large number of fire-fighting machines?
"All you can see is thick, thick black smoke and loads of red flame," an eyewitness told BBC Radio Bristol. "The whole of the Grand Pier, the top of it, is collapsing. It's just really, really sad." Fire officials said it was too early to say what caused the blaze. An investigation will begin once the fire is out. Fire detection - at a very early stage - and devices such as sprinklers are not rocket science. 
One would like to think that any installation designed to attract large numbers of people would have fire prevention as a more than prime thought.

The pier was built in 1903 to attract visitors to the town centre. The quarter-mile long structure has housed a music hall, theatre and a go-kart track. It reopened in April after an extensive refurbishment. Seems the refurbishment took little account of fire risk then. 

Another British engineering and project design triumph I suppose.

Bit too far away from his holiday site to blame the 'Brown Effect' I suppose.

Land of hope and glory?

So, these could be your neighbours if you lived on a sink estate. What is a sink estate - are we even allowed to use the term or is it like chav?

Where is this haven for chubbies?  It is Moorside Road Dewsbury, the road where "kidnapped" Shannon Matthews lived. Some of the neighbours are pictured above celebrating Shannon's return. We surmise one or two of them might be suitable candidates for our moral duty. The residents of Moorside Road have some serious issues: high crime, poor education, high unemployment/incapacity/lone parent welfare dependency, and family dysfunction. Looking at the picture, I'm guessing life expectancy is also low. The left's response is more welfare and more government support. But in truth, money is not the issue. The average household income is getting on for £30 grand pa, and is within 20% of the national average. The issue is the people, and how they choose to live their lives. And the 60 years of welfare state which has clearly failed them so badly (cf Glasgow East). So what is our real moral duty? It's surely to help them takeresponsibility for themselves. And for Moorside Road, that means above all else, increasing the financial incentive to work, and cutting the financial incentive to doss around drinking 22p lager and producing stacks of no-hope kids.
The point being, you see, that we should not pay over enormous amounts of money to people who will then exacerbate the problems in their society.

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What the statistics say about this area. And some more background if you want it.

The Net as medicine

The Internet receives, I suppose, as many brickbats for what it does as it gets favourable mention for the opportunities it presents. Access cannot be denied and any attempt at censorship or exclusion will fail if the poster is sufficiently determined. This has to be set against the freedom of self-expression that comes through a simple connection and a word processing ability.

The area I see as having the most potential for good is where an individual can deposit their dreams and fears, their hopes and secret wishes. Staying in that classification, one finds diaries of those facing situations that are too awful to contemplate by the uninvolved. In amongst these, cancer sufferers are prevalent. One cancer blog alone has more than 350,000 readers.

The attraction to write such a living document about dying must be obvious. The sufferer is surrounded by positive thinkers all trying to see the bright side of the slightest new discovery or most brief remission. It may be during the dark night - of the soul as well as the actual sleepless night - that there is a need to open up the fears or explore the practicalities of one's condition.

This desire to record things is typified by the writings of the newspaper journalist John Diamond - before the widespread use of the 'net. In 1997, Diamond was diagnosed with throat cancer. He wrote about his experiences with cancer in his newspaper column, for which he won the prestigious What The Papers Say award. In 1999 he was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for his book C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too.... A BBC documentary was filmed for Inside Story which followed him through various treatments, and showed his frustration with his speech difficulties following throat, and later tongue, surgery.

Because Cowards Get Cancer Too... was adapted into a play by Victoria Coren called A Lump In My Throat, which was itself later adapted for television. Diamond's second book, Snake Oil and Other Preoccupations, was edited by his brother-in-law Dominic Lawson, editor of the Sunday Telegraph, and published posthumously. It contained the six chapters of his "uncomplimentary look at the world of complementary medicine" which he had completed before his death, and some of his columns from The Times and the Jewish Chronicle.

And all this whilst married to the Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson! 

Diamond wrote "That's what everyone says. I phone up friends and say, "Look, you remember that lump on my neck? Well they're cutting it out and the doctor says he wants to take a look around, just to see what's in there," rather like a police diver uses the phrase just before he goes over the edge of the dinghy into the murky and body-ridden lake. And my friends say, "Hey, don't worry. It'll be fine. I know it'll be fine," which is what we all say when we're not quite sure what the right thing to say is.It would be reassuring if my friends were surgeons, or nurses, or even pharmacists, but they're journalists and radio producers and magazine editors, and what they don't know about surgery would fill two or three large medical libraries. 

How do they know it will be fine, that the lump is just one of those lumps you get from time to time? Not even the surgeon knows that. I can't even put it down to my normal hypochondria. Hypochondria normally comes in two varieties. The chronic version, which turns every twinge into a cardiac event, every spot into a melanoma, every cold into pneumonia, is the worst because of the not knowing. By comparison, the acute version, in which a doctor with a real medical degree tells you that you do have some actual minor illness and that you can look ill when you tell people about it in the pub, is, in its way, rather cheering. But this is beyond those conditions. Nobody can tell me that the fear of being put under for an hour or so while they cut your neck open is an irrational one" He was diagnosed as having cancer following this operation. He underwent a long passage of treatments and seemed to gain no relief from any.

I have been following a couple of cancer-themed blogs. I wonder at the courage of those who fight back. A dear and close friend lost his battle a few months ago. The fascination - for I must admit it is that - is how do they do it?  My own attitude to anything termed terminal is to abandon any resistance and seek assurance that my end would be as painless as science can provide. No surrendering to repeated operations, no intrusion from procedures, no long faces swiftly hidden as I appear. One of the blogs is by a guy who calls himself Baldy. His outlook was always buoyant and realistic. Until this latest. It has got him. I reckon that if the Man wants you, far better to go when He calls and not anger him by delaying things.

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Baldy's latest post to his blog