28 May 2011

Now this is an auction I wish I knew about before

The BBC (and a fair few other sources) report that the severed head said to be that of the patron saint of genital disease will go on auction in Ireland tomorrow.

The skull is allegedly that of St Vitalis of Assisi, an Italian Benedictine monk from the 14th century.

It belonged to an Anglo-Irish family from County Louth, and is housed in a Queen Anne case dating from the 17th century.
It is unclear exactly how his head may have ended up in Ireland.
Auctioneer Damien Matthews, who is selling the macabre item on Sunday, said that the family think an ancestor brought it back from the grand tour of Europe in the 18th century.

St Vitalis was born in Umbria, Italy, and is said to have lived an immoral and licentious youth. In an attempt to atone for his early sins, he later undertook pilgrimages to shrines throughout Europe, eventually entering a Benedictine monastery. After leaving the monastery, he lived the remainder of his life as a hermit near Assisi.

He died in 1370, and word of his sanctity soon spread due to reports of numerous miracles performed on those with bladder and genital disorders.

Hmm Now the skull of the patron saint of embarrassing afflictions would be the perfect conversation piece! It is a shame that there seems to be no reference to Vitalis actually being an official patron saint of peeing razorblades.

Saint Fiacre seems to be one of the main saints with a responsibility for cock rot. Good old St George and Symphorian of Autun are also invoked in respect of syphilis.

Meanwhile Aloysius Gonzaga, Therese of Lisieux and Peregrine Laziosi have the watching brief for AIDS.

NO mention of Vitalis of Assisi sadly. Perhaps he can be the patron saint of pomades. After all there is a hair tonic named after thim!

If you are interested the auction takes place at Annesbrook House in Duleek, County Meath tomorrow. The head, holy or otherwise, is valued at between 800 and 1,200 euros.

Gil Scott-Heron RIP

27 May 2011

Photo Hunt - Looking Down

 © 2011 Shaun P Downey

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is looking down/ Some time ago I looked down from a vantage point on the strand at Inch in Co Kerry and spied people with a dog.

 It was at this point I decided to get help for my hallucinations...

26 May 2011

Cavafy, Carlin and an evil cat

Mass Murderer Ratko Mladic Arrested At Last

After 16 years on the run, hidden by friends, family and others Ratko Mladic, the piece of human excrement that is directly responsible for the Srebrenica Massacre, has finally been arrested.

His capture was anoounced a few hours ago by Serbian president Botis Tadic.

This is good news indeed but now the scumbag has to pay. It is my earnest hope that Mladic remains in at least adequate mental and physical health for the foreseeable future so that he can trial in the Hague, be found guilty and then sentenced to spend the rest of his worthless life in jail. Personally I hope he lives to be a supercentenarian

Perhaps his sentence should be passed in solitary confinement with the above photographs stuck to his wall so that he can be reminded for ever of those 8,000 lives he took in a Bosnian town in June 1995.

In which Jams O' Donnell increases his vockablary

I would recomend that everyone visits the Korean Central News Agency (a propaganda organ of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea... Hah) at least once in their life. It is not, most definitely not,  that I endorse the North Korean regime in any way, shape or form; it is just that the way English is used by the KCNA is a sight to behold. 

Here is an extract from a report entitled Dissemination of Juche Idea to Be Intensified in Various Countries

Pyongyang, May 25 (KCNA) -- The Bangladesh Institute of the Juche Idea made public a statement on May 18 in support of the decision of the 13th enlarged meeting of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the International Institute of the Juche Idea and the appeal to the Juche idea followers of the world adopted at the Latin American regional seminar on the Juche idea.

The statement noted that President Kim Il Sung founded the Juche idea to clearly indicate the way for the accomplishment of the human cause of independence and ushered in the rise of the Songun revolution under the banner of the Juche idea, thus making immortal contributions to global independence.

Under the Songun leadership of Kim Jong Il perfectly carrying forward the idea and cause of the President the Korean people are setting a shining example in defending the sovereignty of the country and the socialist gains and building a great prosperous and powerful country of Juche, it added.

But I digress. A couple of days ago this headline had me scratching my won head in puzzlement: 1,551 Macrobians in Cuba

"What on earth is a macrobian?", I asked myself. The text was of little help:

There are 1,551 Macrobians above 100 years old in Cuba at present. This is an increase of 10 over that last year, Cuban newspaper Granma said.

A Google search of the word pointed me to Wikipedia/ It seems that Macrobians were an ancient people who lived on the Somali peninsula during the 1st millennium BC. They were mentioned by Herodotus as being a nation of people that had mastered longevity with the average Macrobian living till the age of 120. They were said to be the "Tallest and Handsomest of all men"

So Cuba is home to over 1,500 elderly Somalis? Perhaps they moved there to take advantage of Cuba's high standard of healthcare.

