Saturday, 28 August 2010

Total recall

I think the phrase is 'Back in the day' but when in my final years as a student aged about 17,I was a bit of a stud. I was quite often mentioned in assembly as having gained some scholarship or other or winning something that involved throwing heavy weights about. I was not afraid of showering and had access to money from parents who preferred to see me elsewhere than at home. I was a close friend of the son of the local villain who seemed to view me as a good influence and saw I was 'looked after' in local pubs and restaurants. All of this stood me in good stead with the opposite sex.

At that time, a kiss at the end of the first date was considered extremely forward. Girls protected their good name even ahead of their virginity. We courted - sure but it was all ships that pass in the night stuff. However, I set a personal target of three strikes and you are out. I moved around like a butterfly.

I found that best results came from being very nice. None of the hard man posing that came later in those years. If all else had failed, I booked seats to see Carousel that was enjoying a long run in London. The show, with a meal before or after, seemed to have a magical effect on the female psyche. If it did not result in a lowering of the defences, I fluttered off. But that did not happen all that often.

The Proms has just had a Rogers and Hammerstein night and Carousel figured large. I knew the words to every song and could even picture what had been happening on stage when it was sung. I think the show ran just under two years and I must have seen it ten or so times. I knew what it was doing to my companions but never imagined it was burying itself deep into my brain.

All very interesting - to me anyway. Of course, what would be really interesting would be to know how many 75+ year old women recall it the way I did. Just a taste
Of course, the real knee-parter was You Will Never Walk Alone but the football hooligans have spoiled that.

Thanks for the laugh

We are currently afflicted by politicians who are all too damn serious for my liking. The power they are capable of deploying is immense and it worries me that they may never see the funny side of anything and thus remove the tensions.

Will we see this sort of thing again?

"I know how hard it is to put food on your family."

"The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur."

"I own a timber company? That's news to me. Need some wood?"

"Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." (Parting words to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his final G-Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as the two leaders looked on in shock?)

"Thank you, your Holiness. Awesome speech." (To Pope Benedict.)

"It seems like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth."

"I was proud the other day when Republicans and Democrats stood with me in the Rose Garden to announce your support for a clear statement of purpose: you disarm, or we will. Speaking about Saddam Hussein, 2002.

"I was looking for a book to read. Laura said you ought to try Camus. I also read three Shakespeares.

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein.

"I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."

Of course, Dubya had no monopoly on this sort of thing.

"I was under medication when I made the decision to burn the tapes."
-Richard (Dicky) Nixon

We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
-Lee Iacocca

We understand the importance of having bondage between parents and their children. Dan Quayle

Helpful Warnings: "CAUTION: Knife is very sharp. Keep out of children"

"The people in the Navy look on motherhood as being compatible with being a woman."
-Rear Admiral James R. Hogg

"If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." -Brooke Shields

"A day without sunshine is like, you know, night."

"We apologize for the error in last week's paper in which we stated that Mr. Arnold Dogbody was a defective in the police force. We meant, of course, that Mr. Dogbody is a detective in the police farce."
-Correction notice in the Ely Standard, a British newspaper

"The private enterprise system indicates that some people have higher incomes than others."
-Gerry Brown

"I was provided with additional input that was radically different from the truth. I assisted in furthering that version."
-Colonel Oliver North, from his Iran-Contra testimony

"We are sorry to announce that Mr. Albert Brown has been quite unwell, owing to his recent death, and is taking a short holiday to recover."
-Parish Magazine

"We are not without accomplishment. We have managed to distribute poverty equally."
-Nguyen Co Thatch, Vietnamese foreign minister

"Fiction writing is great, you can make up almost anything."
-Ivana Trump, on finishing her first novel

"I've read about foreign policy and studied, I now know the number of continents."
-George Wallace, 1968 presidential campaign

"We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people."
-Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC instructor

The world is more like it is now then it ever has before.
Dwight Eisenhower

Eight more days and I can start telling the truth again.
-- Sen. Chris Dodd (D, Conn.), on the Don Imus show, on campaigning

If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very low crime rate.
-- Marion Barry, mayor of Washington, D.C.

Survivors of the San Francisco earthquake said, "Thank God, I'm still alive." But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.
-- Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D, Calif.)

Joey Bishop (talk-show host): Would you like to become a regular on the show? Barry Goldwater: No, thank you. I'd much rather watch you in bed with my wife.

