Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dear Creationists, so much for intelligent design. So the complexity of the human eye amazes you and therefore must have been intelligently designed but what about all those phenomenon great and small that scream “design maybe but go back to the drawing board.” For everything beautiful there are too many opposites that simply deny intelligent design. For example the man embraced by the Pope whose entire body is covered in disfiguring weeping painful lumps, (neurofibromatosis) why, like The Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, was he singled out for such a fate? What brought intelligent design to mind was reading on the news that 51 ponies in The New Forest have died agonising deaths by gorging themselves on a glut of windfall acorns which are evidently fatal to both horses and cattle. You would have thought an intelligent designer would have installed in the beasts a faculty for knowing what for their species is poisonous.
Creative Design has also produced the greatest stupidity. “When I’m not talking to God, I’m listening for His directions. I even moved to America to be closer to Him.” This had to be said jokingly surely, I mean we all know God is universal and you are closest to Him in a garden be it in New Zealand or America but no, it was said by Ray banana man Comfort, a believer in Genesis if ever there was one and, according to him, the banana having been intelligently designed to fit in the human mouth only goes to prove the existence of God.
‘The Creator of the universe went to great lengths to create the foreskin then insisted you cut it off”. - Makes sense – Richard Dawkins.

In 1993 Jawdat Ibrahim won $23 million in the Illinois state lottery and opened up a restaurant in Israel. He offers a massive 50% discount on the bill for all the customers who switch off their cell phones while dining in his restaurant.
Ibrahim is hoping to bring back the appreciation for food, conversation and good company.
In a 2010 survey, 67% of diners surveyed in Los Angeles, 64% in New York and 63% in San Francisco agreed that texting, checking e-mail or talking on a cell phone is rude while in company.
A Los Angeles restaurant, ‘Eva,’ offers a 5% discount to customers for leaving their phones with the host during their meal.
.A deli in Vermont actually charges people an extra $3 for using their cell phones.
For once just enjoy at least half an hour of food and good company with your friends or family and forget about technology.
By the same token I wish some restaurateurs would realize that loud music (not to everyone’s taste in the first place) kills conversation stone dead and it really is true that silence is golden
When a writer creates a character does he or she have a definite image in mind as to exactly what that fictional character looks like? I think so, in the same way as one imagines what a certain film location looks like only to find the locations manager invariably had a very different idea and has chosen somewhere not remotely like your imagining. So, whenever I watch television I look out for any actor who fits my mental image of what Thornton King looks like. Thornton King, for those not au fait with my writing, is my private eye in a series of comedy thrillers, the first of which is Dead On Time. I’ve seen half a dozen or so actors on screen who approximate to my imagining but now I have seen one who is without a doubt Thornton King exactly as I have always pictured him. He is an Irish actor by the name of Allen Leech and I came across him thanks to YouTube and a rather delightful Irish film, Cowboys and Angels. I believe he has been appearing in Downton Abbey but never having watched it I wouldn’t know what his performance there is like. I would certainly cast him on the strength of his performance in Cowboy and Angels. Tall, handsome, talented, just the right age (32) and oozing Irish charm.
So, if here is an astute producer out there who would recognize Dead on Time as a potentially terrific movie, (or television) and any of the other Thornton King adventures for that matter, look no further than Allen Leech for your leading man.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Northern Ireland

