Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Gatherings together

Dangerous world
The saying about Australia is that almost anything there can kill you. That warning appears to be spreading around the world as scientists discover more and more deadly doings.
People in their 60s and 70s who have high blood pressure may want to make sure they get enough sleep. A new study suggests that if they log fewer than 7.5 hours under the covers every night, they're at greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death than their peers who get more shut-eye.
Seven to eight hours seems to be enough sleep for most people, although older people sleep less. The risk is even higher if they skimp on sleep and tend to have a hike in blood pressure at night, a problem known as the riser pattern. Most healthy people have a drop in blood pressure at bedtime.
Those who got limited sleep and also had the riser pattern were more than four times as likely to have heart attacks and strokes as those without the combination, according to the study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
It's not clear whether the shorter sleep times were due to insomnia, sleep apnea, or other problems, or exactly how much time the study subjects actually spent snoozing. 
The research team, led by Kazuo Eguchi, M.D., Ph.D., of Jichi Medical University in Japan, asked 1,255 men and women with hypertension how much time they spent in bed (not how much they actually slept), and then monitored their blood pressure for a 24-hour period. Those who spent fewer than 7.5 hours between the sheets were 1.7 times more likely to have some type of cardiovascular event in the next couple of years, while those who slept little and had a riser blood-pressure pattern were at 4.43 times greater risk. 
This type of study can't determine whether simply telling people to spend more time in bed would lead to better sleep or a lower risk of any of these problems. But researchers do know that a lack of sleep can throw off the circadian rhythms of several body processes.

One born every minute
Paul Snelson, 20, contacted officers to clear up "inaccuracies" in the description they gave of his offence to a local newspaper.
He had attempted to rob fisherman Dennis Rooke at a purpose-built lake in Northampton but fled when his victim pretended he had a gun.
Police issued an appeal for information to find the attacker - and Snelson made their job easy by contacting them to insist he was acting in self-defence.
He was subsequently arrested and has been jailed for 30 months.
Matthew Maynard, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court, said: "He challenged the accuracy of the content of it. He said it hadn't happened that way. He said the fisherman had attacked him with a pole and he was acting in self-defence."
The court heard how Snelson attempted to rob Mr Rooke on May 20th and the appeal for information appeared on a local newspaper website.
Snelson, of Northampton, pleaded guilty to affray and to two unrelated counts of actual bodily harm that took place in January.
He also admitted another unrelated charge of arson and two further counts of assault.
Richard Holloway, defending, said Snelson was a "damaged individual" who been bullied at school, adding: "What this young man suffers from really is fear and panic."
But Judge Richard Bray said: "The problems you have had in life cannot excuse you from attacking other people. My primary concern must be for the protection of the public."

Her choice
I find some similarities here with the woman who sought a ruling from the Courts regarding her husband assisting her suicide. This unfortunate juvenile is choosing suicide - albeit not by that name but her death will come from her own actions. So - what is the legal position of her parents as they stand by her choice? Moot point I know but it is essential the law is uniform or none will know where we are or what is what.LONDON (AP) — A 13-year-old British girl who has undergone nearly a dozen surgeries in her young life has refused a heart transplant operation — a decision that may ultimately lead to her death.
Hannah Jones, who was diagnosed with leukemia and later a heart condition, told her parents and medical authorities that she would rather spend her remaining time at home than in the hospital. Health authorities have ceded to the decision after interviewing the girl.
"I've been in hospital too much — I've had too much trauma," Hannah Jones told Sky News on Tuesday. "I don't want this, and it's my choice not to have it."
Hannah was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 4 years old. Chemotherapy put her into remission but doctors then discovered she had cardiomyopathy, a serious disease where the heart muscle becomes swollen and sometimes fails.
The girl's story surfaced when parents complained about hospital officials who sent a social worker to interview the girl about her choice.
The family received a telephone call saying the hospital would take legal action if they didn't bring Hannah to hospital, said her mother, Kirsty Jones.
"They phoned us on a Friday evening and said that if we didn't take her in they'd come and take her. We still refused to take her," she said.
Hospital officials said it is standard procedure to make sure both the child and their parents understand the consequences of any medical decision.
"Clearly, the welfare of the child is paramount," said Sally Stucke, a pediatrician with the Herefordshire Primary Care Trust where Hannah was receiving treatment. "Pediatricians will always consider the child's best interests at all times and this would include the child's medical, emotional and psychological well-being."
"No one can be forced to have a heart transplant," she added.

