Friday, 8 August 2008

Smell of rat anyone?

Office of Fair Trading charges British Airways executives with price-fixing
Smith & Nephew threaten to sue Plus bosses
British Airways four charged with criminal price-fixing
UBS is close to $25bn securities settlement
Citigroup in $7.6bn settlement over auction-rate bonds

Just a selection of the news items regarding action is progress that is connected with alleged defalcation in high value money markets. One day's addition to a long long list that will keep my Learned Friends in wigs for a very long time. Cannot just be these few are the only ones. Just expand the Citigroup story to get the flavour.
Citigroup agreed to a $7.6 billion ($£3.9 billion) landmark deal with regulators yesterday to settle charges that it mis-sold bonds to customers. Hours later, Merrill Lynch announced its own plans to buy back from clients up to $10 billion of the same asset class, known as auction-rate securities (ARS). Analysts described the moves as “another body blow” to the banking industry.


This is an art work that is being produced for prestige sale at prestige price.

To me, it bears a strong likeness to a image created at a pornography site. Or maybe it is just my brain decaying faster than I thought. Whatever, I can see little that is attractive about the arty item when it is a finished object. This adds to my confusion and sense of deja view.
Who would want this?

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Sod's Law

One spends time researching the perfect holiday location. Somewhere off the tourist-beaten track. Remote but with luxury. 

And is confronted by an image such as this

In light of recent events .....

Would you pay good money so as to be able to claim this qualification?

Sauce for goose AND gander

I am proud that the Conservatives have committed to policies which will go some way to giving women that choice. We've announced proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all those with children under the age of 18. We've committed to a flexible parental leave policy which allows maternity leave to be split between both parents. Giving fathers the option to be more involved will give mothers more freedom to go back to work should they wish to. I hope these measures will lead us towards a society in which both parents can choose to fulfil their roles in exactly the way that suits and strengthens their family.
So says Theresa May in a Grauniad article today. I suppose she is basing her opinion as to what men want on an EOC survey.  70% of men questioned said they wished to be more involved in the upbringing of their children.

What I find depressing in such debate is that hardly ever do we hear the employers' response. Whilst I can see that very large organisations have the mass and resources to allow flexible working. When I was a worker, my department had some 30 females of child-bearing age. Almost all of these were customer-facing but were not interchangeable. 

A telephonist could cover for a receptionist but a cleaner could not stand-in for a cook. Apart from anything else, some tasks required health certification and appropriate health and safety training. I cannot see how I would have coped if the flexible working had included dad as well as mum. My budgets and work plans were under constant survey to ensure I had no fat in head-counts. Replacement for flexiworkers could only have come from temporary staff. They again would lack the training and certification. The pressure would have to fall on co-workers exceeding or extending their hours of work. We had a working hours directive. Some of my people - security guards - worked anti-social hours. We had no flexible hours policy and there were sometimes ill feelings when mums had special treatment.

Thankfully, this old slave driver is retired. I still think that a employee has a duty to offer their services to an employer in a responsible manner. If they are likely to find themselves unable to commit to a full pattern of work, they should look elsewhere for employment. I had a keen football player who seemed to incur injury on a regular basis. After a lot of debate with HR, I got them to see he was in frustration of his contract and he was given a choice - conform or ship out. He went and I replaced him with someone who was there to work. The ex-employee broke his leg a short while later and was ruled permanently unable to play. He came back looking for a job and I was able to fit him in. Whether he was just brown-nosing I do not know but he did submit one day what a problem he must have been.

Commercial enterprises stand or fall on their profits. They are not engines for social change. If a company does go to the wall, the flexible as well as the inflexible suffer.

Condom tails

I plead that having held the rank and as I now live in Scotland, I can post this without running the risk of having to run for the border as they come to burn me out!

A Scottish RSM in full dress marches into a pharmacy to speak to the chemist. 
The Scot opens his sporran and pulls out a neatly folded cotton bandanna, unfolds it to reveal a smaller silk square, which he also unfolds to reveal a condom. 
The condom has a number of patches on it. 
The chemist holds it up, and eyes it critically. 
"How much to repair it?" the Scot asks the pharmacist. 
"Six pence," says the pharmacist. 
"How much for a new one?" 
"Ten pence," says the pharmacist. 
The Scot folds the condom into the silk square and the cotton bandanna, places it in his sporran and marches out the door of the pharmacy, kilt swinging. 
A moment or two later the pharmacist hears a great shout go up, followed by an even greater shout. 
The Scot walks back into the pharmacy, and again speaks to the pharmacist. 
"The regiment has taken a vote," says the Scot. "We'll have a new one."

