Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sheep. Dog.



I was all set to do a post on a story from the Guardian about sheep being passed off as poodles in Japan. I was even miffed to find that Meg had beaten me to it with a link.

But then I read this and realised that the whole thing is an urban myth, and an old one at that, being flogged to death by (who else) The Sun.

See also here.

And finally here.

Bah. Or possibly Baaa.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saab Story

Not many things would get me to link to SFGate, one of the sites on which Cinnamon S regularly posts her racist rubbish. But this reprint of a short Kurt Vonnegut piece is rather droll.

I remember the cars too.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Supersize Me

When my daughter returns to Britain and goes back to working in Starbucks to fund her student days (and nights) this approach might prove helpful. Or not.

And while we're on the subject of irrational fear of Islamic terrorism.....

....here is an interesting report from the European Police Office (Europol) on terrorism in Europe in 2006.

You may not be surprised that there were 498 terrorist incidents in Europe during the year. You might not be surprised that ETA, the Basque separatists, carried out more than any other group (136). However, given the climate of fear of terrorism that the British government in general (and Tony Blair and John Reid in particular) love to promote, you probably will be surprised that ETA were responsible for the ONE fatal terrorist attack, in Madrid (which killed two people).

So if ETA did 136 of the 498 attacks, how many of the remaining 362 were carried out by Islamic groups? Have a guess?

One.

In Germany. It failed to hurt anyone.

There were two further attempts, in Denmark and the UK, but they were disrupted by the police before they could take place so are not included. Even if we include those in the list, we have a grand annual total of three attempted Islamic terrorist incidents, causing no actual harm.

Read the Europol report. Read the Counterpunch article on it. Then go back and read some of the links on International Workers' Memorial Day. Then ask yourself why Blair's government wants us to be more scared of Islamic terrorism than of negligent employers, when the latter are thousands of times more of a danger to us all.

Thanks to Islamophobia Watch for the links.

My country far right or further right

No sooner had I written the previous post than I discovered this report demonstrating just how desperate Giuliani is getting. Yes, it's lies, hate speech and pandering to irrational fears all the way for good ol' Rudy. One assumes his armbands were all at the laundry.

But I did like the last two paragraphs of the article:

The namesake of the Lincoln Day dinner which Rudy addressed would be the first to counsel Rudy that we must put our own house in order. It's not enough that Rudy often communicate to your audiences, "My Country Right or Wrong! Rather, it's the full toast Stephen Decatur made here in the Middle East more than 200 years ago that Rudy would do well to recall: "My country right or wrong, when right, to be kept right, when wrong, to be put right."

Let's see if Rudy can rework his new stump speech and create something more in keeping with American values.


Heck, let's see if America's Moron has the faintest idea what "American values" are.

Thanks to Islamophobia Watch for the link.

Rudy Who Two

Further to my recent post about the inanity of Rudy Giuliani and his unfitness for any office higher than mayor, I recently found this column of Ted Rall's, which pointed out that from a New Yorker's perspective he wasn't actually any use as a mayor either.

"Giuliani's 9/11 legacy isn't bravery--it's loudness. And stupidity."

Read the article and then consider that this joker is the Republican Presidential front-runner. How desperate is that?

Why does this exchange from The Mask Of Zorro come to mind?

Don Rafael Montero: You know, I'm starting to wonder if you really want this operation to succeed at all, Captain.
Captain Harrison Love: What are you saying?
Don Rafael Montero: What I am saying, Captain, is that I think my horse could run this army better than you!


Surely a horse would make a better Presidential candidate than Giuliani? (Though not, of course, an Arab horse...) Perhaps the Republicans are simply trying to make fun of the whole electoral process, for which, after all, they have shown little respect in recent years.

What a surprise

From the Washington Post: Muslim women glad Hirsi Ali quit Netherlands.

Well, duh. Hirsi Ali was only ever interested in one (ex-)Muslim woman, and that was herself. As one of the women put it, "Let her call one woman forward and show how she really helped her," said Famile Arslan, a 35-year-old family lawyer.

Don't hold your breath for an answer. Ali is now proeoccupied with helping herself (in every sense) in the United States.

