Thursday, December 29, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The full article is available here.
One line stood out for me however:
"Ancient Egyptians worshipped dwarf gods, and many dwarfs held positions of authority in households. "
Or, to highlight it further -
"many dwarfs" ?
say it again?
Lets face it, "many" isn't a word normally applied to describe multiple dwarfs.
I think the word they actually were looking for was "seven"
(* "news" is not exactly how I would describe the discovery of something that some people used to think 4,000 years ago. Probably.)
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
yet whenever I try and use the self-service checkouts they seem to be the most fiendishly complex pieces of technology ever invented by mankind ??
How hard can it be to operate a bar-code scanner. Well, now we know. Effing Hard.
Checkout operators??? Pahhh!
More like "I got bored of nuclear physics, and my hand-eye co-ordination is so un-naturally good the Chinese ping-pong team cited me for drug abuse" super-beings. These people aren't paid enough for the work they do, they are the elite of the entire workforce.
Why don't they ever smile? I though it was because they had spent all day engaged in a soul destroying menial repetitive task being paid peanuts, but in fact that dour, blank expression is clearly the outward manifestation of some zen-like form of hyper-concentration.
Please join me in committing never to plonk down a "next customer please" toblerone-style intra-shopping barrier with any lack of respect again.
(as a total aside, I cheekily snipped this picture from the Ireland-wide Supermarket website for "Super-Valu" supermarket. Great name anyway, but doesn't Brian Hurley - the manager in this photo - look like Andy from Little Britain ?)
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
This is the so-called Sophisticated European Drinking Culture, as seen in Paris, Madrid and Milan.
So what's the most popular and fashionable drink in the bars of Milan right now ?
9% ABV Tennents Super - ON DRAUGHT!!!!
As recommended by that well known sophisticated European, the Camden Tramp...
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I found this Tourist guide to useful words and phrases in an english-language tourist paper (promoting local attractions, festivals and markets and the like) in Northern Norway this summer.
Usefully, it avoids the obvious - such as "hello", "my name is", "how much is..?" and jumps straight in there with the far more practical words for "earthworm" and "when two people of the same sex dance together".
I failed to find the opportunity to use any of the phrases and even a concerted browing of the personal ads armed with this knowledge failed to throw up any opportunities to arrange prompt meetings with intimidating undernourished gay insect-loving non-european unenthusiastic sailors with tonsure haircuts who travel around in groups of more than 79.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The theme of the article was that American Doctors were reluctant to diagnose obesity in patients, as they would feel insulted, and either leave (thus costing the doctor $$$) or even worse, sue (more $$$!). Thats funny enough...
Clearly there are more "fat" people out there today (otherwise the article would not be written, however in trying to come up with an explanation (in fact , to come up with an "Its not My Fault! (for eating too much) " explanation) I think the author has somewhat ignored causality:
I woudl argue that an increasingly sedentary lifestyle is a consequence of individuals being fat - not a reason or excuse.
And as for "increased availability of high calorie food" as a legitimate reason - come off it!
Are a whole swathe of society are being ambushed by super-size burgers each night as they answer the door (to take delivery of a Pizza presumably)? Or an epidemic of cheap chinese refrigerators with failing lights are meaning people are accidentally mistaking a full fat 32 ounce Coke (with fried) for a bottle of Evian each and every time they feel thirsty.
Or are food companies simply making more and more high calorie food in order to to feed the insatiable demands of the legions of lardies parading daily across the sidewalks and shopping malls of the USA?? I know which one I believe!
Finally, I can fully accept that some people are genetically predisposed to be "larger". But there are more fat people now than ever before. So unless this is a random mutation caused by previously undetected space rediation, how can this be a reason for the wave of obesity?
Unless it is FAT LOVE becoming more acceptable? More lardies are makin' bacon together, and breeding whole litters of rotund pie-munching piglets?
And if its becoming more acceptable, where is the stigma attached to that - surely this means the stigma of obesity is in decline, not growing?
So, Doctors of America - feel liberated! Tell those pork-barrel patients to rejoice, get as many as you can on your books - and start a dating service in your waiting room !
Society won't wait any more !!
naaah. Freakonomics, thats what this is - not sociology!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
1, This sign had to be put up after some people DID turn up expecting to see this stuff
2, This sign was put up BEFORE anyone asked to see it, just to cover the museaum in case of potential legal action they might have faced from disgruntled idiots
Thursday, November 10, 2005
As it gets cheaper - like all technology - you will eventually (soon) be able to buy a back-garden satellite launching kit built in Korea.
And this combination of shed-based engineering excellence, and spying on your neighbour has a readily identifiable demographic target group who will find it most appealling...
The inevitable outcome is that Bose will start making and selling satellites tailored for the needs and wishes of the Daily-Mail reading non-ironic-tank-top wearing chattering classes of Middle England.
Adverts will appear in Sunday Supplements alongside unmissable offeres for collections of wedgewood plates featuring hand-painted illustrations of "Moustaches of The Leading Spitfire Aces of WW2" and "Elvis's Pet Poodles of the 60's and 70's".
Disputes over leylandii hedges will soon be resolved by laser strikes from orbit blasting the trees out of the ground if they so much as lean slightly in the breeze and cast a shadow over their gps-decided suburban plot boundaries.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
However this is a rather crowded space. You already have The International Federation of The Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies - and (in a Monty-Pythonesque situation) The International Committee of the Red Cross ("What did they ever do for us??").
There is Oxfam. International Save the Children Fund is out there doing good around the globe. The UNHCR (with their Swiss-based website - clearly a tax dodge) are muscling in on the action as well. UNICEF, The WHO, International Rescue Committee - they all dabble in this "helping people in need" business... And the list goes on, and on and on....
