28 February 2010

People and the ghosts of people - detail

People and the ghosts of people

Meanwhile in Burma.... junta still terrified of the Lady

Friday’s Guardian reported, unsurprisingly, sadly, that Aung San Suu Kyi (The Lady) failed in her latest bid to end more than a decade of house arrest today after the country's highest court threw out an appeal against her sentence.

The supreme court's decision was widely expected but her lawyer said he would launch a final special appeal to the supreme court after establishing the reasons why the latest attempt had been rejected. "The court order did not mention any reasons," he said.

The Lady had been sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour following the incursion on to her land of an utter fuckwit called John Yettaw (thereby gifting the scum who run Burma with a pretext for continuing to hold the Lady in detention). The sentence was immediately commuted to 18 months of house arrest by junta chief Senior General Than Shwe.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 years. Her National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 by a landslide, but the military, which has ruled Burma since 1962, refused to cede power. The junta has announced it would hold elections some time this year under a constitution that would allow the military to maintain substantial power. Aung San Suu Kyi's party has not announced whether it will contest the elections.

Than Shwe and his rabble are a pathetic bunch of inadequate. How else can one describe the bunch of vicious and murderous .... Damn it has anyone got some good expressions for these sub humans? I don’t want to use too many expletives....
It remains clear that they are shit scared of one brave and resolute lady.

I still don’t understand Yettaw’s motives. At best he was a bloody idiot, at worst..... Let me just be charitable and call him a fuckwit one more time

26 February 2010

Photo Hunt - Daily

The theme for this week's Photo Hunt is daily. This is the concourse at Liverpool Street station a place I traverse twice each workday

Ted is slightly dismayed at my3,000th post

Where Ted shows slight dismay Mimi, if she had still been alive,would have been shocked at the continuing torrent of drivel to be found at the Poor Mouth

25 February 2010

Well they amused me

Stolen from, err I mean hat tip to the Huffington Post (where there are plenty more funny headlines)via the Fortean Times

Why the Queen is Indian

A favourite character from the sketch show of the late 90s Goodness Gracious Me

24 February 2010

When the Rapture is less a time of tribulation than a business opportunity

A little while ago Business Week reported on an ideal business opportunities for those who will surely be left behind once the rapture comes.

In the USA between 20- and 40 million—believe there will be a Second Coming in their lifetimes, followed by the Rapture when the righteous will be spirited away to a better place while the godless remain on Earth.

But their pets do not have souls and will not join their masters at the right hand of God (or wherever..) and this troubles many of the godly. So Bar Centre, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, has started a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets that promises to rescue and care for animals left behind by the saved.

Promoted as "the next best thing to pet salvation in a Post Rapture World," the service has attracted more than 100 clients, who pay $110 for a 10-year contract ($15 for each additional pet.) If the Rapture happens in that time, the pets left behind will have homes with atheists.

Centre came up with the idea while working on his book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles, written under the pseudonym Dromedary Hump. In it, he says many unkind things about the devout and confesses that "I'm trying to figure out how to cash in on this hysteria to supplement my income."

Todd Strandberg, who founded a biblical prophecy Web site called raptureready.com that draws 250,000 unique visitors a month, agrees that pets are doomed. "Pets don't have souls, so they'll remain on Earth. I don't see how they can be taken with you," he says. "A lot of persons are concerned about their pets, but I don't know if they should necessarily trust atheists to take care of them."

One of Centre's atheist recruits is Laura. She has two dogs of her own and has made a commitment to rescue four dogs and two cats when—if—the time comes. "If it happens, my first thought will be, 'I've got work to do,'" Laura says. "The first thing I'll do is find out where I need to go exactly." The rescuers won't know the precise location of the animals until the Rapture arrives, at which time they will contact Centre for instructions. "I've got to get to [the pets] within a maximum of 18 to 24 hours. We really don't want them to wait more than a day." A day she believes will never come.

Centre doesn't think he will ever have to follow through on the service he offers. But he believes in virtuous acts. His Web site directs about $200 a month in proceeds from Google ads to food banks in Minnesota and New Hampshire. And to pet owners, he has already delivered something of great value: peace of mind, for just 92 cents a month. "If we thought the Rapture was really going to happen," Centre says, "obviously our rate structure would be much higher."

Haha. If only I thought of that. Perhaps it would need more Britons to believe in nonsense like the Rapture so a good hellbound atheist like me could make a few extra quids!

Baseej Tehran University Dormitories 25 June

No words

23 February 2010

A case of diversion in the Persian/Arabian/Call it what you want Gulf

The Tehran Times may provide the reason why Hamid Behbahani has chosen now to rattle sabres over the name of the stretch of water that separates it from Saudi, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Omman..... It looks like he's in line for impeachment for incompetence

It looks like Iranian MPs are none too pleased that the Iranian transport system has encountered an unprecedented number of major failures including back-to-back plane crashes and train derailments, leaving serious causalities during his watch. Certain people do not seem to be happy at this turn events let alon the fact that he has not bothered to apologize to the bereaved families.

Hiho Behbahani won't be the first politician to divert attention from his or her incompetence by trying to rally the sheep in some stupid nationalism... and he won't be the last either, mores the pity

Iran a bit touchy over what you call the (insert name here) Gulf

According to the BBC Iran has warned that airlines will be banned from flying into its airspace, unless they use the term "Persian Gulf" on their in-flight monitors. The transport, Hamid Behbahani, minister has threatened to impound planes that fail to comply.