Thanks to Islamophobia Watch for the link.

Train of Thought

I thought this sounded incredibly cool. Wish I lived in Paris, or close enough to make getting in the queue for one of these evenings a viable proposition.

Just imagine, though, what it must be like for people waiting for the last Metro of the evening, when a hundred-year-old train full of revellers glides through without stopping before vanishing up a disused track.......

International Workers' Memorial Day



Today is Workers' Memorial Day, when we remember the hundreds of thousands of workers who die every year in workplace accidents or from work-related diseases such as asbestosis.

If you're British, why not sign this petition to have International Workers' Memorial Day declared a national day of mourning? On November 11th each year we commemorate those who die as a result of wars; why should we not also commemorate those who die as a result of their work? In both cases the deaths are needless and avoidable: we can't bring the dead back, but we can ensure they are never forgotten.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bad Men

Also from the Guardian, this extract from a book by Clive Stafford Smith which will clearly be essential reading when it's published. One of the prisoners Stafford Smith represented was Moazzam Begg, whose dignified lack of bitterness after being sold to the CIA like a piece of meat, carted off to Guantanamo, illegally imprisoned and tortured, all for no reason whatsoever, makes him one of my heroes. However, Begg is only a small part of the article, which focuses on the culture of constant lies and stupid censorship in place at that outpost of the American gulag. A small sample:

The only Australian left in Guantánamo, David Hicks, was facing a military con-mission, like Binyam, and his lawyer was banned from giving him Scott Turow's legal thriller Presumed Innocent. The basis for censoring The New Dinkum Aussie Dictionary was less clear. Perhaps the strangest decision involved four books returned with the notation: "These Items were not Cleared for Delivery to the Detainee(s)." They were Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Beauty and the Beast - all in Arabic translation. As one FBI agent admonished me: "You know that Arabic script is full of squiggles, and it can easily hide messages to the prisoners." Could it be, I wondered, that Cinderella was secretly an enemy combatant? Eventually the military barred us from bringing books for our clients altogether. So much for education.

Well, that's it, isn't it? Brown skin, talk funny foreign languages, and their script is "full of squiggles". Torture's too good for them....

Bad Men by Clive Stafford Smith is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson on April 26th, price £16.99. Buy it. Read it.

Pop Goes The Wolfie

A propos the tribulations of Donald Wolfowitz, expected-soon-to-be-ex-head of the World Bank (how much corruption do they have to uncover before he is ignominiously fired? (we may assume that as he hasn't resigned in shame by now he is hanging on in the mistaken assumption that the WBO board won't sack him)), I was rather taken by this Steve Bell cartoon in the Guardian this week. OK, he misses Libby out of his body count, but it's a nice reminder of how many of Bush's corrupt and incompetent chums have been shown the door. A bit like the aftermath of Watergate, except that was all the result of one big scandal rather than a host of little ones.

I hadn't heard Bolton described as "Mr Pastry" before, but for a Brit of my generation the likeness is astounding and the image unforgettable. He used to be on children's television when I was small, a silly old man like a white-haired Mr Bean. Yes, the likeness to John Bolton is uncanny.....

Friday, April 20, 2007

Here Comes The Bride



Which bride? This bride, of course:



Here are the happy couple, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, who are starring today in the Bollywood wedding of the decade:



All the best to them both for the rest of their lives.

Progress Report

And how did I get on, you are all agog to know, with my good intention of reading six long-unread titles from my bookshelves in the first three months of 2007? Well, I scored a whopping 50% there, having read David Copperfield, The Diary of Anne Frank and Kingdom on the Rhine so far. I'm still intending to read the other three over the next few months, though there will be other claims on my attention such as the final instalment in the Harry Potter saga.

Currently reading (and enjoying) The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld.

Another "Self-hating Jew", presumably

A very interesting article in Ha'aretz on the way in which the lazy lumping together of the victimes of the Nazi Holocaust and the more recent victims of Islamic terrorism devaues the memory of the former. It also points out the scandal of the shoddy way in which Israel treats its Holocaust survivors, by comparison with, for example, those in Germany.

