31 January 2011

A Philosophy Poetry Challenge -With great prizes!

I've decided that enough is enough: there are a number of intellectual pursuits that I simply can't get my head around: calculus and pholosophy are two that spring to mind imediately. While 'm sure that I can overcome my calculus block on my own I fear that there is no chance that I will ever be able to sit down and read the works of Schopenhauer, Hegel, Nietzsche or Lacan...

Gems of knowledge such as this by Lacan are a mystery to me: A geometry implies the heterogeneity of locus, namely that there is a locus of the Other. Regarding this locus of the Other, of one sex as Other, as absolute Other, what does the most recent development in topology allow us to posit?

Unless I can get my head around this I fear that the likes of Slavoj Zizek and Jacques Derrida will simply remain tedious pricks with no more relevance to the world than Jordan.

I therefore need help to overcome this block. Readers are therefore asked to explain philosophical concepts in verse form. All forms of verse are acceptable but the shorter the poem, the better - Haikus are particularly welcome!

There will of course be prizes for the best poems. The winner will receive a copy of the collected novels of Flann O'Brien. Second prize is the Third Policeman on audio book (read by the actor who played Bishop Brennan in Father Ted!).. Also up for grabs are three copies of the Poor Mouth (The novel that gave this blog its name)

All you need do is leave your poem as a comment... or poems, - you can enter as often as you like! . Closing date is 31 January

Sue this Jeff Koons!

For having the temerity to post this video I accept that uberprick Jeff Koons may sue me. All legal correspondence can be sent to:

Jams O Donnell
póg mo thóin Cottage
County Lout

Jeff Koons claims ownership of all balloon dogs

Art according to Jeff Koons

There is art I love, art that leaves me cold and art I downright hate. The work of Jeff Koons falls into category three. Koons is called a master of kitsch in my view he is a peddler of shit.

Koons has stolen inspiration from other artists and has been taken to court. An example is the case of Rogers_v._Koons where photographer Art Rogers sued the “artist” over his creation of a sculpture that was a remake of his photo a string of puppies. Koons lost, was forced to had over the last of the series of sculptures and make a substantial financial settlement.

Now it seems that Loons has the gall to take legal action against a company for copyright violation.

Koons has been creating shiny balloon dog sculptures that sell for idiotic prices. Toronto manufacturer Imm-Living produces plastic bookends, which vaguely resemble his balloon dogs for $30.

Lawyers representing Koons have filed cease-and-desist letters against the firm and the San Fransisco gallery Park Life which sells the bookends.

The owners of the San Francisco gallery, Park Life, have responded, claiming that it is impossible for anyone to copyright the canine shape. "As virtually any clown can attest, no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain," Park Life's counter-lawsuit said.

It is clear that Jeff Koons in an arsehole and his lawsuit is utterly frivolous. I hope that it is laughed out of court. That said the critics who faun over his crap and the people who buy it are bigger arseholes by far,

Birth of a Nation

The provisional results of the referendum concerning the independence of Southern Sudan have been announced. The results give a clear message: an overwhelming vote in favour of independence – nearly 99%

Of more than 3.8 million ballots cast, less than 15,000 were for continued unity. International observers had earlier stated that the vote was largely free and fair.
Anywhere else you see these kinds of numbers, you're going to cry foul," said one Western diplomat who travelled to Sudan to observe the vote. "In this case, we're pretty confident that that is pretty much exactly the reflection of the voters' wishes."

The results are still preliminary until finalised in Khartoum early in February. South Sudan will split from the north on July 9, according to the timetable laid down in a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between Sudan's north and its south.

The vote was the final part of the agreement ending a civil war, that took the loves of around two million people and lasted for almost forty years.

Here’s wishing the people of Southern Sudan peace and prosperity

30 January 2011

I know I have been silent on recent events in Tunisia and Egypt, partly because I have been preoccupied but mainly because there are plenty of people out there who can analyse the state affairs much better than I ever could.

The turn on events has come as a huge surprise to me. Who would have thought that the self immolation of a street vendor not much more than a month ago could have precipitated all of this? I don’t believe that this has been orchestrated by the West regardless of the Telegraph’s revelation . Nor do I believe that they are an Islamist front.