C- I think
I admit that machinery fascinates me. Being a failed/redirected engineer I suppose. I once spent a heck of a long time sitting watching a machine that knitted socks with a very intricate pattern. Had I been a machine minder in those dark satanic mills, I would have been a happy bunny. So, I approached this story of a Japanese hay binder with anticipation. Would there be karaoke? Maidens with twirling umbrellas? Communal bathing for spectators?
No. None of that. It was quite a disappointment really. Definite overkill on the wrapping material - carbon overtones there. Is there a machine that will unwrap? A difficult shape if one wishes to store them efficienctly, We get by with a wrap process that deals with the job in the harvester so less traffic on wet fields.
A for effort, C- for execution Hakimoto San.

What a clever blogger
More on the Burmese blogger who got the 20 years and 6 months for blogging. Seems he was a bit of a crafty bugger with 'messages'. Well, sems 'messager' are as dangerous there as they can be here. What he did was described yesterday:
Mr Saw Wai’s poem, entitled ‘14th February’, was ostensibly a Valentine’s Day verse published last January in a popular weekly magazine. “You have to be in love truly, madly, deeply and then you can call it real love,” it read. “Millions of people who know how to love, please clap your hands of gilded gold and laugh out loud.”

But the first word of each line spelled out a pithier message about the leader of the country’s military government: “Power Crazy Senior General Than Shwe”. Mr Saw Wai was arrested the next day and charged with harming “public tranquility”.

First word of each line? Sure to confuse the Chinese eh? Not. I have to admit to finding the 6 months bit amusing. That on top of 20 years? Obviously they thought he was a slow learner. Tip - next time put the message words at the end of the line. Learning from mistakes is the aim of prison.

Fighting with big boys

Ian Silvestein's house was destroyed three years when the Buncefield Depot in England blew up. The companies that operated the depot -- Total and Chevron -- won't help him.
Literally, nothing has been done to help him with his situation — or anybody for that matter. The local authorities have failed him, the governments have failed him, insurance has failed him, and the companies that operated the facilities — Total and Chevron — have ducked blame entirely. The massive companies made more than £18 billion in cash last year, but can’t help a few people out when a leak in their tanks caused massive and catastrophic damage to dozens of people’s lives.

Oh - really. Come on now!

Times Online article about a fan-poweerd flying car. The British inventor is going to fly it from London to Timbuktu.

“This thing will launch itself without any pilot input,” says Cardozo. “You just open it up and it goes. The more power you put on, the faster you go until you come off the ground [at 35mph]. The wing will basically lock above you [once airborne] and stay there, without weaving, at speeds of up to 80mph.”

Fully road-legal - the car passed the government’s single vehicle approval test last month - and designed to run on bioethanol, Cardozo’s Skycar is powered by a modified 140bhp Yamaha R1 superbike engine with a lightweight automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) gear-box from a snowmobile. It boasts Ferrari-beating acceleration on land, an air speed of up to 80mph and can swap between road and flight modes in minutes.

Big deal - will it get a parking space at Tescos'?

Unfriendly fire

An Iraqi soldier has shot dead at least two US soldiers and wounded six others in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The incident happened at an Iraqi military base in the Zanjili district of the city, the US military said, not on a joint patrol as earlier reported.
The Iraqi trooper turned his gun on patrol members, the US military said, before being shot dead himself.
Just because the soldiers patrol together does not mean they have a lot in common; I have seen joint police patrols descend into fisticuffs. A harsh admonishment over military skills or a racist remarks will fester away before anything comes of it. My sympathy is with the family of the dead American - bad enough to be killed but it must be all the worse when it came at the hands of an ostensible ally.
Reports suggested the man had been involved in an altercation with a US soldier before opening fire. The US military said it was still investigating the incident.

Police are searching for 300 year old pedophile

Ministers suspended Jersey's chief of police, Graham Power, after a new inquiry team said no-one had been murdered at Haut de la Garenne. Mr Power denied any wrongdoing after detectives said information previously released by police had been inaccurate.But home affairs minister Andrew Lewis said some aspects of the inquiry had "not been conducted properly".

Mr Lewis said: "It is evident that we didn't receive all the information about the historic abuse inquiry that we should have received." He added that the matter had raised questions about the chief's role.Mr Power has said: "I strenuously deny any wrongdoing and will rigorously contest any allegations in respect of my role." Earlier on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Officer, David Warcup, had said there was no evidence that any children had been murdered or bodies destroyed at the former home. He expressed "much regret" at "misleading" information released by his predecessor, Lenny Harper.