Burps 'n' boobs

Staying with the musical theme, a couple of Guardian reports.

First this on the unpleasant side-effects of singing in an opera chorus. It would be really interesting if someone did a similar study of professional orchestral brass and woodwind players, who must place similar demands on their bodies.(String players just get RSI and back trouble...)

Then this one on the problems facing female orchestral conductors. We're fortunate in Edinburgh to have some very good amateur conductors, some of whom happen to be female. It hadn't occurred to me that they performed any less well than their male counterparts. Why should it be different for professionals?

Rachmaninov Had Big Hands

This made me laugh. It's not just the basic idea, hilarious though that is, but the careless aplomb with which Hyung-Ki Joo accepts and discards his wooden accessories.

Their show must be quite something. Maybe it will come to Edinburgh some time.

Thanks to my wife for the link.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

If there's a clash of civilisations it's the West against these guys

Given their tendency in the past to attribute every crime happening to be committed by a Muslim to "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" (or "Immediate Jihad Sydrome") I had expected that the 9/11 neofascists would be desperately hoping that the killer at Virginia Tech would turn out to be a Muslim, especially as one of his victims was an Israeli-born professor. In the event, of course, he wasn't a Muslim at all. But that didn't stop one of the loathsome gang from trying to make the link anyway. Debbie Schlussel, praised for her "sharp writing" on the website of 9/11 NF-in-chief Cinnamon Stillwell, posted an extraordinary piece this week. She later deleted the post, but thanks to the wonder that is Google we can still read it here.

What an interesting peep into the mindset of the 9/11 neofascist. First of all, the assumption that because the killer was described as Asian he was probably a Pakistani Muslim. Then the assertion that this "fact" was being suppressed by the American media, which we are expected to believe are tremendous supporters of Muslim terrorism. The ignorant assertion that the word "Paki" isn't a term of racial abuse but is quite interchangeable with "Pakistani". Praise for (non-Muslim, it goes without saying) vigilante killers like Bernard Goetz. The old lie that Ayaan Hirsi Ali fled to the USA to escape death threats (the Netherlands expelled her as an illegal immigrant, until which time she'd been happily living there surrounded by hordes of taxpayer-funded guards who terrorised her neighbours). Praise of odious Dutch racists Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh. The call to "stop letting in so many foreign students". The intemperate abuse heaped on any commenter not fawning at her feet (though unlike Stillwell she at least doesn't suppress adverse comments.*)

She considers that the shooting was a result of too much gun control rather than too little ("2nd-Amenment(sic)-free Campus/VTU lobbied against students having guns on campus for personal protection").

And her mention of Don Imus ("What is this, the Imus thought police?") is amusing given her posts elsewhere concerning women's basketball players. They make Don Imus's remarks seem very tame indeed.

Finally, of course, the breathtaking tastelessness of using the murder of 32 innocent people as a mounting-block for her high horse of Muslim-bashing, without the slightest regard for either the feelings of the bereaved or, indeed, whether her crazy assumption might prove to be just that. ("Even if it does not turn out that the shooter is Muslim, this is a demonstration to Muslim jihadists all over that it is extremely easy to shoot and kill multiple American college students.")

Truly, these people are beyond a joke. Never mind bin Laden: it's these toads who are the real opponents of Western civilisation.

* Stillwell's blog now accepts comments without moderation! (**) Previously all comments were rigorously policed and only those deemed sufficiently sycophantic made it through. However, as of a few minutes ago I was able to post a comment on a post which is not only odious but possibly also libellous. (Her post, that is, not my comment.) Strike one for democracy. Maybe her fellow-travellers found her censorship offensive to their delusions of libertarianism and pressed her to end it.

(**) Further update: I spoke too soon,. Obviously Cinnamon is still channelling her inner Nazi, as the comment I posted has now been deleted. Though as at 26 April she still shows this post as linking to hers: I wonder when the link will be deleted too...... (Answer: 27 April - I'm now a full unperson again).