Stay away - well away!

German short-haired pointers have very developed sense of smell. Sure ain't going to tangle with Mr Skunk but that does not mean I cannot let my face show just what I think about things!

That missing child - again. Sorry dear reader

The Mccann inquiry intrigues me. I do not know why. My experience does suggest that searching for the child amongst the living will not lead to a good result. To her abductor, children are cheap and easy to find. Expendable. Had they values that the average man in the street could appreciate, they would not be doing this sort of crime. Where you or I might reach out to a lost or troubled kid for the best of reasons and motives, they reach out with a far darker agenda. My guest blogger, a woman police officer with much experience, makes some good points. Be warned though that one of the links goes to Barry George where exposure has, surely, driven the case into the ground.

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Food for thought

Standing up for seniors

Knol is a recently developed application designed to take over where Wikipedia leaves off. I have been watching and testing it. 

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Sometimes I think it tells us far too much. Back in the day when I would have considered this a problem, I would have been out testing my new ability and not cooped up reading about it. Getting drunk on champagne used to work for me without all the side effects we now get from that little pill drug of choice.

Down the road a piece

I made arrangements. Anybody who's sending me flowers when I die, is getting them back with a posthumous note, "You, asshole. Keep your rotten flowers. I needed them when I could smell them."

No flowers on my grave. Friends and family know.

Disasters are universal

We heard - and saw - much about how the American emergency planning teams had failed New Orleans when Katrina struck. Allegations of corruption abounded. Lack of adequate resources was blamed on racial matters.

I was not there and cannot venture any opinion. Whether the deficiencies existed for the reasons alleged or whether Katrina was so large and violent that it would have overcome the finest preparations cannot be judged by anyone not very closely connected.

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And yet, some places cope with disaster better than others. A gringo speaks.

"To bomb or not to bomb. That is the question"

This is a survey form used amongst engineers and others working on the first atomic bomb. They were to complete it against a situation that was well detailed. 
"This is the straightforward poll of Compton and Daniels which asked 250 scientists at the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory arm of the Manhattan Project in pre-Trinity July, 1945. (Originally published as “A Poll of Scientists at Chicago, July 1945,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 1948, 44, p63. and again published in Compton’s Atomic Quest in 1956.) You can take this test anonymously. Please try and keep in mind the time and place of the events unfolding: the Japanese resistance to the unconditional surrender ultimatum developing at Potsdam; the resistance to massive air raids; the tenacious fighting in the islands at the outreaches of the Empire; the thousands of American POWs; the circulating estimates of the coming Japanese invasion casualties (hundreds of thousands of Americans, far more so Japanese), and so on. 

An earlier survey gave the results:
that the weapon be used against Japan at the earliest opportunity, that it be used without warning, and that it be used on a dual target, namely, a military installation or war plant surrounded by or adjacent to homes or other buildings most susceptible to damage.
So, whilst we here and now can only indulge in Monday morning Quarter-backing, it seems that there were proper attempts to validate the use of such a monstrous weapon. What we cannot know of course is how many of those who voted for to wipe a large city off the physical map of the world had any real and practical idea of just what the weapon would do. Of course, the old colonial thinking of "it's not really a big place and it is a long long way away" was still current. 
As an impressionable kid, I can remember that the Japanese were depicted as sub-human slaughterers with whom we had no common values. Far worse than the propaganda image of the Germans and their concentration camps.
I doubt that any survey today would come up with such findings. I would hope so.
I have been to both cities. The destruction that remains - more so in Nagasaki - is extensive but seems no worse than the then current photographs of German cities that had been destroyed in carpet bombing. Dresden and Hamburg casualty lists matched as well. Dresden in just two days "Estimates of civilian casualties vary greatly, but recent publications place the figure between 24,000 and 40,000 killed". Hamburg had a similar death toll but over the duration of about a month. 
Deaths at Hiro were about 78,000 killed and at Nagasaki about 45,000 died. The butcher's bill for the Somme in WWI was about 20,000 for the first day alone.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Mamma mia

The female here is a leading star in the porno film industry and he also is a performer. She is apparently 'over the moon' at achieving pregnancy.
Well, they do say that practice makes perfect!