The protests appear to be the release of a hell of a lot of pent up anger, be it unemployment, spiralling food prices, anger with corrupt and repressive leaderships/Sometimes all it takes is a single spark to light the fires of anger. Mohamed Bouazizi seems to have ben just that spark (apologies if the metaphor is inappropriate given his form of protest).

Where will this end up? Who knows. I hope to hell that it leads to better things for millions of people who people who deserve so much.

There is a serious risk that fundamentalists like the Muslim Brotherhood could hijack the protests. That is something that will be, to say the least, unwelcome (a huge understatement!). But this by no means inevitable.

We can only see what happens. This is for the people of Tunisia and Egypt (and, and, and) to sort. Here's hoping that it leads to better things for them.

Your grave is over here

Windows II

28 January 2011

Photo Hunt - Standing

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is standing. This is a standing stone, part of the Knocknakilla stone circle in County Cork, Ireland


Ted is at rest but even when having forty winks he's a badass.... Just likr Ian Gillan he's:

27 January 2011

I am just outside

I am watching you


Maria Tanase - blestem

I had not heard of Romanian folk singer Maria Tanase until two days ago. Perhaps this is not surprisng as she died a few months after my birth and Romanian folk singers were not in vogue in Corkadoragha at the time. Still one can make amends.

My dear friend Redwine has provided this translation of the lyrics

Whosoever loves and leaves
May god send them punishment
The slither of the snake
The walk of the beetle
The whizzing of the wind
The dust of the earth
Because the ant thats an ant
With big body and small mind
And with a slender waist
That walks beneath the ground
Still can keep its word

But us baptized humans
Only us baptized humans
Cant keep our word.
Because whoever loves and leaves
May god give him as punishment
the slither of the snake
The walk of the beetle
The whizzing of the wind
The dust of the earth

I wil certainly be listening to more of her work

26 January 2011

The entire population of Sri Lanka co authors scientific paper

One of my favourite internet reads is the Improbable Research website, which is run by the people who award the prestigious IgNobel prizes. The aim of Improbable Research is to have a gentle dig at the wilder shores of scientific research but it is certainly not anti-science. The intention is to make people laugh and then think.

A recent post celebrated a paper on Gluinos (a hypothetical particle – Do’t ask me to explain because it is way beyond my ken) . Quite astonishingly (to me anyway) the paper has 2100 co-authors. Now that is impressive!

I had thought of publishing the whole list of contributors but that would create a post that would go on and on and on. Let me present you this link to see for yourself

From V Khachatrayan to M Weinberg, the Poor Mouth salutes you even if he ha no idea whatsoever what the research is about!

Improbable research states that another paper has even more co authors, a massive 2500!

Naiad II

Naiad I

25 January 2011

Wherein Jams O Donnell is glad not have his methotrexate dose increased

Well I suppose the title says it all, I am not long back from a hospital appointment. My dermatologist is pleased with the slow but progressive clearing of my psoriasis. A little over five months ago had over 30% coverage. Now it is down to less than 10%. My dermatologist has chosen to maintain rather than increase my methotrexate dosage

Whle I am not fond of methotrexate - even at low doses it ha some unpleasant side effects it seems to be working well .Hopefully it will not be too many months before I can come off the drug. I do quite fancy a pint (Alcohol is banned while taking the methotrexate)

A new sun in the sky soon, maybe, perhaps.....

A few days ago the Telegraph carried a short item about a supernova that could provide the biggest light show since Earth was formed – so bright that night will become like day for one or two weeks.

The star Betelgeuse, 640 light years away from Earth, is a red supergiant, meaning that it is nearing the end of its life and is due to explode. When it does it will burn so brightly that the earth will appear to have two suns in the sky.

Well that sounds great. I can’t wait to see that display! Hold on there s one small turd in the swimming pool: astronomers are not quite sure when it will go supernova. Brad Carter, senior lecturer of physics at the University of southern Queensland in Australia, said the explosion could take place before the end of the year – or indeed at any point over the next million years.

A million years? I won’t wait up then.,,, (Sighs)


24 January 2011

Cornbread and butterbeans

Bloody Methotrexate. That's me done for the day....