Iran is insistent that the stretch of water separating it from its southern neighbours should be known as the Persian Gulf. Call it Gulf and you will irritate the Iranian authorities; call it the Arabian Gulf and it’s war!
The Iranian transport minister has given foreign airlines 15 days to change the name to Persian Gulf on their in flight monitors. If they failed, they would be prevented from entering Iranian airspace, he warned.

If the offence was repeated, foreign airliners would be grounded and refused permission to leave Iran (hmm I wonder how if they had been refused entry to Iranian airspace......)

Numerous Arab airlines fly into Iran every day, not to mention Europeans and others, so it remains to be seen how they will respond.....

There may be a reason for this move which will be the subject of a later post. In the meantime I have a solution that will please everyone. I suggest that we call it the BRITISH GULF and have done with it!

Beads for a boy from Niue

The graveyard of St Andrew's Hornchurch, like many other churchyards is a bit overgrown and the stones are less than pristine but it is a place I do like. Not all stones are neglected though. The graves from WWI are cared for, standing out clear white among the mossy greens.

This was the first time I had ever seen the graves decorated, not just with little poppy crosses at the base of the stones but with beads and shells. I don't know who put them there or when but it does seem a fitting tribute to the four young men who died a long way from home

I have posted the story before but another tome won't hurt:

This is an edited version of an article written by Margaret Pointer New Zealand Herald.

The military parade in Auckland's Queen on February 4, 1916 was unusual: among the 1500 men that day were 140 from Niue. The men were part of the 3rd Maori Contingent and, along with 50 recruits from the Cook Islands, they were being sent to make up the numbers needed to maintain the Maori Contingent which had suffered heavily during the Gallipoli campaign the previous year.

Niue had become a New Zealand Protectorate in 1901. When war began in August 1914, the island had a population of around 4000, including 30 Europeans. The Europeans felt the need to make some sort of war effort and they suggested a Niue regiment and arranged the recruitment of men and their drilling on the village greens.

The 140 men sent New Zealand were marched to their new home, Narrow Neck Military Camp, or Nalo Neke as it became known in Niuean. Over four months the Niue Islanders underwent training at Nalo Neke. Most of the Niueans spoke no English. They found the army clothing restrictive and the boots were impossible for those used to walking barefoot on the coral island.

But their greatest problem was their lack of immunity to European diseases. Measles and similar common complaints were unknown on Niue and the real danger lay in the secondary, especially respiratory, infections. On Christmas Day, 1915, the first of the Niueans died of pneumonia. Others were too ill to continue with training and were held in hospital until a ship went to Niue. In February 1916 the Niue Islanders were ready for service and were sent initially to Egypt. but soon the order came to go to Northern France to provide support on the Western Front.

The Niueans were part of a Pioneer Battalion working at night to maintain a network of trenches in the mud. During this time the Niueans suffered terribly from illness and men had to go to hospital constantly. By late May 1916, 82 per cent of them had been hospitalised. Some recovered and were returned to duty, some were sent home by hospital ship, some were transferred to other hospitals and several died. Mercifully, the army authorities made the decision to withdraw the Niueans from Northern France and assemble them at the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital in Hornchurch, England, where they could be cared for before sailing to New Zealand.

Four of the Niueans did not live to return home and are buried here in Hornchurch

22 February 2010

Leading the Apes in Hell

Crazy Dog Theatre performing a poem by Irish poet Mary O'Donoghue...

Churchyard - St Andrew's Hornchurch

No ajustments or photoshopping here.. except a bit of cropping

From the Battleship Potemkin to a Dublin chip shop

It is wonderful how flitting from one link to another can bring you to somthing utterly fascinating. I was at a Wikipedia site that listed the last veterans of a lot of military conflicts from the 18th century onwards. One of those listed was one Ivan Beshoff, the last survivor of Battleship Potemkin mutiny in 1905.

Beshoff died in on 25 October 1987 at the age of 102 according to his birth certificate. He contended that he was 104.

According to an obituary in the New York Times he was born near the Black Sea port of Odessa. He abandoned chemistry studies and joined the navy, serving in the engine room of the Potemkin.

The mutiny over poor food was the first mass expression of discontent in Czar Nicholas II's military and later came to be seen as a prelude to the 1917 Russian Revolution. The mutineers killed the captain and several officers. The entire Black Sea fleet was ordered to suppress the rebellion, but crews refused to fire on the battleship, and it sailed for 11 days before surrendering.

Mr. Beshoff said he fled through Turkey to London, where he met Lenin. He settled in Ireland in 1913, saying he had tired of the sea. He worked for a Soviet oil distribution company and was twice arrested as a Soviet spy, but became a beloved figure in the Irish community.

After World War II, he opened a fish and chips shop in Dublin.

The Beshoff family appears to be going very well in Ireland owning a high quality fish mongers in Howth and several high class restaurants in Dublin.

Here’s a link to an interview with Mr Beshoff that was conducted not long before his death

21 February 2010

Rock star found to be money grabbing hypocrite shock horror!

