31 August 2012

29 August 2012

28 August 2012

George Galloway is a shit part 216,849

Just a week after his comments on the alleged Assnge rape Galloway is in the shit again and with good cause:

On Sunday Galloway  called someone a "window-licker" (a derogatory term for a disabled person) in a conversation on Twitter. He made the comment during a conversation on Sunday. He tweeted to @Hawfa: "you badly need medical help son. Will decent Rangers fans please substitute this windae-licker … " The tweet was attacked as insensitive by fellow Twitter users

 In 2003, the term was voted third most offensive that could be used relating to disability in a poll run for the BBC's Ouch! disability talk show. Dan Scorer, senior campaigns and policy manager at the learning disability charity Mencap said: "We are appalled that George Galloway, a member of parliament, has used this unacceptable term of abuse, which is deeply offensive to disabled people. Hate crime and bullying are a daily reality for many disabled people and the use of language like this only furthers hostility and violence. We call on him to apologise immediately."

 Galloway is in Indonesia and could not be immediately contacted.

Why anyone is stupid enough to vote for this shit is utterly beyond me.

27 August 2012

Zanardi returns to Brands Hatch

Italy's Alex Zanardi will line up to race for three separate paralympic cycling golds t Brands Hatch next week (this is where the road cycling events will be held). Unlike other paralympians he has competed here as a racing driver. 

"Last time I was here I was going about five times faster but I still love this circuit," said Zanardi, 45,

Zanardi's comeback is all the more incredible considering doctors never understood how he survived the side-on impact in a Champ Car race at Germany's Lausitz track 11 years ago. Pulling out of a pit stop, Zanardi lost control and stalled on the track, forcing one driver to swerve round him before the Canadian driver Alex Tagliani collided with him at 217mph, hitting Zanardi's Reynard-Honda at its most vulnerable point behind the front wheel – slicing car and driver in two.

"What saved me was the clean break," said Zanardi, whose legs were severed above the knees. "I could have easily died right there from the impact."

After losing three-quarters of his blood and undergoing reanimation seven times, doctors were amazed he was still clinging on to life after being taken by helicopter to a Berlin hospital.

"They compared my injuries to a Nasa study that charts the critical point beyond which a human body cannot survive and told me I was officially a dead man," said Zanardi, a two-times Champ Car racing champion who also drove for the Lotus Formula One team.

The Bologna-born driver was determined to compete again the moment he woke from his coma. "The first thing I asked myself was 'How am I going to do all the things I want to do with no legs?'"

Within nine months Zanardi was racing again, switching to the World Touring Car Championship and racking up wins.  "To drive the BMW 320 I convinced the team to create a special brake pedal that I could use with my prosthetic leg," he said. "Having no legs doesn't mean you can't drive fast and I wasn't going to be happy scoring the odd point, I thought it was possible to win and went for it."

Zanardi used his knowledge of racing car design to build his own prosthetic legs, even producing a special set to allow him to go swimming with his son. "If you take your legs off to swim you enter the pool like a sack of potatoes, so I changed the knee joints to make them corrosion proof and coated the legs with the same natural-looking foam we line racing car fuel tanks with to stop the fuel moving around."

Looking for new challenges, Zanardi discovered hand bikes, where the pedals are turned by hands, not feet, and he took fourth place in the hand bike section of the New York City Marathon in 2007 after training for just four weeks.

Then, in 2009, he retired from car racing with the aim of making Italy's hand bike team for London 2012, last year winning the New York marathon at his fourth attempt, where he narrowly beat Poland's Rafal Wilk, a former speedway racer who lost his legs in an accident.

Relying on his experience as a test driver and calling on the expertise of friends in the car racing business, Zanardi has built his bike from scratch, using the on-board monitors that are now common in the sport to download and analyse data from training sessions.

"It's not much different to Formula One where they are improving the cars constantly," he said. "The difference is every hand biker needs a different bike depending on their residual ability," he said.
Zanardi moulded a carbon-fibre seat to fit perfectly around his rear and what remains of his legs "like a Cinderella shoe", helping him reach sprint speeds of over 37mph in practice ahead of the Paralympics,

Hand bikers will race in one of four categories determined by the extent of their disability. "I am H4, able to use my back so I can lean forward and get my body weight behind the pedalling," Zanardi said. "People who can't move their back will be H1 to H3, and ride in a reclined position. They cannot use their body weight but they do get an aerodynamic advantage which makes them more efficient on the flat."

 "My parents taught me that I could always improve on things," he said. "After my crash I never doubted it would be hard but I would be lying to say this new life has been a surprise to me. I did it because I thought it was possible. "If some people could fly, Usain Bolt would feel disabled," he said. "Doing the best with what I have is the biggest challenge."

How times change

A couple of days ago The BBC caried an article about the first Paralympic games in Rome in 1960. It was a disorganised and undignified affair, Soldiers carried competitors to and from the athletes' village, and score-keeping was haphazard.

