The title of this blog comes from a Gaelic expression -"putting on the poor mouth"-which means to exaggerate the direness of one's situation in order to gain time or favour from creditors.
30 June 2010
The Stereo Shoestring
Admittedly the riff is swiped from the Pretty Things' Defecting Grey but it's still great!
29 June 2010
Screaming Lord Sutch
For no reason whatsoever I have decided to post a load of songs from obscure US garage bands tomorrow. To give you anidea of what to expect here's Screaming Lod Sutch who was by no means American...
Hello, only me again!
Happy 90th Ray Harryhausen and good news (hopefully) about his archive)
Even in the age of amazing CGI effects there is nothing like watching the stop motion work of Ray Harryhausen in films such as the 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts. It was therefore with real pleasure to read in today’s Guardian that the National Media museum in Bradford (NMM) is seeking to acquire his archives.
The museum is working with the Ray and Diana Harryhausen foundation to create a permanent home for a collection of drawings, storyboards and models relating to many fantasy monster films generations of children (like me) grew up with
Harryhausen turns 90 today and the NMM, based in Bradford, will unveil plans for a fundraising campaign to acquire his archive. A spokeswoman said it was too early to say how much will have to be raised. Harryhausen said the foundation wanted to ensure that his collection of more than 20,000 items and several hundred models was seen by as wide an audience as possible.
"Now I have reached 90 it is important, certainly in my profession which does not have a reputation for looking after cinematic artefacts, to preserve my art in all its forms available for future generations," he said.
To mark his birthday, tributes were made to Harryhausen over the weekend at an event in London organised by Bafta and the British Film Institute, hosted by the director John Landis. The London Film Museum opened a year-long exhibition devoted to Harryhausen and his films today.
Here’s wishing Ray a very happy birthday and a hope that his archive will be displayed here in the UK in the not too distant future. I know I will make a pilgrimage to Bradford to see it!
28 June 2010
Hi, I'm Calophasia lunula
I am the caterpillar of Calophasia lunula, commonly known as the toadflax brocade moth. Jams and the not-wife were kind enough to plant some yellow toadflax in their front garden. I find this and other linaria species utterly delicious.
According to UK Moths Calophasia lunula is a
"resident species restricted to the south-east and central southern coasts of England, where it frequents mainly shingle beaches.
It is a relatively recent colonist, arriving around 1950 and quickly gaining a foothold, but appears to be now in decline again.
According to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan the moth has declined recently and is seldom reported away from Dungeness.
It has been recorded from almost every country in Europe, from the Mediterranean to southern Norway. Its range extends through Asia Minor east to the Amur and Ussuri regions. It is an established introduction in North America. However, in the UK it is classified as Rare.
Its larvae chiefly occur on yellow toadflax Linaria vulgaris, but also on other Linaria spp and on small toadflax Chaenorhinum minus.
According to Arkive adult Toadflax Brocade moths are whitish-grey in colour with bluish-black markings), and are usually found at dusk visiting red valerian flowers.
We are both delighted to find the caterpillars in our front garden, especially are they are not exactly common. Hopefully we will see the brocade moth itself as we have red valerian in the front garden too,
The photo of the moth and its distribution map are from UK Moths
A home-made fusion reactor is a bit beyond my DIY skills!
According to the BBC Suppes, a web developer for Gucci spends his nights tinkering with his own nuclear fusion reactor. In a hired workshop on the third floor of a warehouse in Brooklyn Suppes fires up his device and tries to do something that has eluded some of the finest scientific minds on the planet - making a fusion reactor that produces more energy than its consumes to run.
Mr Suppes, 32, is part of a growing community of "fusioneers" - amateur science junkies who are building homemade fusion reactors, for fun and with an eye to being part of the solution to that problem. He is the 38th independent amateur physicist in the world to achieve nuclear fusion from a homemade reactor, according to community site Fusor.net.
"I was inspired because I believed I was looking at a technology that could actually work to solve our energy problems, and I believed it was something that I could at least begin to build,"
Government-led efforts to produce power from fusion have been going on around the world for 50 years. Iter - funded by the EU, US, Japan, Russia, India, China, and South Korea - is working on a multi-billion dollar, advanced reactor, due to be built in the south of France by 2019.
But the availability of equipment and technology has seen an increasing number of amateurs "We have people in the whole gamut, from physicists to electronics people to car mechanics to even one janitor - and all these people share a common bond to do nuclear fusion in their home," said Richard Hull, founder of Fusor.net.
Some experts are sceptical that all these people are producing fusion reactions, but when he demonstrates his device, Mr Suppes says a bubble meter placed next to the reactor indicates that a fast neutron, a by-product of fusion, has been produced.
The amateur scientist began building his reactor two years ago, purchasing parts on eBay with $35,000 of his own money and about $4,000 he raised on a website that connects artists and inventors with private investors.
Mr Suppes sees his work in nuclear fusion as more than just a hobby, and he intends to try to build one of the world's first break-even reactors - a facility producing as much energy as it uses to operate. The reactor will be built from plans created by the late Robert Bussard, a nuclear physicist who drew up plans for a fusion reactor that could convert hydrogen and boron into electricity.