FWIW I had asked her what exactly she meant by describing Finkelstein as a "pseudo-Holocaust denier" , and drew attention to the inconsistency of combining that with her later (entirely untrue) implication that he is an actual Holocaust denier; and her suggestion that he accuses the Jews of using the Holocaust to evoke sympathy (so wait, he doesn't deny it after all?) I also likened her statement that Finkelstein "continues to claim" that his parents were Holocaust survivors to the old joke about "have you stopped beating your wife?" He doesn't "claim" anything about them: they are, as a matter of historical record, survivors of the Warsaw ghetto and of Maidanek (his mother) and Auschwitz (his father). I pointed out, very poiltely, that as I know Dr Finkelstein to have strong views about those who libel him over supposed Holocaust denial, and those who defame his parents, I had drawn his attention to her post; and I expressed the wish that she find a good lawyer.

So, there we are. I suppose given her column's normal stock-in-trade of anti-Islamic and anti-gay hate speech, to find that she also indulges in anti-Semitic libels against Holocaust survivors and dissident Jews shows a kind of even-handedness with her filth. To find that she applies rigorous censorship of any dissent in her comments is no great surprise. The woman is, quite simply, a disgrace to America.

States-Sponsored Terror

More on the United States' intention to release Luis Posada Carriles, the convicted terrorist murderer of 73 people, wanted in Cuba (whose airliner he bombed and whose president Fidel Castro he was convicted of trying to assassinate - being pardoned for that by the outgoing president of Panama) and in Venezuela (from one of whose prisons he escaped to the USA). Apparently the United States refuses to extradite Posada Carriles to either Venezuela or Cuba because they claim he might be torured if returned.

Hmm.

Let's take a look at the 2006 Amnesty International Annual Report, specifically at the sections on Cuba, Venezuela and the USA. Cuba is criticised for imprisonment of journalists, but there is no mention of torture. Venezuela comes in for strong words over its violent suppression of anti-government demonstrations; but again, no mention of torture. When we come to the USA, on the other hand, Amnsety's first and principal complaint concerns the torture, and indefinite detention without trial, of dissidents in Guantanamo Bay. So a country which routinely practises torture is refusing to extradite a known terrorist to face justice in countries which don't.

And then the Bush regime and its supporters wonder why the rest of the world considers the "war on terror" to be a sham and their "concern for human rights" to be hypocritical nonsense.

IT'S THE TORTURE CAMPS AND SUPPORT FOR TERROR, STUPID!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The triumph of evil

This is a disgrace that should shame Blair and his government forever, though given his support for illegal detention and torture by the US why should he care about similar things in Zimbabwe or Britain? Anyway, the girl's black and doesn't even have a vote in Sedgefield: send her back to be murdered.

And when the jackboot is on the other foot?

The boycott by the Vatican ambassador to Israel of the annual Holocaust memorial service seems understandable enough. Just imagine if the Vatican were to mount an exhibition - not a temporary one, but a permanent one in the Vatican where it would be seen by millions of peope for evermore - on the history of Palestine. Imagine now that this exhibition contained a prominent feature on Menachem Begin which emphasised his history as a terrorist murderer; and one on Ariel Sharon which emphasised his internationally-recognised guilt for the war crime of the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Imagine that these undeniable but unpalatable truths about these murderers were not balanced by any assessment of their positive achievements for Israel. Now imagine the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican being invited to a celebration taking place in the gallery where these exhibits were displayed. Is there anyone who imagines he would attend? That he would not instead run whining to the world's press about the dreadful antisemitism of the Vatican?

Well, then. Yes, the exhibition probably tells the truth about Pope Pius XII, in the same way that my hypothetical exhibition tells the truth about Begin and Sharon. My truth would prove unpalatable to their countrymen; why is a representative of the Pope criticised when he finds the Israeli exhibition similarly inappropriate?

Sorry, I just realised that I'm guilty of double standards and antisemitism in expecting similar standards of behaviour to be applied to a Vatican ambassador to Israel and an Israeli ambassador to the Vatican. My bad.

((No longer able to maintain straight face.))

Classical music for the masses? But that's communism.