When archer Margaret Maughan won Britain's first-ever gold medal in the Paralympics, there was no crowd, no podium and almost no Maughan. She had to be dragged off the coach going back to the rudimentary Olympic village to be presented with her prize. As no-one was keeping the score in the archery competition, she had no idea she'd won, let alone the fact there was a ceremony.

Maughan's other event was a swimming race, in which she was the only competitor.
Undignified it might have been, but Maughan didn't seem to mind. Indeed, she rather coyly admits that some of the soldiers were "quite dishy". In any case, they'd been prepared for such indignities when they were all loaded onto their flights out to Rome from a forklift truck. "People just took it for granted in those days," Maughan says. "We were just glad to be going."

It was a sign of the times and Maughan, now in her 80s, tells her story with the laconic acceptance of her generation. It had been typical of her treatment since a road accident in Malawi in 1959 left her paralysed and in a wheelchair.

After being flown home, she was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, then more or less just a row of huts, but offering what was at the time the most sophisticated treatment around for those with spinal injuries. 

It was run by Ludwig Guttmann, one of the leading experts in the field, whom Maughan greatly admired, even though he conducted the place a bit like an army camp. Maughan once had the temerity to tell Guttmann that she was bored. Far from getting the sympathy someone so recently paralysed might have expected, she was told to pull herself together - there were still plenty of interesting things to do in life, he told her.

Discipline was tough, trips to the local pub which got out of hand were greeted with a firm dressing-down by the doctor, and accompanied with threats that you might have to leave the hospital.
It was Guttmann who decreed that sport was therapy, and turned what began as sports days into the start of an international phenomenon - the Paralympics. 

A few hundred competitors went to the first Games. Now it's about 4,000. Then, hardly anyone noticed the athletes go. Now, there is hour upon hour of television coverage. Then, competitors begged time off work, if they were lucky enough to have a job. Now athletes such as South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius and Britain's former wheelchair racer Tanni Grey-Thompson are household names.

But Maughan's story shows how the rudimentary 1960 event was symptomatic of attitudes back in the 1950s and 1960s.On her return from Rome, she and her wheelchair had to travel in the guard's van on the train back to her home town in Preston.

There was no financial support. No anti-discrimination legislation. But Maughan wonders whether present generations had the same get-up-and-go as she and her friends had. While she is delighted that the modern Paralympics is now a major international festival, she wonders whether some of the camaraderie has been lost along the way.

She intends to go to the Games to enjoy a bonanza of sport which could not have been imagined 50 years ago - and where Team GB will be fully expecting to equal, and perhaps succeed, the medal haul of their Olympic compatriots.

On Wednesday the 2012 Paralypic Games star. Around 4.200 athletes fro a record 165 nations will compete for 503 medls in 19 events, 15 ntions are making their paralympic debuts this year. Coverage in the UK at least - will be greater than ever. It is also likely that all 2.1 million tickets available will be sold out, something that has never happened at a paralympic games before.

Personally I'm looking forward to another 11 days of great sport which does not involve the overpaid show ponies of football. Hopefully our cyclists will dominate as they did in Beijing.

Bring on the games!

26 August 2012

And some Richard Thompson

A Bit of 10,000 Maniacs

Give the Moon a little wink

The NASA website carries a statement from Neil Armstrong's family

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” 

I know I will be giving the Moon a wink next time I see it

25 August 2012

Meanwhile someone at NBC can't find their arse with both hands

My Neil Armstrong anecdote again

43 years ago I was just six years old but I was utterly enthralled by the Apollo missions. I remember being utterly disappointed in May 1969 when the Apollo 10 Lunar Module descended to within a few miles of the moon's earth surface. I could not understand why they did not go the whole hog and land the thing. Less than two months later just about the only thing on my mind was the prospect of Apollo 11 being the one where someone actually walked on the Moon's surface.

Although I did not see the landing live on TV I was utterly thrilled that Neil Armstrong and then Buzz Aldrin finally did it! Apollos 12 through 17 were also thrilling but throughout my childhood it was Neil Armstrong who was my absolute hero. Other notables like George Best were all well and good but they just could not measure up to Neil.


Buzz Aldrin came a moderately (but not too) distant second. As for Michael Collins I felt sorry that the poor guy remained stuck in orbit!

20 years later, I was working as an Immigration official at Heathrow Airport. Summer was as busy as hell but it was normal for the major ports to send "relief" streams to smaller ports to help them deal with a massive increase in traffic. That year I landed one of the plums, four weeks at Prestwick Airport,near Ayr, in Scotland. The work was easy and I got the chance to do a fair bit of sightseeing.. as well as plenty of drinking with the other relief staff!

One weekday morning just after we had cleared the American and Canadian charter flights (Scottish expatriates coming back to visit friends and family, Canadian and US tourists wishing to see the sights of Scotland or take in a spot of golf). Most of my colleagues had gone off on a late breakfast break so I was holding the fort when a private jet landed. It turned out to be a party of Americans and Britons coming to play golf.