Iter said it would be wrong to dismiss out of hand the notion that an amateur could make a difference. "I won't say something that puts these guys down, but it's a tricky situation because there is a great deal of money and time and a lot of very experienced scientists working on fusion at the moment," said Mr Calder of Iter."But that does not eliminate other ideas coming from a different group of people."
Mark Suppes go for it! Personally I would love to hear of your success.
27 June 2010
Tories provide a Hobson’s choice!
The Chancellor has set out his intention to cut almost £100 billion from public spending over five years, freezing pay for millions of public sector staff and sacking thousands of others. Unions have warned of coordinated strikes and other protests to resist the cuts, which experts have predicted could result in 700,000 people losing their jobs. The Government is also seeking to cut the cost of what Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has called “gold-plated” public sector pensions.
Some senior figures, however, believe that the prospect of a deal on pensions could be used to lessen union opposition to spending cuts elsewhere. One idea is to give the unions seats on a review of public sector pensions led by John Hutton, the former Labour Cabinet minister.
Richard Balfe, Mr Cameron’s trade union “envoy”, suggested that pensions could be used as a “lollipop” to soften union anger. “Public-sector pensions are like lollipops for kids. You decide what sort of lollipop you’re going to give, and then you work out how you are going to pay for it. It’s perfectly possible to maintain public-sector pensions at their current level, if you make some fairly modest alterations to employee contributions.”
Mr Balfe, a former Labour MEP, said that most trade union leaders would take a “pragmatic” view of the spending cuts, but warned that some would be more confrontational than others. The Public and Commercial Services Union would be the most militant, he predicted.
“They represent a lot of civil servants who are going to lose their jobs,” he said. “There probably will be trouble in the heartlands like Newcastle where all the benefits staff are. But this is a dispute that has to be won.”
When I said “Hobson’s choice” what I really meant to say was that this is a straight choice between eating shit and eating shite.
Balfe, a turncoat who left the Labour party in a fit of pique and not for any ideological reasons, certainly knows how to insult. So major decisions are like lollipops and we public servants are children, attracted by bright shiny things? As for beating the PCS, I wonder whether he has fantasies of doing to PCS and other public service unions what Thatcher and her minions did to the NUM. Perhaps he will arrange for the creation of a UDM type association: SPS springs to mind - Society of Pusillanimous Sycophants. They do have a model in the Immigration Service Union aka the Impotent Scabs Union
26 June 2010
25 June 2010
photo hunt - purple
This is an opium poppy. Perhaps more mauve than purple but near enough
At least the fuchsia has some purple in it!
Both flowers are in my back garden
The bloody nerve of Clegg and Cameron
Not content with proceeding headlong with a 25% cut in public spending (Health and International Development aside, although they will surely require substantial cuts if their budgets are frozen) which will mean many job losses in the public sector and a two year pay freeze (although the not-wife being a low earner will qualify for the enormous £250 a year pay rise – caviar and champers all round, or there would be if she were not a teetotal vegetarian!), the Condems are going to add insult to injury by asking us to help them screw the public sector by identifying savings for them.
According to the Telegraph Clegg and Cameron say
"We want you to help us find those savings, so we can cut public spending in a way that is fair and responsible.
"You work on the front line of public services. You know where things are working well, where the waste is, and where we can rethink things so that we get better services for less money."
Speaking on BBC Mr Clegg denied that this is simply a gimmick.
''We are going to do something with the views we get – everyone has a stake in this,'' he said ''We have an incredibly difficult task ahead of us as a country in the months and years ahead. That is to make sure that our great first-class public services are kept as world-beating public services. 'But that we make sure that money on a large scale is properly saved, that waste is cut out and money is only really used for the front line public services that we need.''
Government spending is to fall by 25%. That means there will be less money for schools, housing, transport, the military will inevitably be slashed, despite its commitments (if you crapped on about the last government failing to honour an non-existent compact watch what happens!), welfare will be skewered.. oh and hundreds of thousands of public servants will be thrown on the dole... Double dip recession anyone?
By writing to public servants they either have no clue how to achieve this objective or they hold a large section of the British public in utter contempt.
Unsurprisingly, Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of PCS, the main civil service union describes the act as “breathtakingly arrogant and deceitful”
I don’t talk about my line of work on this blog and I won’t start now. I am fortunate to be in the top 10% of earners in the civil service although that is far more an indication of the low pay received by the vast majority of civil servants than to mark me down as one of those fat cats with a gold-plated pension that ignorant politicians and lazy newspaper hacks like to talk about at great length.
These cuts are going to hit those who can ill afford to be hit either a employees or consumers (many public servants are paid little more than the minimum wage).
As far as I am concerned Clegg and Cameron can fuck off and stick each and every copy of this disgraceful letter right up their arses
NB – for the benefit of any morons thinking that I am speaking in an official capacity, I can assure you that I am speaking as a private citizen.
24 June 2010
Graffiti Pillbox II
23 June 2010
Actually it may be for less than I thought!
On the other hand Paroxetine and Tramadol together feel decidedly strange
Scientists at the University of Sheffield found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the Sun's atmosphere -- known as coronal loops -- vibrate like strings on a musical instrument. In other cases they behave more like sound waves as they travel through a wind instrument.
Using satellite images of these loops, which can be over 60,000 miles long, the scientists were able to recreate the sound by turning the visible vibrations into noises and speeding up the frequency so it is audible to the human ear.