Moore than 3500 people were killed during three decades of fighting in Northern Ireland, 40000 injured, and what has been gained? Are things that much different now to when it all started? Have the divisions in Northern Ireland society been closed?  John Larkin, Attorney General has said he believes there should be no more prosecutions for past killings which I suppose is a positive step seeing as to how some IRA killers have become respectable members of parliament and vendettas can go on for ever. In the absence of legal proceedings, Mr. Larkin believes relatives of Troubles victims should be given as much access as possible to records to help them find out what happened to their loved ones.
"We can't really be surprised if people don't tell us as long as the theoretical threat of prosecution remains," he said.”
So what about relatives of victims who say they want the killers to be brought before the courts?
Mr. Larkin said there was little realistic possibility of successful prosecutions taking place.
"I have had conversations with people in that very position and I have drawn attention to the extreme improbability of criminal proceedings ever taking place," he said. Troubles victims have called on politicians to prioritize dealing with the past and put in place new measures to deliver truth and justice.
They also want new mechanisms to investigate past human rights violations and abuses. Alex Bunting, an IRA bomb victim, said: "No one wants to listen - especially within politics."
Michael Gallagher, of the Omagh Self-help and Support Group, whose son Aidan was killed in the Omagh bomb in 1998, said: "Victims feel like they have become an unwelcome embarrassment to some politicians in Belfast, London and Dublin. There are thousands of other victims and bereaved family members across Northern Ireland who want to see dealing with the past' given a new, high priority by our political leaders.
Danny Toland, whose father John Toland was shot dead by the UDA in Eglinton, County Londonderry, in 1976, said: "The murder of my father was investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), but we were left with more questions than answers, particularly around the extent of collusion which took place between the UDA and the security forces, which the HET could only say was 'likely'.
"What is now needed is a new, more independent and effective means of investigating all past cases where there are outstanding questions."
Mr. Bunting, who was badly injured by an IRA booby-trap car bomb in Belfast in 1991, said: "As victims, we find ourselves having to drive this process forward.
"The political will to grasp the nettle of the past has been missing. That now needs to change.
"They are pinning their hopes on these talks now, to deliver the truth and the answers that will allow them to turn the page on this painful chapter for all of Northern Ireland.
Amnesty has called for the UK government to establish a new method of dealing with the past that would permit controversial killings and attacks carried out by all sides, including state agents, to be re-investigated. Over the last decade a patchwork of measures, including isolated investigations, have failed to establish the full truth about the violations and abuses of the past.
If Nazi war criminals after nearly seventy years since the end of World War Two can still be found and prosecuted why is N. Ireland proving so difficult? Are there establishment cover-ups somewhere down the line? Or maybe it’s because Protestants and Catholics still can’t really talk to one another. Sad but, while still divided by religion, only too human. Witness the ongoing Shia Sunni conflict in the Middle East and Pakistan for example. So what eventually will happen in Afghanistan? And how will the Syrian crisis which evidently is already spilling over into Lebanon end? Anybody care to hazard a guess?

Well, here I am confined to the house and a wheelchair, only to go out in the car, getting in with assistance and great difficulty and finding getting out even more difficult. My legs haven’t completely gone but walking with frame just a few yards leaves me breathless and the culprits, the cardiologist who examined me yesterday says, are two blocked arteries; but for the moment nothing more than a change in medication is prescribed to see how it goes. The degeneration has happened so fast, in a matter of weeks, but that’s all part of the aging process I suppose. Now that I am virtually immobile I think nostalgically of all the little everyday things I would like to do. Strange how one misses them.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Saving the Planet

What clever clogs we are, geniuses, geniuses at spoiling the planet. Already there is the belief growing more and more that, if humanity is to survive, other planets need to be populated, no doubt sooner or later to go the same way as mother earth, human beings in some ways being as stupid as they are.  It’s like that list someone made up of the Muslim countries in which Muslims were unhappy followed by a list of where they are happy; the US, Britain, France Holland, Sweden, Australia,  etcetera, as they try to turn these host countries into ones similar to the ones they left in which they were unhappy.
It is estimated the Brazilian rain forest has been degraded 28% this year. 28% doesn’t sound so much until one realises it is over a quarter.
Whatever one might feel or not feel about the shark, it is a part of the eco-system and its numbers off the coast of Costa Rica are diminishing at alarming speed. This is because the fishermen believe they have found a way around the law forbidding “finning.” Before the law was passed the shark’s fins were cut off and the shark tossed back into the sea to bleed to death. Apart from the cruelty involved, the sheer wastage of using that small portion of the animal for a delicacy food is deplorable. The fishermen have evidently come to the conclusion they can bypass the law by not tossing the shark into the sea but leaving it to die in the boat before doing so.
American customs have crushed six tons of illegal ivory from small artefacts to full length tusks, the amount they reckon to have come from the death of 2000 elephants.
Got any news or Gossip? Send it …
Locals call the area between Naples and Caserta the "Triangle of Death" because of toxic fumes after waste burning. Some 10 million tonnes of industrial waste has reportedly been dumped in the region over the past 20 years. A spokesman for the environmental group Legambiente, which organized a protest involving 10000 people parading trough Naples, said nearly 440 businesses in central and northern Italy had been taking part in the illegal activity. As more and more illegal dumps are found, the Italian government says it is starting an extensive project of cleaning the contaminated area. The local mafia, the Camorra, is suspected of securing lucrative contracts to dispose of waste and then dumping much of it illegally.
But here are two contrasting stories, one of which gives out just the teeniest bit of light to illuminate our darkness.

