31 October 2007

Scary and not so scary Halloween videos

Scroll down for WW

Away with the faeries by Inkubus Sukkunus, Britain's premier pagan rock band

Her Ghost in the Fog by Cradle of Filth, Ipswich's permier black metal band.... Guaranteed much scarier than the Darkness

Jack the World by GWAR, possibly the worst band ever to grace this planet... worse even than Kansas on angel dust.

Hello Hooray by Alice Cooper, Ella and Ethan Furnier's scariest son

Finally an excursion into naked bowel loosening terror... Welcome to Hell's soundtack

Yew Berry

This week's Wordless Wednesday. A berry on the Irish yew I planted 8 years ago

30 October 2007

Principled German takes stand against age discrimination

Rolf Eden has a history of not taking no for an answer and does not plan to start at the age of 77. He has just filed charges against a 19-year-old for refusing to sleep with him on. He believes that her action was flagrant age discrimination

Despite a night on the town with Eden, which ended back at his place, she refused to have sex with him, saying the he was too old for her. "That was shattering. No woman has ever said that to me before,” he said "I was crushed." He has filed charges with the prosecutors' office, he said. "After all, there are laws against discrimination." Champagne and his piano playing were not enough to bridge the age gap

Eden is well known to older Germans for having been the king of Berlin nightlife in the 1950s and '60s. Indeed, he is said to have opened up Germany's first-ever discotheque. He's also known for popularizing stripteases in post-war West Germany.

There are those 77 year olds would be happy with a mug of cocoa, a sing song and some happy memories but not Herr Eden, obviously. I’m not quite sure that this sort of complaint was envisaged when Germany framed its age discrimination laws. If he is successful will the girl be required to supply the Viagra and the post-coital defibrillator? If he is successful will it have an impact on English law? (I can see Peter Stringfellow consulting his lawyers). And why stop at ageism...I wonder if I’ll be ever able to sue all those girls who turned me down over the years. A fat, balding loser like me would be quids in.... WOO HOO!!!!!!

Why Liam Gallagher has a haunted look...

The Daily Star is not exactly my daily paper of choice but I couldn’t pass this story up - especially since I can’t stand Liam Gallagher. According to a “source” (I wonder if this actually means the cub reporter given the task of making up sixteen celebrity news items between doing the horoscope and mucking out the editor.) Gallagher is so terrified that the house he shares with Nicole Slapperton (sorry I mean Appleton, honest!) is haunted that he sleeps with the lights on.

The source said: “Liam is absolutely convinced there is something sinister in some noises he has been hearing late at night... He lies awake listening with the lights on...” and so on and so forth If that was not enough Gallagher is convinced that he was once visited by the ghost of John Lennon. Apparently the late Beatle appeared to him as an apparition while he was staying at a friend’s house years ago in his home city of Manchester. But instead of being freaked out about the situation, Liam was in awe:

“I was in Manchester at a mate’s house having a sleep. I remember getting up and feeling really weird. I turned round and there I was, lying on the bed, and I sort of fell back into my body. There was a presence there and it was him, Lennon.” He sau

I wonder if Lennon spoke to him and if he did, did he tell Gallagher him to stop ripping him off? As for the ghost at his home, I would not be so catty to say it’s the ghost of his career...

29 October 2007

Children's books you'll never see

Lots more wonderful covers here at Somethingawful.com

Well they amused me...

I know they are old chestnuts that have done the rounds but they are still amusing. To be honest I didn't do that much better at maths at school. When it came to algebra I was lost.

As for calculus....

More of the same here. Thanks go to Freemania where I first saw the link.

28 October 2007

Perhaps a nanny state is not such a bad option

Last week Ewan McGregor lambasted Britain's "nanny state" following a motorbike journey across Africa with fellow actor and best friend Charley Boorman. The journey was filmed and will be shown as a series called the Long Way Down starting tonight.

"Our trip opened my eyes to how insane the rules are in Britain - CCTV cameras everywhere, congestion charge - a ludicrous nanny state. If anything drives me out of the country it will be that - not tax, I don't earn enough." Referring to a boat stunt performed in 2005 by Daniel Craig when was unveiled as the new James Bond (he was made to wear a life jacket) "Today, health and safety are out of control. In Africa, garage attendants smoked as they filled the bikes. I took great pleasure in that."

Yes there are plenty of things that seriously irritate me about life in modern Britain but I would prefer the risk averse to smoking at petrol stations! However, two recent news items put the nanny state issues into perspective:

Last week Alisher Saipov , an ethnic Uzbek, was gunned down outside his office in Osh, a town in southern Kyrgyzstan on the Uzbekistan border.

Saipov had just left his office after working late on Wednesday and was speaking on his mobile phone when a man stepped out of the shadows and shot him in the leg. The hitman fired two more bullets into Saipov’s head before fleeing. After his murder, officers from Kyrgyz security services seized computers, phones and documents from his office containing details of opposition figures and their efforts to topple the regime of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s president.

His murder has sent shockwaves through Uzbekistan’s opposition whoe fear that the Kyrgyz security services will pass on those details to their Uzbek counterparts, exposing dozens of opposition activists and their sympathisers in Uzbekistan. Human rights groups say they could face arrest and torture at the hands of a regime that has an appalling human rights record.