But Mr Harper later said Mr Warcup's statement was a "blatant misrepresentation" of his statements.

At a press conference, Detective Superintendent Michael Gradwell had discredited a number of Mr Harper's claims.

• After being examined by British Museum experts, a fragment thought to have been from a skull turned out to be a piece of Victorian coconut shell.

• "Shackles" found in rubble were simply "a rusty piece of metal", with no evidence to suggest it had been used for anything suspicious.

• There was no blood in the cellar, and a bath said to have had blood in had not been used since 1920.

• The "secret underground chambers" were just holes in the floor, "not dungeons or cellars".

• Most of the 170 pieces of bone found in the search came from animals. Three were human and two of these dated from between 1470-1670 and 1650-1950 respectively.

Mr Warcup added: "It's very unfortunate and I very much regret that information was put into the public domain by the States of Jersey police about certain finds at Haut de la Garenne, which was not strictly accurate."

Lenny Harper reacts to the latest developments in the inquiry

Mr Harper told BBC News: "My first reaction is of great disappointment at the blatant misrepresentation of things that I am supposed to have said, by David Warcup.

"He says that we were claiming there was a murder... I always said all along that we had no evidence of homicide."

He said that police had merely revealed they had been treating the home as a "homicide scene" and that officers had never labelled the cellars "torture chambers".

"The victims were telling us that they were lowered down into these rooms, which we made clear in our media statements used to be the ground floor of that building," he said.

He added that Mr Warcup's comments came at "an opportune time" for the Jersey government, as a report into the island's care system by the Howard League for Penal Reform was due to be released on Friday.

Senator Stuart Syvret, a former minister for health and social services, also criticised the press conference

Alternative uses for those channels

We here in the orders were amongst the first to have our TV switched to digital. It deserves to be hassle free as the powers that be have devoted a lot of effort to explain, educate and assist. We had a big road show in the square, individually addressed letters, news items in the local papers and a Sky sales van here all this week. I've not heard of any drama.

What I have not discovered is what will happen - if anything - to the now redundant analogue channels? Surely they will not be just left unused? I suppose some will be gathered up by commercial organisations wanting to put out a TV service as a alternative to a web site. Others for new technology - WiFi sort of thing.

Anything that increases the spread of information into local communities would be good. Here in Berwickshire we are well served with a choice of local newspapers. The Borders television channel tends to concentrate on the SW Borders and central with not a lot about us peasants in the SE. Until very recently, we had a small shop unit here in the village served by the local newspaper. This was a good focus for local news; the reporter was well known and I'm sure he got many leads through the shop.

The stratification of coverage does have some drawbacks. As an example, someone started the case for reinstatement of a long-closed railway service. It took off. Routes surveyed, costings obtained, funding investigated, time scales. All the steps needed. Only one thing overlooked. It would do absolutely nothing for anyone in the Eastern side of the Borders area. There is even doubt as to how potential users in the West would get from where they lived to where the train stopped. Housing prices and availability here meant that most of the likely travellers had purchased homes that suited their commute. Now, there has been a serious escalation of foreseen costs and the drive is on to find additional and increased sources of finance. Still no one has gone back to the basics and queried the business case for the railway. I am sure that had the proposal been wider covered throughout the region, it would have died in childbirth.

I can understand the problem with finding a Scottish Murdoch to set up a wide network of inter-linking local papers. I used to work for a Saudi publishing company - only in an admin role but saw what sort of investment a new paper requires. However, if that same mega-mogul were to buy up one of the analogue TV channels it would be a simple matter to get the news out by that medium. Lend me a few million and I'd do it!

UPDATE RE THE TV - I am not such an original thinker as I wish.
Street warfare in Warrington.
We read reports of violence on our streets which suggest that the late evening onwards is really a reconstruction of some Viking raid. I came across a court report from Warrington where a soldier had been sentenced to imprisonment for a serious assault. Viewing the cctv footage I was struck by the normality of it all. Indeed, until the final kick to the head one might think it was the usual handbags-type dispute that does no significant harm. What happened will cause the soldier to be dismissed and he will start his job search in the civilian world with a criminal record. He had a channel for his temper; he chose the wrong solution in Warrington.
God and free travellers
Just one of the 'Probably no God' on London buses debates has sparked off much discussion of that text between believers and the non-believers. It is interesting to note that the attitude of those who profess the existence of a Being follows common lines regardless of whatever blog or forum one may read. Almost the same as Communism in the days of Harry Politt when one was so very aware that the responses to criticism were uniform and smacked of having been learned parrot fashion. Just Google the probably no etc phrase.
Woof meat
I came across a debate as to the likelihood of a Chinese take-away secretly serving up dog meat without making this clear in the menu. Seems quite likely if one is to believe some of the comments but what got me was this response from an Englishman. So much for us being straight-laced and non-adventurous. I blame it on Ray Mears and the Bush Tucker generation. Despite my far-flung travels, I have not knowingly eaten dog. Dog meat (Chappie) – yes but Labrador? No. Nearest I came was in Korea when I was appointed bodyguard to my bosses puppy when he went on leave and feared his house-girl would scoff it. She clearly has ideas that way as she suggested she cook me a ‘special’ meal. Anyway – here is a small treatise on dog as diet:
Dog meat, I'm afraid to say, tastes like whatever the proprietor wants it to taste like.