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Comes to us all darling.

Mountain in labour produces mouse

I do not agree with the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay where they hold terrorist suspects. I do realise that their activities in the War on Terror will produce prisoners who need to be held in custody and that there would be serious problems in trying to hold them in civilian establishments. Whilst two wrongs will never make one right I accept Gitmo was necessary but think it should have served its purpose by now.
My sense of indignation is heightened by the result of the first prosecution of a GB graduate. Of all the baddies they could - surely - have found they start with the guy who was bin Laden's driver. Of all the evil bstards they must have in abundance, they come up with Jeeves.
A six-member military jury found Salim Ahmed Hamdan guilty of supporting al-Qaeda by driving and guarding the terrorist leader. The jurors found him not guilty of conspiring with bin Laden in terrorist attacks. The same uniformed jurors will hold another hearing Wednesday afternoon to determine a sentence. Although the partial acquittal surprised some courtroom observers, the effect is virtually the same as a full conviction: Hamdan still faces up to life in prison. The charge required them to prove that Hamdan "knew or intended" that his support was to be used for a terrorist act. Numerous federal agents testified that Hamdan knew about attacks, if only after the fact, yet still stayed with bin Laden.
We do not know how these federal agents obtained the 'facts' to which they testified; how many gallons of water went over the board to find out if bin Laden sat in the back and whether he belted up. The rules had allowed, in certain circumstances, for evidence obtained under interrogation methods that were "cruel" and "inhuman." An observer commented "We were told that Guantanamo was necessary because these were the world's most dangerous terrorists," said Wizner, who criticized the Pentagon for revealing little in the trial about U.S. interrogation techniques. "Salim Hamdan is not one of the world's most dangerous terrorists."
Even the prosecution's own evidence portrayed Hamdan as someone who ferried weapons for al-Qaeda and knew details of terrorist attacks, but only after they occurred and often based on conversations he overheard. One FBI agent testified that Hamdan emerged from training at an al-Qaeda camp and said he had no interest in fighting. Hamdan's statements were admitted into evidence even though he had not been warned they might be used against him.
This has done nothing to encourage me to put America forward as truly a land of the free and, by the treatment of this man (even less than a pawn) as the home of the brave.

Top of Mum anyway

"Made it Ma. Top of the world"  The closing scene of White Heat as Cagney's character is on the roof of an exploding chemicals company. Looks as if this young gorilla may have seen the film!

Old silverback Dad is not too happy with noisy kids by the look of things.

What happens to Tommy Atkins

We hear "One dead and three wounded" British soldiers. Even old soldiers will have little idea of what 'wounded' constitutes in modern warfare where high explosives get close to soft tissue.
An American medical officer talks of a book that sets out to illustrate what happens but is deemed so graphic that military surgeons are resisting it being available to civilians.
"The average Joe Surgeon, civilian or military, has never seen this stuff," Lounsbury said. "Yeah, they've seen guys shot in the chest. But the kind of ferocious blast, burn and penetrating trauma that's part of the modern IED wound is like nothing they've seen, even in a New York emergency room. It's a shocking, heart-stopping, eye-opening kind of thing. And they need to see this on the plane before they get there, because there's a learning curve to this."
The pictures of wounded children include some of a 5-year-old shot in a vehicle trying to run through a checkpoint. Other pictures show wounds riddled with dirt, genitals severed by a roadside bomb, a rib — presumably that of a suicide bomber — driven deep into a soldier's body, and the tail of an unexploded rocket protruding from a soldier's hip.
There are moments that reflect the desperation in the invaded country: an Afghan in the jaw-locked rictus of tetanus after home-treating a foot blown off by a landmine. And moments that reflect the modern American army: a soldier with unexplained pelvic pain that turns out to be a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
No need to go beyond what I have extracted to here. Just read the precis and then read Kipling's verse about how civilians value a man called Atkins. T.


A police dog responds to an ad for work with the FBI. "Well," says the personnel director, "you'll have to meet some strict requirements. First, you must type at least 60 words per minute."
Sitting down at the typewriter, the dog types out 80 words per minute.
"Also," says the director, "you must pass a physical and complete the obstacle course." This perfect dog specimen finishes the course in record time.
"There's one last requirement," the director continues; "you must be bilingual."
With confidence, the dog looks up at him and says, "Meow!"