One of the party was Neil Armstrong himself. While it was never the done thing to faun over celebrities, All I could say was WOW! NEIL ARMSTRONG! If I had heard of Wayne's World at the time I might have gotten down on the floor and done the "I'm not worthy" thing.

Not much of a story, I know but he was my childhood hero and for a short moment I was a six year old once again...Such is life

RIP Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong 5/8/30-25/8/12

Rest in Pece my childhood hero.

As regular readers will know I met him in 1989. Truly the highlight of my life.

Australian government to apologise to olympian

Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in the black power salute after receiving gold and bronze medals in then 200m event at the Mexico games is an the iconic image. Rather forgotten, hoever, is the silver medalist Australia's Peter Norman.

Smith and Carlos were sent home but remain heroes to this day. Norman who fully supported their action was ostracised when he returned to Australia. Although he had posted qualifying times for the Munich games he was not sent (although he was apparently carrying an injury). He was not invited in ay capacity to the Sydney games.

Earlier this week The Independent reported that the Australian federal parliament expected to apologise for the way he was treated. Norman was not there to hear it; he died of a heart attack in 2006, aged 64, having suffered from depression, ill-health and alcoholism. But his 91-year-old mother, Thelma, and his sister, Elaine Ambler, travelled to Canberra for the occasion.
Andrew Leigh, a Labor backbencher who proposed the motion, said: “In the simple act of wearing that badge, Peter Norman … showed us that the action of one person can make a difference. It’s a message that echoes down to us today. Whether refusing to tolerate a racist joke or befriending a new migrant, each of us can – and all of us should – be a Peter Norman in our own lives.”

The black power protest was the subject of a documentary, Salute, made by Norman’s nephew, Matt, who had been shocked to discover how few Australians knew the identity of the third man in the celebrated photograph.

“He is not recognised for the incredible times that he did,” Matt Norman said in 2008, when the film was released. “And he’s not recognised for standing up for something that he thought was right. He was sacrificing glory for a greater cause, and we need people like that.”

The MPs were due to support a motion recognising Norman’s “extraordinary athletic achievements” The motion also acknowledged his bravery in supporting Smith and Carlos, and his role in “furthering racial equality”.

Norman retired from athletics in 1972 after not being selected to go to the Munich games. He continued to run but the onset of gangrene after an achilles tendon injury in 1985 nearly resulted in amputation. After this he descended into alcoholism, depression and  drug dependency.

Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral in 2006.They both also delivered eulogies and carried his coffin.

his time of 20.06 seconds remains the Australian national record to this day.

I did not now about Peter Norman's story until a couple of years ago. It is clear that he was treated in a shitty manor by the Australian authorities. Sometimes long belated apologies can ring rather hollow sometimes they are necessary. It is only a shame that this apology was not given in 2005 or before.

I'll have to check if the motion was carried

24 August 2012

Boris in a box

Lance Armstrong gives up fight

Earlier today I heard news that Lance Armstrong would not continue to challenge drug charges from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA),  In a statement  he said:

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, "Enough is enough." For me, that time is now... "I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999, The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense."

The USADA has taken this as an admission of guilt and handed him a life ban and stripped him of all wins from 1998 onwards in a statement it said

"USADA announced today that Lance Armstrong has chosen not to move forward with the independent arbitration process and as a result has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from Aug 1, 1998 through the present,"

However it is down to cycling's international body UCI to decide whether or not to strip Armstrong of its titles

Armstrong had never failed a blood test but USADA states that it has evidence of systematic doping offences by Armstrong over the 15 years prior to his final retirement from sporting competition in 2011.

Personally I would love to think that Armstrong was clean and won his seven tours on his own merits, but cycling has been riddled with drug abuse over the years. I hope USADA publishes its evidence and the truth is out. whether it is sufficient to damn Armstrong will then be seen

If the evidence is sufficient for UCI to strip Armstrong of his palmares  then choosing replacement winners will be an utter bastard! Have a look at this list and work out who should be named winners in his place.

I can imagine that the UCI believe that this affair is the last thing cycling needs. I wonder if UCI might just ad an asterisk to his victories  as they did to Djarne Riis after he admitted to doping his way to victory in the 1996 Tour and leave the affair at that.

Breivik gets 21 Years

So Anders Breivik was not considered insane and has been sentenced to 21 years...not that he is likely to be released when that time is up.

Mercifully he will rot in jail until he dies

22 August 2012

Coming soon: Red Admiral

Michael Phelps meet Trischa Zorn

I would be very surprised if Trischa Zorn and Michael Phelps had never met. Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian in terms of medals won - with 18 Golds , 2 silvers and 2 bronzes. It will probably be some time before his amazing record is approached let alone beaten.

Phelps certainly deserves his place among the pantheon of great olympians. Is he the greatest of all? THat is a tough question as comparing one sport with another is like comparing apples and oranges. Is he better than someone who lets say wins Basketball gold medals at three or four consecutive games? That is a question for other armchair sports fans.  But don't think for a second that I am doing Phelps down for this.