So - if disaster befalls you, a plethora of agencies are out there working to bring you help and relief. Your home has been washed away, all your meagre possessions are lost, but you know the big wide world is caring for you and trying its best to help you.
Finally, the helicopter arrives, and a safari-suited angel of mercy descends to pluck you out of your bottomless well of despair, smiles benignly at you and says "alllo allo!". And you realize then that your luck is still on the wane....
If its The UNHCR, The Red Cross, any of the others - "Hi - I bring Help" actually means "I have the resources of a charity fundraising effort where we have money donated from every single country in the world - the entire global population has contributed to what we are bringing to you today"
But, get rescued by Medicine Sans Frontiers and its not quite the same. "Bonjour - voila - the population of France, 15% of Belgium, 26% of Switzerland - oh, and three other micro-sized islands in the South Pacific France used to own (before we blew them to sh-t in a series of illegal nuclear tests in the 1960's) could manage to scrape together for vous."
And - this bottomless well of generous donations - what will it have bought you?
If its money channeled through Oxfam - every $1 given = enough grain to feed a family for a week. If its the UNHCR, you not only get the grain, you also get a share in some "don't-say-looted" Nazi war treasures held on your behalf by a highly tax-efficient trust fund who's head office features excellent uninterrupted views over Lake Neuchatel and the Matterhorn.
But, if its Medicine Sans Frontiers - every $1 given gets turned into 0.86 Euros, losing 3% exchange rate in the process ("we cannot use that American currency, oh non!"), a further 28 cents goes to subsidize some fat farmer sat supping his latest vintage in the worlds most unproductive - because its still using historic artisonal production methods - vineyard in the Loire Valley, 15 cents gets spent on a damn big monument in central Paris to thank the founder of MSF, and 43 cents makes it to actually buying enough grain to feed a family of one for one day - because "vous wouldn't want nous to be serving any of this cheap non-authentic mass produced bread would you now..?"
So, its not the being saved - its who saves you that counts!
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The biggest seller recently has been the pictures of Peter Andre and Jordans wedding.
So, why have we not seen - in some terrible typographical fraud - people accidentally buying their copy of "Hello" thinking they are getting the photos of the amazing ceremony between the antipodean hunk and the large chested page 3 favourite magazine, ony to find they get a double page spread of shots of the wedding of Peter Jordan and "Andre".
What would the photos be like of the decidedly OTT (yet slightly macabre, but in a well planned and well organised way) wedding of Peter Jordan the Associate Professor of Management at Griffith University in Western Australia, and "Andre" AKA Andre the Giant, the famous and late lamented Canadian based WWF wrestler, who sadly died in 1993?
Or maybe the nuptials of Andre 3000, star of pop tunesmiths Outkast (Heee-ee-hey YAH!) - voted the worlds sexiest vegetarian (2004) - and Peter Jordan, the Norfolk-based wild mushroom enthusiast and star of the highly popular 90-minute video 'The Collectors' Guide to Wild Mushrooms' (a comprehensive mushroom foray through the seasons, filmed in the UK). Guess what's on the menu at their reception ?
Maybe there is more money to be made in seeing some of these than in selling pics of the real thing ?
Monday, October 17, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
A supermarket data centre can crunch the numbers and find hitherto unknown links between buying patterns for different, often seemingly unrelated products, and use it to maximize revenue and generate valuable new sales.
So, given these things don't just happen by accident, why have Sainsburys chosen - from all their 20,000+ product lines - to put a special offer for super-soft bog roll onto a carton of milk?
Effective advertising is about either:
- offering to meet an existing customer need in a better way - your average Camden tramp buys Tennants Special Brew because it gets you smashed much quicker than normal larger,
- creating a previously unknown customer need - classic example being the ipod. No-one needed one before they were invented, but now Apple's brilliant marketing has cleverly begat the ipod as a "must-have" desirable gadget
Applying these principles gives us the three following possibilities:
- Sainsburys milk creates unforeseen gastro-intestinal effects that may give you cause to buy hitherto unimaginable quantities of (super soft) toilet roll.
- People who buy milk at Sainsbury's generally don't wipe their ars-s properly, probably because they are too stingey to buy sufficient loo roll, so having a 50p offer may tempt them to enter the (highly profitable for Sainsburys) world of top-drawer anal hygiene.
- People who shop at Sainsburys are in such a hurry in the morning they eat their cornflakes on the bog.
Do they know something we don't ...?
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Now, open any A-Z of London and you will be confronted by a fairly large number of streets. Most of them are quiet, residential roads with little traffic and little pollution - especially on a Sunday morning.
Some of them even go near parks, or other nice open green spaces where it would be nice to run
Run down such a street and you will not risk bumping into shoppers or people having coffee outside innumerable branches of Starbucks.
You will be highly unlikely to run over by cars or lorries.
So why, given the almost infinite number of better possibilities would anyone risk life, limb - and lungs?
Are these people who have so little life they only ever leave their houses to go to the High Road on foot or to Sainsburys by car, so simply haven't spotted all these other streets to run down?
Maybe they are reformed smokers still subconsciously craving a hit of lung-searing pollution?
Maybe they even think they look good whilst jogging - and haven;t realised that they do themselves no favours when inflicting their sweaty red-faced countenance onto the general public ?
So, High Road Joggers - GET A LIFE - AND GET OUT OF MY WAY !!!
Friday, October 07, 2005
But having a parrot on your shoulder means.... having parrot poo down your back on a fairly regular basis.
And having a wooden leg, and resting on a crutch, means you would find it pretty damn difficult to reach behind you to wipe it off...do you go for the hook hand - erm no, or the one holding your crutch - erm no again..
And being a pirate your lifestyle is fairly boat-dependant. Your days are all spent bobbing away upon the "Spanish Main". Which in turn is famous for treasure islands, mermaids, sea monsters - but not at all famous for its extensive selection of 24-hour turnaround dry cleaners.