Old man goes into the hall and starts to get dressed to go out.
"Where are you going?" asks his aged wife. "Gonna get some of that Viagra from the doctor" he says.
Wife says "Wait a bit and I'll come with you" "What for?" the ancient man asks.
"Well" she says, "If you are getting that rusty old thing out, I'm going to get a tetanus jab"

War mongering or scare mongering?

If media reports are to be believed - and that is a big discussion in itself - The Great Satan is determined to kick off in Iran. Just what drives Bush is beyond my simple mind. He should have taken note just how poor his advisors were for the Muddle East over how things panned out in Iraq. It is, I agree, possible that his advice was good but was subverted by the military. In the end, the buck stops at his desk so whether State or Pentagon let him down is immaterial. He made the decision. From what the 4th Estate report, he seems to have learned little from Iraq Part II.  At least he has not sought advice from the Governor of California or we would all be in a state of Hasta la Vista Baby.
I can understand the concerns regarding a Iranian nuclear warfare capability. Like a tumescent teenager, they would have trouble keeping it zipped up and away and Israel is the target of choice. They are not noted for accepting fools gladly and preemptive strike is a phrase they know well and a concept they have used to great effect.
I do see a possible scenario. The warlike language between POTUS and Iran's HadMyDinner is worked up to something where Israel gets very heated and decides to get their retaliation in first. After a long haul, their bombers inflict serious damage - not total destruction - on Iran's 
centrifuge installations. Just enough destruction so that Iran does not have any capability to let the nuclear birds fly loose. America would then tell their puppets they had been very naughty and threaten sanctions in the event of any recurrence. (If the attack is properly planned and successfully executed - there would be no need for Part II) Iran is given a big dose of "Told you so" and offered help in reconstruction of the peaceful application. Any threat of a united Arab reaction to Israel's attack is very small. Possible supporters of Iran are well within range of IDF aircraft.
Reads like something very serious. It would be but exactly the sort of circumstance where preemptive assault is best bet. 
If we carry on with threat and counter-threat, Iran will get to the situation where it might be tempted into a bit of this preemptive action.

Coma coma chameleon

Goes to my "This is the end" fixation

As seen on .......

I like these spoof adverts. This hits at redneck attitudes whilst advertising their sort of beer. I suppose it could be a quick way to learn some aspects of US culture.

Northern Cock-up

"This morning's announcement of the half-yearly Northern Rock accounts reminds us again of the most disastrous episodes of British banking. What is new and worrying is the acknowledgment of the scale of the hit the taxpayer has taken following the decision last September to rescue the bank through taxpayer loans and guarantees. We were assured at the time that the £26bn taxpayer loan was secured against good-quality assets. It now, however, appears that £3.4bn of this money enjoys only minimal security and has essentially been converted into equity. Parliament and the public were misled by the chancellor"
That comes from an article in today's Grauniad. I take issue with the bit 'misled by the Chancellor' I do not think he was even aware of what the risks were. The gubmint was under considerable pressure to do something. Anything. Whatever - even if it was just to say goodbye. A short term fix was needed and, even if they are nothing else, NuZANUPFPLabour are experts at short fixes. Just long as the 'short' is long enough for some other disaster to stagger into play.
The City is full of bright young men who know how things work and how to get them to work their way. Skills honed in the market place of Romford are put into play and many of them do very nicely thank you. Selling short on banks earned one stripe shirt £27 million as personal profit plus a like sum for his firm. His wife makes similar profits from knowing what Plan A does to bottom lines. 
Why does our Treasurer not have access to brains such as that? Does he even know they exist? In a way, one hopes not. Just imagine what the personal allowances of MPs would look like with Ronny Romford's input!

Discretion and valour hand in hand

The cat has escaped the bag in the matter of a deal made with an element of the Iraqi enemies at the time of the British withdrawal from Basra. 
I see it as a very sensible piece of work. The move from the posts in the town center to the airfield was sure to have been very bloody and certainly costly in lives. Both our lives and those of our assailants. Despite their being the enemy and the sometimes cowardly manner of fighting, they are human beings. "Some mother's son" as my own mother would have put it.
It was not as if we surrendered anything. Just a temporary accommodation acceptable to both sides for one specific event and with a commendable purpose. That it has now caused dissent amongst the coalition is regrettable. They were not faced with the situation so their disapproval has limited effect. To me anyway. I am sure that are many mothers who are glad their sons walked away from pointless death - on that day anyway. We do not need to act as if we are Spartans to demonstrate valour.