Wiktionary defines macrobian as "having an exceptionally long lifespan"

So there you have it. a macrobian is basically someone who is very old. I live and learn. Had it not been for an occasional dip into the surreal world of North Korean propaganda I may never have encountered this word.

Make of this what you will...

24 May 2011

Backwaters of History: Rosenstrasse

I've put up posts about the Rosenstrasse protest before so this is basically me recycling the old posts. That said it is an incident that, in my view, deserves to be far better known. A minor footnote in the world's bloodiest conflict it may be but the Rosenstrasse protest demonstrates the effectiveness of non-violent action even in the face of the very worst tyranny.

By early 1943 there were still thousands of Jews living in Berlin, including around many men who were married to gentile wives. Up to the men married to gentile wives were not deported to death camps. However, in February 1943 the plan to remove Germany's last Jews was put into action. This was known as the Fabrikaktion (
also called Gro├čaktion Juden and Evakuierungsaktion).

In addition, Goebbels, who (as well as to his propaganda duties) was Gauleiter of Berlin, had promised Hitler that the German capital would be judenfrei by the time of his (Hitler's) 54th birthday in April. 

Starting on on 27 February 1943 and taking approximately a week, about 10,000 Berlin jews were arrested. This figure included around 1700 of those married to gentile wives. The latter were rounded up and taken to Rosenstrasse 2-4(the welfare office for the Jewish community in central Berlin) pending deportation to extermination camps. The wives and relatives, learning of their spouses detention, appeared at Rosenstrasse, at first in small numbers but then in ever larger groups.

The women were unarmed and unorganised but they were determined to see the release of their husbands. Goebbels, was aware of the consequences of shooting the women down in cold blood. Moreover he was fearful that it would compromise the secrecy of the Final Solution. The men were released, including a number that had already been deported to Auschwitz

The great majority of them lived to see the end of the war.

Whichever way you look at it the protest was astounding. I am under no illusions that a similar protest by a group of  "non-aryans" would have been successful (or have any result other than  a lot of dead and hurt protestors). That said it still shows  that non violent protest can work even at the heart of an evil regime.  

In 2003 German director Margarethe Von Trotta made a fictional account of the protest. I have the DVD of  Rosenstrasse . It is not of the same calibre of of the calibre of Downfall or Sophie Scholl – the Final Days. Sadly there wee a number of fictional elements that detracted from the story (It was utterly uneccessary for her to have on of the protestors to sleep with Goebbels!). That said it wasn't a bad film and did not deserve the panning it got from some critics including the New York Times.

This link from the German website The Topography of Terror provides further information including personal accounts of those taking part and extracts from Goebbels own diary. 

Ahmadinejad: They Took our Rain!

Poor old Mahmoud has had a rough time of late, what with half of his cabinet being arrested for sorcery and the other half away at a Sabbat invoking the aid great god IMHOTEP to make Ayatollah Khamenei piles more painful. So perhaps we should cut him a little slack when he talks utter rubbish.


According the Telegraph Ahmadeinjad is on fine form accusing the European nations of using ungodly devices to deprive Iran of rain.

Speaking that the opening of a new dam in Arak (err perhaps inaugration is better, the last thing anyone wants is an dam to open!) Ahmadinejad claimed that "Western countries have designed plans to cause drought in certain areas of the world, including Iran,"

"According to reports on climate, whose accuracy has been verified, European countries are using special equipment to force clouds to dump their water on their continent… "they prevent rain clouds from reaching regional countries, including Iran,"

I know that this is not exactly hot news but I missed it when it was reported.

I suppose there is nothing like trying to divert attention away from one’s own failings by blaming an external party for all or most of them/

Needless to say Ahmadinejad is fully aware that large swathes of iran are arid or semi arid in the first place. A country with limited water supplies that has doubled its population over the last 30 years (with the attendant land degradation etc) is going to have trouble meeting all needs.

But then why go for the mundane when the ludicrous will suffice.

One short sentence did amuse. Apparently (and who cares if it is true or not here)it started to rain as he finished his speech

22 May 2011

Sunday hangover blogging

I would like to thank Bob of Bob From Brockley fame for arranging another fine blogger meet, this time at the Coal Hole on the Strand.  It was a pleasure to meet up with Bob, Mira from Engage Online, Francis Sedgemore, Carl Packman  and of course Kellie Strom of Airforce Amazons.

I was delighted also to meet other bloggers for the first time, namely James Bloodworth of Obliged to Offend and Richard Sanderson of Baggage Reclaim. I particularly enjoyed discussing the merits of  Hawkwind with Richard. Sadly I did not get the chance to talk to Marko Attila Hoare of Greater Surbiton.