You know, if I were a single man, I might ask that mummy out. That's a good-looking mummy!
-- President Bill Clinton, looking at the recently-discovered Inca mummy "Juanita"

You read what Disraeli had to say. I don't remember what he said. He said something. He's no longer with us.
-- Bob Dole

I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them. -- President George Bush

You can't just let nature run wild.
-- Wally Hickel, former governor of Alaska
(Alaska - maybe it is something in the water?)

I cannot tell you how grateful I am -- I am filled with humidity.
-- Gib Lewis, speaker of the Texas House

I'm Dan Quayle. Who are you?(extending his hand during a campaign stop):
Woman: I'm your Secret Service agent.

"It isn't pollution that is hurting the environment,it's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
-Dan Quayle

"If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure."
-Dan Quayle

"We are not ready for an unforseen event that may or may not occur."
-Dan Quayle

"Hawaii is a unique state. It is a small state. It is a state that is by itself. It is a --it is different from the other 49 states. Well,all states are different, but it's got a particularly unique situation."
-Dan Quayle

"It is wonderful to be here today in the great state of Chicago" - Dan Quayle

It's time for the human race to enter the solar system!
-- Dan Quayle, on the concept of a manned mission to Mars

"I love California, I practically grew up in Phoenix."
-Dan Quayle

"What a waste it is to lose one's mind.
Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."
-Dan Quayle

-Dan Quayle

Yes - cheap lineage for me but it might cause someone to smile and maybe even feel a little superior!

Deja Vue

In the '50s, we used to sit around the record player and fall about at this guy. I am sure I would have dismissed this then but it is having the last laugh now

Just recalling - back then we had a number of entertainers who needed only a piano. Paddy Roberts, Flanders & Swann. All gone. All we are left with are rejects from the tumbling clown department at the circus.
Feeling generous - here is Paddy
Whilst this lament is valid all the years later

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Not suitable for the human race?

This is a gruesome video as are the photographs which follow. However, there can be few of us who have seen real mob violence and need to see this before I go into rant mode
That is what happened to two young people attacked by a mob who thought they were thieves. When the first video was made available, large numbers congregated to protest. And these are scenes from that protestation.andCan anyone distinguish any difference between the people in the video and those at the protest?

Yes - we here in Britain can match that sort of intensity. I was often sardonically amused at my presence on a street in UK where I was trying to keep Protestant Christians away from Roman Catholic Christians. If they got amongst each other, there would have been deaths. The Protestant Shankill had it's butchers just as the Catholic Ardoyne had its assassins.

Politicians meet and exchange pleasantries and promises as to the future. But, just how can we rely on any of these when our understandings rely upon a Nation that includes people such as we see here? Anyone who falls foul of them risks being torn limb from limb. Those who offend us are merely sent out into world free to make vast sums in finagling, public speeches and the writing of their autobiographies.

As and when we decide we can leave Afghanistan, much will rely upon Pakistan. We have heard the nice voices and read the undertakings but can we rely upon these from a populace so steeped in the past as the video and photographs illustrate?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A Force for - good or evil?

Yesterday we saw a disturbing video of a middle-aged woman petting a cat and then throwing it—alive—into a trash bin. She is now under police protection. What happened between those two events? They were subjected to the force of the internet combining.

Often dismissed as little more than a gang of anonymous bullies, there is some truth to the notion that the site is simultaneously the best and worst of the internet, and that when they put their collective minds together, there is no stopping them. Sometimes they goof up, other times they emerge as victorious white knights on a quest from Ceiling Cat. Almost immediately after the video started making the internet rounds yesterday, the 4chan legion set out to find this woman and destroy her life.

I don't know exactly how long it took, but within a few hours she was identified as Mary Bale, 50, of Coventry (England). But there's more: they also found out where she worked. They posted the phone number and name of her boss. They found out where she lived, and posted a Google map of that address. They found her Facebook profile.

And because of what some suggested should be done with this info, the local police stepped in and helped her hide. Probably not a bad idea.

Just wondering what we might do with this sort of power - what about setting them the task of finding Osama Bin Laden. Nil result after 48 hours to be confirmation that the bstard is really dead. What I foresee is that a group somewhere, sometime and somehow will make their case that the ability to band together is evil and pronounce "it must be stopped". I do see a need for some form of control. Not on the tired example of free speech being associated with shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre but on the basis of responsibility. Considerable harm can come from some release of genuine information and it is the decision to release such detail that needs thought. There can be no safe assessment as to what might spark off vigilante action but we need ways to make information providers think deeper than they may do currently. Maybe there is scope for proceeding with damaging or dangerous disclosures by making provision that the author be liable to unlimited damages - hit their pockets if they overstated or dramatised their case. In the case of the cat in the bin, the better action might have been to pass the information to RSPCA or PETA for their consideration and action. We seem to have got there "Today the RSPCA confirmed they had identified the woman and would be questioning her. A spokeswoman said: "A woman featured in cctv footage putting a cat in a bin in Brays Road, Coventry has now been identified.