I will start off by saying that I never liked the Police, I certainly never liked any of Sting;s solo work. As a musician I have always thought him to have a meagre talent, as for his singing.... a weasel with its knackers caught in a mousetrap would be more pleasing to this ear!

To be fair, some of his work as an activist was laudable, including his appearances at Amnesty International events. However it would seem that his concerns for human rights and the environment issues have taken a back seat

According to today’s Mail Sting accepted up to £2million to sing for Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Islom Karimov, a vicious piece of human excrement who runs Uzbekistan as a personal fiefdom and who treats human rights as something very, very optional.

Uznews.net and Eurasia.net (perhaps the last independent media outlets in the country) claim that Sting sold out the National Opera House in the capital, Tashkent, in October last year. Tickets went for £1,400 - 45 times the average local monthly salary. The concert was the highlight of a week-long festival organised by Ms Karimova's Forum of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan Foundation.

Sting is not alone in performing in Uzbekistan: Rod Stewart and Julio Iglesias have also recently played there (although in Rod Stewart’s case it was almost certainly a cruel and unusual punishment on his audience)

In a statement, Sting said: 'I played in Uzbekistan a few months ago. The concert was organized by the president’s daughter and I believe sponsored by Unicef.

'I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.

'I am well aware of the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that.

'I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.

'I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his country, he is hermetically sealed in his own medieval, tyrannical mindset.'

Hmm well it didn’t stop him from possibly raking in a couple of £million in the process. If this is true then it goes to show what a mercenary bastard the man is. Perhaps the statement should read

'I played in Uzbekistan a few months ago. The concert was organized by the president’s daughter and I believe sponsored by Unicef or at least that is what I'm telling you right here, right now to make it sound a little less reprehensible. '

I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime but I was a lot younger then. Now I am not far off getting my bus pass I couldn't give a fuck about the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment.

I made the decision to play there because a couple of mill is a couple of mill and it will keep me in incontinence pads and zimmer frames in a few years time

I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive as they deny already filthy rich no-talents like me to add more money to my already obscenely large pile

I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his country, he is hermetically sealed in his own medieval, tyrannical mindset. I could not care less about that as I came away with a fucking huge wedge of cash.'

Unsurprisingly Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan described Sting’s statement as

”transparent bollocks.... He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?”

Nah, just greedy!

Roll on spring...

Not a good photo but at least something is blooming in the garden....and on a brighter note - although bad weather has delayed spring by several weeks, garderners are confident that it will be a stunner when it does arrive.

A survey by National Trust gardeners and volunteers has shown that flowering dates have been set back by up to a month, bucking a trend for the earlier flowering seen in recent years.

Ian Wright, a gardens adviser to the National Trust, said: "This year plants have been held back by around two to four weeks by the cold weather, but once it warms up everything will be blooming at once, rather than over a longer period of time, so we can expect a spectacular spring."

Richard Todd, head gardener at the National Trust's Anglesey Abbey in Lode, Cambridgeshire, said: "Once this latest cold snap has given up, it will all happen in a hurry as there are huge numbers of bulbs and winter flowering shrubs just waiting in the wings ready to go."

THis sounds promising. We will see very soon if this prediction is correct. I hope it is!

20 February 2010


Another long gone band. I have this hazy memory of seeing them at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, but it being Amsterdam rhis could ahve been a hallucination!

Random Hold

I liked Random Hold way back when but like many fine bands they sunk without trace. This footage is from their second incarnation with female vocalist Sue Raven (I know absolutely nothing about her)

Okay so it’s an urban legend but still funny

According to the urban legend English teachers from across USA submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These are then published each year to the amusement of teachers.

Here are some of the purported winners from last year

  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  • He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  • McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  • From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  • Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  • He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
  • Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
  • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  • The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  • It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
Even if they aren’t from where they are said to come from, they are still very amusing!

19 February 2010

Photo Hunt - Cuddly

The theme for this week's Photo Hunt is cuddly. What sort of photograph was a no-brainer. Bebe and Robyn were very happy to be photographed. Boris was a little indifferent. Sadly Ted threatened to claw my tender parts if I everm ever thought he was cuddly...

The last Canadian WWI veteran dies.

John Babcock, the last Canadian veteran of WWI, has died aged 109.

Born on July 23, 1900 he enlisted in the Canadian Army at the age of 15. The medical examiner recorded his "apparent age" as 18, which meant he was allowed to train.
Despite being under the legal age to fight, which was 19, he persisted in his attempts to get to the front line. He lied about his age again, and sailed to Britain with the Royal Canadian Regiment. There, conscripts under the legal age of 19 formed the Young Soldiers' Battalion to train until they were eligible to fight. But he never saw action as the armistice was signed six months before he reached his 19th birthday.

He moved to the US in the 1920s, serving in the United States Army between 1921 and 1924 He tried to enlist in the US military again in 1941 but failed when it was discovered he had never become a US citizen.

He died in Spokane, Washington, where he had lived since 1932.

And now there are three...


Bebe err....

18 February 2010

When a space ship brought fresh k’rakxza’a for M’ika’al Khau’ardd

If there was one other alien in the Prince of Greyness’s cabinet in those dark days when the tories were last in Number 10 (John Major himself being a Kraptonian from a small planet orbiting Algol) it was Michael Howard whose reptilian features struck terror into the hearts of virgins across the country (except Ann Widdicombe of course).