Mercifully I managed to get home rather earlier than I did last time and my hangover is nowhere near as severe. Here's hoping that another meet will be in the offing in the not too distant future.

20 May 2011

Photo Hunt - Clutter

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is cluttered. Here is a typical shelf space, This one has books oh and rechargeable batteries. Other shelves my have the not-wife's pressed glass collection, or my pens or camera equipment... or a cat or two!

Sleepy time Boris

19 May 2011

The Queen in Ireland

So Ireland gets a visit from our head of state for the first time in 100 years (the visits to Northern Ireland not counting of course).

Normally a royal bisit would be of minimal interest to me but the one to Ireland is pretty symbolic. Anyway she is there, and a state visit to Ireland by the British head of state is long overdue.

But it is not the actual royal visit itself that has caught my eye but an image and an article:

The above photo comes from Broadsheet.ie. Clearly there is one person who does not see the irony of turning up to an anti-British protest in a Manchester United shirt (or should it be stupidity or imbecility? whatever the mot juste someone has made themselves a laughing stock!). Of even greater amusement is the sight of a protestor carrying a packet of hams slices. Then again even diehard bitter-ender republicans get a bit peckish too.

The article in question is called "The Queen in Ireland: Our Mutual Catharsis" and appeared in the Guardian Comment is Free section. Written by the founding editor of Slugger O'Toole it is a worthwhile read(far more so than the majority of CiF articles).

I mean no actual disrespect to the author itself but am I the only person to see something just a bit amusing about an article about the Queen in Ireland written by someone called MICK FEALTY.

I'll get my coat!


Necropolis II

© 2011 Shaun P Downey


© 2011 Shaun P Downey

Happy Birthday Sir Nicholas

Sir Nicholas Winton, most definitely a candidate for the greatest living Briton, is 102 today. Happy birthday sir Nicholas

18 May 2011

A head among the foliage

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

Heart full of leaves redux

The Poor Mouth: the go-to site for drivel

I am by no means a visitor stats addict but sometimes I do like to see who is visiting the Poor Mouth and for what reason. I use Stat Counter which has recently had an upgrade. Before it would just show search words for a given visit; it now also shows (for some searches)  one's where the blog ranks on Google for that that search.

It's quite amusing to see that the Poor Mouth scores highly for a number of searches including:

The History of String (2nd place)
Blackadder election (3rd)
Anu paps (4th)
Alfredo Astiz (5th)
Pour encourager les authres (7th)
Sweet holiday pussy (5th)
De Valera condolence (6th)
Nibbled by a Garra rufa (2nd)
Worst poem ever (3rd)

and so on... It is amusing to see some of the searches where the Poor Mouth comes out on top. These include:

Alicia Partnoy poems (an Argentinian poet who suffered at the hands of the junta during the Dirty War)
Matthiola arborescens (the Tree stock)

Crippen not guilty
Mr Methane Michael Medved (perhaps that says a lot about that right wing arsehole!)
Mehmet Aygun (the last Turkish soldier of WWI)
Tracey Emin lips
haiku about poor and

The top two searches for British traitors WW2 puts the Poor Mouth in first and second place

However, the one that I am most proud of is the search George Galloway is an idiot. The Poor Mouth is at the top ahead of CiFwatch, the Guardian and the late and unlamented Iain Dale.

So there you have it. This post is an awful lot of very little except for Jams O'Donnell blowing his trumpet (which is why I rarely leave the house nowadays fnur, fnur!)

Still ti is heartening to see that people know where to come for when they want to read crap!

17 May 2011

Flux II

© 2011 Shaun P Downey

Missing link found in West Country

The BBC reports that scientists have identified what may be the "missing link" living free and well in the West Country just outside Exeter.

Much to the chagrin of those who like to make cheap jokes about yokels, cider an incest (and much to the relief of those of us who find such jokes pathetic), the missing link in question connects fungi to plants, animals and bacteria.

Dr Meredith Jones of Exeter University outlined the structures and properties of a primitive type of fungus that they name cryptomycota, or "hidden fungi".

"They are the oldest currently known of the fungal group and they represent the missing link between fungi and the rest of the kingdom of life," Dr Jones said. "DNA studies show that it was around this point that fungi diverged, so this will tell us a lot about how they evolved."

The discovery has already thrown up one surprising finding. The group lacks what until now scientists had thought was a defining feature of fungi: a rigid cell wall that is used to feed.

The indications are that cryptomycota is an incredibly diverse group, according to Dr Jones. "From the mushrooms we find at the shops, the yeast that we use to bake bread and brew beer, to the mould that's growing in the bathroom - you can see how diverse the fungi we already know about are. This new group is just as diverse, and so its discovery doubles our currently known understanding of the fungal kingdom."