Let me explain...
I lived in China for 3 years and took great pride in eating every reptile, invertebrate, mammal and insect not available in the West.

Dog was a special interest of mine. I even blogged about it entitled "The Dog Blog", but took it down after the company I was working for found out about it and thought the negative publicity brought about by dog owners inadvertently clicking on it would bring about negative publicity, plus I thought I'd write a book about it called "For the love of good dog, a man's stomach's best friend", funnily enough it never took off.

Anyway, to cut a long story, different regions have different tastes and the dog is prepared accordingly, eg Sichuan province has very spicy food and it is almost impossible to differentiate between dog, beef and pork (I know I've tried), Shanghai has very sickly sweet food and the meat is sweet and sour thin strips, again indistinguishable from almost anything else. Then throw in the MSG factor...

I even wanted to go to a dog farm to have it 'fresh from the knackers yard', but was told I was being "Culturally insensitive" by my sp*nk guzzling line manager and was given a formal warning for my canine, culinary behaviour.

All in all, if you’re looking for the definitive 'taste' of dog, eat your own.

Fight Fight Fight
I find it funny that the holy-men punch up was started by a quite mundane dispute. When I saw the TV footage without the sound, I thought it was Dawkins supporters versus Archy Canterbury.
There is a first class left hook about 47 seconds in, where the dark-haired Orthodox monk needs four or five policemen to restrain him; and an amazing expression of theological superiority from the Armenian acolyte who has just clouted an Orthodox monk at 1:04 and then dances back on the balls of his feet (In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, do you think you're hard enough?). But when another Armenian comes flying down onto the heads and shoulders of the crowd ten seconds further into the clip, you have to wonder whether they have quite understood the Queensbury Rules.

Aged crumpet
I see that Joan Bakewell (long described as The Thinking Man’s Crumpet) has been appointed as a champion for the aged. Will we now see her described as The Old Man’s Crumpet? Her intelligence shone out when she was a Beeb person so perhaps she can get some sense into the wooden heads and stone hearts of the government.
She will highlight age-related problems and the discrimination, and about time too. Someone over 70 with brains, beauty and sophistication might demonstrate, at last, that we aren't all wizened potatoes in cardigans. We function. We want and need to work, and Bakewell thinks we should be able to. She also wants to make everyday life easier, with more public lavatories, lifts, post offices, libraries, keepers in parks, benches and packaging that weedy fingers can open.

No peace for the wicked
One of my mother’s favourite condemnations came to mind when I read a critique of Archy Canterbury’s biography.
A new biography of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams reveals the guilt he continues to feel over the suicide of a woman who fell in love with him while they were students at Oxford University in the 1970s. The death of Hilary Watson is said to have been the defining moment in Williams's life, not least because the coroner at her funeral asked a number of critical questions about his relationship with her, especially why he had set himself up as a source of "spiritual counsel" without any formal training. "The coroner asked him if he had any idea whether Lori's suicide could have been anticipated. Rowan answered sharply with a counter-question: 'Do you think I'd have left her on her own if I'd suspected what might happen?'
I appreciate how he feels guilt. But, if he cannot reconcile what happened as being God’s will, what hope do the rest of us have in understand how God moves in mysterious and wonderful ways?

Dissident blogger given 20 years
A young Burmese blogger who fed the outside world news from a locked-down country on the September 2007 uprising was sentenced to 20 years and six months imprisonment today.
Blimey – that was a strong Comment eh?

Did not like the music I suppose?