"It was strangely beautiful and exciting to hear these noises for the first time from such a large and powerful source," said Prof Robertus von Fay-Siebenbrgen, head of the solar physics research group at Sheffield University. "It is a sort of music as it has harmonics.
Prof Fay-Siebenbrgen said that studying the "music of the sun" would provide new ways of understanding and predicting solar flares before they happen.
"These loops are oscillating like the strings on a guitar or the air in a wind instrument. Over time the waves die away and that is telling us new things about the physics in the sun's atmosphere," he said.
Hmm I have no idea whether this will have any applications but I love the idea of solar music.
22 June 2010
We’re Doomed! - Dawn of the mutant cyber monkey
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have taught a monkey to use just its thoughts to control an advanced robotic arm and perform elaborate manoeuvres with it. Although it is not the first time a monkey has controlled machines with its mind the seven-degrees-of-freedom robot arm used is the most complex system a monkey has ever mastered with its thoughts alone.
Researchers have long been working to put the brain in direct communication with machines. The hope is one day brain-machine interfaces will allow paralyzed people to operate advanced prosthetics in a natural way. Recent demonstrations have seen animals and humans controlling ever more complex devices.
While the research will surely have peaceful applications I am convinced that an evil genius is already planning world domination through his legion of half machine, half monkey death machines. Remember when these cyber monsters are destroying your neighbourhood with eye-implanted death beams you heard it here first!
21 June 2010
The Lunar Art Gallery
While there are some beady-eyed, tinfoil hatted idiots who will say categorically that this story is impossible (no Moon landings –the films were faked in a quarry in North Wales) this is something that I hope is absolutely true.
According to an AOL news story one of the engineers who built the lunar module for the Apollo 12, the second moon landing, snuck aboard a tiny ceramic chip containing original artwork by six of the American art world's biggest names, including Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg, creating a permanent miniature art museum on the moon.
The tiny tile holding all six pieces is only three-quarters of an inch by half an inch. It was affixed to one of the legs on the lunar module. Its existence has been a secret known only by a select few people, including renowned New York artist Forrest "Frosty" Myers, who created the "Moon Museum" and contributed a drawing, and a deceased engineer who worked on the project and is only known by the cryptic name "John F."
But now, the whole picture of how the mini museum made it to the moon is coming to light thanks to the PBS series "History Detectives,”. The show features four history experts who track down the history of obscure artefacts sent in by readers.
In this case, series host and historian Gwendolyn Wright found out about this piece of history from Jade Dellinger, a Florida-based art curator who bought a reproduction of the tile via an online auction. Wright admits she was sceptical about the tile's provenance, but after all the research now admits it's one of the "strangest, most exciting" experiences of her life.
"I will never think of the moon in the same way again," Wright said. "This case truly surprised me. What I thought seemed impossible, at first, became an amazing story of art winning its place alongside science, and some playful innovation that is sure to intrigue history buffs, space lovers and art aficionados alike."
As artworks go, none of the pieces here are going to stand next to these artists' greatest works. For instance, the Warhol piece is basically his initials made to look like a rocket or a phallic symbol depending on your mindset, and Rauschenburg's contribution is a single minimalist line. Meanwhile, David Novros and John Chamberlain contributed drawings that look like circuitry.
The artists did normal-sized pieces and then Bell Laboratories scientist Fred Waldhauer reduced the artists' sketches and imprinted them onto the ceramic wafer using state-of-the-art technology of the time. Waldhauer made a number of tiles -- one for the lunar module, and copies as souvenirs for the artists and other participants.
Myers actually tried to get the art aboard Apollo 12 by going through normal channels, but while NASA officials never said no, they never said yes, either, leaving the project in limbo. That is, until a contact hooked him up with the mysterious "John F.," an aerospace engineer who worked on the rocket.
This "unknown solderer," as some people call him, promised to send Myers a telegram when the mini museum was stuck onto the craft. Shortly before the rocket launch was set to begin, he got one, reading, "You're on. A-OK. All systems are go," and signed "John F."
While the real identity of John F. remains a mystery, Richard Kupczyk, the Grumman launch pad foreman for the Apollo 12 mission, suggests it may be a pseudonym to protect the engineer's real identity; he imagines the name was chosen as a nod to John F. Kennedy, the president who championed the space program.
I’m not sure if History Detectives is shown here but I would love to see this episode. I really hope it is true. Even if the art is not great the idea of a gallery on the Moon appeals. In addition it will be the only picture that looks like a penis on our satellite for the foreseeable future!
20 June 2010
Neda – the official version
As a living Lady fills the scumbag junta of Burma with terror so in death does Neda Agha Soltan to the vermin in charge of Iran . It does not matter that her death was one of many during the protests that followed Iran’s fraudulent election last year (and those to come of course – those to be executed after show trials), in death, Neda is the icon of Iran's struggle for democracy.
That Neda terrifies Ahmadinejad and his minions is clear. If not then they would not have jammed satellite broadcasts of “For Neda”. According to today’s Independent the regime has released its own film about her death,. – which blames the resistance movement outside Iran for Neda's death. This will come as no surprise as the regime has tried to blame just about everyone but the Baseej for her murder, including the doctor who held her dying in his arms and those who shot the video footage of her death. The regime has even claimed that she was alive and well in Greece!