I've recently been booking for concerts in this year's Edinburgh International Festival, one of which is by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. As if their very presence wouldn't annoy the Blairites and neocons sufficiently, they will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, who is an alumnus of the Venezuelan youth orchestra programme and represents a system of equal artistic opportunity for all, rather than for the privileged few as preferred by Blair et al. Oh, and Dudamel is the new conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Maybe Blair will find a way to stop him appearing at the festival and being such an embarrassment. I'll let you know.

9/11

Note for American readers: to non-Americans, 9/11 is the 9th November, and no amount of banging on about things that happened ages ago on 11th Septmber will change that. In any case, the rest of the world has moved on from 2001; it's about time you did.

Howver, if you want to commemorate 9/11, there is a good reason why 9th November will be remembered long after 11th September is a footnote. (Unless you're a Chilean, of course.) It's International Day Against Fascism And Antisemitism, on account of its being the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

It is a sobering thought that Islam today is increasingly blamed, especially by the 9/11 neofascists in the United States, for every kind of evil in the world in the same way that the Jews were blamed by Hitler. The neofascists really have learned nothing from history, least of all their own irrelevance to it.

Rudy Who?



For those non-US readers who may suspect that Ted Rall is being a little unfair in this cartoon, no, the dolt Giuliani really did say those things. And no, he really doesn't know which of North Korea and Iran has nuclear weapons.

How this guy can be considered a credible candidate for his party's presidential nomination is something only Americans (maybe) can explain. Running a town council, OK, he can do that*. But a country? Or a state? A seat in Congress, even? Come ON, guys. The only ability he has is to exceed even Bush and Cheney in quacking "9/11!" as the answer to everything, regardless of what the question was.

Who next? Mr Bean?

*Though I had to laugh at the neocon (I forget which one) who reckoned that because Giuliani happened to be in London at he time of the 7/7 bombings, Londoners had adopted him as their de facto mayor in place of Ken Livingstone. LOL! (a) Ken continues to be elected with huge majorities by the people of London, who don't need anyone else, thanks all the same (b) Most Londoners were unaware of Giuliani's presence in their city (c) Most Londoners wouldn't know who Giuliani was if they were asked. And why should they? The guy is a minor figure in a piece of history from which the rest of the world has moved on, even if neocons and New Yorkers haven't. We're supposed to be grateful that an American local government official deignes to use a terrorist attack as a personal photo-op? Get real. Maybe 9/11 was a Whole New World for Giuliani and his political aspirations, but over here we've had terrorist attacks for more than four hundred years. Yes, nearly twice as long as the USA has existed. The world didn't change then. It didn't change when he and his fellow New Yorkers were happliy funding the IRA's bombing campaign back in the 1970s and 1980s. And it damned sure didn't change because someone knocked down a Manhattan office block.

Now then: forget this White House nonsense, Mr Giuliani, and get back to sewers and dustbins and other things you're capable of dealing with.

A bunch of clippings

A brief round-up of interesting stuff that either happened while I was on holiday or just after I got back....

* Thursday 12th - 46th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first space flight in Vostok 1. I remember it quite vividly from my childhood, as indeed I do the American catch-up missions by Alan Shepard (first American in space) and John Glenn (first American to orbit the Earth). Leaving propaganda aside, Gagarin was a true hero: the first human being to go into space (and remember at this time the only other Earth creature to do it was Laika the dog in Sputnik 2, and there was never any intention of bringing her back alive).

* This report from Bt'Selem, the renowned Israeli human rights organisation, focusing on the indignities and abuses heaped on Palestinians working in Israel. Oh, I'm sorry: for "renowned Israeli human rights organisation" read "self-hating Jews"; after all, they're critical of some aspects of Israeli policy, ergo they must be SHJs. Sometimes I think we need to update Godwin's Law to broaden its scope beyond Nazis.I'd suggest adding "Islamofascists" and "Self-hating Jews" (and for that matter "Zionazis") to the list of first-mention-loses-the-argument. And given the frequency of its recent abuse by "9/11 neocons" and other white supremacists, I'd consider adding "Jihadis" in there as well. What do you think?