 Melissa Bachman, an American hunter has sparked outrage from South Africans after she posted pictures on Facebook of herself smiling behind a dead male lion she killed on Nov 1.
Bachman has a hunting show on US television called Deadly Passion. Her recent hunting trip to South Africa has been met with outrage and resulted in petitions to stop her hunting and getting a visa to return to SA. One can’t help but notice in the photograph that the gun she holds is equipped with a high powered
telescopic sight so the lion was hundreds of yards away, probably static and there was absolutely no danger to the intrepid hunter! What kind of pleasure, what kind of thrill, what kind of satisfaction can that bring? You might as well be shooting at a fair ground target.
And here is the contrasting story. A group of Somalis over a four mile run ran to earth a pair of cheetahs that had been killing their goats, captured them and handed them over to the Kenya Wildlife Authorities. How, one wonders did they manage to pit themselves against one of the fastest animals on earth? Evidently they waited  until the hottest part of the day and then simply kept going until the animals were exhausted – exhausted but still alive – no fucking stupid, grinning American bitch here with her high powered rifle and telescopic sight. Just, what you might call, a bunch of primitive herdsmen who showed her up for what she’s worth and who for me, gave the world, momentarily, that tiny spark of light.

When the last tree has been cut down,
When the last fish has been eaten,
When the last river is poisoned,
Only then will you realize that one cannot eat money.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Teaching maths

Just how I wonder is the world going to get out of this terrible recession that grows worse by the day? Youth unemployment seems to be on a consistent rise with no solution in sight and not just here in Greece. Young Greeks are heading off to other European countries in the hopes of finding work and at the same time youth from those countries are heading for Australia with the same hopes despite the fact that youth unemployment in some places there is as bad as it is here. It is something of a Gordian knot and there is no Alexander to unravel it. As the population explodes and computers advance in technology almost day by day taking over tasks once performed by human beings the situation can only get worse.
Received this from a friend and it is positively so brilliant it makes up today’s Blog.

Subject: Teaching Maths in Britain

1. Teaching Maths In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100..
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.
What is his profit?

2. Teaching Maths In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is 80% of the price.
What is his profit?

3. Teaching Maths In 1990
A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is £80.
How much was his profit?

4. Teaching Maths In 2000
A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is £80 and his profit is £20.
Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Maths In 2005
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habit of animals or the preservation of our woodlands.
Your assignment: Discuss how the birds and squirrels might feel as the logger cut down their homes just for a measly profit of £20.

6. Teaching Maths In 2009
A logger is arrested for trying to cut down a tree in case it may be offensive to religious groups not consulted in the felling license. He is also fined a £100 as his chainsaw is in breach of Health and Safety legislation as it deemed too dangerous and could cut something.. He has used the chainsaw for over 20 years without incident however he does not have the correct certificate of competence and is therefore considered to be a recidivist and habitual criminal. His DNA is sampled and his details circulated throughout all government agencies. He protests and is taken to court and fined another £100 because he is such an easy target.

When he is released he returns to find 'travellers' have cut down half his wood to build a camp on his land. He tries to throw them off but is arrested, prosecuted for harassing an ethnic minority, imprisoned and fined a further £100. While he is in jail again the 'travellers' cut down the rest of his wood and sell it on the black market for £100 cash. They also have a departure BBQ of squirrel and pheasant and leave behind several tons of rubbish and asbestos sheeting.