If confirmation of his extra terrestrial origins were required then the Telegraph provides it. UFO files released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) show that on 8 March 1997 there was a UFO sighting near Howard’s home in Kent while he still was Home Secretary.

Sophie Wadleigh, 25, from Hythe, reported the sighting to the Folkestone Herald. She told the newspaper: ''It was so peculiar, it all felt really odd and I heard this humming noise. As I looked across the field I saw a large triangular shaped flying craft hovering about 300 metres off the ground."

Further newspaper cuttings reveal Chris Rolfe, co-ordinator of group UFO Monitoring East Kent (UFOMEK), warned at the time the UFO could have been looking for Mr Howard. Mr Rolfe said: ''It would seem the UFO was disinterested in Sophie, the girl who reported it and watched it for quite a long time. ''This certainly makes it seem like it had a purpose and has left me wondering if its purpose had something to do with Mr Howard.''

An RAF investigation into the sighting was undertaken, but the findings found nothing unusual The Air Defence inquiry said there was ''no such security incident'' involving Mr Howard or and ''no such military activity reported anywhere, and, specifically, in the Kent/Folkestone area. Additional inquiries have confirmed that no unusual or unauthorised air activity, civil or military, was reported or observed in that area on that date.''

This rings a bell, I’m sure I read about this in UFO Magazine years ago, Or is my mind playing tricks on me,,, Anyway when Widdicombe said that there was something of the night about Howard perhaps she meant the stars as well as something sinister that lurks in the shadows....
(From History Today magazine)

The outline of a human body has provided archaeologists with the first glimpse in possibly 1,400 years of a lost West African civilisation.

Acording to the Independent the discovery of 80 clay figurines from burial mounds in a remote area of northern Ghana is being hailed as evidence of a previously unknown society. It is hoped that the find will provide information about the region's pre-Islamic history.

A combined research team from the universities of Ghana and Manchester believe that the hundreds of mounds in the 20 square mile area of the dig were ancient shrines. "These finds will help to fill a significant gap in our scant knowledge of this period before the Islamic empires developed in West Africa," said Professor Tim Insoll of Manchester University. "They were a sophisticated and technically advanced society: for example, some of the figurines were built in sections."

However, so far the find has thrown up more questions than answers as scientists puzzle over what appears to be a deliberate practice of breaking the figures into sections and placing them beside human skulls. Ghana's Dr Benjamin Kankpeyeng said: "The relative position of the figurines surrounded by human skulls means the mounds were the location of an ancient shrine. The skulls had their jawbones removed with teeth placed nearby – an act of religious significance."

The figures, are believed to be between 800 and 1,400 years old. The next step for the research team will be to carry out analysis of the residues of material which were packed into holes within the figurines to provide more clues about the society."We are certain that these people filled the holes with something, but the question is: was it a medicinal substance, or blood, or other material from a sacrifice?" Professor Insoll asked.

This is fascinating stuff. Anything that provides a greater knowledge of our past enriches us all.

17 February 2010

Roll on.... III

Photinia and Arch

Meanwhile in Burma...

Last month a military court in Burma has sentenced a journalist to 13 years in prison for working illegally for foreign media organisations.

According to the BBC Ngwe Soe Lin, who reported for the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma, was convicted of violating immigration laws and the Electronics Act.

Ngwe Soe Lin was arrested as he left an internet cafe in the Rangoon area of Kyaukmyaung in June 2009. After being interrogated for two months, he was sent to the city's notorious Insein prison, where his sentence was handed down.

In December, freelance journalist Hla Hla Win was jailed for 20 years on similar charges to Ngwe Soe Lin after a military court found she had provided video for the Democratic Voice of Burma.

In Burma Hell goes round and round

14 February 2010

The most romantic painting in Britain?

Nevermore by Gaugin has been voted the most romantic painting in a poll conducted by The Art Fund charity. It beat works by Jan van Eyck, Nicolas Poussin Titian and Samuel John Peploe.

Nevermore, which was first owned by Frederick Delius, the English composer, now hangs in the Courtauld Gallery in London. It was painted by Gauguin in 1897 in Tahiti, the Polynesian island which the French artist made his home in the latter years of his career.

Dr Ernst Vegelin, the head of the Courtauld Gallery, said: "I think people are drawn to this painting because it is so rich in its possibilities and it is not as straightforward as it might initially seem, with the raven and the figures in the background bringing a sense of mystery."It is certainly a very beautiful and memorable picture which one could look at endlessly."

Click here www.artfund.org/romantic to see the other shortlisted paintings

Sorry for the lack of visiting

Feeling like utter crap but I will be back visiting in a day or two

When love could not be chained

Greasley encountering Himmler

He was a British Prisoner of War in Silesia; she was a camp translator hiding her Jewish roots. The story of Horace Greasley and Rosa Rauchbach had the makings of a great romance. Sadly like story of Abelard and Heloise or a certain young Montague and a certain young Capulet... unbounded love does not lead to a happy ending.

The Telegraph carries an obituary of Greasley, who died on February 4 aged 91. He held a record Second World War PoWs of escaping from his camp more than 200 times. Unlike those who ended up in Colditz he would creep back into captivity each time.

For Greasley had embarked on a romance with a local German girl Rosa Rauchbach who was, if anything, running even greater risks than he did. A translator at the camp where he was imprisoned, she had concealed her Jewish roots from the Nazis. Discovery of their affair would almost certainly have meant doom for them both.