Shahida Tulaganova, an Uzbek journalist and close friend of Saipov, was due to meet him on the day he was killed. She has no doubt who was behind the murder. “All his life he was fighting against this regime. No one else was interested in killing him,” Tulaganova was worried about the seized documents falling into the wrong hands. “The people in the local security services are corrupt and some of them are on the payroll of the Uzbek KGB. All the details about the network of opposition people in Uzbekistan were in his office. Now all those people could be compromised.”

It was Saipov’s reporting of the aftermath of the Andijan crackdown, when hundreds of protesters were shot dead by troops in May 2005, that provoked the fury of the Tashkent regime. Saipov was the first to reveal how Uzbek agents had crossed into Kyrgyzstan to kidnap refugees fleeing the massacre.

My thanks to Bob at Bob from Brockley and Roland Dodds at But I am a liberal drawing my attention to this Labour Start news item

“On the morning of Thursday 18 October, 2007, three masked men shot Majid Hamidi, a 48-year old grocery worker and labour activist in Sanandaj, Iran, seven times in his arm, shoulder and neck. Hamidi was eventually taken to Tehran for specialist surgery and remains in critical condition. Iranian labour activists are convinced that armed attacks of this type are done with the knowledge and support of the government. Already Iranian labour activists face jail, beatings, and other forms of persecution, including the jailing of labour leaders Mahmoud Salehi, Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, as well as the severe repression of strikers at the state-owned Haft Tapeh sugar cane company. But this represents a considerable escalation. Iran is a member of the International Labour Organization and we call upon the ILO to press the government in Tehran to stop these attacks immediately”

In the case of Uzbekistan The USA could have chosen it’s allies in the war on terror more wisely than Islom Karimov, a soviet dinosaur who has been president of the country since independence. He has presided over an atrocious human rights record (The US military leased an airbase in Uzbekistan for combat and humanitarian missions from 2001-2005 when they were summarily evicted). Similarly, fellow leftists who will blithely support a nation on the basis of its anti-Americanism should be appalled at such attacks on trade unionists.

As for this nanny state? Despite issues over CCTV, ID cards etc, I feel far happier to be a citizen of this country. At least I know I will not be shot for dissent or trade union activities. If that means wearing a lifejacket while on a riverboat then I can live with that!

While on the subject of diesel and Zimbabwe

In 2005 a government controlled newspaper, the Manica Post, reported that prostitutes in Mvuma ,Zimbabwe (200km south-west of Harare), were demanding payment in diesel from South African long haul lorry drivers.

Lorry drivers en route from Beit Bridge to Harare were asked to pay for the ladies' services in 20 litre lots of diesel. The income provided from selling the fuel to locals would apparently double their normal income.

While there is no indication that this form of payment is still going on it does show how prized diesel is in Zimbabwe.

Source IOL South Africa

Surely nobody is this gullible.... On the other hand.

In desperate straits people will clutch at straws (and sometimes even mix their metaphors). We see this all the time. With Zimbabwe in its current parlous state it is perhaps no surprise that people will believe the utterly incredible. When medium Nomatter Tagarira claimed that she could produce refined diesel out of a rock just by striking it with her staff, members of the Zimbabwean government thought they might have the solution to the country’s fuel crisis.

After witnessing her miraculous gift they gave her five billion Zimbabwean dollars in cash (worth £1.7 million at the start of the year but probably now worth £15.75 and falling) in return for the fuel. Ms Tagarira was also given a farm food and an armed guard on the rock. One year on and officials realised they had been duped. Ms Tagarira is now in custody, awaiting trial on charges of fraud or, alternatively, of being “a criminal nuisance”. Details from court papers apparently reveal that Ms Tagarira convinced Cabinet ministers, ruling party heavy-weights and top army and police officers that by striking the rock with her staff she could produce enough fuel to supply the country for 100 years.

Ms Tagarira had discovered a large bowser of diesel last year, suspected to have been abandoned during the country’s civil war in the 1970s. She laid pipes from the bowser to a point at the bottom of the hill. Whenever she assembled an audience, she would strike a rock and an assistant at the top of the hill would open the tap and fuel would pour out. The bowser eventually ran dry but that didn’t stop Ms Tagarira. Who would buy diesel from lorry drivers and keep it in the pipe on the pretext it was coming from a rock,” court report said.

One anonymous lawyer commented “It is not the woman who ought to be arrested; it is the idiots who authorised this criminal waste of public money,”

It looks like the ones born every minute in Zimbabwe got to run the country

27 October 2007

Scumbag gets three years for urinating on dying neighbour

It’s your birthday, you’ve been drinking and have smoked some cannabis, you find out that your neighbour has collapsed outside in the street, do you:
  1. Provide any assistance you can and contact the emergency services
  2. Kick, pour water, then urinate on her while your friends capture your antics on a phone camera?

If your answer is (2) then your name may well be Anthony Anderson, your friends might be Scott Clement and Simon Whitehead.

Yesterday Jude Peter Fox told Anderson that he had plumbed the depths of degradation as he jailed him today for three years for outraging public decency having perpetrated the above acts on his disabled neighbour Christine Lakinski as she lay dying.

Susan Jacobs, for the prosecution, said: “Apparently urged on by the fact Scott Clement and Simon Whitehead found his actions amusing, the defendant then stated he was going to urinate on the woman. Simon Whitehead, having cleared space on his mobile, proceeded to record him urinating all over Christine’s prone body, throughout which she remained motionless.” One of the group shouted “this is YouTube material” as the Anderson’s actions were filmed.