So, this proves Long John Silver must have been a pretty fearsome character. After all, anyone who can earn the nickname "Long John" whilst playing host to a veritable lifetimes worth of parrot poo on their back, instead of being known as "The Dump-Back of Notre Dame", "Bird-Dirt Silver", or "One-Eyed Guanao" must be pretty damn hard indeed.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
...the Cow is sacred, and cannot be killed, molested or generally disturbed in any way whatsoever.
Now, everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs, live and let live etc etc ...
... but lets also remember here, the cow is not exactly your obvious choice for religious veneration.
Its not even like the Indians had no choice in what animal to choose. India is teeming with bird and animal life. In the "What shall we make sacred today" stakes, they are almost spoilt for choice.
There are Eagles flying majestically almost everywhere you look...
Both Lions and Tigers are native animals...
They even have Elephants! Wise, long lived, generally damn impressive whichever way you look at it Elephants for Petes sakes!
So why the Cow?
Did someone have a religious vision whilst sucking too hard on a McDonalds milkshake?
Did they see a revelation in the way cow-pats were one day spread across a hillside in the shape of Lord Krishna's divine countenance?
Who knows..... ??
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
As 20% of all people in the UK have a degree, this then means that one person in every 250 in the UK population is qualified to manage a sports centre.
However, only 7% of the UK population are members of a gym . Or 17 out of every 250.
Gym staff-member ratios are around 200-1, so there are clearly not enough jobs to go round - by a long way.
Assuming that anyone who was dedicated enough to do Sports Science to degree level will certainly be a member of a gym after they graduate, 1 in 17 people using your gym are also going to be qualified to manage it.
Take away the near-50% of people who join, go for the first 2-3 months and then slack off, and suddenly around 1 in 8 people pedalling away on an exercise bike near you are also qualified gym managers - unable to get one of the handfuls of jobs actually working in the gym itself.
All across the country legions of unemployed Sports Science graduates are sat right now pedalling away, giving the evil eye to the handful of staff fortunate enough to actually get jobs in the gym, and plotting ways to kill, kidnap or generally sabotage the genuine instructors and managers, all the while bitterly muttering under their breath "I could do your job far better..."
2. No, you are wrong. Your driver has probably been picked because he drives MORE safely than the average Russian
3. 30% of all coffee in Moscow is OK. 70% tastes like its been made from ground squirrel droppings and tree bark. The decor, cost or location of the establishment is not a guide.
4. There are three standards of eye contact you will experience in Moscow:
a/ Blatant, slightly aggressive yet also blank faced staring = I am a normal Russian
b/ No eye contact whatsoever = I am a waiter or waitress in a restaurant you are sitting in
c/ Eye contact with an open, warm smile = I am a hooker working your hotel bar for punters
5. Other Russian translations:
"Bored, uninterested, slow and unhelpful" = "Waitress".
"Bored, uninterested, slow, unhelpful and rude = "Waiter"
6. There is no word in Russian for restaurant. The closest word actually translates as "Totally OTT themed eating establishment, ideally with the most obscure theme imaginable, extending throughout the menu, decor and costumes of the staff."
6.a. And you can choose from the sushi menu for your starter. Sushi is a part of every theme.
7. There is no Russian word for "personal space". If you are a small women and its a tall man then it really is very unpleasant which is why most Russian women wear very high heels (see point 11)
8. Don't drink Russian beer. It's all poisoned
9. Cream cakes. They look nice but don't be fooled. They are all made from a slightly denser version of the "not really-cream" that gets sprayed from a can.
10. The petrol smell does go, eventually. It then turns into a nasty, nagging taste at the back of your throat that lasts until about 3 days after you get home.
11. Never check in luggage on the way out. Its no less likely to arrive than anywhere else, but if you have to buy clothes in Russia, you may decide that it is better to go straight home and not cut the deal rather than wear Russian shoes...
12. Fags are cheaper in the airport before duty free
13. Most Russians do not wear deodorant or perfume. They are confident that their own body odour acts as a perfectly reasonable substitute. You may want to plan you trip to avoid periods of warmer weather accordingly
14. Yes, I know there were supposed to be 10 rules. But "President Putin decided last week...."
Friday, September 16, 2005
First, there is the "200 Kronor Note". This is used to pay for everything you might buy in a small local shop or cafe, admission to a museum - or several can be combined to buy rail tickets or items that are marginally too big to fit in your pocket. (Restaurants and larger items require credit cards).
The other denomination is "change from a 200 Kronor note". This consists of a series of basically worthless notes and coins.
I am told if you stay for more than 2 weeks you may save up enough "change from a 200 Kronor note" to exchange it at a bank or post office for " a 200 Kronor Note"
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The 3rd fought in both Gulf wars and is equipped with the latest US hardware, the 50+ tonne Abrahams main battle tank, and the fully armoured, tracked Bradley IFV.
As they got into the lift, one of the guys said to the others
"That traffic out there is so dangerous - I can't believe we've not seen anyone have an accident or get hurt yet?"
QED I believe...
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
The M6 Toll road is a wonder of modern engineering - going round Birmingham has been transformed from a horrendous walking pace slog to a 99mph cruise on a perfect open highway.
The clever commercial people behind this brilliant road have even found a great way to advertise - on the backs of freight lorries - perfectly placed for the target audience (motorway drivers) to see.
Unfortunately these same lorries also use the M6 toll road
So the last time I saw this advert was from behind a huge arctic truck. That was in the slow lane.
On the M6 toll road.
Not so clever now eh?
Branding Danish Bacon with "Linda McCartney" adverts through it like Blackpool rock?