Greasley served with the 2nd/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment that landed in France at as part of the British Expeditionary Force; on May 25 1940, during the retreat to Dunkirk, he was taken prisoner at Carvin, south of Lille.
When assigned to a PoW camp near Lamsdorf, he encountered the 17-year-old daughter of the director of the marble quarry to which the camp was attached. She was working as an interpreter for the Germans, and, emaciated as he was, there was, Greasley said, an undeniable and instant mutual attraction.

Within a few weeks Greasley and Rosa were conducting their affair in broad daylight and virtually under the noses of the German guards – snatching meetings for trysts in the camp workshops and wherever else they could find. But at the end of a year, just as he was realising how much he cared for Rosa, Greasley was transferred to Freiwaldau, an annex of Auschwitz, some 40 miles away.

The only way to carry on the love affair was to break out of his camp. Greasley reckoned that short absences could be disguised or go unnoticed. Messages between him and Rosa were exchanged via members of outside work parties, who then handed hers on to Greasley, the camp barber, when they came to have their hair cut. When, with the help of friends, he did make it under the wire for an assignation nearby, he would break back into the camp again under cover of darkness to await his next opportunity.

Sometimes, Greasley made the return journey three or more times a week, depending on whether Rosa's duties among various camps brought her to his vicinity. Rosa repaid his attentions, he said, by providing small food parcels and pieces of equipment for him to take back into the camp, eventually including radio parts which enabled 3,000 prisoners to keep up with the news by listening to the BBC.

Greasley was liberated on May 24 1945. He still received letters from Rosa after the war's end, and was able to vouch for her when she applied to work as an interpreter for the Americans. Not long after Greasley got back to Britain, however, he received news that Rosa had died in childbirth, with the infant perishing too. Horace Greasley said he never knew for certain whether or not the child was his.

After demobilisation he returned to Leicestershire. He finally married in 1975, retiring to the Costa Blanca in Spain in 1988. Ge is survived by his wife and by their son and daughter.

Greasley recounted the almost incredible details of his wartime romance in the book Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (2008), While the book is described as an "autobiographical novel", his story was largely confirmed at his debriefing by MI9 intelligence officers shortly after the war.

What can one say? It may not have had a happy ending but it is truly one of those stories that deserve to be told.

11 February 2010

What heroes are the Baseej continued

Not content to beat up a 65 year old woman Iranian security forces also tried to beat up opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi today

His son Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, told the BBC what happened when his father tried to join his supporters at the event in Tehran.

"There was heavy traffic leading up to Saddeqiya Street, so my father Mehdi Karroubi got out of his car with some of his friends and started to walk. As soon as the Green movement supporters spotted him they started cheering.

Special forces, the police and some plain-clothes forces then started to attack both my father and his supporters. They used tear gas, batons and other weapons. They were armed and some were carrying cleavers and guns.

They sprayed tear gas into my father's face, burning him, and he was also hit on the head with a stone. People in the crowd helped him to get away. A kind man gave him a lift but then the special forces started attacking cars.

They smashed the window of the car my father was in. My father is back at home under medication and doctor's supervision. He has breathing problems, his face is burnt from the tear gas and his eye is injured.

We are worried because I was with him on Students' Day [7 December 2009] and I saw a guard deliberately point his gun at him. Everyone who was there today believes that the violence used is beyond belief...”

I wonder what what those security forces say when their children ask them what they did at work today....

What heroes are the Baseej

Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of opposition leader Mir Hussain Mousavi, was attacked by Baseej militia forces and riot police Thursday, according to Mr. Mousavi’s official Web site, Kaleme. The site says that Ms. Rahnavard suffered injuries to her head and back from punches and baton blows.

She was attacked around Sadeqiyeh Square. Bystanders eventually formed a protective circle around Ms. Rahnavard and helped her escape from the militia officers, the site says.

What brave people to beat a 65 year old woman.I bet their families are so proud of them

Source WSJ

and who can argue with this

I can safely say that Iwould not have posted anything on laxatives today had not Beecham's Pills been the McGonagall gem of the day. Can you imagine anyone writing this sort of copy today!

On the other hand perhaps posting a laxative advert is appropriate today given that the Iranian protestors have clearly made the regime shit itself....

McGonagall in praise of laxatives

by William McGonagall

What ho! sickly people of high and low degree
I pray ye all be warned by me;

No matter what may be your bodily ills

The safest and quickest cure is Beecham's Pills.

They are admitted to be worth a guinea a box

For bilious and nervous disorders, also smallpox,

And dizziness and drowsiness, also cold chills,

And for such diseases nothing else can equal Beecham's Pills

They have been proved by thousands that have tried them
So that the people cannot them condemn.

Be advised by me one and all

Is the advice of Poet McGonagall.

Amazingly Beecham’s pills were not discontinued until 1998.It would seem, therefore, that people found that a mixture of aloe, ginger and soap really did help keep them regular!

More information and a wealth of poetistickal semipreciousness can be found at McGonagall online

10 February 2010

Dark Sanctuary - Cet enfer au paradis

Wonderful song, great voice.. the visuals here are a bit naff.. ah well

Iran arrests before tomorrow's protests

THe BBC reports that Iranian police have arrested a number of opposition supporters planning demonstrations during tomorrow's anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam did not give any details of the arrests, the Fars news agency said. "Opposition leaders have called on supporters to gather on Thursday, raising the possibility of violence in cities across the country."