* This fascinating article in the Guardian last Thursday on being a jury member on a rape trial. I have railed in the past against the low conviction rate for rape in the UK, but this article goes some way to explaining it, and not only as a result of police incompetence. Some of the measures hich have been introduced to protect victims, such as presentation of evidence via video, seem to have a downside in terms of reduced credibility compared with witnesses physically present. Which seems obvious once one's attention is drawn to it, but I'd never looked at it that way before.

* For a government mostly renowned for the unthinking adoption of all things American, our agriculture ministry seems uncharacteristically reluctant to accept that British beehives may be suffering from the same malady (Colony Collapse Disorder) which has wrought so much havoc across the Atlantic.

*Blair's Philistines raiding the arts budget to pay for sport. Well, what a surprise.

*Blair invites black community leaders to No. 10 to discuss crime; ignores them; misrepresents what they said; insults their communities. No surprises there. American neo-cons think this is wonderful. No surprise there either, though they must have been disappointed he didn't mention "nappy-headed hos".

*The United States is planning to release from jail a terrorist who is wanted in Cuba for the murder in 1976 of 73 people on a Cuban airliner he blew up. State-sponsored terrorism, anyone? Yet we're still supposed to believe that America is fighting a "war on terror". Aye, right.

*Following a successful lawsuit four years ago by an Iranian against the U.S government for supporting terrorism, it's had its embassy in Teheran seized to settle its unpaid debts. One can only hope that other nations whose citizens have been arbitrarily and unjustly imprisoned and tortured by the Bush regime will seek similar redress. Meanwhile: go Iran! (The rule of law, and all that.)

An aside: we couldn't seize the US Embassy in London to compensate British victims of US torture, nice though that thought might be, because the Yanks don't in fact own it. The reason why Grosvenor Square is the only US Embassy not actually owned by the US government is that when they negotiated with the Duchy of Westminster to purchase the freehold, the Duke replied that he would be happy to enter into negiotiations on the basis of the restoration of some family property in what is now the United states which had been confiscated at the time of the American Revolution. What might that be, asked the US Govt. Miami, responded the Duke. The US government continues to lease its Grosvenor Square premises from the Duchy of Westminster. (:>)

* After Rumsfeld, Bolton and Libby, another corrupt Bush apparatchik seems to be about to get his deserts; and the sooner the better. Of course, he won't have the moral fibre to resign before he's fired (he's a Bush appointee, for God's sake!), but I doubt that can save him now his fingers have been actually caught in the till.

*Iraq 1: nobody in the military wants to be associated with Bush's craziness any more. So there IS such a thing as military intelligence!

*Iraq 2: see what a tremendous improvement the replacement of Saddam's regime by that of Bush has brought to the Iraqi people. Here's what one of Saddam's victims has to say about it. Congratulations, George: you've managed to topple a genocidal maniac and replace him with something far worse. How proud you must be.

So It Goes

Slightly delayed (he died last Wednesday) commemoration of one of America's greatest authors of recent times, Kurt Vonnegut. A writer who certainly polarised opinion: described by Tom Wolfe as "the closest thing we had to a Voltaire", he was awarded a special place in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's "Inferno" in a tomb with a flashing "So It Goes" neon sign. Fond though I am of Niven and Pournelle (especially Niven), I think they did him wrong (though I suspect he would have loved that tomb).

Not only is "Slaughterhouse Five" a wonderful (if surreal) evocation of the horror of the Dresden bombing, "The Sirens Of Titan" has one of literature's best canines (Kazak, Winston Niles Rumfoord's chrono-synclastically infundibulated dog). And I must confess that in moments when I am searching for inpiration (callouts in the middle of the night or whatever) I sometimes mutter to myself "Unk, turn ship upside down".

OK, you'd better go and read "the Sirens Of Titan". Go, Read. There's even a cheap recent edition.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Otterly delightful

This really is very cute. I gather the soundtrack is rather icky: as the sound on my PC doesn't work at present I couldn't say. But do watch all the way to the end, which is very sweet.