Kidney dialysis machines where the saline has been dyed yellow as part of a sponsorship from Red Bull ?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
President Bush's aircraft circled low over the stricken region on Wednesday as it flew him to Washington, ending his month-long break in Texas a few days earlier than scheduled.
As he passed over towns whose rooftops alone remained visible above flood waters, Mr Bush said:
"It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."
Smart. Some might even say perceptive. Clever guy...
..but it would also be fair to say that being "on the ground" in the worse natural disaster ever to hit the US is probably just a teeny-weeny bit more than "doubly" as bad as flying above it in Airforce One and then going back to your 10,000 acre oil billionaires ranch to resume your holiday...?
Maybe he really isn't able to count beyond 2 ?
(I have tried to avoid mentioning Mr B on this blog, as it seems almost a blog-pulsary thing to do, however this was just too much to pass up.)
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
On a day when we all wanted to be outside doing nothing, they were all outside doing nothing.
No stress, no worries, all the food you can eat.
And no need to worry about pensions or life insurance either.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
LONDON (Reuters) - Internet shoppers in search of the exotic have sparked a booming trade that is threatening the existence of many endangered species, a report on Tuesday said.
"Trade in wildlife is driven by consumer demand, so when the buying stops, the killing will too," said IFAW UK director Phyllis Campbell-McRae. "Buying wildlife online is as damaging as killing it yourself."
Well, I think not. Killing it yourself is actually much better, as at least then you are directly benefiting the (poor, 3rd world) country of origin through your tourist dollars. You also aren't using up the vast volumes of wasteful packaging and bubble-wrap that accompany most ebay'ed items through the post. You are even getting rid of potentially human-life-threatening ammunition without killing anyone (human). All in all its a much more environmentally better deal to shoot endangered species yourself.
The report "Caught in the web - wildlife trade on the Internet" found, in just one week, 146 live primates, 5,527 elephant products, 526 turtle and tortoiseshells, 2,630 reptile products and 239 wild cat products for sale.
Same as the Zoo really - no-one is interested in the gazelles and wild horsey things, it's all about the elephants, monkeys and big cats. Must be depressing being a gazelle. No-one even wants you dead. Maybe zoos could start selling bits of dead animals on ebay as a form of market research into what people really want to see, and then could maange their animal populations accordingly - a bit like the US idea to bet on terrorist attacks as a means of prediction
Apart from the two-year-old giraffe for sale on a U.S. site for $15,000, there was also a seven-year-old gorilla living in London in need of a new home "due to relocation of owner" offered for sale on a British site for 4,500 pounds.
This is just funny already.
Baby chimpanzees were offered at between $60,000 and $65,000 in the United States, ...
Please Insert your own George Bush joke here...
...while in Wales a pair of breeding cotton-head tamarins were going for 1,900 pounds
Please insert your own "makes a change from sheep" joke here..
Seahorse skeletons were among the more exotic items on offer, along with an elephant-foot ashtray, ivory sculptures, Tibetan antelope hair shawls known as shahtoosh, wild cat products, snakeskin jackets and crocodile skin boots.
Looks like Michael Jackson is doing some more redecorating
Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service has said that the meager penalties and generally low priority attached to wildlife crime are scant deterrents to organised crime.
Very astute. Low penalties, no enforcement encourages crime. Nice to know Plod's on the ball with the analysis if not the enforcement.
Friday, August 12, 2005
This also means - as a contrast - anything "really difficult" IS "Rocket Science". Like what the nice peolpe at NASA do. Which makes them offically "Rocket Scientists"
Oh - NASA. Thats the same people who saw the last space shuttle burn up on re-entry 3 years ago isn't it, and then held a major inquiry into the causes?
And found that it was all down to a problem with the heat resistant tiles on the underside of the shuttle falling off?
And isn't that the same problem that happened again this time ?
And when it did, they had no plans, and no equipment on board to repair these same tiles - and they had to send a guy out with a pair of nail clippers to try and do a bit of basic DIY and fix it ?
"Rocket Scientists?" Give me a break....
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Peter had moved to Norway precisely because of its reputation as an open, liberal and tolerant society. He was therefore more than a little disappointed to find that in the road he lived, walking, playing football, driving a car, owning a house - in fact pretty much everything - was against the law.
Monday, August 08, 2005
An article on ex New Labour advisor Peter Hymans from The Guardian Saturday magazine, 27 Feb 2005. Click to see the article at full size.
In my world, having parents who were "a succesful publisher" and "a clinical psychologist" and send you to a fee paying school does not a middle class upbringing make...it makes you as POSH as you like - in fact, probably only a couple of generations of inbreeding away from being a bona-fide member of the Royal family.
Get a grip!!
And here it is:
Global Warming is a conspiracy cooked up by the Norwegians and the Dutch.
Their Motives - Oil & Money
Both need to keep the oil flowing....
Norway - Only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil. Norways GDP is 35% funded by offshore oil. Of the rest of the economy, Fishing is highly important too. (Write this down, it will become important later..)
Holland - Shell, or as it used to be known, Royal Dutch Shell. They are clearly trying to hide something... And there is also a chain of service stations in Ohio called "Holland Oil". And a range of "oil" paints called Old Holland . In fact, many of the Dutch Masters used to paint in Oils. Could it be any clearer ?
How They Will Benefit
Norway - as well as the money from oil, Norway is 324,220 sq km with only 4.5 million people - its lots of space, no people. Most of that land is currently unusable, because its either too damn cold, hidden under a glacier, of half way up a near vertical cliff.
When the seas rise and the glaciers melt, Norway loses hardly any land at all - its all cliffs at the coast! So the whole place suddenly becomes a real estate paradise - stunning landscapes, massive increase in usable land, a temperate paradise as everywhere else turns to desert or drowns - and surprise, surprise, its really expensive already! Imagine what process will be like when millions of people are desperate for safety from the rising waters..?