The authorities have said they will crush any anti-government protests. Something tells me that they will fail!

09 February 2010

And now a bit of Woody Guthrie

My own guitar on the other hand has "This machine kills melodies" on it... sighs

Meanwhle in Sichuan

The Times reports a sign of China’s increasingly hard line against dissent. Activist Tan Zuoren has been jailed for five years after he investigated whether shoddy construction contributed to deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in an earthquake in Sichuan province two years ago.

However the charges related to involved “inciting subversion of state power” because of essays in which he criticized the bloody crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

Friends and his lawyers believe that Mr Tan’s efforts to document and produce an independent report on the collapse of school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, when some 90,000 people died, were the real reason for the sentence.

The sentence against Mr Tan was the maximum possible for his crime. The severity of the term highlighted the increasingly tough approach adopted by the Government in recent months against any hint of dissent.

Mr Tan was the first person in a decade to be sentenced for actions linked to the 1989 crackdown. Most supporters and human rights activists were in little doubt that it was his attempts to document whether schools had been built on the cheap and were thus particularly vulnerable when the earthquake hit that had angered the authorities.

Last year, a court in Chengdu sentenced activist Huang Qi to three years for “revealing state secrets” after he tried to gather information on faulty construction of school buildings that critics say contributed to the children’s deaths. More than 5,000 of the dead were children.

What can you say? Words fail.

A break from Wordless Wednesdays

I'm going to give WW a miss for a while. After three years (near enough) it has become more of a chore than a pleasure. Besides I have had no real opportunity to take many photos over the last year (Paris aside). Perhaps I'll start playing again in a month or two

08 February 2010

Former Khatami Minister gets six years

The BBC reports that Mohsen Aminzadeh, a deputy foreign minister in the governments of President Khatami, has been jailed for six years for his support of the defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, he was convicted of organising protests, disturbing security and spreading propaganda against the system, his lawyer said.

Speaking to the semi-official Isna news agency on today, Mr Aminzadeh's lawyer said his client "was charged with organising gatherings and disturbing the country's security, as well as spreading propaganda against the system by giving interviews to foreign channels,"

Aminzadeh joins more than 80 people who have been jailed for up to 15 years by the government following show trials that would not have looked out of place in the Stalinist era. He will share prison space with former government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, former vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and former deputy economy minister Mohsen Safaie Farahani in prison.

Once again the sentences serve no purpose but to crush protests. In that the regime has failed and failed utterly. I look forward to the day that the regime itself is called to account for its crimes.

Prepare to be punched....

According to AFP Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said today that Iran is set to deliver a "punch" that will stun world powers during this week's 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

"The Iranian nation, with its unity and God's grace, will punch the arrogance (Western powers) on the 22nd of Bahman (February 11) in a way that will leave them stunned," Khamenei said to a gathering of air force personnel.

I wonder what sort of punch that this will be? I doubt many will be quaking in their boots at the words of that craven little pizzle like Khamenei.

More Forough but this time in French - For Claudia

Le vent nous emportera

Dans ma nuit, si brève, hélas
Le vent a rendez-vous avec les feuilles.
Ma nuit si brève est remplie de l'angoisse dévastatrice
Ecoute ! Entends-tu le souffle des ténèbres ?
De ce bonheur, je me sens étranger.
Au désespoir je suis accoutumée.
Ecoute ! Entends-tu le souffle des ténèbres ?
Là, dans la nuit, quelque chose se passe
La lune est rouge et angoissée.
Et accrochée à ce toit
Qui risque de s'effondrer à tout moment,
Les nuages, comme une foule de pleureuses,
Attendent l'accouchement de la pluie,
Un instant, et puis rien.
Derrière cette fenêtre,
C'est la nuit qui tremble
Et c'est la terre qui s'arrête de tourner.
Derrière cette fenêtre, un inconnu s'inquiète pour moi et toi.
Toi, toute verdoyante,
Pose tes mains - ces souvenirs ardents -
Sur mes mains amoureuses
Et confie tes lèvres, repues de la chaleur de la vie,
Aux caresses de mes lèvres amoureuses
Le vent nous emportera !
Le vent nous emportera !

Une autre naissance

Tout mon être nest qu'un verset
Qui se répète en lui même
Qui te portera à l'aube des éclosions
Et des floraisons éternelles.
Je t'ai soupiré,
Je t'ai uni avec l'arbre, l'eau et le feu,

Dans ce verset.

La vie est peut être
Une longue avenue où
chaque jour une femme passe
portant un panier.

La vie est peut être
Une corde avec laquelle
un homme se pend
à une branche.

La vie est peut être
Un enfant qui revient de l'école.
La vie est peut être
Le temps d'une cigarette
Pendant cet engourdissement
Entre deux actes d'amour.

La vie est peut être
Le regard ébahi d'un homme
Qui soulève son chapeau pour
Saluer un autre passant, Avec un sourire impersonnel.
La vie est peut être
Cet instant rétréci
Quand mon regard se brise dans tes pupilles.

Et dans cela il y a une sensation
Que je confonds avec ma connaissance de la Lune
Et ma perception de l'ombre.