Despite what must have been enormous pressure Neda’s family has refused to cooperate one jot with the regime. They refused to contribute to the “official” version but did, however, co-operate with the British documentary “For Neda” that depicts her death and the impact it has had on her family, on Iran and around the world.
Neda's mother, Hajar Rostami Motlagh, spoke yesterday of the heartache and inspiration that her daughter's death has come to symbolise. Neda's death was one of many during the Iranian Green Revolution, but international coverage of her killing has left her family fearful of constant intimidation.
"It has become more difficult for us to visit Neda's grave", her mother explains. "Every time we visit, there are a couple of officers watching us from a distance. They're afraid even of her dead body... I've always been an ordinary Iranian mother, I've never been into politics... but since Neda's death, our lives have been changed. People expect us to react and participate in meetings. I have been in touch with the mothers of those protesters who've been killed after the election and participated in women's rights meetings."
Speaking about the global impact of her daughter's death, she said: "It's an honour for our family. We thank everybody in the world for paying attention to Neda's story. There have been hundreds of other Nedas in Iran who were killed after last year's election, but their stories are not so well known. I hope the world would pay attention to their stories too."
"It's too late for the government to discredit Neda's story and the film. Her moment of death is seen by the world. Every time they try to build up lies upon lies about Neda's death and they have been unsuccessful."
Oppression has not deterred Neda's family. Ms Motlagh said she was no longer afraid. "I lost my daughter; I don't have anything else to lose. I was not frightened at all. The least I can do is to let the world know what has happened to my daughter's life."
What more can one add to this? The regime’s attempt to present lies about Neda’s death will not be believed except by the regime and its sycophants, useful idiots like Galloway and Seumas Milne and other credulous fools (like Further Left?)
Why all the Hawkwind? Tomorrow sees the release of their new album Blood of the Earth. I can't wait!
19 June 2010
Win Tin’s plea on the Lady’s birthday
In a hand-written letter smuggled out of Burma and passed to the paper he wrote "I want to repeat and echo her own (Aung San Suu Kyi) words – 'please use your liberty to promote ours'. I want to add more to it. Please bring more and more liberty to us, to our country, Burma. We are starving for it and we are waiting for someone or some institutions or some countries to bring it to us."
The plea from Ms Suu Kyi's friend and senior political ally, who himself spent almost 20 years in solitary confinement, comes at a desperately difficult time for the opponents of Burma's military junta. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has been forced to shut down after it decided it could not participate in an election due later this year when she and more than 2,000 political prisoners remain behind bars. Ae a breakaway group of supporters has decided to contest the polls, most independent analysts believe the election will simply further cement the junta's position.
The junta has claimed the elections due to be held this year will mark a crucial staging point in Burma's journey to full democracy. It is a claim that has been met with derision by most independent observers.
Just yesterday, The Elders, a group of global leaders called together by Nelson Mandela, used the occasion of Ms Suu Kyi's birthday to denounce the planned election. "National processes in Burma have been usurped by the military government – they do not serve the people. The elections due later this year will not be any different," said Desmond Tutu, chairman of the group.
Despite the junta's efforts to isolate her, experts say Ms Suu Kyi remains the sole person who could perhaps unite Burma. "She remains a powerful icon and, if she were free and there were free presidential elections tomorrow, there's no doubt in my mind that she would win," said author Bertil Lintner.
Even at the age of 65, the woman inside carries with her a rare, special power that the generals still fear. Here’s hoping it won’t be for long and the junta lie in unmarked graves, despised forever.
The Lady on her 65th Birtdhday
Aung San Suu Kyi is 65 today. Today she will spend her day as she has spent the last 15 years - under house arrest. And yest she remains a potent force in Burma. The Lady terrifies dictator Than Shwe the verminous rabble that run the country.
One day they will be gone. I hope the Lady will live to see the day.
Yesterday the Guardian published photos of her life before her return to Burma.
Click here to see early photos of her and her late husband Michael Aris and her children. It throws her current state into sharp relief.
18 June 2010
photo hunt - six
The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is six so here are six of my favourite ties
17 June 2010
The Mimic Ocotopus
I saw this piece of footage a few days ago on Eden. Ah truly a wonder of the deep!
16 June 2010
100 Million year old Mammal hair
According to the BBC palaeontologists have discovered two mammal hairs encased in 100 million-year-old amber that was found in the Font-de-Benon quarry at Archingeay-Les Nouillers in Charente-Maritime, southwest France.
The hairs, found alongside a fly pupa in amber uncovered in southwest France, are remarkably similar to hair found on modern mammals - which implies that the shape and structure of mammal hair has remained unchanged over a vast period of time.
"We have 2D hair imprints as early as the Middle Jurassic," says Dr Romain Vullo of the University of Rennes, France, who discovered the hair.
"However, carbonised hair provides much less information about the structure than a 3D hair preserved in amber," says Dr Vullo. "Our specimens are the oldest known hair specimens in which we can observe the cuticular structure."
The first hair fragment is 2.4mm long and 32 to 48 micrometres wide, while the second is just 0.6mm long and 49 to 78 micrometres wide. A close analysis showed they have a very similar cuticular structure to those of hair or fur carried by modern mammals. The identity of the animal that shed the hair is not known.