And remember the Fishing? In a world with less land and more sea, fishing suddenly sounds like a pretty clever thing to be good at, eh? And with lots more sea to hide in, and lots more things for environmentalists to worry about, they can get away with hunting whales as often and as much as they like!
Holland - as well as Shell, Holland is famous for, erm, drugs... And building dykes to keep the sea out. Nearly 50% of Holland already is protected from flooding by dykes ! Given the Dutch all speak about 10 languages perfectly, and are well known as a trading, traveling nation, you'd think that the better solution to "oh no, my house is underwater!" would be to move abroad ? But no, the Dutch have been researching dyke building and preventing floods since the 19th Century - which all of a sudden seems like a fairly saleable skill in tomorrows world...
Can this be co-incidence? Well, consider their neighbours - Belgium. Also in the Low Countries. Also they speak Dutch (well, some of them). Have they felt the need to build dykes and reclaim land like mad? No - they are experts in making waffles and eating chips with Mayonnaise. Arguably more fun, but a lot less likely to stop you from drowing in the 21st century..
Norway - All their houses are made of wood...So they will be able to just float them up the mountains as the waters rise!
Holland - The Dutch are already the worlds tallest people, and they are still growing. And its again not luck - its down to government action in deliberately providing nutritious free school meals and a high standard of healthcare. All so when it starts to get waist deep in water all over the world, your average Dutch guy is laughing all the way to the bank (of the dyke..).
The Dutch and Norwegians are in favor of global warming. They both make lots of money from selling oil, and they have both been planning for generations how best to take advantage of a world with rising sea levels.
Friday, August 05, 2005
The I-94 is familiar to travelers to the USA - it asks some brilliant questions such as "Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage, sabotage or in terrorist activities or genocide, or between 1939 and 45 were you involved in any way in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies?"
Now, given we are over 60 years from the end of WW2, so most of these guys are probably long dead and buried. Also, very many governments, agencies and individuals have devoted a huge amount of effort to chasing down Nazi war criminals. So, all in all the chances of catching out a Evil Nazi mastermind by the trick of slipping a straight question half way down a customs entry form that needs filling in after a 8 hour flight (with a 6 hour time difference) from the Motherland is, lets face it, pretty damn unlikely.
However the space exists on the form, and there are newer, more serious threats and new, nastier, younger, fitter bad guys out there to try and catch.
Take for example, Faryadi Sarwar Zardad, who has recently been tried in the UK for "conspiring to kidnap and torture" whilst back in his homeland of Afghanistan before moving to Britain according to the BBC.
Lord Goldsmith (for the prosecution) told the court Mr Zardad, 41, was a war lord in charge of the Sarobi area outside the Afghan capital Kabul, at a time of much internal fighting.
"He wanted a fearsome reputation of being cruel and merciless at his military checkpoints, so that people passing through would obey them absolutely and give them money and goods"
Apparently his soldiers used "indiscriminate and unwarranted violence". "They would beat, wound and even shoot and kill civilians. They would detain and imprison them and hold them for ransom," and that a "human dog" was kept in a hole and set on passers-by to bite and attack them.
Mr Sarwar - also known as Zardad Khan - had moved to Britain in 1998 and was running a pizza restaurant in south London when he was arrested in July 2003.
Given the way Mr Sarwar slipped unnoticed into this country, and bearing in mind the exchange of intelligence, and close military ties and joint policy on Afghanistan currently being operated by the UK and the USA, maybe visitors to the USA can soon expect to see some of the more useless and obvious sections of the I-95 visa document replaced with:
"Have you ever been or are you now involved in the preparation of doughballs, garlic bread or side salads, or were you between 1997 and 2004 involved , in any way, in the activities of the following organizations - Domino's, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express or KFC?"
Thursday, August 04, 2005
This roadsign is seen all over Norway. Possible meanings are:
Sunday, July 24, 2005
The idea of a "National Costume" is an odd one that appears to be evaporating rapidly in many Asian, Arabic, African and South American countries - and its disappearing faster than you can see in many parts of Eastern Europe also. In Western Europe its long gone - totally disappeared without trace. French National dress? I think not. Swedish Traditional clothing? Naaah. A Belgian Outfitters ? Absolut-a-mundo Non.
Except in Germany and Austria. Where even today not only can you see numerous people swanning around Barvaria and Salzburg wearing traditional "Tracht", but it has apparently even recently "inspired a new fashion style" . In Austria the production of dirndl and lederhosen is a thriving commercial business, with Sportalm, Geiger or Tostmann being favourite brands.
So, everywhere else in the West seems to have ditched it. But in Germany & Austria its not only still alive, but actually worn in everyday life right now, and being regarded as a growing fashion to be followed...
Hmmmm... Makes you think, doesn't it?
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Or to give it it's full title - according to every cabbie, waiter, barman, bellboy, business acquaintance and street urchin in Bangalore:
"The Sheraton Windsor Where Your Mr Tony Blair Stayed For Two Nights Two Years Ago"
Imagine - maybe old Tone had been secretly hoping for maybe a quiet cul-de-sac on a new housing estate somewhere in County Durham , or a tapas bar in Upper Street to bear his moniker sometime in the future - but he's already immortalized in the southern Indian IT & Aerospace metropolis, without even having to do any more than just stay a couple of nights and neck a beer or two by the pool!
However the most impressive performance comes from Bill Clinton. The number of hotels around the globe that proudly bear as part of their name "..and Bill Clinton Stayed Here Back in 1998" is now so many they have their own "Billy-boy" branded loyalty card scheme. Stay 4 consecutive nights and you get free dry cleaning on an item of clothing of your choice.
Dresses seem to be the most popular.