Dans une chambre aussi grande que la solitude
Mon coeur, grand comme l'amour,
Regarde les prétextes simples de son bonheur,
La beauté des fleurs fanées dans un vase,
Les pousses tendres que tu plantas dans notre jardin

Mon coeur, grand comme l'amour
Ecoute le chant des canaris
S'envolant dans l'espace d'une fenêtre.

C'est mon sort
C'est mon sort,
Mon sort.
Un ciel que voile un rideau tombant.
Mon destin: descendre un escalier abandonné

Aboutir à quelque chose de sordide et d'étrange.
Mon destin: une promenade triste
Dans un jardin de souvenirs,
Expier, dans la tristesse d'une voix qui me dit

"J'aime tes mains"!

Je planterai mes mains dans le jardin
Je pousserai, je le sais, je le sais, je le sais...
Et les hirondelles pondront
Dans le creux violacé de mes doigts.

A mes oreilles je pendrai des boucles
Faites de cerises jumelles
Et je collerai sur mes ongles des pétales de dahlias.

Il existe une rue où les garçons
Qui me faisaient la cour,
Cheveux emmêlés, cous maigres, jambes fébriles,
Pensent encore à une fillette
Emportée une nuit par le vent.
Il existe une rue que mon cecur
A dérobée aux quartiers de mon enfance.

Le voyage d'une forme, le long de la ligne du temps,
Image consciente revenant du festin des miroirs,
Donne vie à cette ligne asséchée.

C'est ainsi que l'un meurt
Et que l'autre reste.

Aucun pêcheur ne peut trouver de perles
Dans un caniveau
Quand il se perd dans un gouffre.

Je connais une petite fée triste
Qui demeure dans un océan.
Elle chante doucement son coeur dans une petite flûte.
Une petite fée triste
Qui meurt la nuit dans un baiser
Et renaît à l'aube dans un baiser.

Texte francais de Parviz Abolghassemi - 2001

From Forough Farrokzad.org

07 February 2010

The Sin - Forough Farrokhzad

The Sin

I sinned, a sin all filled with pleasure
wrapped in an embraced, warm and fiery
I sinned in a pair of arms
that were vibrant, virile, violent.

In that dim and quiet place of seclusion
I looked into his eyes brimming with mystery
my heart throbbed in my chest all too excited
by the desire glowing in his eyes.

In that dim and quiet place of seclusion
as I sat next to him all scattered inside
his lips poured lust on my lips
and I left behind the sorrows of my heart.

I whispered in his ear these words of love:
“I want you, mate of my soul
I want you, life-giving embrace
I want you, lover gone mad”

Desire surged in his eyes
red wine swirled in the cup
my body surfed all over his
in the softness of the downy bed.

I sinned, a sin all filled with pleasure
next to a body now limp and languid
I know not what I did, God
in that dim and quiet place of seclusion.

Translated by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak,

From Forough Farrokzad.org

British woman on trial in Iran

According to the Telegraph a British-Iranian woman is facing charges of “moral corruption” after her arrest following the Ashura demonstrations on 27 December.

As well as moral corruption she has been charged with espionage, immoral relations with foreigners, drinking alcohol and insulting high-ranking officials (and presumably hubris, genuflection and the murder of Cock-bloody-Robin too!)

According to reports, the unnamed woman, who was born in Manchester to a British mother who later converted to Islam, defiantly told the court that she saw nothing criminal about her actions.
"I do not think taking to the streets means spreading corruption

Prosecutors claimed that she had sent at least 40 text messages from her mobile telephone calling on friends to attend the December protests. They also attempted to link her to two German diplomats who have been identified by Iran as spies with the codenames of "Yogi" and "Ingo" (or perhaps Boo Boo, I daresay she also caused havoc in Jellystone Park). Iran maintains the two, who have now left the country, orchestrated the December protests as part of a German plot to bring down the regime (So it’s the Germans and not the British now.. make your bloody mind up!) The woman was regularly seen at parties held by the two diplomats, the prosecutors alleged, where she purportedly engaged in unseemly behaviour.

Five of the other defendants were told they faced the death sentence after they were charged with being "enemies of God".

It is clear that the Iranian Government is crapping itself or it would not crack down on protestors in such a ludicrous way. The regime is doubly crapping itself given that there will be another round of protests on 11 February when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Otherwise would they try to charge someone with waging war of God? They might as well charge the protestors with waging war on Aubergines or sunlight for all the good they are doing. Besides if there is a God, I am sure he/she will know his/her enemies and they will be the vermin that perverted their faiths in their vile pursuit of power.

We are all made of stars

This is the absolute truth of it. We are made of stars. We could not exist without them

06 February 2010

The best pictures of Pluto yet

NASA has released what truly are the most amazing photos of Pluto. The images were taken by the Hubble Space telescope.

The images reveal a treacle-coloured, mottled world with a peculiar bright frosty spot. They will be the best images available of the distant dwarf until 2015 when the New Horizons probe approaches it in 2015.

A Nasa spokesman said. "The Hubble pictures are proving invaluable for picking out the planet's most interesting-looking hemisphere for the New Horizons spacecraft to swoop over when it flies by Pluto in 2015.”