Researchers had already known about this group of fungi from DNA-based techniques. But the Nature-reported study is the first time that a team has learned what cryptomycota actually look like by using advanced microscopic techniques.

Deciphering the group's shape and structure should help scientists understand better what this particular group of fungi do in the environment.]

Well there you have it. It goes to show that you don’t have to go to far flung places to discover life forms that are new to science. I wonder what lurks in the back garden, apart from four well fed cats...

Great headlines, part 385

Blind man confused over 'mystery enema'

A genuine headline taken from the Metro

16 May 2011


Alien flora

St Macho?

I was rather amused to see that a Russian sect considers Vladimir Putin to be a new St Paul and is on a special mission from God.

The sect, which is not named, is based in a village near Nizhny Novgorod and is all-female.

"According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle was a military commander at first and an evil persecutor of Christians before he started spreading the Christian gospel," the sect's founder, Mother Fotina, said. “In his days in the KGB, Putin also did some rather unrighteous things. But once he became president, he was imbued with the Holy Spirit, and just like the apostle, he started wisely leading his flock. It is hard for him now but he is fulfilling his heroic deed as an apostle."

The members dress like nuns and pray for Mr Putin's success in front of Russian Orthodox Church icons that have been placed alongside a portrait of the Russian prime minister himself.
Followers are reportedly encouraged to sing upbeat patriotic Soviet songs at 'services' rather than hymns.

As befits a sect that worships a man who has denounced the decadence of the oligarchs, the sect's members are said to survive on a Spartan diet of turnips, carrots, peas and buckwheat.

"It is quite right an proper first I've that they think so highly of the prime minister's work," said Putin’s press officer Dmitry Peskov. “For has neither earth nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Vladimir our Lord.”

Prime minister Putin is reported to have said “For I am already on the paint of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, “

14 May 2011

Artists not appearing on Eurosong tonight include

Plastic Bertrand for Belgium

Klaus Nomi for Germany (unsurprising given that he has been dead since 1983)

The Anti Nowhere League for dear old Blighty..

The greatest Eurovision song Ireland never had

It being Eurovision Song Contest night here is My Lovely Horse from Father Ted, the second greatest sitcom ever created (Blackadder being the greatest of course)

13 May 2011

Photohunt - Missed

© 2011 Shaun P Downey
The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is Missed. Here is Mimi again who died in 2009. She may have had no concept of what the litter box was for, she may have had a sever disability which cut her life short, but she was one of the most loving cats I have ever known

Ted sporting an electronic tag

Public Enemy Number One


Nothing to see here

12 May 2011

A royal post

Queen Elizabeth II becomes Britain's second longest reigning monarch today, her reign now having lasted longer than that of George III.

Although I am a republican by instinct, the Queen has been a good figurehead for the nation. I doubt I will say the same about her heir.

11 May 2011

Silly prunt!

A prunt at the bottom of a Victorian glass bowl. A prunt is a decorative blob of glass fused to another piece of glass. Alternatively it could be a decorated pontil or punty scar (the piece of glass left when the glass blower's rod is removed

The tile of this post is just the fourth example on Google of prunt appearing directly after silly. To create the first ever incidence of a particular phrase on google I give you, in homage to novelist Henry Green, "punty fingers".

Don't worry if mush of this post makes no sense. It makes little sense to me either!

A rare expression

Readers of this drivel fest may (or [erhaps not_ note that I massively overuse a number of expressions. "Well there you have it" springs to mind immediately.

Although not used quite as much on this blog another favourite expression is "an awful lot of very little" which I use (predictably) to describe an event or the like blown out of proportion.

I was curious to see if the expression is in common use. but a google search using the advanced search facility came up with just twelve examples. Three of these appear on the Poor Mouth. It is therefore a very uncommon expression

So there you have it (Gah). Make of this post what you will (double gah!). Anyway.... (triple gah!)

The post itself is not an awful lot of very little but not much of bugger all!

10 May 2011

Has Syrian first lady fled to London?

She’s recently been feted in Vogue in a sickeningly sycophantic article but it may be the case that she is no longer safe in the country her vile husband rules through violence and murder.

There are rumours that Asma Assad may now be living in a safe house in or near London. British-born she has not been seen in public since the start of the Arab Spring.

As the violence in Syria increased, Mrs Assad is said to have been warned “to get out as soon as you can.”

Being British the obvious bolt hole is London – her parents still live in Acton in west London but there have been no signs of her father, Fawaz Akhras or her mother Sahar Otri at the family home

This could be a load of hooey but if she has left Syria then the UK is the obvious choice. As a citizen she has every right to return but it will surely be a huge embarrassment for the Government if she has.

Given her choice of husband and his brutal repression of protestors she is one citizen that this country would be well rid of: unless she has severed all contact with him and openly condemns his brutality.