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We may be part of a coalition. It does not need to be a coalition of fools.

Hip pip hurrah

Good writing does not have to be deep and solemn. Humour does not have to be rib-cracking to entertain. I enjoy something which is good and funny. Bernard Manning short, sharp and brutal vulgarity versus the crafted discourse of Ronnie Corbett in his armchair. See the guest blog for an example of what I think is clever.

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What can be achieved. No smut, no insults. Just good old plain fare

Boots and saddles

Mention of the Army troopers and their high riding boots reminds me ...........

A dwarf cowboy went to his doctor and complained of pain in his private parts. The medic examined him and asked him to stand on a chair. He then picked up a pair of scissors. The cowboy heard snipping noises and enjoyed a instant relief in the pained testicles. "That is wonderful. What did you do?" he asked.

"Cut two inches off the top of your cowboy boots" was the answer.

Beats me

The degree of sado-masochism that exists today seems far higher than when I was poking my nose around bedroom doors of the aristocracy. We had a more stern test; no one could give consent to any activity that would have been unlawful if consent were lacking. Not only was a bit of beating somewhat unusual - if it came to court it was dealt with as if almost amounting to a case involving State secrecy. I know of a case where a most senior officer was involved with troopers of the Horse Guards - you know, the tall and slim men with the very high fitting riding boots. He liked to be whipped until blood flowed by these naked men in boots. All that happened was he 'left' the service and the lads suffered a drop in income. Just imagine what would have hit the headlines in these Mosley days!

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How to beat the law

Beach bunny

Seems to have taken for ever but at last someone is doing something about criminal action against the Gypsy Rover mother who abandoned her daughter to the dregs of beach life.

Open and shut case I reckon. Not even the Indian police could screw this up.
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What bit of "You are guilty of neglect that led to the brutal murder of this girl" does she not understand?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Man in black

Johnny Cash was one of my favourite artists. No bull or diva in his performances. Just walk out "I'm Johnny Cash" and into his work. I was saddened by his last few records. It was so obvious that he was on his way out; he knew it and it seemed he wanted to leave something really valuable.

For my money, and for what it is worth, he did just that.

Suspect mum shows why and how

Some people are their own worst enemy.

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11 hours of questioning for the Mccann mother. 48 refusals to answer. S t r a n g e. Almost as if seeking accused status of a suspect?

Dive into the dump truck

Looks like a bit of a waste to me. I'd say there was still a good few miles left in the old girl. Obviously not from a sustainable source so recycling should have been adopted.

What's my line?

German police are providing their women officers with an add-on to the bullet-stopping vest. Seems the female anatomy is such that bra support metalwork is likely to harm if impacted into the body by incoming projectiles.

As one who has been privileged to move about in police circles - and German ones in particular - I was intrigued by the marking Polizei on the garment. So, having removed the riot helmet, the gas mask, the padded gloves, the accessory belt with pistol, cs gas, handcuffs, radio and baton one will need to strip her down to the level of a special vest to realise one is getting involved with a police officer. Ordnung!

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Cover that chest maidchen!

Olympic ideal sold down the river

So, the politicos who have muscled their way into the current Olympic organisers are demanding a return on their (actually it is our) investment by way of a medal tally.

What happened to the Olympic standard as laid down by the man who re-created the modern games - what is important is to take part and not the winning. I suspect that the rewards for winning that brought about the wide use of performance- enhancing drugs kicked that ideal into touch.

Strange thing about medals. The government has turned down a number of proposals that troops wounded in our Middle East adventures should have some medal. Dual values anyone?

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Medals, medals - give me medals

Oh - if only I had that power

I dropped into a group I used to post to. Just to see what was happening and with no intention of getting involved. It seems that it has imploded. Postings almost nil except for a dazed few wanderers like survivors of a nuclear bombing. Even more weird is that I and one other seem to have attracted the blame for its demise.

I just wish that I had that ability to kill things off with a few words. Think of all the good I could do as a member of the NuLabour group, an MP at Westminster, Edinburgh or in Brussels. That is without the side-shows such as PETA, the Vegetarian Society and the RAC.