Friday, July 22, 2005
"Could anyone have interfered with them at any time?"
Come on - who's actually listening anymore ? And is asking a obvious, repetitive, predictable questions really going to outwit the average terrorist or master smuggler?
And most stupid of all - "would you like a Window or Aisle seat sir ?"
Lets face it, where you want to sit is actually of no concern to Mr or Mrs "I'm Too Butt Ugly to be Cabin Crew But At Least The People On The Bus Think I Have Got A Glamorous Job"- there are 350 people on the plane, 348 of them got to the airport before you, and you are getting the middle seat, aren't you?
(Unless of course you ask for it...)
So, why not combine these two painful yet utterly pointless experiences and use the opportunity to ask some really useful questions? Questions that could make your flight experience not only safer - but more pleasant and enjoyable too?
"Have you a particularly weak bladder?"
"Have you ever been prone to bouts of excessive fidgeting?"
"Do you generally dribble to the left or to the right when falling asleep in a high backed uncomfortable chair?"
or, worst of all..
"Have you ever laughed loudly and inappropriately at 2nd rate mildly amusing romantic comedy dramas whilst wearing headphones?"
Then the airlines would have some REALLY useful information to allow them to seat people sensibly...
(if you have any of your own questions you'd like to hear asked, please post them as comments)
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Who needs a crane ?
All the docklands-dwelling yuppies live in minimalist Bose-friendly micro-apartments anyway, so no-one is going to be unloading any massive pieces of furniture off a barge anytime soon, even if the damn cranes did actually work ?
But a non working crane is just a big bit of rusting iron - they don't provide much shade compared to, say, a tree - which looks a lot nicer anyway. And I haven't even seen anyone set up a bungee jumping business with a constant stream of Australians leaping from it after one to many Boags - nothing so potentially damaging to the house prices oh no sireee...
So, why clutter up the place with these decaying monoliths to a wasted industrial heritage at all?
The only thing I can think of is that they are there to create atmosphere - to remind people that they are living in a "dockside" development, thats far more exclusive. No, it's definately not just any old Barrat-built identikit ghetto on a re-developed industrial site still seeping chemicals and effluent up from the subsoil to eat away the foundations. Yes, "just look at those cranes - it shows that it's a "docklands" apartment dah-ling, very exclusive..."
Don't know about you, but personally I'd have thought the proximity of the water was enough of a giveaway myself.... but then again, I've never paid over the odds for a 20m2 flat with shared parking for my ragtop in a seagull-crapping target range, and the smell of rotting fish after every stormy day either..
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Clearly the South Korean tourist authority has recently added some pretty switched on people to its current payroll. Imagine the interview:
"..and finally, could you tell us of one specific idea you have in mind that you think would make Korea a more attractive destination for tourists, and why yoo think it will work in practice?"
"Yes. There is an idea I have in mind. And I'm pretty confident it will work. Let me explain ....."
(30 seconds later)
"Thats Brilliant! You've got the job!"
Now they just have to work out how to stop all the North Korean frogmen hogging the deckchairs ....
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
When I saw this I was desparately looking for the hidden cameras.
And how embarassing to be seen even picking the flier out of the display in my hotel reception ??
Apparently it happens all over the US as well*.
Note to Mel Brooks - time to retire. Your work here is done.
(* the musical)
Right now we'd all be muttering darkly into our pints of warm beer, moaning about the cost to the taxpayer, complaining that our journeys to work (for 1 month) 7 years from now would be a total nightmare, wingeing that house prices in our area will drop as "everyone moves into the East End to be near the Olympics" / "everyone moves away from the East End to avoid living in a 7 year-long building site", and all looking forwards to a classic, embarrassing half-hearted over-budget Best of British right royal cock-up.
But, it wasn't Madrid.
Or New York.
It was Paris.
Which means we beat the French!
So everyone in the whole country is deleriously is happy, and the whole thing is bloody brilliant!
Thanks a Billion Mr Chirac !
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Their camouflage is brilliant - they do look just like sticks, and when it comes to hiding in trees, your average stick insect is the SAS award winner for "Mr Camouflage 2005" - however I suspect that it really isn't helping them all that much. Here's why:
The whole camouflage thing - as far as I can see, there are 2 main reasons for camouflage. It allows you to sneak up on stuff and eat it - and it allows you to hide from things that want to eat you.
So, the orchestra plays the creepy music, the tension mounts, and Mr Stick-ey sneaks silently,slowly, totally unnoticeable through his tree - and then (with a crescendo of drums and cymbals) pounces on his prey.... Which, lets face it, is going to be a leaf, isn't it. Not the most difficult thing to creep up on. "The Leaf" generally isn't noted for its hair-trigger reactions, its powerful running style, or its ability to retreat instantly into a protective burrow, drawing down a lid made out of its own droppings and saliva? You don't really need camouflage to catch a leaf - in fact, you don't even need to climb the tree - just sit underneath, wait until Autumn and you will have more than you can possibly imagine, no problem at all.
So - The Stick Insect clearly doesn't need the camouflage for "eating stuff". So, it has to be so it will "not be eaten" - presumably by birds and stuff. And again, at that its pretty good. Your average bird comes along, sees a stick insect, thinks "nope, I'm not hungry enough to eat a stick - lets go find a nice juicy caterpillar instead". So, so far Mr Stick-ey and his SAS-like skills are working just fine.
But what happens in springtime? When Mr Bird comes along, thinks "nope, still prefer eating caterpillars....But heeeey - that stick would look really good fastened to the edge of my nest!".
All of a sudden Mr Stick-ey isn't quite so clever now, is he? Eaten, no, bitten in half, carried up a tree, woven into the foundations of some bird house - yes. Net effect - still dead. Doh!