Few people could name multiple medal winning paralympians. In the UK Tanni Grey-Thompson would spring to mind but few others. In terms of medals won though, there is one woman who  stands out among them all and that is swimmer  Trischa Zorn

Born in 1964 and blind from birth Trischa has attended seven paralympic games. Sources differ as to the actual number of medals won but this Source appears to be accurate (including team relays) winning the following medals:

At the 1980 Games in Arhhem she won seven gold medals
In 1984 in New York she won at least six gold medals (some sources say ten)
in 1988 in Seoul she won twelve gold medals
in 1992 in Barcelona she won a futher ten gold medals and two silvers
in 1996 in Atlanta she won two golds three silvers and three bronzes
in 2000 in Sydney she won four silvers and a bronze
Her last appearance was at the Athens games where she won a bronze medal

She has therefore won 37 Gold medals, 9 Silvers and 5 bronzes a grand total of 51 medals.

Now if that does notrank her among the greatest sports persons of all time then I don't know what will

15 August 2012

A wonderful coincidence

Father Bob Hamill is now parish priest of St Michael's in East Ham but for many years he was parish priest of St Albans in Elm Park. For many reasons I have a hell of a lot of respect for the man.He was (and is) a friendly and outgoing man who not only cared deeply for his parishoners he devoted a lot of time to the care of people with disabilities.

Yesterday I took my parents into see my uncle - for the last time as it happened. While I was parking the car it so happened that they bumped into Bob who so happened to be taking someone to the hospital for an appointment.

Bob came up and spent time with my Uncle, gave him a blessing and said some prayers with my parents. For the very last time he showed some recognition- something that brought tears to all of our eyes.

But the real beneficiaries were mum and dad who were genuinly delighted that Bob happened to be there. A happy coincidence gave them a great deal of comfort.

If you are wondering why an uncle is special he lived with y parents fro over 50 years. He was there when I was growing up and so was an integral part of home life. He was a kind and gentle soul.

Sorting out his affairs is down to me as mum and dad are just not up to what needs doing. It has hiot mum particularly hard especially as her other remaining sibling died in Ireland only a few months ago.

At least I was able to register his death today and start arrangements for is funeral. The "Tell Us Once" service was particularly helpful as I did not need to get in contact with DWP or the local council. But there are still plenty of other things to do. I will have to take over as executor of his will.
A hell of a lot to deal with in the next week or so  following Denis's death. Blogging will be light

14 August 2012

My uncle died this afternoon. Mercifully he was comfortable and did not suffer at all in his final days.  As ever the medical staff looking after him were wonderful

13 August 2012

Labour v Tories at the Olympics

With the huge ggold medal hail over the last couple of weeks one would expect that  the UK does far better at olympic games when the Tories are in power than when Labour is in goernment.

Since 1896 and from the Marquis of Salisbury to Call Me Dave 15 of the 27  Olympiads actually staged took place when the country was led by a Tory prime minister (national governments and coalitions included) British athletes won a total of 88 gold medals at these games

From Ramsay McDonald to Gordon Brown a labour PM presided over nine games where British athletes won a  total of 67 gold medals

15 into 88 = 5.86 gold medals per games (5.9 when rounded up).

9 into 67 = 7.4 gold medals.

So it is clear that the UK does better at the )lympics when there is a Labour PM than when a Tory one is in Number 10.

Actually Liberal PMs do far better - 81 golds over three games  equates to 27 golds per games.

The answer is abundantly clear . It is vital for Team GB that Nick Clegg is PM come Rio!

Hmm pesoonally I think I would do with a few less golds than have that non entity in Number 10!

And that ends my specious olympic statistics.

Now to wait until the Paralympics start.  In the meantime  La Vuelta starts on Saturday. Heres cheering on Chris Froome.

David Cameron is clearly the greatest post war PM

Not really but since the Olympics went extremely well and I enjoyed almost every minute I spent glued to the tv screen. There are plenty of specious statistics around so why not judge prime ministers by the average number of gold medals won by British athletes at each gamesduring their tenure as PM

At the top by a country mile is of course call-me Dave with 29 Golds

A long way back comes Gordon Brown with 19 golds
And in Bronze medal position comes Tony Blair with 10 golds (20 golds over two games)
Anthony Eden is in a plucky fourth place with six golds (won at Melbourne)
Margaret Thatcher places fifth with five (15 over three games)
narrowly beating Harold Wilson with 4.5 (won at Tokyo and Mexic.
Just behind is Heath with four
and a photo finish for eighth come John Major, Clement Attlee and Jim Callaghan
Harold MacMilan takes 11th place with two golds
but brining up the rear comes Winston Churchill with a single gold and celebrating last place with a huge brandy and a cigar.