They are all safe. I think that an uncontrolled tsunami of comments is what is needed to exercise any sort of influence and, as I said when I retreated to my old friend here, this is almost a state secret when it comes to comments. I have had one or two. I moderate them; generally they get past unless it is evident it is just someone running off at the mouth without having had the decency to follow the argument - links and all.

Having been described as insensitive in posting on autism - a problem I had/maybe still have, one my son is on the edge of and one my grandson is diagnosed as - I have a low threshold of acceptance for spur of the moment commentators. Here I remove the comments - there I removed the posts.

Monday, 4 August 2008

So so true

I know what I am saying is right - I have said it before!!

After deciding that their frail, elderly mother can no longer live alone, a family brings her to a nursing home, hoping she’ll be well cared for. The next morning, the nurses bathe the old woman, feed her a tasty breakfast, and sit her in a chair at a window overlooking a lovely flower garden. She seems fine, but after a while she slowly starts to lean over sideways in her chair. Two attentive nurses immediately rush up to catch her and straighten her up. Again she seems fine, but after a while she starts to tilt to the other side. The nurses rush back and once more bring her back upright. This goes on all morning. Later the family arrives to see how the old woman is adjusting to her new home. "So Ma, how is it here? Are they treating you all right?" they ask. "It’s pretty nice," she replies. "Except they won’t let you fart."

Puff the Magic Drag-on

As part of the stage setting for a Top Gear episode, the three lads made it look as if they were pipe smokers. When the item went out onto YouTube someone had pixillated every shot where a pipe moves anywhere near to a presenters' mouth.

Poor Nanny BBC got the blame for this but there is 

now a theory that Clarkson was at the heart of it all. 

When the piece went out, the BBC switchboard received

many complaints about the terrible thing that was 

smoking and how dreadful it was that the Top Gear 

people seemed to endorse such a dreadful thing. 

Jeremy had arranged the cover-up and associated 

warning as a pish-take of these complaints.

My respect for the man grows. His demonstrations 

re smoking continue.

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Sunday, 3 August 2008

Global climate change

I do not know enough to comprehend all the arguments about global environmental changes. In a way, I do not need to. My inbuilt bullshit detectors are quite strongly signalling that the doom and gloom'ers are on sticky ground. 

It is not that I have no interest. The country around me right now and the memories I have of other tremendous places is too beautiful to fry or flood. So, when I come across what seems to be a calm and reasoned argument either way. it gets my attention. Latest to fall into this category is in the guest blog.

My sensors are calm.

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The scenario unfolds

Island (s)hores

Again, when it comes to getting to this Paradise Island, I find myself up the creek without a paddle!

Nothing too serious

Time for a few jokes that stuck to my jacket as I wandered around.

My wife was in her gynecologist's busy waiting room when a cell phone rang. A woman answered it, and for the next few minutes, she explained to her caller in intimate detail her symptoms and what she suspected might be wrong.

Suddenly the conversation shifted, and the woman said, "Him? That's over." Then she added, "Can we talk about this later? It's rather personal, and I'm in a room full of people."


My 50-something friend Nancy and I decided to introduce her mother to the magic of the Internet. Our first move was to access the popular "Ask Jeeves" site, and we told her it could answer any question she had.

Nancy's mother was very skeptical until Nancy said, "It's true, Mom. Think of something to ask it."

As I sat with fingers poised over the keyboard, Nancy's mother thought a minute, then responded, "How is Aunt Helen feeling?"

An elderly couple had been shopping at a grocery store, and the wife decided to steal a can of peaches. The inevitable happened and she was caught. Upon her court date, the judge asked her what she had stolen.
"Your Honor, I stole a can of peaches."
The judge replied, "How many peaches were in the can?"
She said, "Six."
The judge then said, "I will sentence you to six days in jail."
Her husband stood up behind her and replied, "Your Honor, she also stole a can of peas."

My husband, Jeff, and I incurred several problems while assembling our new computer system, so we called the help desk. The man on the phone started to talk to Jeff in computer jargon, which confused us even more. "Sir," my husband politely said, "please explain what I should do as if I were a four-year-old."

"Okay," the computer technician replied. "Son, could you please put your mommy on the phone?"

Iran ups the threat

I reckon it is Photoshop anyway but why would a country want to go to the bother of making a dodgy press item when they know that even that would lead to trouble.  Any day now the Israeli air force will launch a Photoshopped pre-emptive strike. 