Romfordiana I – Romford FC’s glory days

This is the first of an occasional series of historical posts relating to my home borough Havering *but Romfordiana sounds better than Haveringiana – to me at lest).

Havering has not produced very many people of note and history has generally passed it by. That does not mean to say that it is a wasteland – even though it looks that way at times! Anyway on to the subject of the post.

There has been a football club in Romford (with breaks from WWI to the late 20s and the late 70s to the early 90s) since 1876. The current incarnation plays in the Isthmian League first division, the eighth tier of the English football pyramid.

Romford FC has never played top-flight football but it did come tantalisingly close in the 6)s. In in1967 it won the Southern League and like many other fellow winners it applied for membership of the football league. Unlike other past champions including Southampton. Portsmouth, Ipswich QPR et al) its bid was unsuccessful.

But one has to go back to the 19th century for another highpoint. In 1881 Romford reached its furtherst point in the FA Cup competition.

Romford FC was one of 62 teams to compete in the 1800/81 FA Cup competition. In the first round the team met Reading Minster winning 1-0.

They received a bye in the second round. Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, two teams who are still in the top echelons of English football, exited at this stage of the competition.

In the third round it met another Reading team, Reading Abbey, winning 2-0. Romford therefore fared better than Notts County who were beaten by Aston Vila.

A fourth round tie saw them play Marlow. A 2-1 victory meant that they progressed further than either Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa who were both defeated at this stage.

Glory beckoned. Three more games and Romford would raise the FA Cup. But first the team had to overcome AFC Darwen. Alas Darwen were too taleneted and they defeated lost by just fifteen goals in a tight and closely fought game (!)

Darwen were defeated I the semi finals and the competition was won that season by Old Cathusians who defeated Old Etonians.

Darwen subsequently gained admission to the football league but remained in the top flight for just nine eight seasons. The team now plays at the tenth tier of English football. Old Carthusians and Old Etonians now play in the Arthurian league for public school alumni. It is not part of the football pyramid…

Okay its not much of a story but how many of my posts are!

09 May 2011

Conspiracy theorists: conspirators in potentia?

Conspiracy theorists – conspirators in potentia?

New research casts light on the sort of people who buy into conspiracy theories: that is to say people who are willing themselves to conspire.

The Alpha Galileo site cites a paper to be published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, Dr Karen Douglas and Dr Robbie Sutton, two researchers from the University of Kent School of Psychology.

They found that ¬- in keeping with the psychological process called projection - an individual’s perception that “I would do it” informs his or her perception that “they did it”.

The research, titled Does it take one to know one? Endorsement of conspiracy theories is influenced by personal willingness to conspire, considered the responses of around 250 UK undergraduates to 17 major alleged conspiracies, such as the ‘assassinations’ of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, the ‘faking’ of the moon landings and the ‘orchestration’ of the 9/11 attacks by the US government.

In the first study, participants were asked whether they would personally play a role in such conspiracies, if they had been in a position to do so. An example of this was ‘If you were in the position of the government, would you have ordered the attack on the Twin Towers?’ The more that participants indicated a willingness to conspire, the more they found the same conspiracy theories to be plausible, interesting, and worth considering.

Further, the researchers found that participants who were highly Machiavellian – defined as willing to exploit others for personal gain - were more likely to indicate willingness to conspire, and as a result, were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.

In the second study, half of the participants were asked to remember a time that they had helped someone. The research team reasoned that this would temporarily enhance participants’ sense that they are moral people. As expected, these participants, when compared to a control group, were less willing to conspire, and as a result, were less likely to take conspiracy theories seriously.

‘We wanted to test a new explanation of why conspiracy theories are endorsed in an internet age when people have access to a matrix of often conflicting information from a variety of sources,’ said Dr Douglas.

‘We found that in their search for explanations under such uncertain and confusing conditions, people rely partly on projection – the assumption that others would behave much as they would.

‘We’re not saying however that all conspiracy theorists are immoral or that they have arrived at their beliefs through projection. It’s important to note that other factors may lead people to believe in conspiracy theories. Also, our research says nothing about the truth or objective plausibility of such theories. However what we have shown is that one reason some people endorse conspiracy theories is because is they project their own moral tendencies onto the supposed conspirators’, she said.

Make of this what you will. I find it interesting being one of the sort who doesn’t hold strongly with conspiracy theories (not that people don’t conspire but most of the “great” conspiracies are mirages in my view).

Boredom is good for you!

I have always thought that boredom was a negative thing but it seems that I was wrong! According to a new study boredom is in fact good for you

"Bored people feel that their actions are meaningless and so they are motivated to engage in meaningful behaviour," said Wijnand van Tilburg, from the University of Limerick, co-author of the paper, Bored George Helps Others: A Pragmatic Meaning-Regulation Hypothesis on Boredom and Prosocial Behaviour. "If prosocial behaviour fulfills this requirement, boredom promotes prosocial behaviour.