The group left her motionless on the pavement and no-one thought to ring an ambulance until they had got ready to go nightclubbing, some 20 minutes later. Paramedics arrived around an hour after she collapsed, and found no sign of life. A post-mortem examination revealed she died from pancreatic failure. Police traced the 999 call to Mr Clement and Anderson was arrested that night in a nightclub.

Judge Fox, told Anderson he had “violated this woman in an incredible way and the shocking nature of your acts over a prolonged period of time must mean a prison sentence of greater length is appropriate in this case. I am sure all decent people will be absolutely disgusted not only at the actions of Anthony Anderson but also those other people present who stood and watched and laughed, and in one case recorded the incident on a mobile phone”.

Outside the court Miss Lakinski’s the family said in a statement: “We hope that prison will give him time to reflect on his disgusting actions as the opportunity to examine his conscience. “We remain totally shocked that anyone could behave in such an appalling way... However, those who stood by and did nothing to stop Anderson are also guilty in our eyes. It beggars belief that these people chose not only to condone his cruelty, but also to walk away from a neighbour who was clearly in distress and needed help. “

Anyone with a shred of common decency would have at least phoned the emergency services, but not this bunch of scumbags (as far as I am concerned Whitehead and Clement are as guilty as Anderson). I only hope someone will come to their aid when they need it. Perhaps then they will truly realise how disgusting their actions were.

Photo Hunt - Beauty and the Beast

The theme for this week's PhotoHunt is pink. What could be more beautiful thatn aa fragant pink Ferdinand Pichard rose? For a while in spring the rose bush was home to a crab spider. The crab spider (Misumena vatia) does not weave webs, rather it waits to ambush ussuspecting insects as they fly in for pollen. She may look rather fearsome but she is tiny (10mm or less than hald an inch).

26 October 2007

The chessboard killer

On Wednesday Alexander Pichushkin was found guilty of guilty of 48.(although he had claimed to have murdered 63) Known as the “Bitsevo maniac” or “Bitsa beast” and “the chessboard killer” (he marked off his kills on a chessboard and had apparently planned to kill one person for each of the 64 squares), Pichushkin, was well known in Moscow's Bitsevsky Park. The 33-year-old supermarket worker would play chess there then invite his opponents for a drink afterwards. They would go to a quiet part of the park where the victim would be attacked with a hammer.

Pichushkin began his murderous career in 1992 when at the age of 18, he killed a neighbour’s boyfriend. The boy Sergei, was found dead in his apartment and police initially believed it was suicide. (It is also thought Pichushkin later killed the neighbour whose body was found in Bitsevsky Park in 2002). Pichushkin did not kill again until. Most victims were thrown into sewer ducts but seventeen were lying where they were killed.

As with many other similar killers, he claimed to have had a difficult life. He'd never known his father and his mother had placed him in a institution before he was removed to live with his grandfather. When the grandfather died, Pichushkin would go walking in the park with his dog. But then the dog died and he buried it in the park. Then he grew depressed.

Psychologist Mikhail Vinogradov interpreted the murders as being prompted by anger at his grandfather for "abandoning" him. There was also a sexual subtext: Pichushkin had described his criminal career as a "perpetual orgasm". In an interview, Pichushkin had stated "A life with murders is a life without food." He also stated that he believed he had opened a door for his victims and given them a "new life." The killing had been "a necessity”. Experts at Moscow's Serbsky Institute, Russia's main psychiatric clinic, declared that he was not mentally ill and was fit to stand trial.

It took just two hours for the jury to find him guilty of all charges.. Yesterday he returned to the courtroom and declared he was "almost God" with the power to decide who would live and who would die. "A huge number of people have been trying to decide my fate. Meanwhile, I alone decided the fate of 60 people," he said in a final statement "I was prosecutor, judge and executioner. I decided who was to live and who was to die. I was almost God," he said. "I did not break any laws. I was above them."

Pichushkin will be sentenced on Monday. Chief Prosecutor Yury Syomin has recommended that he be sentenced to life in prison, with the first 15 years in isolation, given his violent nature. Russia has a moratorium on the capital punishment as part of its obligations before the Council of Europe.

Pichuskin will have the extremely dubious distinction of joining the list of notorious serial killers which already includes fellow Russians Andrei Chikatilo and Sasha Spesivtsev (with its brutal history Russia has produced a legion of mass murderers).

Andrei Chikatilo

Chikatilo (aka “the Red Ripper” and the Butcher of Rostov” is Russia’s most prolific serial killer who murdered 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. He was convicted in 1992 and executed in 1994. Spesvitsev committed at least 19 murders in Novokuznetsk, Siberia between 1991 and 1996.

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.

I'm very relieved. I was beginning to think that my brain had largely ceased to function....

Via Grendel


This week's (early) entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

25 October 2007

Travelodge and the plague of naked sleepwalkers

Hotel chain Travelodge is reporting a substantial increase in the incidence of naked sleepwalking by guests. A seven-fold increase in cases (over 400, the vast majority, 95%, being men) has been reported by over the last year. As a result the company's management have commenced training staff in how to deal with the situation.

The guests involved usually end up in reception asking for a newspaper or requesting a check-out, according to the hotel chain, which blames stress, alcohol abuse and lack of sleep for the phenomenon. A guide being issued to staff includes a suggestion that towels to be kept in reception to protect guests' modesty.

Hmm This could be the perfect foil for puns about skyclad somnambulists but sadly I can’t think of any. I must be slipping...


Hmm, someone from the People's Republic (that's Cork to everyone else) became the 90,000th visitor to the Poor Mouth, Thanks for visiting, there's fresh drivel every day...