Wherein Jams O’Donnell Gets his finger out and works on a photographic website

I've finally decided to get my finger out and create a website to showcase the best of my photography. None of the photos will be new to either reader of this blog but I thought that it was high time to have a dedicated website away from this blog and in my real name.

It's been a bit of a slow process as I wanted to go back to the original photos, readjusting them where necessary, The problem is that my filing system is bloody awful. It should be up and running by the end of the week.

Jams O Donnell

21 January 2011

Photo Hunt - Hands





The theme for the week's Photo Hunt ishands. Although there are four human hands in the household cat paws are in greater abundance so here are some front paws instead

The Poor Mouth – Twinned with a Burundi latrine

The Poor Mouth is now officially twinned with a latrine (probably similar to the one shown above) in Giharo in the Rutana Province of Burundi. This is not perhaps a surprise to those who consider this blog to be a load of crap anyway.

The Poor Mouth was twinned via an organisation called Toilet Twinning which has a serious function :s to fund sanitation projects in Africa.

Access to clear water and safe sanitation is something we take for granted here. We are fortunate not to be among the 2.6 billion people who do not have access to such a basic need; and even luckier not to be one of the thousands who die every day because of unsafe sanitation.

Good sanitation means people stay healthy, can go to school or earn an income – transforming lives and alleviating poverty. For every £1 spent on a water and sanitation programme, an estimated £8 is returned through saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs.

Toilet Twinning is a partnership between the charities Cord and Tearfund. The money raised through Toilet Twinning will be used by Cord and Tearfund to help some of the world’s poorest people access safe sanitation and clean water; and enjoy better health; go to school and work; and fund other projects to alleviate poverty around the world.

I had not heard of Toilet Twinning until last week when I attended a lecture at the RSA and saw a twinning notice in one of their toilets. I hope that the money does some good

Boris: Bad to the Bone

Don;t be fooled by the exhibition catalogue I Boris am:

19 January 2011

Berlin Film Festival to honour Panahi

The Guardian reports that the Berlin Film Festival is to honour Jafar Panahi with screenings of his movies and a panel discussion on censorship in Iran,

Dieter Kosslick, the festival's director, said Panahi had been invited to sit on the 2011 jury to decide the Golden Bear prize for best film prior to his imprisonment. Last month he was sentenced to six years in jail in Iran and banned from leaving the country, shooting films or scriptwriting for 20 years. "We are going to use every opportunity to protest against this drastic verdict," said Kosslick.

Panahi's prizewinning film Offside, about girls who dress up as men to sneak into a football stadium, will be shown along with a number of the director's other features. The film-maker has himself previously won awards at Chicago, Cannes and Berlin.

Meanwhile the rest of the cinema world seems to be pretty silent about Panahi’s plight. The sentence handed down by the Iranian courts was an absolute disgrace.


Chavez angered by slurs about “Little Hugo”

Venezuela and Little Hugo

The Telegraph (and many other sources) report that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered a private television station to stop showing a Colombian soap opera featuring a troublesome dog called Little Hugo owned by a girl called Venezuela who feels better off without him.

The country's National Telecommunications Commission condemned the programme for it's "degrading treatment of Venezuela" and asked Televen to immediately stop broadcasting it.

The show is called Chepe Fortuna which features two girls: the wayward Venezuela and a better behaved sister called Colombia. Venezuela has a dog called Little Hugo.

In one episode, Venezuela is shown searching for her dog after he goes missing, calling out: "Little Hugo? Baby? Baby? Cutie?" Later Venezuela is seen crying as she talks to someone over the phone and asks: "What will become of Venezuela without Little Hugo?" A man replies: "Venezuela will be free. Lately Little Hugo was defecating everywhere."

Speaking on Saturday President Chavez (above) said: "What disrespect for Venezuela! It is a disgraceful slur on the real “Little Hugo” who is rather large and has satisfied over a thousand ladies. That soap is so horrible. “

All a bit of a cock up if you ask me…

18 January 2011

Fountain II

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

I have just finished watching a BBC documentary about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Amazing voice, excellent guitarist - a woman with more feeling in one syllable than most singers can put into a song. Why on earth have I never heard of her?

By the water

Or is it? I will probably get a couple of posts up before connection goes again

Connection still crappy

My internet connection is still pretty spotty so I probably won't be able to do much visiting until it's sorted.