"Investigating the link between boredom and prosocial behavior is not only highly novel but also counter-intuitive," said Van Tilburg, who will present the paper with co-author, Dr Eric Igou, on Friday at the British Psychological Society 2011 Annual Conference.

"Past research has associated boredom almost exclusively with aversive correlates, yet closer inspection suggests a much richer array of potential consequences that may well go beyond merely negative outcomes, such as prosocial behaviour."

When people feel meaningless, Van Tilburg found that they are more likely to engage in behaviour they believe will re-establish their sense of meaningfulness. They do not, he added, simply turn to distractions that are fun and interesting.

"Boredom makes people long for different and purposeful activities, and as a result they turn towards more challenging and meaningful activities, turning towards what they perceive to be really meaningful in life," said Van Tilburg.

Van Tilburg said his research proves that boredom can promote behaviour that benefits society. "Being bored may be miserable, but at the same time it provides benefits for others who are in need of support," he said. "This is important as past boredom research mainly suggested detrimental correlates such as aggression or pathological gambling.

"Of course, this does not mean that boredom is necessary for prosocial behaviour," added Van Tilburg. "It is one positive effect of an utterly negative experience, demonstrating the dynamic character of how people attempt to re-establish a sense of meaningfulness."
And so on…

Well I’ll go to the foot of my stairs! Sadly I’m not sure that boredom does that for me. Nowadays the only prosocial activity is to change the tv channel…. Hiho

08 May 2011

Celena V

It’s not too late to stand trial

Late last week the BBC reported that a97-year-old Hungarian accused of massacring civilians in Serbia in 1942 has gone on trial in Hungary.

Sandor Kepiro was listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as the world's most wanted Nazi war crimes suspect.

More than 1,200 Jewish, Serb and Roma civilians were murdered over three days by Hungarian forces in a massacre in the city of Novi Sad. Hundreds of families were rounded up by the Hungarians, in January 1942 on the banks of the Danube River in Novi Sad and then shot.

The former police captain is accused of "complicity in war crimes".
Prosecutor Zsolt Falvai detailed the charges. He said Mr Kepiro was directly responsible for the death of 36 Jews and Serbs - including 30 who were put on a lorry on the defendant's orders and taken away and shot.

Mr Kepiro denied the charges. He said that, in fact, he had been "the only person to refuse the order to use firearms", and that he had intervened to save five people about to be killed by a corporal.
'No clemency'

Sandor Kepiro was convicted of involvement in the killings in Hungary in 1944 but his conviction was quashed by the fascist government and he later fled to Argentina.

He returned to Hungary in 1996 and was tracked down by the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center a decade later to a flat opposite a synagogue in Budapest.

Lets see how this develops. While this must surely one of the last war crimes trials relating to WWII it shows that even nearly 70 years on the last surviving war criminals cannot all rest easily in their bed.

Witch Hunt in Tehran

It looks like Iranian presidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad is in bad odour with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. – to such a extent that key allies have been neutralised with trumped up charges of sorcery,

Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei have been arrested nd charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

An Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds".

The arrests signal a serious rift betweenAhmainejad and Khamei which has prompted several MPs to call for the president to be impeached. On Sunday, Ahmadinejad returned to his office after an 11-day walkout in an apparent protest over Khamenei's reinstatement of the intelligence minister, who the president had asked to resign.

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a hardline cleric close to Khamenei, warned that disobeying the supreme leader – who has the ultimate power in Iran – is equivalent to "apostasy from God". Ahmadinejad has so far declined to officially back Khamenei's ruling over Heydar Moslehi, the minister at the centre of the row. In the first cabinet meeting since the president returned, Moslehi was absent.
Khamenei's supporters believe that the top-level confrontation stems from the increasing influence of Mashaei, an opponent of greater involvement of clerics in politics, who is being groomed by Ahmadinejad as a possible successor.

But the feud has taken a metaphysical turn following the release of an Iranian documentary alleging the imminent return of the Hidden Imam Mahdi – the revered saviour of Shia Islam, whose reappearance is anticipated by believers in a manner comparable to that with which Christian fundamentalists anticipate the second coming of Jesus.

Conservative clerics, who say that the Mahdi's return cannot be predicted, have accused a "deviant current" within the president's inner circle, including Mashaei, of being responsible for the film.
Well there you have it. Ahmadinejad is in trouble, which in itself does not make me in any way sad. Still , the fact that his troubles are coming from the ultraconservatives is not exactly reassuring. If Ahmadinejad is deposed by people even more fanatical than he is what then for Iran?