Giuliani to be lynched?

Giuliani faces Uzi toting Yankees fans

First there was the story of Mitt Romney and the dog on the roof rack; then Hilary Clinton became history’s joint greatest monster (along with Cherie Blair) after news broke over her abandonment of Socks the cat; now it seems that Rudy Giuliani has committed a more heinous crime than Clinton and Romney combined. Giuliani has not been caught puling the limbs off a Daddy Long Legs or biting the head off a chicken. Far worse: it seems that he has switched his sporting allegiance to a hated rival.

I must admit that I know little about baseball but I do know about sporting rivalries. A fan would rather cut their feet off rather than wish a rival team well, so it will have horrified diehard New York Yankees fans when Giuliani declared his support for the Boston Red Sox in the upcoming World Series

The New York Daily News reported with horror that Giuliani had transformed himself into a Red Sox fan on the eve of the World Series. "I'm rooting for the Red Sox," he told a Boston audience. "I'm an American League fan, and I go with the American League team, maybe with the exception of the Mets. Maybe that would be the one time I wouldn't because I'm loyal to New York."

While his words may have drawn appreciative nods from Red Sox fans, the hometown crowd in New York was quick to call him out:

"The next time he goes to Yankee Stadium, we will boo," vowed Charlie Egan, a carpenter from Long Island.

"Yankee fans forget nothing." "He said that?" exclaimed a shocked Bob Herbert, a Brooklyn maintenance worker. "He should be ashamed of himself. He is doing what Hillary did," het added, referring to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, whom Giuliani mocked just last week for dividing her loyalty between the Yankees and the .National League Cubs of her native Chicago.

Among Yankees fan Giuliani's probably ranks alongside Benedict Arnold in the pantheon of turncoats/ I can just see the angry mobs breaking out the pitchforks and flaming torches in preparation for Giuliani’s return to New York. There is a good chance that he will become the first presidential candidate to be lynched since Anton LaVey was declared that he was running as the Satan Party candidate at the 1987 NRA conference..

Perhaps there is another reason for his conversion: Back in 1954 he played for Garden City South Red Sox. Could he have been a closet Bostonian fall along?

24 October 2007

Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe

The end of this year's Echinops

This week's Wordless Wednesday/ The Echinops (globe thistle) has grown. flowered and is now dying back until next year. All that is left is for the dead flower heads to release their seeds. Ah, the circle of life

23 October 2007

Dedicated to Fred Phelps and the Westboros

Sylvester - You Make Me Feel

Klaus Nomi - Total Eclipse

Divine - So You Think You'ra a Man

I'm sure they will love my selection!

22 October 2007

The Greasy Truckers Party gets an overdue CD release

The first Greasy Truckers Party took place in February 1972. The concert was a benefit for the Greasy Truckers who were "a loose organisation of individuals whose ideals were based on those of the Diggers in San Francisco, recycling money into worthwhile causes.” The San Francisco Diggers appear to have been an “anarchist guerrilla street theatre group” (the mind boggles). The concert featured Welsh rock band Man, Brinsley Schwarz (which included Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm as members), Magic Michael ((I have no idea who he was or what happened to him) and of course Hawkwind.

A double album was released featuring excerpts from the concert. Hawkwind’s contribution was recordings of Masters of the Universe and Born to Go. Although I am not much interested in Man (although I saw them supporting Hawkwind a couple of years ago and they were not bad) or Brinsley Schwarz I always meant to track the album down just for these two tracks.

I was delighted to see that Greasy Truckers has just been re-released as a triple CD featuring the full sets of all the bands playing. Again I am not too worried about the Man, Brinsley Schwarz and Magic Michael sets (okay one ten minute song from Magic Michael is not much of a set!) but I am looking forward to hearing the Hawkwind set:

  • This is Your Captain Speaking
  • You Shouldn't Do That
  • The Awakening
  • Master of the Universe
  • Paranoia
  • Earth Calling
  • Silver Machine
  • Welcome to the Future
  • Born to Go
  • Brainstorm

Okay, I have the Space Ritual (even the recent CD/DVD release) and the BBC concert which were both also recorded in 1972 but I can’t wait for it to drop through my letter box!

If only God looked like Graham Norton

One of the biggest mysteries on this planet is how the entire congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas has avoided being bludgeoned to death. Their actions seem to be calculated to upset and outrage just about everyone on the planet who isn’t a Westboro Baptist. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this rabble of virulently homophobic lunatics have trained their guns in Ireland.

Three months ago the Westboros launched a new website God Hates Ireland. The main target appears to be David Norris who, when elected to the Seanad Eireann in 1987, became Ireland’s first openly gay public figure Mr Norris was a prominent member of the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform (an organisation that had both the current Irish president Mary McAleese and her predecessor Mary Robinson as legal advisors). Legal actions taken by the organisation finally bore fruit in 1993 when homosexuality was finally decriminalised. The website is full of the usual invective one would expect from them. Apparently “Ireland is a land of vile, feces-eaters and anus lickers and those who have pleasure in them - all of whom are abominations to God and headed for Hell.” There of course a tirade on paedophile priests

According to a Sunday Independent article the spur to set up the website was an invitation to Fred Phelps (the leader of the WBC) from University College Dublin’s Literary and History Society to speak at a debate on gay adoption. Apparently Phelps feared that if he came and launched into his usual tirades he would be arrested under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act (which is "a draconian, antichristic (sic) cup of Satan's slimy vomit, straight from the maw of hell") and that he was thus being set up by the UCD society. His daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper said he would come to Ireland only if pigs fly. "And," she added, "I mean really fly, not in a retouched photograph, or shot out of a catapult".