Alc Duglas Home did not finisI can imagine that Call Me Dave would love to basse his enduring popularity on the success of the games. Somehow the double dip recession and many other things wil piss on his chips

Ach just learned a new phrase - Liverpool Care Pathway. Not long now

12 August 2012

Got a call at 4pm from my dad. The Hospital called to say my uncle was going downhill.  As t happened I was just about to go in and visit him. I'm glad I did as he looks terribly jaundiced he could barely speak and his breathing was laboured.

I went out quickly to take my parents to see him. just in case and arranged for a priest to visit him to give hi last rites.

We stayed with him about an hour but it won't be long before he dies. Days rather than weeks. At least he will not be lingering in pain for months

Sid Waddell RIP

 Some people become famous for strange reasons and Sid Waddell was one of these people. Morpeth born and Cambridge educated he became the voice of darts on television. Like many other people I have no interest whatsoever in darts either as a player or spectator but Waddell's idiosyncratic commentary was a joy to hear.

Anyone who could sa things like these when commentating on a darts match is a man to be reckoned with:

"The congregation is restless and the High Priest is at the oche" (On Eric Bristow)

 "Bob came on like the Laughing Cavalier..now he looks like Lee Van Cleef on a bad night"

And so on

But perhaps his most famous quote must be:

"When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer... Bristow's only 27."

RIP Sid you will be missed!

Aidan Burley: strangely silent for the last fortnight

Tory MP for  Corby and well rounded arsehole Aidan Burley made a fool of himself during the opening ceremony when he tweeted the following:

The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen - more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next? 
And then 
Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones! 

he then had the temerity to say that his tweets were misunderstood (pah!)

Strangely he has been silent since. I would not for a second say that too many British medal winners have not been quite aryan enough for him (But remember his previous gaffe when he was at a stag do in France where Hitler was toasted and one person wore a parody of an SS uniform)

Ah well come the next election Corby will have a new MP and he will be seeking new employment.

Perhaps he should memorise the following phrase:

"Do you want fries with your Big Mac?"

11 August 2012

And Gabon ecomes the seventh nation to win its first olympic medal

Anthony Obame became the first athlete from Gabon to win an olympic medal when he took silver in the Taekwondo heavyweight division.

Another fighter from Mali just missed out on the bronze

The more nations winning medals the merrier in my view

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Mo Farah, Olympic 5000 and 10000m champion

Best games for Iran

SOme nations are having a very good games. One of them is Iran. The nation's previous best tally of gold medals came in Sydney where three were won. The most medals won at any games was seven - three silvers and four bronzes in Helsinki back in 1952.

So far Iran has won four golds:

Three in Graeco Roman Wrestling - the first Iranian golds in this event
One in weightlifting

Five silvers:

Two in Weightlifting
One in Taekwondo
One in  Freestyle Wrestling
and  the first Iranian medal in athletics.

And a weightlifting bronze

Two wrestlers compete today and the last two compete tomorrow. There is a good chance that the medal tally will increase.

I may loathe the Iranian regime but that does not extend to its athletes.

More new countries on the Olympic medal table

Earlier in the week I noted that Grenada, Cyprus and Guatemala won their first olympic medals.With two days to go a further three nations have won their first ever medals:

Maryam Yusuf Jamal won bronze for Bahrain in the women's 1500m.Rashid Ramzi won gold in Beiing in the men's 1500m but he was stripped of his medal

Nigel Amos won silver for Botswana in the men's 800m

Montenegro are guaranteed at lest silver in the women's handball event. The men's water polo team play Serbia in the bronze medal play off.

Oncae again congratulations to these athletes

10 August 2012

Uncle has been back in hospital a week now. He had an infection in the stent put in last month. This has been replaced by a new one which should be less inection-prone

Further consideration is being given tohis ongoing care. My parents are older than him and they are in no position to look after all his needs. A palliative care nurse will help but I would not be surprised if he goes into a hospice pretty soon.

And some Boris

Katie Taylor instils fear among Irish men!

Katie Taylor won the lightweight division in the women's Olympic boxing tournament. She had been the hot favourite to win and she didn't disappoint. She brings home Ireland's first olympic gold medal since Atlanta in 1996.(Cian O'Connor won gold in Athens in the indiviiual showjumping but was stripped of his medal).

It is looking to be a successful games byy Irish standards with a gold and a bronze (Cian O'Connor won bronze  in showjumping) and three more guaranteed medals in boxing. At worst it will be a gold and four bronzes. It's not likely to be four golds and a bronze.

09 August 2012

Khamenei sort of condemns last year's attack on British Embassy

The Guardian reports that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has finally given his verdict on the last year's storming of the British embassy in Tehran last November, saying it "was not right" to carry out the attack that provoked a diplomatic crisis between the two capitals.

"On the recent occupation of the evil embassy [of Britain], the sentiments of the youth were right but entering [the embassy] was not right," he said, according to the monitoring website Digarban, citing conservative news website baztab-e-emrooz.