I am not sure that there is anything for the progressives to capitalise on here but it will be interesting to watch events as they devlop.

07 May 2011

Imprints Mighty Sam Mclain and Mahsa Vahdat

A wonderful duet between a blues singer and an Iranian folk singer. I love it

Hawkwind - Hassan i Sabbha

From their 1977 album Quark, Strangeness and Charm. It remains a regular part of their setlist but including a section from the 1993 piece Space is their Palestine. This version was filmed in 1997 and features Ron Tree on vocals

06 May 2011

Photo Hunt - Digital

It's been awhile since I participated in a photo hunt. High time I got back in the swing. The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is digital.

The photo is digital, being taken with a DSLR but the subject is emphatically from the analogue age. It is the centre of a carnival glass bowl

Oh poor BNP (hahahahaha)

I'm glad to see Labour making reasonable gains in England and Wales (I'm glad I'm not a party member in Scotland though!) while the Lib Dems are getting a pounding.

What does please me intensely is that so far the BNP has lost all six council seats declared so far (five in Stoke and one in Boston). Oh how sad. Perhaps they will now crawl back under the stone they came from

Post script. the BNP's descent into oblivion continues from last year when they also took a pounding in the local elections. Of the 12 BNP seats up for re-election they lost 10. Two too few in my opinion but good enough!

Mimi returns

An adjusted version of an old photo of the dear departed , Mimi yawning. Apparently her yawn is the most viewed photo on this blog

05 May 2011

The last combat veteran of WWI dies

Claude Choules,110, has died has died at a nursing home in Perth, Western Australia. He was the last known
combat veteran of WWI

Choules was born on 3 March, 1901, in Pershore, Worcestershire, He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 14 . In 1917, he joined the battleship HMS Revenge, from which he watched the 1918 surrender of the German high seas fleet, the main battle fleet of the German navy during the war. He also witnessed the scuttling of the fleet at Scapa Flow the following year.

He remained in the Royal Navy after the end of WWI. In 1926, he went to Australia on loan as an instructor at Flinders Naval Depot. He subseequently transferred permanently to the Royal Australian Navy. During WWII Choules was the Acting Torpedo Officer of HMAS Fremantle. He was also the Chief Demolition Officer on the western side of the Australian continent. He was tasked with sabotaging Fremantle harbours and related oil storage tanks in the event of a Japanese invasion. Choules was also responsible for dealing with the first German mine to wash up on Australian soil during the war.

He remained in the RAN after WWII transferring to the Naval Dockyard Police (NDP) to allow him to remain in service until he was 55.

Coules was married to his wife Ethel for 80 years, until her death aged 98. He had 3 children, 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

With his passing the only WWI veteran remaining is Florence Green who served as a waitress at an RAF station in 1918. It cannot be long until she will have passed too. I understand that there are a few people who claim to have served in WWI but whose record is unverified. It may. Just, just be possible that there are one or two more veterans out there. If there are I will be posting here.

In the meantime rest in peace Mr Choules. The world is poorer for your passing.

Red Valerian

04 May 2011

White valerian

The obligatory Alternative Vote post

Few issues have gripped the nation as completely as Thurdsay's referendum on the adopting of a new voting system. Go to a pub and there is no other talk but the relative merits of the Alternative Vote (AV) over the current First Past the Post system (FPTP). Even at a street party to celebrate the royal wedding little attention was given to footage of the event as people argued passionately about the merits of casting a second or even a third preference on a ballot paper.

Needless to say of course that the issue has hardly set a fire under the nation and to be honest I cant blame them

AV, which is used in Australian elections allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate obtains 50% of the vote the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their second preferences are counted. These are then added to the remaining candidates. This process continues until one candidate has 50% of the vote (plus one).

FPTP elects the person who received most votes. This means that a person can be elected with far less than half of the votes cast (for example the first Green MP, Caroline Lucas, was eleected having received just 31.3% of votes cast. SHe is not alone in being elected with a relatively low percentage of the vote).

The First past the post system may tend to provide stable government but it does not accurately reflect the voting intentions of the nation - The conservatives in 1983 and 1987 and Labour in 1997 and 2001 received between 41 and 43% of the vote yet ruled with disproportionately large majorities.

AV is a little fairer in some respects. The Liberal Democrats are likely to win more seats under AV than FPTP (or in the current climate avoid being annihilated!). It may make the election of a minor party candidate a little easier (but not a lot). We are not likely to see coalition after coalition - the chances are though that the main parties will still obtain majorities out of all proportion to the votes received.

The bottom line is that we are being asked to choose with an unfair voting system with a system that is not an awful lot fairer.

For me the benefits of AV are not great enough to make me want to change from FPTP. As a result I just can't get enthusiastic about it. I will probably vote no. Had we been asked to vote for a proportional representation system then I would have voted yes with gusto.