Graham Norton - Their worst nightmare?

This wooly minded pinko liberal just can’t get his head around what motivates the Westboros. What kick do they get out of picketing the funerals of servicemen and women or the victims of disasters such as the bridge disaster in Minnesota? I suppose it is just single minded fanaticism and the view that any publicity is good publicity. I suppose the best thing to do is ignore them (which defeats the object of this post. I know!) even if they make one want to greet them warmly on the head with a lump hammer.

It would be quite ironic if God turned out to be a Polari speaking Graham Norton lookalike. I would love to see the look on Fred Phelps’s ecaf when he rolls up at the pearly gates and God says unto him “Vada your bijou cartso, we’re all fantabulosa homy polones here”


Polari was a cant or secret language which seems to have orignally been used by fairground and show folk since the 17th century. It was used by gay men until the 1960s either as a way to discuss gay subjects without being under stood. Some gay men may have used it as a way of asserting their identity. It fell into diisuse after homosexuality was partiially decriminalised in Britain in the 1960s.

Graham Norton is a very camp Irish comedian and television presenter. He first came to notice in the UK playing the character of Father Noel Furlong in the sitcom Father Ted.

21 October 2007

The Power of Panties

Again I’m not sure how I missed this when it was originally reported on Friday but it appears that activists exasperated at the failure of diplomacy to put pressure on the Burmese, regime are trying a very different approach - involving underwear

Embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore have all been targeted by the "Panties for Peace" campaign, co-ordinated by an activist group based in Thailand. The action is a calculated insult to the junta and its leader, General Than Shwe. Superstitious junta members believe that any contact with female undergarments - clean or dirty - will sap them of their power.

"Not only are they brutal, but they are also very superstitious. They believe that touching a woman's pants or sarong will make them lose their strength," said Jackie Pollack, a member of the Lanna Action for Burma Committee. So far, hundreds of pairs of pants have been posted, according to another campaigner, Liz Hilton. "One group sent 140 pairs to the Burmese embassy in Geneva," she said.

Although it sounds like a prank the campaign is a serious attempt to allow ordinary women to express their outrage at the regime's response to democracy demonstrations. "Condemnation by the United Nations and governments around the world have had no impact on the Burmese regime. This is a way of trying to reach them where they will feel it," Ms Pollack said."The junta is famous for its abuse of women: it is well documented that they use rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities. This is a way for women around the world to express their outrage."

A message on the website Lanna Action for Burma reads: "This is your chance to use your Panty Power to take away the power from the SPDC. You can post, deliver or fling your panties at the closest Burmese Embassy any day from today. Send early, send often."

Again this sounded like a silly joke when I first saw the story (it could well still be) but if the Burmese junta are that worried about knickers then I would suggest the MOD places an order with Marks and Spencer forthwith, load up a few Trident missiles with unmentionables in assorted colours and styles and aim the buggers at Naypidaw. Hopefully a couple of dozen kilopanty airbursts over the Burmese capital should have Than Shwe running like hell!

In the meantime the not-wife has undertaken to wear the same pair of knickers next week then send them to the Burmese embassy. She will of course write BURMA on the envelope (This time standing for Be Unseated Rapidly Murdering Arseholes). It’s just as well the junta are not scared of men’s undergarments. My underwear is a serious biohazard after a single day.

Note, the address of the Burmese embassy in the UK is:

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar

19a Charles St
London, W1J 5DX

The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine

Right from the very first episode when it mentioned Tmesis (where one word, often an expletive, is inserted in another word eg, abso-f*cking-lutely) the comedy quiz QI has never ceased to entertain and inform me. If it hadn’t been for QI I may never have found out about Thomas Midgely Jr or the fact that the Number of the Beast is in fact 616. Last night there was a question about fainting goats - oh what the hell, here’s the footage of some fainting goats I posted last year:

The goats suffer from a genetic condition called myotonia congenita which makes them appear to faint when stressed. As part of the explanation of the condition there was mention of a similar condition in humans called the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine.... The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine? I had a mental picture of legions of Bips leaping into the air in north eastern USA.

In fact the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a disorder that was first described by GM Beard who, in 1878, noticed an exaggerated "startle" reflex among French-Canadian lumberjacks in Maine. An event which might startle a normal person would cause an extended and exaggerated response in sufferers including crying out, flailing limbs, twitching, and sometimes convulsions. The sufferers also have an automatic reflex to obey any order that is delivered suddenly. They will often display echolalia, repeating the order. These features were described by Beard as follows:

“One of the jumpers while sitting in his chair with a knife in his hand was told to throw it, and he threw it quickly, so that it struck in a beam opposite; at the same time he repeated the order to throw it…. When the commands are uttered in a quick loud voice the jumper repeats the order. When told to strike, he strikes, when told to throw it, he throws it, whatever he has in his hands…. “

The disorder is related to conditions seen elsewhere in the world; including Latah (whose sufferers display very similar symptoms). They all appear to be related to Hyperekplexia which is believed to be caused by a genetic mutation which prevents neurons from receiving the amino acid Glycine which acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the Central Nervous System. It prevents the central nervous system from overreacting to stimuli. However there is still debate about the cause the Jumping Frenchmen condition: some researchers believe that the disorder is psychological rather than neurological.

And who says television rots the brain!