Report from goings on in America. I know the feeling well when it seems that only firm action will suffice. My problem though would be getting the stream over the gallery rail!
A drunken Jersey City councilman was arrested for urinating on a crowd of concertgoers from the balcony of a Washington nightclub, police and club sources said Saturday.
Councilman Steven Lipski was caught relieving himself onto several revellers at the 9:30 Club during a concert by a Grateful Dead tribute band Friday night, club sources said.
"He was very drunk," the source said, noting that it wasn't the first time Lipski had caused a ruckus at the popular concert venue.
"We've dealt with this man before," the source added. "He's never peed on anybody, but he gets really belligerent when drunk."
Lipski, 44, was hauled out of the club about 9:50 p.m. after staffers spotted him in the act on the concert hall's second-floor balcony and called the cops.

Always something going on

In court today

Leeds Crown Court
Karen Matthews, 32, the mother of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews, who went missing for 24 days this year, and Michael Donovan, 40, are due for trial charged with the girl’s kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice
Carlisle Crown Court
Cathy McNeil, the secret mistress of Robert Wilson, 40, the farmer accused of running over his wife, Jane, in a tractor to get her life insurance, is expected to give evidence at his trial
Old Bailey
Anthony Costa, 18, of Walthamstow, London, is on trial charged with the murder of Steven Bigby, 22, of Hackney, East London, outside a McDonald’s restaurant near Oxford Circus Tube station on May 12. Mr Bigby, who was stabbed after an argument, was one of ten men charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl in January
High Court
The hearing continues as a parents’ group challenges the decisions of Camden Council, north London, and Education Secretary Ed Balls to allow University College London to sponsor a new city academy.
The JD Wetherspoon pub chain continues its claim that it was defrauded by a firm it employed to find properties suitable for conversion into pubs.
What a wicked world we live in!

Fred has released more fine words
and witty experiences

I like this writer and he has been commended when here previously

More data loss

In the latest in a series of apparent personal data blunders, the government has been forced to admit that an Isle of Wight resident found a book containing the names and telephone numbers of hundreds of thousands of people ‘literally left on his doorstep’.
‘As soon as I found the book I knew something was wrong,’ said Michael Sexton who found the incriminating volume. ‘I started flicking through it looking for myself and my family, and it was all there. I just can’t see how something like this could have been allowed to happen. How could they know my number, my address, my postcode and everything? It’s frightening.’

We never closed

The proud boast of the Windmill Theatre where acres of naked flesh were displayed to keep servicemen happy. I think it was that attitude that meant we now speak English and not some more harsh language with words like goods trains. We just never gave up. I remember seeing streets where shops were all boarded up. Almost every one had 'Open for Business' scrawled on the boarding. It may not have been the normal service but things carried on. Indeed. one of the poster campaigns was just that - "Keep calm and carry on"

Wonder how much milk was delivered in Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Blair's security officer fires his weapon

Damn. So near and yet so unlucky. When I read this, I was all ready to write a poetic justice piece.
Nearest he will ever get to action. Not like the poor perishers sent to foreign lands because of his double dealing and lies without integrity.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Whilst waiting for my ID card, I saw this


MOST British people are looking forward to having a policeman stand on their windpipe, the home secretary said yesterday.

More than 80% 'want it to be like Abu Ghraib'
Jacqui Smith insisted there was widespread public support for state-sponsored beatings and being asked to hand over your papers.

She said: "People have been coming up to me in the street and demanding I set about them with a baseball bat. 

"One man even handed me a bamboo cane before getting down on his hands and knees and suggesting I start with his buttocks.

"And you would not believe the number of people who have already applied to be stripped naked and thrown in a police cell with a single, bare light bulb that is on 24 hours a day while being pummeled with a high pressure hose whenever they try to go to sleep.

"I ask them 'would you not want to know what you'd been charged with?' and they say 'no, of course not, that would be a victory for Al Qaeda'."

She added: "As I've always said, the vast majority of sensible people in this country understand that being at the business end of a brutal and unprovoked assault will actually make them safer.

"In fact, just last week I got a letter from an old lady who asked me to chase her onto the bus and then shoot her in the face. 

"I thought I was going to cry."

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Serious news!

A woman from Stroud has caught Man Flu, prompting fears that women may have become susceptible to a new strain of the disease for the first time. Thirty-five-year-old Andrea Jennings complained of a sore throat and feeling ‘a bit bunged up’ and then instead of just struggling on regardless announced she was going to take the day off work and endlessly complain about how ill she was to her partner. It was at this point that government scientists confirmed Andrea was suffering from Man Flu.

‘I’ve had colds before and in many ways this very feels similar,’ said Andrea. ‘But since I realised it was Man Flu I’ve struggled to do anything more strenuous than lying the sofa watching Match of the Day DVDs and reruns of Top Gear on Dave.’