17 January 2011

The world goes by

Another view through a train window


A fountain in Trafalgar Square
Major problem with my internet connection. Had not access yesterday at all and access seems to be intermittent today. Hopefuly normal service will be resumed shortly

15 January 2011

Government Economic Policy explained

Again fr no good reason whatsoever

Sexual Harrassment Panda

For no reason whatsoever except that I actually do love South Park!

A bizarre disaster in Boston

There is a folk belief in Boston that on a summer day in some of the older neighbourhoods a faint, sweet smell wafts up from cracks in the pavement. This is said to be the smell of ancient molasses....

The folk belief may be untrue but 92 years ago today there was a strange disaster in Boston . On 15 January 15, 1919, an unseasonably warm winter day (the temperature was above freezing) a giant tank full of molasses ruptured emptying its entire contents in the space of a few seconds. The result was nothing less a flash flood along Commercial Street consisting of millions of gallons of sweet but deadly goo.

The Boston Evening Globe published a description based on eyewitness accounts later that day:

Fragments of the great tank were thrown into the air, buildings in the neighborhood began to crumple up as though the underpinnings had been pulled away from under them, and scores of people in the various buildings were buried in the ruins, some dead and others badly injured.

The explosion came without the slightest warning. The workmen were at their noontime meal, some eating in the building or just outside, and many of the men in the Department of Public Works Buildings and stables, which are close by, and where many were injured badly, were away at lunch.

Once the low, rumbling sound was heard no one had a chance to escape. The buildings seemed to cringe up as though they were made of pasteboard.

A "wall of molasses" at least eight feet high rushed through the streets at a speed of 35 miles per hour. It demolished entire buildings, upended vehicles and buried horses. People tried to outrun the torrent, but were overtaken and either hurled against solid objects or drowned where they fell. More than 150 people were injured. 21 were killed.

The clean-up took weeks. Once that was done, the filing of lawsuits began. More than a hundred plaintiffs lined up to seek damages from the tank’s owner, the United States Industrial Alcohol Company. Hearings went on for six years. Several "expert witnesses" for the defence tried to argue that the explosion had been the result of sabotage, rather than negligence on the part of the company. In the end the court found that the tank had been overfilled and inadequately reinforced. No evidence of sabotage was ever found. All told, the company was forced to pay out nearly a million dollars in damages — a bittersweet victory for survivors of one of the strangest disasters in American history.

14 January 2011

Photo Hunt - Shadow

It's been over a month since I last contribute to Photo Hunt. Time to play again. The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is shadow. The above photo was taken in the Cortauld Gallery in London yesterday.

Sometimes the fox he win

A wounded fox shot its would be killer in Belarus by pulling the trigger on the hunter's gun as the pair scuffled while the hunter tried to finish the animal off

The unnamed hunter, who had approached the fox after wounding it from a distance, was in hospital with a leg wound, while the fox made its escape, media said, citing prosecutors from the Grodno region.

"The animal fiercely resisted and in the struggle accidentally pulled the trigger with its paw," one prosecutor was quoted as saying.

It’s good to se the fox get a score draw, Cases of hunters being wounded or killed by their prey are not everyday but uncommon, especially if one is a regular reader of the Fortean Times!

Anyway it gives me a perverse pleasure to see hunters get their comeuppance


Oh bugger even firebathing is no respite from that bloody camera

13 January 2011

A Great Day for Drunken Science!

Once again the Fortean Times breaking news section brings real news of interest. Today’s gem relates to a fascinating discovery in the field of superconductivity that may not have happened had the scientists not bee steaming drunk!

According to io9.com Yoshihiko Takano and other researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were trying to create a certain kind of superconductor by putting a compound in hot water and soaking it for hours. They also soaked the compound in a mixture of water and ethanol.

Things were going well so the scientists decided to have a little party featuring sake, whisky, various wines, shochu (this one’s new to me), and beer. At a certain point, the researchers decided to try soaking the compound in the various drinks they had to hand and seeing how they compared to the more conventional soaking liquids.

When they tested the resulting materials for superconductivity, they found that the ones soaked in commercial booze came out ahead. About 15 percent of the material became a superconductor for the water mixed with ethanol, and less for the pure water. By comparison, Shochu jacked up conductivity by 23 percent and red wine managed to supercharge over 62 percent of the material.