The RSPCA is leading an investigation into the incident and will be interviewing the woman shortly. Coventry Police are supporting this investigation and urge the public to leave the matter to be dealt with correctly by the authorities"

Compare that with just letting the information escape by posting it on Facebook - possibly the world's greatest collection of nutters outside confinement in special homes.

Wheels within wheels

Always a touch cynical where political matters are concerned, I just wonder if the Cameron calving of yesterday was in any way connected with the last General Election.

Were the Cornish being rewarded for their change in affiliations and groomed as to the future by having such a cuddlesome event in their back-yard?

Click on image to enlarge

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Land of the Free

Not a lot of inventiveness in the slogans!

At an all-white anti-mosque rally this week, a New York City resident passing by who happened to be black, and not a Muslim, wore the wrong hat — and was harassed and quite nearly assaulted by an assortment of "dumb motherf***ers." This is America, folks. In America you have the right to be a dumbmotherf***er. And I support that, no matter how dumb you are or you strive to be.

Seems there are still a load of Village People stereotypes on the streets of New York.

Monday, 23 August 2010

A dog's life

Some dogs are very intelligent. Some not so. For the Lord's sake do not tell him he has his paw on a Mouse!


Our shilly-shally will we or won't we coalition government is at it again. I grew up in a world where the mantra 'Order. Reorder. Disorder' was drummed into those of us being trained to give out orders. Dave's drug board has come up with a fresh idea.

Drug addict benefit withdrawal considered. Some say withdrawing benefits from drug users would lead them into crime. People dependent on drugs and alcohol who refuse treatment could have their welfare benefits withdrawn under plans being considered by the Home Office. The idea is in a consultation paper on the government's drug strategy for England, Wales and Scotland.

Some experts have suggested that withdrawing benefits could lead addicts into crime and prostitution. The Labour government intended to carry out pilot schemes this year to get drug users into work. Under the plans, addicts who failed to attend a treatment awareness programme would lose welfare benefits. If people are addicted to substances then they will go to any length to get hold of them... benefit isn't enough to sustain a habit anyway" said a user.

However, in May the Social Security Advisory Committee - an independent statutory body - said withdrawing benefits from drug users would lead them into crime and prostitution. The coalition government scrapped the pilot programme - but the Home Office has now revived the idea."

Sooner or later when I gave presentations on drug matters, the question would arise as to why 'drugs' such as alcohol and tobacco were tolerated and the government was happy to receive the tax on these goods. As alcohol abuse in the Armed Forces where I was speaking was far more serious than drug abuse I had a lot of sympathy for the question. I ducked answering it by replying that if coffee and tobacco were new discoveries, we would quite likely ban them. So, let me forestall the cost and acceptance query.

"Important findings ... include the fact that (1) total direct social costs associated with alcohol ($7,427.5 million) are more than double those for all illicit drugs combined ($3,565.5 million); (2) direct alcohol-related health care costs ($3,306.2 million) are nearly three times as high as for all illicit drugs, excluding cannabis ($1,061.6 million), and over 45 times higher than the direct health care costs of cannabis ($73 million); and (3) annual direct costs for health care ($4,440.7 million) are 31 times higher, and annual direct costs for enforcement ($5,407.7 million) are 36 times higher than annual costs for prevention and research ($147.6 million)."
Analysis is drawn from the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey," So, if it is money that is the main driver, there could be bigger savings on something with the same moral credentials. The foregoing are direct costs; anyone who is in a A & E department on any night of the weekend will see what the medical costs are for alcohol. The toll on relationships has not been costed nor miscellaneous costs such as police and street cleaning. However, as I wrote recently, there are some wars one has to recognise as incapable of being worth it. Alcohol abuse will continue largely unabated.

There are other factors to the proposal. "Addicts will have to register" Not very likely is it? Drug habits are not like light switches - there is no plain On or Off position. How likely is it that someone who routinely turns to prostitution or robbery will have the moral fibre to declare themselves as an addict when they know the next step? We do not know how many addicts there are currently undetected by police so any measure of compliance is fruitless.