The supreme leader, who has the ultimate word on all affairs in Iran, made the comments during a meeting with students on Monday, according to Digarban.  Khamenei's comments comes a month after four commanders of Iran's informal Basij militia who were involved in the storming of the British embassy in Tehran were dismissed.

In response to the attack, the UK withdrew all its diplomatic staff from Tehran, shut down the Iranian embassy in London, and ordered the expulsion of all Iran's diplomats.

At the very best the storming of the British embassy was an act of mind boggling stupidity that was almost certainly sanctioned by the government. It took Khamenei long enough to give a grudging condemnation....

Belarus Teddy Bear Prank rumles on

Regular readers will realise that I do not hold Belarusian leader Alexander Lubyankashenko in a high regard.

Unsurprisingly he was less than amused by a recent stunt by a Swedish advertising agency (on behalf of a human rights organisation) which flew a light aircraft to Belarus where it dropped teddy bears with a human rights message attached to them over the town of Ivanyets.

Two Belarusian men, Anton Suryapin and Sergei Basharimov, had already bee detained on suspicion of complicity in "illegal intrusion". Suryapin , who runs the Belarusian News Photos website, appears to have been arrested simply for uploading  photos of the teddy bears on to the site.

Last week  the Chairman of the State Border Committee, Maj Gen Igor Rachkovsky, and Air Defence Commander Maj Gen Dmitry Pakhmelkin had been dismissed for failing in their duties.

Yesterday the BBC reported that Belarus expelled Sweden's ambassador on 3 August, and withdrew its own envoy to Stockholm. Sweden's ambassador had apparently angered Minsk by holding meetings with the Belarusian opposition.

Sweden then said it would not allow a new Belarusian ambassador to take up his post, and asked a further two Belarusian diplomats to leave.

After Belarus announced further action on Wednesday, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a Twitter comment that Mr Lukashenko's "fear of human rights [is] reaching new heights".

What to say? Whether or not you consider the stunt silly the Belarusian response has been ridiculous

Russell Barwick has no plans for an Irish holiday anytime soon

The Irish Independent reports that a "top" Australian sports pundit has sparked outrage by calling Ireland a joke for not teaming up with Britain in the Olympics.

Commentator Russell Barwick provoked an incredulous reaction when he compared Ireland not flying the flag for Britain to Tasmanian athletes not performing for Australia. The ESPN star fronts the hugely popular and irreverent 'Pardon the Interruption' show. He went on to say Irish athletes going for gold for their country was similar to a Hawaiian surfer claiming he wasn't from the United States.

He said: "It's a whole Irish joke, the whole thing. It just makes no sense. "We, the rest of the world, can't understand. It's like a Hawaiian surfer not claiming that he surfs for the USA. "It's not like Tasmanians say they don't want to represent Australia. You're all part of the one mix master." He said: "I understand the history of Irish politics. Well. . . I don't understand the history of Irish politics." He then told his baffled British co-presenter that half of Ireland was part of Great Britain.

Bariwck's comments caused a storm of outrage on Twitter, prompting an apology. "Ok a million apologies to those I offended. . . My initial question was 'Why does Ireland compete together in rugby but not at Olympics?' “ I found out myself and sorry again for offence as none was intended ? God I hope Katie Taylor wins!!”

But the commentator got such a stream of objections from Irish people that he blocked his Twitter account yesterday evening.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph has aplogises for calling Katie Taylor British. After a storm on Twitter the newspaper tweeted: “We’re sorry for mistakenly describing the fantastic boxer Katie Taylor as British in our London 2012 section today. She is Irish, of course.”

Oh dear!

08 August 2012

Spider and web

An Olympic Scandal!

Enquiries are underway to determine how a bucket of unofficial condoms found its way into the athletes' village.

The Australian BMX cyclist Caroline Buchanan tweeted a photograph of the bucket, which featured a sign reading "Kangaroos condoms, for the gland downunder", and a picture of a boxing kangaroo.
She joked that bucket seemed to back up rumours that the village becomes a hot bed of activity as thousands of competitors complete their events and celebrate after years of working to get to the Olympics – tweeting: "Haha, the rumours are true. Olympic village."

The London Olympic organisers provided 150,000 free condoms in dispensers for the 10,800 athletes at the Games, supplied by Durex which paid for the supply rights.  A Locog spokeswoman said they were trying to find out who distributed the Kangaroo condoms, "We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier," said the spokeswoman.

A spokeswoman for Ansell said her company knew nothing about the issue and it could well be a prank. "We have had no official participation or association with the Olympics at all," she said.
Lawrence Boon, the managing director of Pasante, said his company had no involvement with the distribution of condoms in the athletes' village and he suspected it was a prank by the Australian team.

The number of condoms supplied at London tops the 100,000 made available to athletes in Beijing four years ago. In Sydney in 2000 organisers had to order 20,000 more condoms after the initial allocation of 70,000 ran out.

Well that;s it. London is the worst olympics ever. How dare the perpetrators of this outrageous stunt undermine the efforts of the official suppier......