(Thanks to Judith for the link.)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Not a bad haul

Following on from Joe's list of famous events/birthdays/deaths on his birthday, my own list includes

Birthdays:

Martin Sheen, star of Apocalypse Now and The West Wing
Elisha Otis, inventor of the elevator safety brake
Clifford Simak, science fiction author
PD James, writer of detective stories
Rupert Brooke, First World War poet
John Landis, film director
Tony Bennett, singer

Deaths

Arthur Lee, rock musician
Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer
Alfred Schnittke, composer
Joseph Conrad, novelist

(Amusing coincidence that Conrad wrote the story on which Apocalypse Now is based.)

Celebrations

Kentucky - Watermelon Day
Venezuela - Flag Day

Events

1934 - Hitler combines the offices of President and Chancellor to become Führer of Germany
1936 - Jesse Owens wins 100m at Berlin Olympics
1955 - British premiere of Beckett's Waiting For Godot, directed by Peter Hall
1958 - Nuclear submarine USS Nautilus travels under the North Pole (and I saw her on her first landfall after the crossing)

Sometimes it's hard to tell stalk from bitter

Joe drew my attention to the problems Rachel has been having with a cyber-stalker (now on the run from police for several breaches of bail conditions, and due to be sentenced after conviction for harassing Rachel).

At the risk of sounding like George Galloway, one can only salute Rachel's indefatigability.

Regarding FJL, well, I had a look at her blog. Among the few posts that weren't attacks on Rachel or on the police (the latter mostly written with an aren't-I-clever-you-haven't-caught-me-yet tone which she may have picked up from her Jack The Ripper obsession) is one in which she quotes all the lyrics to what she describes as "My Favourite Hendrix". This is "The Wind Cries Mary", an excellent choice IMHO. But she spoils it by ascribing to someone called "Jimmy Hendrix". Who might that be, do you suppose?

(Well, it might be this guy. But it isn't.)

Update:

fjl writes (in a comment under a completely unrelated post but, hey, she got the right blog so let's be generous) ((fails to keep face straight)):

How pathetic. Jimi, my mistake. I'd rather make such a one than be a malicous mob.

What a huge lot of commenters.
I have called him Jimmy since I was a girl, you malicious ape.


She's right that I don't have many recent commenters (except Joe in Vegas and the first line guessers). Come on, people: engage! Mind you, that could be because I don't post anonymous comments to my own blog like fjl. Not that desperate for validation just yet.

Don't you love the way she explains that she's been talking through her butt since she was a girl, as though that justified not knowing the name of someone of whom she claims to be a fan? Whoa: can't wait until the police give her back her hard drive (as she comes out of Holloway) so we can read her "research" into Jake the Rapper.

Point of information, fjl: not remotely malicious, simply laughing my ass off at your buffoonery. Enjoy prison.

Twelve Lines, Nine Correct Guesses, Three Revealed Answers

1. Bless my cotton socks, I'm in the news
The Teardrop Explodes: "Reward" (Kilimanjaro) (guessed by Phil)

2. I can feel a new expression on my face
The Searchers: "When You Walk In The Room" (guessed by Phil)
(I also possess covers of this by Agnetha Fältskog and by Status Quo: my Searchers version is on a skanky old compilation tape.)

3. We're lit by a torch as we kneel in the court of the king
The New Pornographers: "Bones Of An Idol" (Twin Cinema)

4. Her name was Mia, from North Korea
Status Quo: "The Oriental" (Heavy Traffic)

5. If I give up the seat I've been saving, to some elderly lady or man
Gilbert O'Sullivan: "Nothing Rhymed" (The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan) (guessed by Tina)

6. The bugger in the short sleeves fucked my wife
John Cale: "Guts" (Slow Dazzle) (guessed by Udge)

7. Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold sources
Yes: "The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn)" (Tales From Topographic Oceans) (guessed by Mike)

8. Across the evening sky all the birds are leaving
Fairport Convention: "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" (Unhalfbricking)

9. I can wash out forty-four pairs of socks and have 'em hangin' out on the line
Maria Muldaur: "I'm A Woman" (Waitress In A Donut Shop)
(guessed by Mike)
(I did say I'd be generous regarding cover versions - this one is a Peggy Lee original and damn near everyone seems to have had a crack at it. Ms. Muldaur's version takes a lot of beating though.)