20 October 2007

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very nutty boy

Scroll down for Photo Hunt

Had I not missed the story totally at the time I would certainly have posted something about David Shayler and his new incarnation. Sadly it passed me by until I received the new issue of the Fortean Times a couple of days ago.

A former MI5 employee, David Shayler originally hit the headlines ten years after he disclosed information about MI5 activities to The Mail on Sunday. Among his claims were that the agency was paranoid about leftists and had investigated Labour ministers Peter Mandelson, Jack Straw and Harriet Harman at the time of the 1992 election (there was a good chance that the Tories would be defeated at that election but it was not to be) . He subsequently claimed that MI5 had failed to stop the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London in 1994.and that it had plotted to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.

After the Government decided to prosecute him under the Official Secrets Act, Shayler left for France. He eventually returned voluntarily to the UK in 2000. He was found guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act and sentenced to Seven months imprisonment. Apart from standing against Tony Blair in the 2005 election and apparently alleging that the planes seen crashing into the World Trade Centre were in fact missiles disguised by holograms, he seemed to have disappeared off the radar. That is until a couple of months ago.

In July Shayler announced publicly that he was the new Messiah stating that his revelation had been largely attained as the result of drug-induced altered states of consciousness. The following month he was interviewed by the Daily Mail

“I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life.” He bagan his interview “First I started meditating, then I learnt how to channel the "light", and the more research I did - into Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, Kabbalah - the more convinced I became that I was the Christ." However he went to great pains to assure that he was not Jesus but he was " crucified with a crown of thorns and nails then incarnated as Astronges, a Jewish revolutionary put to death by the Romans at around the end of the last century BC ... It was in June that a psychic channelled the spirit of Mary Magdalene and anointed me the messiah and, finally, my whole life made sense. I realised why I seem to get such a strange deal from the universe, when I've spent my life trying to tell the truth about everything." He also believes he was George Washington, Pythagoras, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Antony and Lawrence of Arabia (I would have thought Grimaldi the Clown would have been among the list somewhere)

As the Messiah he claims he can affect the weather, prevent terrorist attacks and influence football results. It was back in April that he performed what he calls his first and greatest miracle - securing his beloved team Middlesbrough a place in the UEFA Cup Final. "It was the quarter-final against Basle and we were 3-0 down after the first leg and needed four goals in the second match to win. I sat there, said to the creator, "give me a sign" and meditated... I managed to focus and we played like we'd never played before, winning 4-0." He did it again in the semi-final, against Bucharest. "Again we were 3-0 down, again I meditated and, bang, we won - a real miracle."

However Middlesbrough lost 4-0 to Seville in the final: "Ah... I got drunk and it turns out it doesn't work if you're drunk. You can't focus." (It seems that he can only do one miracle at a time. Turning wine into water took up all of his mystical faculties). He was subsequently advised by the 'creator' that influencing football results was not an appropriate use of his powers. "On 28 June, I was told I had to remove darkness from London. I wasn't sure what it was all about, but I stayed up all night meditating and....( by sunrise the darkness had gone?) , the next morning, I heard a bomb had been found but no one had been hurt. That was my miracle."

Shayler is not concerned about being compared to David Icke who, in 1991, announced on the Terry Wogan chat show that he was 'the son of God' and believed the world was ruled by secret 12ft shape-shifting reptiles called 'Illuminati'. However he is somewhat sceptical of the other David: "He has a lot of interesting things to say, but I don't think he always gets it 100 per cent right. For me it's very simple - no turquoise tracksuits, no cults, it doesn't work like that." (no Messiah would have that lousy dress sense eh?)

It’s heartening to se that Britain can still produce nutters to an international standard. It remains to be seen whether he can crack the “big league” with a major following, book deals, lectures etc or if he will end up like Stanley Green, the guy who used to be seen on Oxford Street selling his booklet “Eight Passion Proteins With Care”

Photo Hunt Or all your balusters are belong to us

The theme for this week's PhotoHunt is practical. For us a baluster is an excellent way of keeping a balustrade at the correct height. For Robyn it is a very practical way of removing that itch and leaving the scent that remids our other three cats that he is still the Alpha male

19 October 2007

Arranged shag

I loved Goodness Gracious Me.

Something a bit more substantial to follow when I am less tired.

Mister Pot and Mister Kettle?

I may consider celebrity gossip magazines crass and pointless – who really gives a damn if Kerry Katona has cellulite (Kerry who? My point exactly!) or if Jade Goody is stupid... That said I’m not averse to reading about celebrities slagging each other off.

The current issue of GQ has an interview with director Francis Ford Coppola in which he takes a swipe at Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson. In his view the trio have gone from raging bulls to ageing bulls, becoming lazy, risk averse and "living off the fat of the land". "I met Pacino and De Niro when they were really on the come", the director said "They were young and insecure. Now Pacino is very rich, maybe because he never spends any money; he just puts it in his mattress. De Niro was deeply inspired by Zoetrope and created an empire and is wealthy and powerful". Meanwhile he said that Jack Nicholson had been waylaid from serious filmmaking by the lure of the Hollywood lifestyle.

But I wonder if Coppola doesn’t see a little irony in his comments. Coppola has directed some magnificent films in his time most notably The Godfather and The Godfather part II, but he hasn’t exactly been living the life on the edge himself. He has a new film coming out shortly but it had been a decade since his last directorial credit (John Grisham’s The Rainmaker – hardly the stuff of Sundance). Over the past ten years he has devoted his energies to executive producing roles and more tellingly a range of pasta sauces, a Californian vineyard, a luxury resort in Belize and a San Francisco restaurant.