So, we stop their benefits. In this age of yooman rites it is unlikely that a mere "John Wood is an addict" statement will suffice so there will need to be an investigation, prosecution and enforcement agency established. At what cost? We do not have a perfect record on preventing benefit fraud anyway. Surely no one thinks that the income from benefits is sufficient to fund any sort of addiction. The user will just increase whatever they do now to maintain their purchases. If this is prostitution or robbery we will suffer an increase in those and further costs will be generated.

My understanding is that 'benefits' are not solely money. Charges are abated or excused. If society removes the cash benefit, do these go as well? That leads to eviction and deprivation where the user, their family including children, will go short of food. Here again, there could be increased costs by way of additional social services activities and pressure on the NHS.

We are currently unable to control the importation and distribution of drugs. This will not improve just because we seek to register addicts. The aim of any new legislation seems to be to eradicate drug use - a far greater task that the one we are currently failing to win. The dealers will not just accept that they are out of business and will do all in their power to maintain their hold on their clients. This could include reducing their mark-up on sales.

In the back of my mind is a suspicion that this is not solely about stopping drug taking. That pompous arse Duncan Smith was very keen that he be made made Boss of the new plans. There will be many amongst the turnip Tories who see drug taking and it's milieu as "not very nice" and would like it to be stopped on social grounds alone.

There has been talk of economic benefit of drug legalization. "The report estimates that legalizing drugs would save roughly $48.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. $33.1 billion of this savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government. Approximately $13.7 billion of the savings would results from legalization of marijuana, $22.3 billion from legalization of cocaine and heroin, and $12.8 from legalization of other drugs. Those are American figures and ours would be significantly less but not a bad income stream for when times are hard.

A further instance of "wouldn't it be nice if..." occurs in the suggestion that addicts should seek gainful employment if benefits were withdrawn. I cannot imagine too many employers opening their arms wide to recruit someone who is an addict going through whatever it takes to come off drugs. Sure, users would not have to fess up but any worthwhile HR interviewer would get the picture pretty quick and any employment probation period would quite likely have a few days of suspicion making absences or unexplained sickness at work.

Yes - I can see it as something that would seem right to the adherents of what is 'nice' but anyone looking at it as a means to control a serious problem must surely see where things have not been thought through.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Don't keep picking at it

If one has the slightest edge to their life, there will be occasions when one has to resist. Resist something from within yourself as in the urge that says sex with that lady would be a good idea and never mind the big guy buying her drinks right now. Bearing down on the idea that her glances could mean she might welcome your intervention.

Ones responses can push one into conflict but the wise person sooner or later realises that there are some fights one cannot win. Me and Mohd. Ali would never have sold a single ticket - except maybe a few to my enemies. Sure, we all make enemies. These fights need not be physical; could be your boss is trying to find reasons to get rid of you without involving an employment tribunal. Every day he finds something or other to ring your bell. Keep that up long enough and the stress will rise up like acid reflux.

When that happens, you are fighting on both fronts. His mental torments increase the stress. The stress feeds on the body and manifests itself physically. Then one gets into that downwards helter-skelter where the landing is depression. Then one is in the Hall of Distorting Mirrors.

So, maybe one should recognise that there are some battles that cannot be won. If that can be achieved without too much retrospection as to whether it is because one is too weak, or the opponent is overwhelmingly strong then the answer must be to give up the fight. That can be an incredibly difficult response; especially if one has led the sort of life where fighting for one's soul or sanity has been rare. Maybe you have won every other battle that has faced - I do not think there are many such people who combine honesty with self-recollection.

The tactics of giving up are not simple - not just a case of picking up your jacket and walking away. Saving face as in getting an in-lieu payment by undertaking to stay away from Tribunals. Undertakings from an employer that they will be constructive in any references. Maybe even something simple as a handshake and a shrug. I have dealt with circumstances where an end to naked and aggressive confrontational debate has led to calmer negotiations that led to a outcome that would have avoided all the aggro anyway.

The alternative has to be sinking into depression and loss of any positive self-image where one spends time in pointless self-justification. Think of where depression leads - it is not a top ten tourist spot. It seems guaranteed that once bitten - one is forever in thrall. Seemingly normal everyday life runs up against some sort of flashback and one is in the snake-pit again.

I have avoided links. I never found anything written to which I fully relate and the best insight I was ever given was that it cannot be cured: merely alleviated. Drugs were of minimal aid - self-doubt and negative feelings came about every time I opened the container.

It is this seemingly invincible power that has convinced me that there are wars one cannot win and should not be entered into. Now - I still fight and resist. But only so far. Then it is down to the mental equivalent of voodoo dolls and needles.

If you have difficulty sourcing voodoo dolls, drop me a line. I've got drawers full all part used where the pins have killed off my concerns!