Principal investigator Marc Buie, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, in Colorado, said that the images allowed astronomers to better interpret more than three decades of Pluto observations from other telescopes.

"The Hubble observations are the key to tying together these other diverse constraints on Pluto and showing how it all makes sense by providing a context based on weather and seasonal changes, which opens other new lines of investigation," he said.

I am looking forward to seeing what New Horizons reveals, Until then I can look at these images and say “Wow!”

The left Pap in close up

This is the left Pap, The cairn is more visible

05 February 2010

Photo Hunt Average

The theme for this week's Photo Hunt is Average. I had no idea what to post so here's a very average mountain in Ireland. It;s not that average I suppose. It's called the Paps. Some humorous stone age builders put cairns on the top of each peak so as to make the biggest pair of boobs in the British isles!

Death marks the loss of another language

The BBC carries a report on the death of the last speaker of what might have been one of the most ancient languages in the world. Boa Sr, who lived in the Andaman Islands (An Indian Union Territory), died last month at the age of about 85. Since the death of her parents over 30 years ago she was the last speaker of the Bo language.

Linguist Professor Anvita Abbi - who also runs the Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese (Voga) website – said that Boa Sr's death was a loss for intellectuals wanting to study more about the origins of ancient languages, because they had lost "a vital piece of the jigsaw...It is generally believed that all Andamanese languages might be the last representatives of those languages which go back to pre-Neolithic times," Professor Abbi said.

"The extinction of the Bo language means that a unique part of human society is now just a memory," Survival International Director Stephen Corry said.

Another Andaman language, Khora, became extinct in November. There are major concerns about the other indigenous groups on the Islands. The Great Andamanese, numbering about 50 are considered to be most at risk because they depend largely on the Indian government for food and shelter. Two other groups, the Jarawa and the Onge number in the low hundreds.

The final group who live on Sentinel Island have resisted all contact with the outside world. As a result virtually nothing is known about them.

Languages come and languages go – we can see the traces of several lost languages in the British Isles (Yola, Norn, Cumbric etc) – but I can’t help feel that when they die something significant is lost from the rich, dark soup that makes up humanity. Boa’s passing diminishes us all

Boris immortalised

Boris sleeps on blissfully ignorant that he has been immortalised. One of my favourite bloggers, the talented Lone Beader has created a beadwork Boris.

Go over and take a look. More pictures on her Etsy site. The not-wife and I are both chuffed!

04 February 2010

A serendipitous discovery

The Breaking News section of the Fortean Times website had a link that caught my eye and my imagination.

The site announces a new online scientific journal that will be fully peer reviewed and will have open access
The new publication is to be called the Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results. What better title could you ask for!

According to its mission statement “an important component of scientific discovery is a disciplined examination of research results that contradict or negate extant hypotheses. However, there is a distinct lack of a forum in which such results can be presented and discussed in any meaningful way. We believe a forum for and dialogue on serendipitous and unexpected results will provide valuable insight and inform modern research practices.

JSUR is an open-access journal that aims to provide such a forum, that is complementary to existing journals and conference venues. JSUR is primarily focused on recent research in the computational and life sciences, two burgeoning fields in which there is much to be gained by reporting, and providing a forum for understanding, discoveries that seem difficult to explain or that are surprising and contradictory to conventional wisdom.”

This sounds like fascinating stuff. I hope the articles will not be utterly incomprehensible to someone who last graced a lecture theatre in the early 1990s!

On a lighter note

The Guardian reports that beautiful tea clipper the Cutty Sark should be back in its full glory in time for the 2012 Olympics after the final element of funding needed to complete restoration was provided by the government.

In May 2007 the hull seemed to have been all but destroyed in a catastrophic fire. Many people doubted that the Cutty Sark could ever be resurrected.

Built in 1869, the Cutty Sark is the last surviving tea clipper to race to the east for the precious harvest of tea. It had been in dry dock in Greenwich for over 50 years during which salts locked inside the hull corroded the iron ribs of its structure.

The ship was in the process of being restored at the time of the fire. Fortunately the damage proved less disastrous than first appeared. Much of the fabric destroyed actually dated from work in the 1950s, and many original features had already been removed and were safely in store – including the figurehead of the witch in her short nightshirt, the Cutty Sark of the ship's name.

This is good news I can’t wait to see it back in its rightful glory.

03 February 2010

Richard Williamson is spouting his evil tripe again

Despite facing a torrent of outrage at his revolting views, vermin Bishop Williamson seems to be unrepentant. According to the Telegraph a Der Spiegel report states that he has recently been telling colleagues in the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X it was a "huge lie" that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. He also told colleagues that "a completely new world order" had been built on the "fact" that Jews were systematically gassed in concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor.

The Spiegel report also revealed that fellow members of his brotherhood were deeply concerned by his behaviour, but were reluctant to cut him loose because he had laudable qualities (he makes pretty lampshades?). One priest branded him a "ticking time bomb".
Williamson is also due to face court in the southern German city of Regensburg on April 16 over allegedly Holocaust-denying remarks he made to Swedish television in January last year.

Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany. Williamson was on German soil when he gave the interview, though he claims he never intended his remarks to be broadcast there.

Williamson was given the chance to avoid court by paying a fine of up to 12,000 euros but decided to fight the charges instead.

What can you say about someone like Williamson except a long string of expletives? Perhaps he can take up bullfighting too