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Here is the story behind the image

Keys and things

Now, this is frightening. I knew of the technique but had never thought it would get into the world where people from Liverpool could see it

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Looks too easy to be true doesn't it?

Move them into the sink areas

Now, here is an American idea that we should force our 'masters' into:

"When Cory Booker became Mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2006 he made it a priority to fight crime in the city. Gang members took his pledge so seriously that they planned to assassinate him just before taking office.

To show his dedication, Booker lived in some of Newark’s most dangerous neighborhoods, well before becoming mayor. He continues to live in a blighted neighborhood today.

In 2007 three young adults were killed execution style in a Newark schoolyard (a fourth person survived being shot and knifed in the face). Security cameras at the school weren’t working.

Booker used the incident to launch Community Eye, a project that uses high quality security cameras and a gunshot detection system to monitor an eight square mile crime-heavy area of Newark. The cameras have night vision, record in high definition video and stream wirelessly to a nearby police station, where officers can control the cameras, zoom in on areas, etc. The gunshot detection system can triangulate on gunfire immediately after firing, and can automatically move cameras to monitor the area. Police are able to respond immediately.Community Eye now has over 100 cameras in place, and the gunshot detection system is going online soon"

Doubtless, the 'intrusion into my private areas' brigade would complain but someone with a pair needs to tell them that crime fighting comes first. If their privacy clashes with my security, let them move somewhere else.

Broomsticks optional

I have mentioned somewhere - not sure if here in these blogs - that my maternal grandmother was widely seen as a witch. We are talking about the start of the 20th century when spiritualism was seen as another branch of religion. Grandma was, apparently, recognised as a gifted medium and seances were frequent. How she fitted this in with her 'day job' as Matron of an Army hospital I cannot say. Matrons were no soft touch in those days and I assume an Army variety would be enough to scare anyone without the benefit of talking trumpets and ectoplasm

I think the term 'witch' rather than 'medium' came from her children. Certainly, my aunt and uncles had no fond memories of the spiritualist times and only very very rarely did I ever get them to talk about them. They did seem to think their mother had a gift rather than her being a fraud or trickster. It was just that they would rather she had kept her light under a bushel. My own memories of her revolve around being asked if I could 'see' someone sitting in a chair - I never could. What she was good at was what we called 'putting the mockers on' something. I would be off to play, she would not wish me to do that, I demurred. She would say "If you go out to play, you will fall down and hurt your knee" I regarded this as do all 6 year old boys. Five minutes later, Dettol and bandages were the order of the day. Some scars I still bear. Other recipients of mockers would be sunny days. I would suggest ducks, bread and nearby park. 'Oh no. It is going to rain in a bit' - even without looking at the bright and cloudless blue sky. If we stayed indoors - no rain. If we did get as far as the park - the monsoons came to East Ham. I never saw the 'witch' side but certainly accorded her far more respect than any other little old lady who came into the life of a young lad.

Well, it seems she may have had no bits of fey from her native Southern Ireland. No insight or contact with those who had gone before. Just a cold reader. I have a problem with this though. I cannot associate the cold reading with scarred knees and wet woolies at the park. You make up your own mind.

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Late explanation re an Old Granny from my youth. 

Look up telekinesis  or get involved before scoffing too loudly


Doctor doctor you're in trouble

This appeals to my idea as to what passes as humour. It is also case law that for many years decided whether doctors were criminals in white coats or angels with scalpels. The test of a doctor's action on charges of negligence was whether he had done his best. The actual phrase was 'his incompetent best' The best he knew. Regardless of whether his treatment mirrored that of some African witch doctor, he was in the clear if it was the best he knew. Of course, Dr Shipman pretty well blew that out of the water. Anyway - her is the bit I think is funny.