Ach so that’s where my first grey hair went...
Matador sees the light
According to theTelegraph a terrified Christian Hernandez dropped his red cape and ran from the charging bull during an event at the Plaza Mexico in Mexico City on Sunday.
He was arrested after the bullfight following complaints by organisers that he had breached his contract. He was later released after paying a fine.
The torero, who was badly gored in the leg during a bullfight several months ago, admitted that he had lost his nerve and would now retire from bullfighting altogether.
"There are some things you must be aware of about yourself," he said. "I didn't have the ability, I didn't have the balls, this is not my thing."
Good boy. I hope you find a better life than one that involved killing bulls
15 June 2010
Obsession For Men is a hit
Biologists Rony Garcia and Jose Moreira from the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Jaguar Conservation Program say they use hidden cameras as a primary source for observing and tracking jaguars in the Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve.
But they also rely on Obsession for Men, to help lure then research and hopefully ultimately preserve jaguars in the Central American country.
"The method we are using to study the jaguars here in Guatemala is an invasive method which is based on photographing the individuals by using camera traps," Moreira told Reuters Television. It has been very useful using Obsession (for Men) to get the jaguars in front of these camera traps ... and that allows us to estimate with greater confidence the genders and the numbers that live in each studied site."
The discovery that Obsession for Men acted as a magnet for jaguars was the result of an experiment by the WCS's Bronx Zoo in New York. The WCS was looking for ways to get cheetahs in front of camera traps, and, after several years of testing with different fragrances, found spraying the musky Obsession For Men near the heat-and-motion-sensitive cameras drew the cats for longer than other scents. They also tried out about 23 other fragrances but Obsession for Men kept the cats' attention for longest with Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps coming second.
Garcia said the results will be invaluable to conservation efforts. "These camera traps help us to identify how many jaguars are living in this area ... (and) helps us to have control over the population and let's us say to the government, to the public, that Laguna del Tigre still deserves conservation," he said.
The WCS said it tentatively plans to expand the use of the cologne in programs in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador in coming years.
Well it’s good to hear that a scent that I don’t care for has a use in the natural sciences. I wonder who I would send to South or Central America with a year,s supply of Obsession
14 June 2010
Baby Jesus, Err......
A Cornish couple decorating their home were shocked to find that an image of the baby Jesus appeared on their wallpaper. Sheila and Richard Woolhouse were stripping old wallpaper from their kitchen when they spotted it.
The damp marking appears to show a baby wrapped in linen Mrs Woodhouse said that the image looked like the baby Messiah. ”It’s spooky – it looks like the baby Jesus. They way it looks like a child wrapped in swaddling – it really has got religious connotations. The more you look at it, the more real it becomes. A few of the neighbours and friends have been round and they have been surprised by it as well.”
Well, err, maybe.. Hmm I suppose it’s refreshing to see Jesus as a baby instead of sporting a beard....
13 June 2010
Ahmadinejad pays blood money Revolutionary Guards
According to the Telegraph the deal will hugely boost the power of the group, a paramilitary outfit that sees itself as the ultimate defenders of the country's Islamic revolution, and lessens the chances of any kind of compromise with Iran's reformist challengers.
As the most loyal and formidable of the armed forces serving the Islamic regime, the Guards have played a prominent role in the last 12 months in striking fear into supporters of the opposition movement. Prior to last year protests, the head of the Guards' political bureau, General Yadollah Javani, famously warned that any attempts at a "soft revolution" would be vigorously crushed. Human rights groups claim he subsequently sanctioned the use of violence against arrested demonstrators, whom the Guards assumed a lead role in interrogating.
Mr Ahmadinejad is understood to have been hugely grateful for the Guards' support, which did not seem guaranteed at the time because of the way his presidency had bitterly divided the population.
The Guards' reward has been contracts that will not only channel huge funds into their operations but will also line the pockets of its senior most figures, buying future loyalty to Mr Ahmadinejad.
Among the contracts is an $850 million pipeline deal which has been awarded to GHORB, an engineering company affiliated to the Guards, and a $7 billion project in the huge South Pars oil and gas field that became vacant after a Turkish consortium withdrew.
After his re-election last year, Mr Ahmadinejad handed former Guards commanders and their allies in the Basij militia a total of 13 of 21 Cabinet posts. Their increased influence in government has important ramifications for the West in its quest to stop Iran's disputed nuclear programme.
Unlike the country's urbane diplomats and technocrats, Guard commanders are predominantly working-class "tough guys" who came of age during the bloody Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. They outwardly embrace privation and hardship, and feel the rest of country should too - a stance which means Western-imposed sanctions carry little real threat.
Besides which, if sanctions do really start to bite, the most senior Guardsmen will not have to worry. Despite their facade of a simple, pious existence, many already have huge private wealth from their control of lucrative smuggling rackets, operated through Guards-controlled airfields and seaports: one former Guards commander, Sadeq Mahsouli, is said to own mansions worth £10 million alone.
Guards front companies already have slices of many other big public projects, such as roadbuilding, telecommunications, and running Tehran airport.