10. I've seen the bright lights of Memphis and the Commodore Hotel
Little Feat: "Dixie Chicken" (Dixie Chicken) (guessed by Phil)
(I also have a cover by John Sebastian)

11. It's quite possible that I'm your third man girl
The White Stripes: "Ball And Biscuit" (Elephant) (guessed by Alan)

12. Crossin' the highway late last night, he shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
Loudon Wainwright III: "Dead Skunk" (Album III) (guessed by Phil)

Thanks to all who responded. I'm especially gratified that "Dead Skunk" was guessed. ("You don't need to look, you don't need to see, 'cos you can feel it in your olfactory.....")

What We Did On Our Holidays

Apologies for the delay in getting back to blogging. I've been taking the time to catch up with some other people's blogs rather than posting on my own. Also still feeling can't-be-arsed post-holiday laziness. But now here we are again.

Holiday was great (ski-ing in Courchevel and no, Joe, I didn't break anything exceot my watch-strap). The weather was excellent (one day a bit misty) but especially on the upper slopes it wasn't getting so hot as to degrade the snow quality (or make fat guys like me puff and pant). For reasons far from clear to me, as I've had no practice since I was in Courchevel last year, my ski-ing has improved noticeably. So more time on my skis and less on my arse.

This year's trip was different from usual in that my daughter is off in Malaysia volunteering with Operation Raleigh so wasn't with us. However my (non-skier) mother-in-law did come along, and that worked very well. She enjoyed the scenery and the general ambience (she'd never been self-catering abroad before). This time, partly because she was with us, we hired a car at (Lyon) airport rather than mess about with bus transfers. This meant that at the end of the week we could potter back to Lyon via a couple of interesting places to look round (Moûtiers, Conflans).

Because of the way our flights worked we ended up with a couple of days in Lyon, where we stayed in a Campanile hotel (and if it was typical of the chain I'll use them again). We fell foul of the everything-shut-on-Easter-Monday syndrome, though we had a nice walk and ended up in the zoo (which has Indian elephants - yay!) The remains of the Roman theatres are very impressive, the adjacent Gallo-Roman museum equally so. there was an exhibition (Par Toutatis!) on the religion of the Gauls. I hadn't appreciated before that when in the Asterix books it says that chief Vitalstatistix is afraid of nothing except the sky falling on his head that was a direct reference to an ambassador from Gaul who was invited to dine with Alexander The Great. Asked what the Gauls were like, he said they were afraid of nothing except the sky falling on their heads (i.e. the end of the world). The museum houses some inteesting things, including a tablet commemorating a speech by Lyon's most famous son, the Emperor Claudius, and a number of interesting grave monuments including one to a woman murdered by her husband. My personal favourite is a statue, clearly of some god, whose caption reads something like " the identification of the statue as one of Neptune would be beyond doubt if we could be sure that his right hand held a dolphin and his left a trident". Well, quite.

My own identification was a matter of brief concern at Frankfurt Airport on the way home, when passport control noticed that my passport was coming delaminated at the edge of the photograph. Just as well I'm not brown-skinned and called Muhammed or I might be there yet. As it is, they quizzed me about it and peered closely at me and the photograph. Clearly I need to get a new passport before I travel again. We had a five-hour wait in Frankfurt coming back because our original flight was cancelled and we'd had to rebook on a different one. Hilary and I took the opportunity to head into the city (the other two chose to stay at the airport) which Hilary had never visited and I last saw in 1968. We saw the old centre, around the Town Hall and Cathedral, got a coffee in Starbucks (menu in English - which seemed weird - but some different things on it) and bought some Birkenstocks from a big shoe shop for about half the price we'd have paid on the Internet. Also, the Frankfurt duty-free had Asbach (I suppose it would as they make it just up the road) which is always a plus.

All in all, a really good holiday. And I didn't miss blogging at all!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Well at least I was alive then....

.... though a tad young at the age of four. An analysis not without some truth, however.

Thanks to Tina for the link.





You Belong in 1959



If you scored...



1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!



1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.



1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!



1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.



1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!