Hi Ho...

Ian Tomlinson unlawfully killed

The jury at the inquest into the death of Ian Tomlinson have ruled that he was unlawfully killed during the G20 protests in London in 2009.

The jurors said Tomlinson died of internal bleeding in the abdomen after being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by a police officer. The jury said also that Metropolitan police constable Simon Harwood had used "excessive and unreasonable" force when he struck the newspaper vendor who "posed no threat".

The family's lawyer, Jules Carey, said : "Today's decision is a huge relief to Mr Tomlinson's family. To many, today's verdict will seem like a statement of the blindingly obvious. However, this fails to take account of the significant and many obstacles faced by the family over the last two years to get to this decision."

Tomlinson had been trying to walk home from work through the demonstrations near the Bank of England on the evening he died. An alcoholic, he had been drinking heavily that day. At 7.20pm, he stumbled on to Royal Exchange Buildings, a passage police had been ordered to clear. Tomlinson had his hands in his pockets and was walking away from police when he was struck with a baton and pushed from behind by Harwood. He died shortly after.

The Metopolitan police initially denied Tomlinson had contact with police officers before his death on 1 April 2009. An Independent Police Complaints Commission only launched a criminal inquiry a week later, after the Guardian released video footage showing the incident

An initial post mortem, conducted by pathologist Freddy Patel stated that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack as a result of coronary disease, Patel, who has since been suspended for misconduct, incompetence and dishonesty, was contradicted by three other pathologists who examined the body, all of whom found he died of internal bleeding in the abdomen.

PC Harwood, 43, told jurors that he believed at the time that Tomlinson was obstructing police and he his actions were therefore proportionate. He will face a Metropolitan police gross misconduct hearing at which he stands accused of "inadvertently causing or contributing to" Tomlinson's death. If found guilty he will almost certainly be sacked.

More importantly the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has stated that he would "review" a decision taken last year not year not to prosecute Harwood. It is therefore a distinct possibility that Harwood will be tried for manslaughter.

I hope that this verdict will be of some comfort to Tomlison’s family. Tomlinson was in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened upon a police officer who was clearly unfit to wear the uniform (If you think that this is unfounded then read up on Harwood’s past career)

Had it not been for the footage taken by investment banker Christopher La Jaunie and others perhaps Patel’s post mortem findings would have been accepted and there would have been no inquest.

In my mind Harwood should now be sent to trial. While he had no intention of taking Tomlinson’s life there is no doubt now that his actions contributed to the man’s death.

Not to try Harwood for manslaughter would be to continue a grave injustice.

02 May 2011

And now the deathers?

We've seen the "truthers" who believe that the WTC was a figment of Rudi Giuliani's imagination

We've seen the "birthers" who believe that Obama was not only born outside of the USA but that he was British/Kenyan/Indonesian while at the same time being a figment of America's imagination

Now presumably we will be seeing the rise of the "deathers" who will swear blind that Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living in a semi detached in Orpington complete with en suite bathroom, conservatory and a walk in wardrobe... That or he is a figment of of (insert name here)'s imagination

Celena IV

Similar to I but a different photo

Osama "Has Been" Laden finally dead

The worldwide press has one headline today and that is the death of Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed during a US special forces assault on a compound in the town of Abbotabad. Bin Laden, 54, has since been buried at sea.

So there is the end of Osama bin Laden, a man whose star has been very much in the descendant since  that appalling day in September 2011. In hiding for nearly ten years his influence has decreased and his organisation Al Qaeda has drifted far from the vanguard of islamic militancy.  Retribution was a long time coming for whatever reason (and these will be discussed at great length in the press, the blogosphere, at water coolers and so on) but it has finally come and America rejoices. 

For my own part I am extremely glad that is is now  dead and feeding the fishes. Regardless of the views of the likes of that scumbag Ward Churchill et al, the 9/11 atrocities were not some form of justice against an evil imperialist monster; they were acts of craven cowardice.

Ideally I would have liked to have seen Bin Laden face trial but that was never likely to happen. 

What more to say about this but to hope Has Been Laden rots in hell.

01 May 2011

Got to get another cake

From a street party in SW London

The cakes are this way daddy

Although I hoped to largely avoid the wedding on Friday there was a street party where my sister lives.

Polly Styrene's spirit lives on

Polly Styrene's daughter  Celeste Bell-Dos Santos with her band Debutant Disco

Polly Styrene RIP

I must admit that I haven't been following  the news much of late but I am sorry I missed the news that Polly Styrene (born Marianne Elliot-Said), formerly of X Ray Spex had died last week.

She was being treated for  breast cancer which sadly had spread to her lungs and spine. She was 53 years old.