Nonetheless, US intelligence believes that their new venture into the oil business could ultimately backfire on Mr Ahmadinejad. "If we want sanctions to cripple the
Iranian energy sector and squeeze the lifeblood out of the economy, then increased role of the Revolutionary Guards is actually a good thing," said Mr Dubowitz who advises the US government as head of the Iran Energy Project at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies policy institute.. "They don't have the expertise to run the sector and Ahmadinejad is doing us all a favour by firing competent technocrats and replacing them with Revolutionary Guards loyalists."
The Revolutionary Guard are a bunch of evil thugs who now have their blood-soaked hands on a significant part of the Iranian economy. I wonder when they will overthrow him and set up a regime that is even more vicious...
THE Scroobious Pip
The Scroobious Pip went out one day
When the grass was green, and the sky was grey.
Then all the beasts in the world came round
When the Scroobious Pip sat down on the ground.
The cat and the dog and the kangaroo
The sheep and the cow and the guineapig too--
The wolf he howled, the horse he neighed
The little pig squeaked and the donkey brayed,
And when the lion began to roar
There never was heard such a noise before.
And every beast he stood on the tip
Of his toes to look a the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the Fox - "By far,
You're the wisest beast! You know you are!
Go close to Scroobious Pip and say,
Tell us all about yourself we pray-
For as yet we can't make out in the least
If you're Fish or Insect, or Bird or Beast."
The Scroobious Pip looked vaguelyy round
And sang these words with a rumbling sound-
Chippetty Flip; Flippetty Chip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.
The Scroobious Pip from the top of a tree
Saw the distant Jellybolee,-
And all the birds in the world came there,
Flying in crowds all through the air.
The Vulture and Eagle, the cock and the hen
The Ostrich the Turkey the Snipe and the Wren;
The Parrot chattered, the Blackbird sung
And the owl looked wise bu held his tongue,
And when the Peacock began to scream
The hullabaloo was quite extreme.
And every bird he fluttered the tip
Of his wng as he stared at the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the owl- "By far,
You're the wisest Bird -- you know you are!
Fly close to the Scroobious Pip and say,
Explain all about yourself we paray-
For as yet we have neither seen nor heard
If you're fish or insect, beast or bird!"
The Scroobious Pip looked gaily round
And sang these words with a chirpy sound-
Chippetty Flip; Flippetty Chip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.
The Scroobious Pip went into the sea
By the beautiful shore of Jellybolee-
All the fish in the world swam round
With a splashing squashy spluttering sound.
The sprat, the herring, the turbot too
The shark, the sole and the mackerel blue,
The flounder spluttered, the purpoise puffed
And when the whale began to spout
And every fish he shook the tip
Of his tail as he gazed on the Scroobious Pip
At last they said to the whale- "By far
You're the biggest Fish - you know you are!
Swim close to the Scroobious Pip and say-
Tell us all about yourself we pray!-
For to know you yourself is our only wish;
Are you beast or insect, bird or fish?"
The Scroobious Pip looked softly round
And sung these words with a liquid sound-
Pliffity Flip; Pliffety Flip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.
The scroobious Pip sat under a tree
By the silent shores of the Jellybolee;
All the insects in all the world
About the Scroobious Pip entwirled.
Beetles and with purple eyes
Gnats and buzztilential flies-
Grasshoppers, butterflies, spiders too,
Wasps and bees and dragon-flies blue,
And when the gnats began to hum
bounced like a dismal drum,
And every insect curled the tip
Of his snout, and looked a the Scroobious Pip.
At last the said to the Ant - "By far
You're the wisest insect, you know you are!
Creep close to the Scroobious Pip and say-
Tell us all about yourself we pray,
For we can't find out, and we can't tell why-
If you're beast or fish or a bird or a fly."
The Scroobious Pip turned quickly round
And sang these words with a whistly sound
Wizzeby wip - wizzeby wip--
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.
Then all the beasts that walk on the ground
Danced in a circle round and round-
And all the birds that fly in the air
Flew round and round in a circle there,
And all the fish in the Jellybolee
Swum in a circle about the sea,
And all the insects that creep or go
Buzzed in a circle to and fro.
And they roared and sang and whistled and cried
Till the noise was heard from side to side-
Chippetty tip! Chippetty tip!
It's only name is the Scroobious Pip.
12 June 2010
It's time to mow the flowers... again
Fetch the sickles, come,
don’t spare a single tulip in the fields.
The meadows are in bloom:
who has ever seen such insolence?
The grass is growing again:
step nowhere else but on its head.
Blossoms are opening on every branch,
exposing the happiness in their hearts:
such colorful exhibitions must be stopped.
Bring your scalpels to the meadow
to cut out the eyes of flowers.
So that none may see or desire,
let not a seeing eye remain.
I fear the narcissus is spreading its corruption:
stop its displays in a golden bowl
on a six-sided tray.
What is the use of your ax,
if not to chop down the elm tree?
In the maple’s branches
allow not a single bird a moment’s rest.
My poems and the wild mint
bear messages and perfumes.
Don’t let them create a riot with their wild singing.
My heart is greener than green,
flowers sprout from the mud and water of my being.
Don’t let me stand, if you are the enemies of Spring.
--Translated by Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa
From Logos Journal
One year ago today, Ahmadinejad retained his position as President of Iran in what was clearly a rigged ballot... The rest is a matter of record sadly...