On the other hand the sheer number of johnnies proves that it is not just at the Olympic stadium (and the other venues) where amazing feats of athleticism take place!

07 August 2012

And how it should sound

REM butcher a Robyn Hitchcock song

American Rower: it's the spare oar honest!

The not-wife seemed to be particularly interested in the medal ceremony for the Men's fours (rowing) on Saturday. It was a particular bulge in shorts of one of the American bronze medalists that had caught her eye. She didn't believe me when I told her that it was where he kept a spare oar.

The rower in question was Henrik Rummel and his protuberance has ben splashed across the internet.  Such has been the interest that Mr Rummel that he has had to deny that there was even a hint of tumescence under the lycra.

This is me and I swear it's not erect! I don't know why it ended up in that position but there you go.

Well if it were erect then who could blame him. I daresay I would show my excitement at winning an Olympic medal!

If it is not erect I will join most of mankind in a fair degree of jealousy!

New countries on the Olympic medal table

While attention has been on true olympic greats like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt three nations are celebrating their first ever Olympic medals"

On Saturday Erick Barrondo became the first Guatemalan to reach an Olympic podium when he won silver in the 20km walk

Yesterday afternoon Pavlos Kontides won the first medal for Cyprus when he came second in the Laser sailing class

Last night Grenadan Kirani James won the men's 400m title in emphatic style. He is now the reigning world and olympic champion.

Congratulations to all three sportsmen

06 August 2012

Old Jews Telling Jokes again


Ach my uncle took a fall in hospital. Although no bones broken (and the hospital is not at fault at all). I wnder if it won't be long before he is a hospice.

Britons continue to sit their way to olympic glory

Another good day so far t the Olympics with the GB winning their 40th medal so far(18 Golds, 11 Silvers and 11 Bronzes) with two more medals absolutely guaranteed (boxers that have so far reached the semi-finals of their events)

As in Beijng Britain seems to excel in sports which involve sitting on or in something, be it bike horse or something that floats

Of the 18 Gold Medals, 13 have been won sitting down (in Canoeing, Cycling, Showjumping , Sailing and Rowing) versus five standing (in Athletics Shoting and Tennis)

Of the 11 silvers the situation is a bit more even with six sitting medals (in Canoeing, Sailing, 3 Day eventing and of curse cycling) against five not sitting (gymnastics, judo, swimming tennis and athletics)

Amazingly when we look at the bronzes not sitting sports are in the majority with five from sitting (Rowing and cycling) and six from non-siting events (Judo, Gymnastics, and swimming)

That makes a total of 24 medals for sitting, and 16 for standing! 

yes I know it's more complicated than that but why spoil a good stereotype!

05 August 2012

And a bit of Robert Calvert

Meanwhile back at the Olympics

For a Briton the first half of the games have been a delight well after a shaky start and a few early disappointments and six gold medals yesterday in sports I actually enjoy watching.

But analysis etc can wait. Today's Guardian coverage of the one medal being decided in the velodrom today - in the Omnium (a cycling version of the heptathlon or the decathlon)

The omnium is about to start. The only Olympic discipline named after a flight of fancy by Flann O'Brien, incidentally, who had "omnium" down as the stuff of life in his novel The Third Policeman. In that novel, the scholar and philosopher De Selby set up a complicated mechanism featuring postcards and shipping equipment which allowed him to travel all around the world without ever leaving his bedroom. His theories were never disproved, according to O'Brien.
Glad to see the author of my favourite novel getting a mention.
Meanwhile one hurdler who crashed out of the women's 400m hurdles having hit one of the hurdles had the unfortunate name of Vania Stambalova.....

Well close enough!

A busy day

Spent a lot of time today dealing with my parents and my uncle who is back in hospital. He has gone downhill fast but at least he will have a palliative care nurse when he comes out of hospital. That should be a big help for mum and dad who really won't be able to cope if, rather when, things go really start to get worse.

Relations between ourselves and Izzy' owners are not going well  but then the husband considers rudeness to be a virtue.

03 August 2012

Team GB - the Number of the Beast (briefly)

It amused me to see that for a short time between the end of today's rowing finals and Karina Bryant getting a bronze in the women's heavyweight judo Britain's standings were 6 Golds 6 Silvers and 6 Bronzes.

Well I hve a puerile sense of humour....

Forget the Olympics it's dinner time

US Moon Flags Photographed

NASA has released  photographs showing that  most of the flags placed by crews of the Apollo spacecraft are still standing on the Moon. Shadows cast by five of the six US flags put up in the 1960s and 1970s are visible on the surface of the Moon. The Apollo 11 flag was knocked over as the Apollo 11 craft began ascending from the surface.

Mark Robinson, an investigator with the Funar Reconnaissce Oribiter Camera (LROC), said: "From the LROC it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11.

The flags may not have retained their vibrant red, white and blue colours though. Exposure to heat, cold and light may have caused them to fade, Dr Robinson added.