None of this would have happened if the scientists hadn’t had a party and gotten pissed. Well done those men!


Stadium for the 2012 Olympics, Stratford in East London

100 000 001

12 January 2011

Blood Libel??? For Pity's Sake!

Now Palin is describing the accusations as a blood libel? Unless she is Jewish and was falsely acused of of the ritual murder of a christian child then whatever has been said about Palin and her idiotic gunsight map is not Blood Libel.

If, however, she had been accused of the murder of William of Norwich or Little Hugh of Lincoln, or a modern American counterpart then the accusation would be appropriate... but nobody's said that.

Memo to Palin: Don't use an expression you clearly don't understand

100 000 000

An installation of over 100 million ceramic sunflower seeds in the turbine hall, Tate Modern

Bridge 3

10 January 2011

Wherein Jams O’Donnell pledges his allegiance to the Conservative Party

After nearly 27 years as a loyal Labour Party member why would I now wish to switch parties and become a Conservative?

Well here’s why. It is because David Cameron will almost certainly be in a position both to slash taxes and massively increase public spending in the very near future, This is due to the discovery of a guaranteed way to ensure that the economy gathers pace by leaps and bounds

It can be revealed that David Cameron has held high level discussions with Bank of England Governor Mervyn King. Both have discovered a strategy that will form a route map to prosperity.

It is a matter of record that both Cameron and King are Aston Vila supporters (Cameron’s uncle was once the Chairman of Aston Villa so it is a case of the young lad coveting the uncle’s train set I suppose). Both have noticed that the club’s greatest successes over the last 30 years have come at times when the economy was in recession. Again this is correct: Aston Villa last achieved a high place in the league’s top flight in the early 90s (during the last recession) and won the European Cup in 1982. If success comes in recession then it follows that failure will lead to economic success

Speaking to Andre Marr yesterday Cameron stated "The Governor of the Bank of England and I realised that that Villa tend to do better when the economy is doing badly so Villa doing badly is a sign of better economic times to come.”

“However, we have decided to take action to safeguard the economy at Villa’s expense. As a life long supporter it does hurt – I may never be able to show my face at Vila Park again - but it is in the best interests of the economy and the country as a whole to ensure that Villa’s season is as dreadful as possible.”

“I have formed a special committee, consisting of myself, the Chancellor, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary f state for Culture, Media and Sport to determine the best way to ensure that Villa is relegated to the Championship this season and to Leagues One and Two and finally to the bottom of the Conference before the next election. “

"Economists have already predicted that this should effectively increase growth of somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5% per annum. This will not only allow us to meet the deficit but also to significantly reduce both direct and indirect taxation while at the same time allowing for substantial public sector growth.”

Well there you have it. While Osborne was on the verge of repairing the country’s fortunes by taking up offers form every retired brigadier in west Africa, David Cameron has discovered a sure fire way to restore Britain’s greatness.

… I would of course still much rather have my testicles removed with a rusty chisel than join the Tories or even vote for them

Nephew V

09 January 2011

Wherein Jams O'Donnell rediscovers the joys of plaque-free hair

In addition to the psoriasis on my body, I am afflicted with the self same condition on my scalp - to the extent that my my shoulders looked more like pistes thanks to the hideous amounts of plaque flakes (Psoriasis plaque is like dandruff if dandruff did anabolic steroids and spent eight hours a day at the gym). Not only was it unsightly it was a rather embarrassing to have to brush the damned stuff off my clothes every few minutes

At long last I have been prescribed something that really works - a gel called Xamiol. It has killed the plaque dead. It's a bit of a bugger to wash out but that's a small price to pay.

The methotrextate has played its part of course but the Xamiol seems to have given the scalp psoriasis the coup de grace. Now to see if I can get it on a repeat prescription.

It's just a well I have invested in a prepaid prescription card. Getting Methotrexate, Folic acid, Dovobet (and hopefully now Xamiol) every month with Beclomethasone and paroxetine every other month comes to nearly £450 a year. I will get the lot for just over £100. I shudder to think wht this lot would have cost if I lived in the US of A

Nephew IV