"For Dr Spencer at his Norfolk surgery, the whoops-a-daisy moment came when he dosed a woman with bismuth. Startled by her dyspeptic response, and eager to reassure her increasingly agitated husband, he swallowed a spoonful of the stuff himself. “See? Perfectly safe!”
Two things then happened: Dr Spencer vomited, fell down and lay writhing on the floor. His patient died.
The explanation was simple. As the doctor explained to the coroner, bismuth and strychnine look remarkably similar in the bottle and, well, mistakes do happen. At the subsequent trial for manslaughter, Mr Justice Willes agreed. A simple blunder, he said, was not in itself a criminal act. To secure a conviction, the crown would have to prove that the doctor’s medicines were in such chaotic disorder that it was impossible for him to know which was which. Not guilty, said the jury.
That was in 1867. Legal actions against clinical killers then were exceedingly rare, and would remain so. By 1989 only six more doctors had been fingered for manslaughter – an average of one every 20 years. Then something changed. In the 1990s, 17 were prosecuted, and since 2000 there have been 11 more. One or two of them, like the Spencer case, were tales of startling improbability. A woman under anaesthetic was connected to an oxygen cylinder instead of to a ventilator and inflated like a balloon (the anaesthetist got six months’ jail, suspended for 18 months). Mostly, however, they were mundane tragedies of misread notes, wrong drugs or lethal doses administered by exhausted, inexperienced or occasionally negligent practitioners who failed in the most basic of their responsibilities"

So, looks as if chickens are flying home to roost. I had a couple of tussles with the doctors' guardians the MDU and I bet they do not like the modern-day approach one little bit.


I am not averse to a little bit of culture. Offsets all the Church music that hangs around on a Sunday.


My Main Classical Man conducting. The Willy Nelson of Berlin!


My combative (aggressive) nature does not accept the recommended manner of treating trolls. All the while I maintain my vocabulary and the Army attitude to those regarded as idiots, I will take them on. I am well aware of their power and abilities but I cannot accept that these permit them to come near me and trample on what I see as my private space. 

That said, I have come across a expansion of the recommended standard response that I suspect will help many who cannot understand trolls or trolling.

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Anti-troll measures that might help (short of a punch to the kidneys!)

Jill Dando - Pt II

I am still niggling in my mind over the Dando case and the release of Barry George after his second appeal; and retrial. I do not know why this should be; I have no association with anyone involved, her death had no impact upon me and I care not either way what happens to George. The nearest reason I can get is that I am convinced it was some form of political correctness that let him off. The very words p.c. set me off. I can see where such considerations have been of benefit to our daily lives but the all-encompassing grip on our life is too much for me.
There seems to be a considerable body of opinion that there was a miscarriage of justice at the first hearing. Whilst some police actions (poor crime scene procedures, handling of forensic exhibits) have been criticised, there was no suggestion he was fixed up. No mention of Birmingham 6 and their stitched-up contemporaries. The defence barrister was Michael Mansfield and he would not have hesitated to make such allegations if this improved his position. He raised a number of tinged herring points such as a hit squad, hired assassin or his client being to daft to plan and carry out the killing. All in all, Mansfield again demonstrated what an able man he is.
If so many can accept that the guilty finding was wrong, where are the voices of those who can say that it was correct and it is this latest decision that is wrong? No one saying it because none support that idea? There are enough cranks to pump up the volume but where are they? Adopt the Mansfield approach of putting it forward - forcibly and eloquently - enough times and it would gain support.
The line that George was disorganised and mentally incapable should attract the same rebuttal. Was it the perfect hit anyway? He left his expended cartridge case behind - not the mark of a professional who knows how much information could be gleaned from one of these. He was in the area for some while prior to the killing. Even the junior writer for CSI knows that killers do their reconnaissance well ahead of time and only come onto the killing ground when the time is right.
We have heard of the wealth of material found at his flat that went towards the circumstantial case. I do not see that the best use of this was made in pointing out that George was deficient of sandwiches at a picnic. His trophies could - I might say should - have been used to illustrate just what a flawed individual he was and that treating and regarding him as the man on top of the 68 bus was unrealistic. He had a fixation - who can say what he might do in satisfaction of those urges?
I would imagine it was a Mansfield Moment that got his psychologist a place alongside George in the dock. Clever. Attracts and heightens jury attention to his mental state. Here again, p.c. attitudes were foreseen and exploited. "Ah. Poor chap. What a dreadful life. Will I be responsible for sending such a person back to the hell of prison" Sympathy is a powerful emotion and much will be done in it's name.
It is claimed there will be a cold case review by the police. I doubt there will be much enthusiasm for this amongst the Met police. Anyone who might be charged in the future will have 75% of his defence already written. The same old litany of allegations and suggestions of doubt will be trotted out such that the prosecuting authority will not run with any new case.
Yes - there has been a miscarriage of justice - the wrong man has been let go.

After posting this, I read John McVicar in today's Sunday Telegraph. He writes what I think in a well-argued manner. 
I am a bit proud to be alongside someone having John's knowledge of the ways of the criminal