Translate it back to the SAS - your average mujahadeen warrior is walking down the road, looks at the roadside and thinks "Hmmm - I've not seen any of these SAS soldiers anywhere at all, but hey, isn't that a Habitat 6 place dining suite with fold out table leaves in brushed oak, next to an aluminium double glazing unit for a 8' by 5' bay window? - that'd look great in my mud hut!" Camouflage as household objects and building materials , it's not that effective. is it....
Hand back the SAS "king of camouflage" total Mr Stick-ey - you need to think again...
Friday, July 01, 2005
Must be an odd sensation for the fish, but one that doesn't quite translate into our world. Someone kidnaps you from your home by pulling you out of an upstairs window, then locks you in a small dark cell for about an hour. They then take you back home, let you back in through an upstairs window. The only difference you notice is that the entire house smells of air freshener, but its only when you go downstairs do you realise the kidnappers have also cleaned the carpet and rearranged your furniture - but only those pieces that that stand less than 3 feet tall.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Most people who drop them seem to think they magically disappear - maybe they think the Filter Faeries* will come along each night and sweep them away?
(* they are a bit like the tooth faeries, but they leave yellow nicotine stains on your pillow.)
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Now, I can see the appeal of last seasons gear at knock down prices. But last weeks stale bread? Out of date tins of beans?
No matter how cheap, I still think its No Thanks!
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Anakin: "Thats great news. I really hope you don't die in childbirth though."
Padme: "erm... I suppose so?" (exits)
Chancellor Palpatine enters stage left
Chancellor Palpatine: "Hi Anakin - I was just passing, and I couldn't help overhearing that you were worried about losing Padme in childbirth"
Anakin: "Yes, that was my first thought when I heard she was pregnant"
Chancellor Palpatine: "If you are that worried about it, maybe I can help. I know a way to prevent it happening"
Anakin: "Thats great - what do I need to do?"
Chancellor Palpatine: "Erm, just a couple of things. Renounce the Jedi order that you have spent your whole life devoted to, burn down the Jedi Temple where you grew up, kill all of your friends from the past 30 years - oh, and kill their younglings as well.
And you know that galaxy-spanning war you have been fighting on my behalf for the past 12 years? Well, it actually has been me who is the secret leader of the billion strong enemy forces - you know, the ones who have been trying to kill you?
And you can probably work out from that that my leadership of the Senate in this time has really been one long act of callous, vicious betrayal, of everyone you know, in order that my evil two-faced actions could ruin the lives of untold millions and bring suffering to thousands of planets - including destroying the lives and homes of many of your friends.
Oh, and then, once you've done all this stuff you'd then also need to help me overthrow Galactic Democracy so I can become sole all powerful Emperor of the Universe! And I'd even let you be my No2 (and you can trust me on that one, honest).
Anakin: "I could NEVER agree to that you evil monster!"
Chancellor Palpatine: "I could also get you a red Light Sabre if you wanted"
Anakin: "Cool! Thats all OK then. Where do I sign?"
Cut to set from Mount Doom in Lord of The Rings- Return of the King. But with a spaceship added.
Obi-Wan: "Anakin - you have killed the younglings in the Jedi Temple. As one of the leading act-ors of my generation, I am so appalled at being forced to utter dialogue including such shite made up words as younglings I will now cut off your legs and one of your arms in revenge!"
Anakin: "Oh bugger."
Emperor Palpatine: "Don't worry - I can get that all fixed. And whilst we are at it, I've got this great hat in mind that I just know will really really suit you"
Cut to hospital:
Yoda: "Twins, Padme has had. But dead now is she"
Previously Pointless Male Character: "I'll take the girl, and bring her up as a princess. My wife has a hairdressing salon on Sploogle Prime where we can all live together"
Obi-Wan: "Aaah - I wondered why you were here. Isn't Sploogle Prime the planet with the hallucinogenic atmosphere? Anyway, you take the girl, I'll take the boy and leave him down a hole in the desert. And Yoda - probably best you go hide in a jungle for a while. And take this Linguaphone course with you. Please"
Yoda: "Yes - sentence structure proper, learn will I. Shops in jungle selling batteries for tape recorder, hope to find do I"
Friday, June 24, 2005
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Monday, June 20, 2005
But - with all this filming going on - the art of actually LOOKING at pictures seems to have entirely disappeared. When is the last time anyone said "have a look at my holiday snaps?". Truth is, unless you carry round a PC, 18" monitor and 6 speakers for full 5.1 Dolby surround sound, you NEVER even see anyone else's pictures nowadays - in fact,. You never even look at your own!
So - there is a world of multimedia recording every single act any of us ever makes - but its never ever seen.
Well - almost. This is talking about the GOOD pictures. The ones where you look cool. Where you got the sunlight just catching the wavetops. The ones where it could be turned into a A3 poster, sold in a million shops, appearing on a million student bedroom walls and faking your "Robert Doisneau - Le Baiser" - (French for "lucky bastard") style fortune.
We are forgetting the only place every last bad, drunken hung-over- bad hair day evil twin red eye "you dated HER!!" damn picture ever taken of you ends up.
The Best Mans Speech.
Yes - the million gigabyte mega multipixel multimedia interactive photoshop enabled picture-ipod multi-verse has been brought into creation.. just to make you look a total dickhead on your wedding day. Doh!
But lets face it - the recording technology is outstripping the display media - the A3 picture held up in front of the horrified family and knowing buddies is not really enough to do justice to the multimedia capabilities of the recordings of today, never mind of the future. So, how long before wedding receptions are being held in cinemas - there will be drive in weddings, IMAX weddings even - all so that sound and vision MPEG clip of you aged 6 months, farting out of a pimply arsehole can be shown 3 f__king storeys high in all its 3-D widescreen multiplex glory.