Well there you have it. I doubt that the "hoaxers" will believe a word of it but then they are a bunch of arseholes

Mississippi rednecks show their ugly faces

I missed this a few days ago but I cannot believe that members of the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs could be so bloody stupid

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson, an African American couple from nearby Jackson, were all set for to marry last Saturday at a 150-year-old church that they have been attending regularly for months. The sanctuary of the church had been arranged, the rehearsal was set for Friday, invitations had been sent out to friends extending a "special thank you to the First Baptist Church and members".

Then, at about 5.10pm on Thursday evening Te'Andrea received a call. Some of the congregation of the church, which is largely white, had seen a group of black women setting up the sanctuary for the wedding and complained to the pastor.

"If the pastor married her, because they were black then they would vote him out," Te'Andrea was told. The wedding was off.

"When I got the news I couldn't believe it at first," Charles Wilson said  "This is not a matter of colour for me, it's about God, and what better place to get married than God's sanctuary. God's love is colour blind."

Wilson confronted the pastor, Stan Weatherford, and asked him what had happened. According to Wilson, he replied that he had "received all sorts of phone calls, text messages, and it was just not going to happen".

Later, Weatherford told the local channel WLBT News that weddings of black couples had never happened before in the church, "so it was setting a precedent, and there were those who reacted to that". He added: "I didn't want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te'Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day."
The ceremony was switched to a neighbouring Methodist church and went ahead with Weatherford officiating without further ado.

Well done those members. They have reinforced the stereotype that Misissippi is a backward state full of inbred, racist, redneck troglodytes. A for the pastor he should not have been so bloody spineless.  He should have told the racist shitstains to get lost. If he faced trouble afterwards then he would have been the one utterly and totally in the right.

I can only imagine that most people in Mississippi are extremely embarrassed by this cretinous action 

01 August 2012

Another Zantadeschia

Bee on Echinops

Some Tayside Tragedian


AFTER the battle of Calais, King Edward returns to fair England,
And he invited his nobles to a banquet most grand,
That the like hadn't been in England for many a day;
And many of the guests invited had come from far away.

The large hall of Windsor Castle was ablaze with light,
And there sat King Edward and his Queen, a most beautiful sight-
To see them seated upon two thrones of burnished gold;
And near the King sat Jack o' the Cudgel, like a warrior bold.

And when the banquet was prepared, King Edward arose,
And said, My honoured guests, I have called you together for a special purpose!
To celebrate our victories so gloriously achieved in France
By my noble and heroic troops at the charge of the lance.

And now, since the war in France with us is o'er,
And Edward, our son, about to marry the lady he does adore,
The most amiable and lovely Countess of Kent;
Therefore, I hope they will happy live together and never repent.

Then King Edward took the Countess by the hand, and said,
Come, Edward, take your bride by the hand, and don't be afraid;
And do not think, my beloved son, that with you I feel wroth,
Therefore, take the Countess by the hand, and plight your troth.

Then the Prince arose and took the fair Countess by the hand,
As King Edward, his father, had given the royal command;
Then he led the Countess Joan to the foot of the throne,
Then King Edward and his Queen welcomed the Countess to their palatial home.

Then the Prince unto his father said, I must not forget whatever betide,
That to Sir Jack o' the Cudgel I do owe my bride;
Because he rescued her from the hands of a fierce brigand,
Therefore 'twould be hard to find a braver knight in fair England.

Then a cheer arose, which made the lofty hall to ring,
As Jack advanced towards the throne, on the motion of the King;
Then Jack fell on one knee before King Edward,
Then said the Monarch, Arise, brave youth, and I will thee reward.

Sir Jack, I give thee land to the value of six hundred marks
In thine own native county of Kent, with beautiful parks,
Also beautiful meadows and lovely flowers and trees,
Where you can reside and enjoy yourself as you please.

And remember, when I need your service you will be at my command,
Then Jack o' the Cudgel bowed assent, and kissed King Edward's hand;
Then the Countess Joan took a string of rarest pearls from her hair,
And placed the pearls around Jack's neck, most costly and rare.

Then the tumult became uproarious when Jack received the presentation,
And he thanked the Lady Joan for the handsome donation;
Then all the ladies did loudly cheer, and on Jack smilingly did fan,
And Sir Walter Manny cried aloud, Sir Jack, you are a lucky man.

Then the mirth increased, and louder the applause,
And the Countess Joan asked, after a pause,
Tell me who has gained the love of the Knight o' the Cudgel;
Then Jack replied, My lady, you know her right well.

She is the lovely daughter of noble John of Aire,
Then, replied the Countess, she is a lovely creature, I must declare;
And I hope the choice that you have made won't make you grieve,
Then Jack kissed the Countess's hand, and took his leave.

And he wended his way to his beautiful estate in Kent,
And many a happy day there he spent;
And he married the lovely daughter of John of Aire,
And they lived happy together, and free from all care.

McGonagall Online is as ever the place for the finest of poetry