11 June 2010
Photo Hunt - Bubbles
I'll be visiting other hunters tomorrow
A terrible joke again
Paisley, desperate to find out how the situation in the north turned out grabs hold of Robinson and says "Peter, what have I missed over the last 20 years? Did we win, did we lose? You've gotta tell me"
Robinson replies "Well Ian, I've got some good news and some bad news. Do you want the good or the bad first?"
Paisley thinks about it for a minute and say "Gimme the bad news first"
Robinson: "Well the bad news is that Gerry Adams is the new president of the United Ireland"
Paisley is shocked but enquires further "So what's the good news then?"
Robinson: "Rangers are beating Celtic in the cup final" Paisley is delighted by this and asks "What score is it?"
Robinson: "3-14 to 1-11"
10 June 2010
Alan Moore in bird crap on car window
My thanks go to Stan of Sentence First for drawing my atttention to this wonderful simulacrum of graphic novelist Alan Moore in bird shit on a car window.
From Whitechapel via Bleeding Cool
09 June 2010
Scientists prove that beer goggles exist!
A new study has found that drunk students were up to 10% more likely to fall for less attractive people than those who were sober. It showed the more they drank, the less likely they were to recognise finer details on people’s faces.
A team of psychologists found 64 students of varying levels of drunkenness in bars at Roehampton University, London. They were asked to judge 20 photos of men and women aged 18 to 25. One face in each pair was digitally enhanced to make it more symmetrical — and therefore more attractive.
Thirty six more sober students had a 67% success rate in choosing the symmetrical face. But 28 intoxicated students (who had drunk ten or more units) chose the more symmetrical face in just 58% of cases.
“Drunk students were less good at noticing symmetrical faces and cared less about the defects”, said Lewis Halsey, who led the study.
Excellent news! This is proof positive that science constantly strives to improve humanity....
BP Oil spill humour....
A hat tip to Bryan at Why Now? for this funny youtube clip...
08 June 2010
A lost battlefield.
According to CNN an Australian trekker has claimed that he has discovered the site of a significant World War II battle in the jungles of Papua New Guinea
Former army Capt. Brian Freeman, an expert on the Kokoda Trail said that he was led to the Eora Creek battle site where he found the remains of the soldiers. The site was believed to be the location of the last major battle that was pivotal in Australia’s campaign against the Japanese in Papua New Guinea.
Although the site was known to local villages it has remained untouched since 1942.
“It was as if time has stood still. We found ammunition running out in a line from the rifle that was dropped as the Japanese advanced to the rear,” Freeman said.
The presence of large rectangular pits, referred to as rifle pits, also indicated that the location was also a significant Japanese defensive position. “However, it was the discovery of a Japanese soldier sitting up against a tree, only centimeters from the surface still in his helmet, with his boots nearby that began to tell the human story,” Freeman said. The battle of Eora Creek is said to be the single most costly clash of the Kokoda campaign, although different sources cite different casualty figures.
Freeman said they are working with respective governments to repatriate the fallen solders and preserve the site in its “current pristine condition." Until then, no groups will be permitted to trek the site.
If this is true then it is an amazing rediscovery.
When I grow up I will be a pretty flower
07 June 2010
Saudi Clerics sanction adult breast feeding
Sheikh Al Obeikan set off a firestorm of controversy when he said on TV that women who come into regular contact with men who aren't related to them ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives.
"The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman," he said "He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing."
Obeikan said the fatwa applied to men who live in the same house or come into contact with women on a regular basis. Unfortunately those who rely on the internal combustion engine for their livelihood, drivers are not included.
Al Obeikan, who made the statement after being asked on TV about a 2007 fatwa issued by an Egyptian scholar about adult breast-feeding, said that the breast milk ought to be pumped out and given to men in a glass.
But his remarks were followed by an announcement by another high-profile sheik, Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini, who said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman's breast.
Shortly after the two sheiks weighed in on the matter, a bus driver in the country's Eastern Region reportedly told one of the female teachers whom he drives regularly that he wanted to suckle milk from her breast. The teacher has threaten to file a lawsuit against him.
Under Islamic law, women are encouraged to breast-feed their children until the age of 2. It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breast-feed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a "breast milk sibling."
But under Islamic law, breast milk siblings have to be breastfed before the age of 2 in five "fulfilling" sessions. Islam prohibits sexual relations between a man and any woman who breastfed him in infancy. They are then allowed to be alone together when the man is an adult because he is not considered a potential mate.
The original adult breast-feeding fatwa was issued three years ago by an Egyptian scholar at Egypt's al-Azhar University, considered Sunni Islam's top university. Ezzat Attiya was expelled from the university after advocating breast-feeding of men as a way to circumnavigate segregation of the sexes in Egypt.
Well,,, err... What can one say to that except wonder if these clerics are actually living on this planet!
06 June 2010
Regime cannot stop For Neda
Unsurprisingly, given the groundswell of feeling in the country the film has rapidly gone viral in Iran in the run-up to next Saturday's anniversary of the disputed elections that triggered the protests. It is available on YouTube so can be seen by anyone with access to the internet.
The film was directed by Antony Thomas and co-produced by Saeed Kamali Dehghan, a former Guardian correspondent in Iran. Kamali Dehghan risked arrest to interview Neda's parents and siblings and obtain unseen footage of her life.