And lets remember the other big societal trends - weddings are going out of fashion. So - what happens to all this multimedia then? It can't go to waste! Maybe soon people will skip the wedding entirely - there will be "Best Mans Speech" parties for unmarried couples - your friends and family pool together a lifetime of 3am phone-camera shots, school sports day peeing-down-the-leg incidents and "you really tried to hide your ears in that school photo" montages, hiring out multiplexes just for ritual humiliation.
And with more pictures, there will be more REALLY REALLY BAAAAD ones. Like, with hookers (old, Wayne-Rooney style hookers). With time and date stamps. Or just really, really bad hair, awful dress sense - showing a side of you you had hoped to keep secret from the love of your life, for good reason. But now there is no hiding - it WILL come back to haunt you. So then maybe some smart ass lawyer will catch onto the commercial opportunities of a "pre-nuptial image rights" agreement - allowing you to separate amicably Britney-style minutes after the vows if the best mans speech reveals anything too unacceptable in all its Technicolour Widescreen Panavision glory?
Who knows - maybe even in time there will be a category at the Oscars - "Best Best mans Video" - before you know it, Steve Martin will be announcing the winner just after "best use of excessive latex rubber makeup" but before "best film in a foreign language".
So - just remember folks - turn the phone off..
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Monday, May 30, 2005
What is it about old age and the love of garden statues? Under 60, and the
idea of having a statue a permanent feature of the bottom of your garden is
about as attractive as having Saddam Husseain underpants permenantly drying
on your washing line. But get to 60+ and the damn things spring up
everywhere - like a rash of chernobyl mushrooms! And not only "statues" - oh
no! Only the most unattractive, tasteless ones will do - and of course, they
have to have no connection to anything in your previous existance! 63 year
old ex Dagenham car plant worker with an interest in Pit Bull terriers? 3
foot high sandstone statue of a Greek handmaiden, thats perfect for me sir!
69 year old ex-farm worker from Lancashire with an interest in keeping
budgies and watching "Monster Trucks-This Time its Truck Wars" on Sky Sports
258? 4 foot high bust of one of the ladies from the court of Louis 17, The
Sun King - Sign me up for a whole damn set please !
Saturday, May 28, 2005
You need to keep topping up the water in a goldfish bowl, or it evaporates,
which means from the perspective of the goldfish their entire world
literally gets smaller.
Imagine if that happened to us? If you didn't clean your house for a week,
it would become impossible to travel to Australia. Couple of months without
a hoover and Amercia is gone - Bruce Springsteen tickets at the Royal Albert
Hall start to get cheaper as he's forced to play evey night as he has
nowhere to go home to. Longer still and Eastern Europe is starting to
disappear - Easy Jet's profits take a nosedive and BNP support collapses as
there are no more foreigners left to come here. Leave it a bit longer still,
and "up North" has gone entirely, and Fulham are playing Arsenal, Chelsea
and Charlton every week. People start cashing in their 6 zone tube passes
In fact, its just like moving to London really, but with a shorter
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Thinking about the classic old joke..
Two Nuns are sharing a bath.
One says "Wears the soap?"
The other replies "Yes it does, doesn't it?"
To be honest, maybe we have been missing the punchline here. Look again at the first line
"Two Nuns are sharing a bath"
Thats pretty funny already, isn't it. What sort of nuns are they that would - presumably routinely, as it isn't set up as the main point of the gag - share a bath? There needs to be a reason for them to be in the same bath - other than lesbianism obviously. Maybe the joke is set somewhere where there is a shortage of water, like California? Perhaps they are from some bizzare Californian religious order who enter the convent and take vows to abstain from sin, gluttony, sex, drink, drugs, covetous thoughts - and to protect the environment by making a concerted effort to try and conserve water.
But actually it can't be that - otherwise it woudl be "Two nuns are sharing a shower" - and then the gag wouldn't work either, as they'd be alnmost certainly using shower gel, not soap. Although thinking of the shape of some shower gel bottles, hmmm...
Perhaps the joke has left out some vital information - for example, they may be the goalkeeper and left winger of the Convent football team, having a communal dip after a sweaty Sunday League match against the Rose & Crown 2nd X1? And the keeper would be the one asking, as they would be less likley to have dropped the soap in the first place?
In which case, I still suspect this is a massive missed opportunity. Whoever came up with the original punchline must have rejected a whole truckfull of nuns-playing-fotbal punchlines to end up with a cheap female masturbation gag like "yes it does, doesn't it".
If you have any Footballing Nun gags or punchlines, please feel free to add them to this post!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
So, whats that all about then. Liverpool FC win the Champions League final, but it would have been so much better with Motty commentating
Note to ITV - repeating " its an absolutely unbelieveable game, one that will go down in
history etc etc etc " every 5 minutes DOESN'T make it a great game.
Unless I missed something by not being down the pub, it wasn't a
particularly great game at all. Interesting, great scoreline-related-drama
maybe, but "great" - naaaah.
Milan strolled the 1st half, then clever Benitez tactics, Gerrard sweat and a following wind turned the game around - but the commentary team wouldn't know a "tactic" if they swallowed it and ended up with minty breath. For such a high profile game such a poor panel - who offered absolutely NO analysis at all.
Best of all, the talking comedy suit that was McManamannn being asked by
Gabby Logan "who will take the Liverpool penalties" utters the unbelievable
pearl of wisdom "erm, well, probably Gerrard will be down to take one of
them...". My pet rabbit could have told you that !! Get a racehorse
McManamann - you ain't getting a commentary career.
Even worse - trying to use Radio 5 for commentary and watchv the TV pictures was useless - because ITV (digital) seemed to be broadcasting the game 5 seconds late !!
You actually get far better commentary (and lots less repetitive) playing the game on FIFA 200X on Playstation !
However, well done The Reds!