Coppola has nothing to prove as a director; Pacino, De Niro and Nicholson have nothing left to prove as actors. It just struck me as amusing that he would accuse them of losing their edge when he has hardly been on the edge himself.

18 October 2007


This week's (early) entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Alisher Usmanov eyes bigger prize?

The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website is not one I regularly visit but I was intrigued by a recent item about Alisher Usmanov . If it is true then Usmanov may have his sights on a prize far bigger than just a north London football club. Apparently he is seen as a possible heir to Islom Karimov, the current president of Uzbekistan

Much of the article covers ground which will now be very familiar to anyone following Usmanov’s ham fisted attempt to silence Craig Murray and Tim Ireland, the outrage it caused within the blogosphere and his subsequent charm offensive (feeding lazy journalists first rate food and wine and fourth rate spin) However it notes that Craig Murray and others are convinced that Usmanov harbours “significant ambitions” regarding his Central Asian homeland.

According to Murray, Karimov and his family would ultimately like Usmanov to succeed the president: "I've been aware for at least the last three years that Alisher Usmanov was looked on favourably by the Karimov family as a possible, eventual successor when President Karimov decides to give up in -- what Karimov hopes -- won't be for several years. But the Karimov family has been very keen to find a successor who they trust will not take all the money and all the industries and properties away from the Karimov family." Said Murray

Murray is not alone: Yevgeny Volk, the head of the Nasledie think tank in Moscow agrees that Usmanov would be a likely contender to take over when the 71-year-old strongman passes on. "I think Usmanov needs power because -- first of all -- he still is a stranger in Russia to some extent. With his origin and roots, he belongs to the Uzbek nation. I think his political ambitions could be realized in Uzbekistan."

But it’s not just his native roots that would make Usmanov the right man for the job. Usmanov, a senior adviser to Gazprom and president of one its subsidiaries, is arguably part and parcel of the Kremlin’s inner circle. Russia and its energy firms still play a significant role in Tashkent’s affairs; Usmanov could be uniquely poised to eventually take over in the Uzbek capital with pivotal backing from Moscow. "Usmanov's latest steps show his efforts to create a rapport with Russian leaders and demonstrate his loyalty,” according to Volk

Usmanov has never said publicly that he would consider entering politics. Nor has he made any political comments about Uzbekistan. There could also be official and legal barriers for Usmanov to run for the Uzbek presidency. His Russian citizenship and years abroad could work against his candidacy. But with Russia using energy clout to reassert hegemony over the lands of Moscow’s former empire, few profiles might better fit the bill to lead Uzbekistan than that of Alisher Usmanov.

This may just all be speculation but perhaps Usmanov really does have his eye on the big prize. I wonder if he will get match fit by having a few bloggers boiled alive*?

* The apparent fate, according to Human Rights Watch, of Muzafar Avazov in an Uzbek prison in 2002

17 October 2007

Hawley Crippen is Innocent OK

Well it is unlikely that we will see similar graffiti over the east end but forensic scientists are now suggesting that Doctor Crippen may be the victim of a miscarriage of justice....

Doctor Crippen was convicted and executed for the murder of his wife Cora Turner. The case (a relatively mundane case in itself imho) is remarkable for the use of wireless telegraphy in his capture. Following the apparent murder and dismemberment of his wife, Crippen and his lover Ethel le Neve had boarded the SS Montrose, posing as father and son. A suspicious captain recognised Crippen and alerted the police. An officer taking a faster vessel was able to arrest Crippen as the Montrose entered the St Lawrence River.

Nearly a century later a team of American forensic scientists have compared mitochondrial DNA from the remains presented at the trial with samples taken from Cora Crippen's surviving relatives. The results show that the exhumed body could not have been Cora Turner’s.

Police had found mutilated remains at Crippen’s house. The head and bones had been removed. According to toxicologist John Trestrail, poisoners rarely inflict external damage on their victims. "It is so unusual that a poisoner would dismember the victim, because a poisoner attempts to get away with murder without leaving any trace. In my database of 1,100 poisoning cases, this is the only one which involves dismemberment," he said. The discrepancy prompted him to re-examine the evidence in the Crippen case. Working with a genealogist, Beth Wills, he set about finding Mrs Crippen's surviving family. The team tracked down three distant relatives in California and Puerto Rico and compared their DNA with some obtained from samples presented at Crippen’s trial.

If the body did not belong to Cora Turner then who is it? One of Dr Trestrail's hypotheses is that Crippen was performing illegal abortions and that the body could have resulted from a botched procedure. So what happened to Turner? Was she actually murdered by Crippen but her body remains undiscovered somewhere? Or could she have returned to the US and lived under an assumed name? Ten years after the trial, a singer with the name Belle Rose (similar to Turner’s stage name of Belle Elmore) name was registered as living with Cora's sister in New York. Records show that the same woman entered the US through Ellis Island from Bermuda in 1910 shortly after Mrs Crippen disappeared. Of course this could well be a coincidence.

I have no idea whether this is sufficient to exonerate Crippen. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a posthumous pardon. It’s still an interesting twist in this case, albeit nearly a century too late to save him from a date with the hangman.