Witnesses have said that she was shot in the heart by a sniper with the Basij militia force, who has been named as Abbas Kargar-Javid.
Iran's intelligence ministry is reportedly due to release its own documentary to remove "ambiguities" surrounding her death and provide "new evidence" about what it calls the west's version of events. Neda's family were under pressure to cooperate with the official documentary but refused. Two of her friends were forced to participate.
The Iranian regime will probably suggest again that Neda was an agent of the US and Britain who staged her own death and poured blood on her face. BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne was also blamed for her killing before being expelled.
Meanwhile Ahmadinejad today warned the opposition of tough measures, ahead of protests next week. "Those who want to tarnish the image of the country and its system will be removed from the [political] scene," he said in a speech marking the 21st anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, architect of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the shah.
"The election last year was the most democratic in the world as nowhere else would 40 million people turn up for elections," he claimed. Ahmadinejad pledged: "Whoever stands against the Islamic system will not survive." Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor as supreme leader, boasted that Iran, facing new UN sanctions over its nuclear programme, was in a position to "see off any conspiracies".
Democratic? Don’t make me laugh! It was as rigged as HMS Victory! A few Stalinist scumbags George Galloway, Seumas Milne et al may swallow that bullshit but most people don’t. Protests have been muted for several months but there is still a huge reservoir of anger among the people of Iran. Ahmadinejad is a dead man walking, metaphorically speaking. He will be flushed into the sewers of history, count on it.
05 June 2010
And once more here's De Chirico Street
Robyn Hitchcock and Deni Bonet - From the public access prog Duets with Deni
04 June 2010
Photo Hunt - Sparkle
The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is sparkle. I can think of a certain cat that will find this theme easy. For me I went for sparkle in the sense ofbrilliant performance.
I have posted all of these photos before but what they hey, never in Photo Hunt! The first singer is Dame Pandora of Dark Sanctuary who I saw perform their first ever UK date last year. Sadly it was their last ever concert too. A sad loss to the music world.
The second singer is Paris-based Iranian singer Darys Dadvar who gave her first Lonjdon performance last May.
When knowledge of a second language is beneficial....
In an earlier age I'm sure that my father could have been a seanachai – a traditional story. If there's one thing he likes to do it's talking and he has a mine of stories. One period of his life he likes to talk about now is his time in the RAF during WWII (but go back 25 years and he was rather tight lipped about his experiences). Joinging the RF in 1941 at the age of 15 (with a doctored Irish birth certificate) he trained as a bomber navigator and was flying on operations over Germany when he was just 16.
By 1944 he found himself based for a short while near Cairo before heading to Iraq and finally Burma. One day he was in Cairo minding his own business, looking in looking in a shop window. As a result he did not see two officers pass. The first he knew was when he was accosted by a Sergeant and a Corporal of the Military Police who were following the officers and putting anyone who did not salute them on a charge. Although he outranked the MPs as a Warrant Officer he knew he would be reported to his CO if he spoke. But he knew he had to say something so he said:
“Ár n-Athair atá ar neamh, Go naofar d'ainim, Go dtagfadh do ríocht Go ndéantar do thoil ar an talamh mar a dhéantar ar neamh.” The MPs looked puzzled so he carried on: “Ár n-arán laethúil tabhair dúinn inniu, agus maith dúinn ár bhfiacha mar a mhaithimidne dár bhféichiúna féin Ach ná lig sinn i gcathú, ach saor sinn ó olc”
The MPs looked at each other, one said “he must be a Pole or something” and walked off. When he got back to base he told his CO, a Wing Commander (equivlanet to an army Lt Colonel) and another Irishman who laughed like a drain: dad had recited the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic at the MPs.
His had heard of these officers and their stupid little antic of putting men on charge for not saluting them and declared he would go to Cairo, find them and “have the bastards saluting him till their fecking arms dropped off”. (Nb the "e" in fecking replaces a vowel that comes rather later in the alphabet
I suppose the moral of the story is that knowledge of another language is useful....Ah well, it’s amusing when dad tells the story!
03 June 2010
A novel use for Mozart...
According to the Guardian a German plant is doing just this. Anton Stucki, chief operator of the sewage centre in Treuenbrietzen, south-west of Berlin, believes the chords and cadences of the compositions speed up the way the organisms work and lead to a quicker breakdown of biomass.
"We think the secret is in the vibrations of the music, which penetrate everything – including the water, the sewage and the cells. It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them to work better. We're still in the test phase, but I've already noticed that the sewage breakdown is more efficient," he said.
He has developed a sound system that projects Mozart operas in several directions at once, recreating a spread of sound similar to that of a concert hall. And he compares the process to that of an orchestra. "Just as in an orchestra where everything has to be in harmony, so it is here. But of course you need the right frequencies and the right music, and Mozart hits the spot."
So far Stucki's preferred composition is The Magic Flute. "But we're keen to try others as well, and to see what effect they have," he said. "I'm convinced we can influence the nitrate contents with this method."
The method was first developed at a smaller sewage treatment plant in Austria whose owners said it helped reduce the cost of waste treatment. The plant expects savings of as much as €1,000 a month. It has welcomed requests from any scientists who wish to follow the process.
Well... err.... If bacteria like Mozart who am I to argue....