Wordless Wednesday - Wasp and Ivy

This week's Wordless Wednesday

16 October 2007

Another throwaway, nothing to say post

This time it's Excitable Boy by Waren Zevon. Shame there's no video of him performing Mr Bad Example. Hiho

Give your loved one a kissing disease under the mistletoe

Epstein-Barr (Kissing disease)

Christmas is coming, the geese are blissfully unaware of the ulterior motive behind those extra rations.... Are you likely to be stuck for present ideas for your lived ones? then give them a gift wrapped contagious disease for Christmas this year. I suppose they it must be the inner nerd but I find the idea of toy microbes quite amusing! There's something for everyone.... . what can be more romantic than this cute little chap?


And it's not just for humans: just imagine the look on Rover's face as he is given the mange!

All of these are available from Giant Microbes

14 October 2007

Spider and Wasp

Post 1200

Patricia McKeever in running for prestigious award.

A few months ago I put up a post about Patricia McKeever , the secretive editor of the Catholic Truth (catholictruthscotland) website and newsletter. Her desire for personal privacy does not extend to catholic priests and teachers who she believes to be gay or have any social contact with gay men. This extract from Catholic Truth’s January newsletter gives a good indication of their targets and tactics:

...one of the first scandals brought to our attention is that of the laymen, x and y who provide the music for the Mass in *****, offered by Fr *****. Apparently, their music is beautiful but x and y are widely believed to be much more than a musical duo: indeed ,it appears to be common knowledge that they have, for some years now, lived as an openly “gay” couple, with Father ***** a regular visitor to their flat and a popular guest at their social events.

However, when our research officer rang, x reacted angrily and refused to confirm or deny that he and y live together as a homosexual couple. Our subsequent recorded delivery letter was refused and returned unopened; Since this triangular social is common knowledge within Catholic circles in Like x and y Father **** has ignored our recorded delivery letter, so we must presume that he sees nothing wrong in continuing his public friendship with this homosexual couple.

It is pleasing to note that McKeever’s relentless campaign could be given the recognition it deserves. She joins Jeremy Clarkson in receiving a nomination for Stonewall’s coveted Bigot of the Year.award. McKeever is said to be “honoured” to receive a nomination. It is not yet clear whether she will attend the award ceremony at the Albert Hall on 1 November.

13 October 2007

Hercules - Midnight Oil

Photo Hunt - Smelly

The theme for this week's PhotoHunt is smelly. This photo shows the flowers of Thalictrum flavum, the meadow rue. Flowers should be sweet smelling (if they have a smell at all) Thalictrum, on the other hand, smells of ammonia - definitely a case of pretty blooms but a vile smell!

(I know this is a re-posting of this photo but I haven't had the chance to get out and take new photos for a while now)

12 October 2007

New Elahe Heidari Exhibition

Click here for the Mah Art Gallery website

Hopefully it won't be too long before she will be exhibited here in the UK. Elahe now has her own blog which will be used to showcase her work.

Another Robert Calvert Release

It’s been a good year or so for fans of the late, great Robert Calvert, what with the release of a number of live recordings (okay whether these are good is debatable – the quality of these recordings is generally rather poor) , the re-release of his first two solo albums Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters and Lucky Leif and the Longships and the The Brock/Calvert Project Brock/Calvert Project.

Now record label Voiceprint has just released a limited edition (500 copies) of Calvert’s poetry collection Centigrade 232. Originally published in 1977 Centigrade 232 brings together 49 of Calvert’s poems. Some of them, will be well known to Hawkwind fans: part of The First Landing of Medusa appeared as The Awakening on the Space Ritual; Centigrade 232 was appeared on Choose Your Masques as Farenheit 451

The book comes with a CD of Calvert reciting these poems. This was originally released on cassette in 1986 and sold through his mailing list. It is good to see this re-release as original copies of the book and cassette are now very hard to find and change hands for substantial sums.

If you have never heard anything by Robert Calvert a good place to start is a live concert recorded in Carlisle in 1986. It is available as a free download here, courtesy of former Inner City Unit guitarist Steve Pond

Why have you put that silly doll beside me?

Bebe is not impressed by the Kenneth Williams (a la Carry on Casear) talking doll

And what, pray tell, is the purpose of such a toy, human?

This week's entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

11 October 2007

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize

Doris Lessing has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature for her life's work over a 57-year career, including The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook and Memoirs of a Survivor.

Lessing told BBC Radio "I've won it. I'm very pleased and now we're going to have a lot of speeches and flowers and it will be very nice. She recalled that, in the 1960s, "they sent one of their minions especially to tell me they didn't like me at the Nobel Prize and I would never get it. So now they've decided they're going to give it to me. So why? I mean, why do they like me any better now than they did then?" The author, who turns 88 on 22 October, said she thought she had become more respectable with age. They can't give a Nobel to someone who's dead so I think they were probably thinking they had better give it to me now before I popped off." she said.

Lessing is only the 11th woman to win the Literature prize and only the 34th woman to win any Nobel prize, The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, described Lessing as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny". In addition to the Nobel cash prize, Lessing will receive a gold medal and an invitation to give a lecture at the academy's headquarters in Stockholm..

Lessing was born in Persia then moved to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) as a child before. She settled in England in 1949. Her debut novel The Grass is Singing was published the following year. She is the second British citizen to be awarded a Nobel prize this year: Sir Martin Evans director of School of Biosciences and professor of mammalian genetics at Cardiff University.shares the Medicine prize along with Americans Mario Capecchi, and Oliver Smithies (who was born and educated in England) for their work on stem cells and genetic manipulation.

It’s a long time since I’ve read any of her works. Like a lot of people I will be digging through the boxes of stored books or heading off to the bookshop....