The forester on release is warned that failure to clear the fly tipped rubbish immediately at his own cost is an offence. He complains and is arrested for environmental pollution, breach of the peace and invoiced £12,000 plus VAT for safe disposal costs by a regulated government contractor.

Your assignment: How many times is the logger going to have to be arrested and fined before he realises that he is never going to make £20 profit by hard work, give up, sign onto the dole and live off the state for the rest of his life?

7. Teaching Maths In 2010
A logger doesn’t sell a lorry load of timber because he can’t get a loan to buy a new lorry because his bank has spent all his and their money on a derivative of securitised debt related to sub- prime mortgages in Alabama and lost the lot with only some government money left to pay a few million pound bonuses to their senior directors and the traders who made the biggest losses.

The logger struggles to pay the £1,200 road tax on his old lorry
however, as it was built in the 1970s it no longer meets the emissions
regulations and he is forced to scrap it.

Some Bulgarian loggers buy the lorry from the scrap merchant and put it back on the road. They undercut everyone on price for haulage and send their cash back home, while claiming unemployment for themselves and their relatives. If questioned they speak no English and it is easier to deport them at the governments expense. Following their holiday back home they return to the UK with different names and fresh girls and start again. The logger protests, is accused of being a bigoted racist and as his name is on the side of his old lorry he is forced to pay £1,500 registration fees as a gang master.

The Government borrows more money to pay more to the bankers as bonuses are not cheap. The parliamentarians feel they are missing out and claim the difference on expenses and allowances.

You do the maths.

Monday, November 11, 2013


The Pope has done something quite remarkable, a gesture I should think none of his predecessors would have made. During a walkabout he stopped to intimately embrace a man so hideously deformed that in the photographs one cannot delineate his features. I have to admit even just looking at those photographs it is a bit gut-churning. I doubt very much, no I know, that I would not have been able to do it. This simple gesture must have endeared him to millions, even folk like me who have no truck with religion and who look upon he pope simply as CEO of a very large, mega rich universal corporation probably, taking everything into account, one of the richest corporations there is. Just think of the real estate for starters.
What does one know about the city of Naples, except Elmer Rice wrote a play titled “See Naples And Die” and that it is a hotbed of Mafia type Activity, known as the Camorra, evidently the most ruthless and bloody-minded criminal organisation in the world? Oh yes, there are the naughty murals of Pompeii and there’s Vesuvius of course and but did you know Naples’ patron saint is Gennarius who happens also to be the patron saint of volcanoes? Sounds pretty reasonable.
The Vatican is showing off the sumptuous 'San Gennaro' collection of gems said to be worth more than England's crown jewels; treasure formed of objects donated in tribute to the saint, 70 pieces of sumptuous jewellery transported under heavily armed guard to a museum in Rome. The exhibit features an empty reliquary purportedly holding San Gennaro’s Blood. Blood legend says that 'miraculously' liquefies during religious ceremonies.
Hidden away for centuries, the Treasure of San Gennaro is formed of precious objects donated in tribute. It has rarely left the city and spent centuries locked in a vault, largely forgotten by the wider world.
Known in English as Januarius, the bishop of Naples was martyred in the 3rd century under the Emperor Diocletian. First of all he was supposed to be attacked by wild animals but apparently the animals were loath to do their bit so he was beheaded.
Thousands gather three times a year to see whether a vial of his coagulated blood will turn to liquid, which they believe to be a miracle bringing good fortune to the city.
In the 1520s when Naples was struggling with plague, war and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, surviving citizens pledged to build a chapel for the saint in return for his protection.
The hoard includes what is thought to be one of the most precious pieces of jewellery in the world - the necklace of San Gennaro, begun in 1679 to adorn a gold and silver bust containing the skull of the saint.
Separate ornate pieces of jewellery were forged together over centuries to make a necklace. These include a cross of diamonds and emeralds donated by French Emperor Napoleon and many gifts from monarchs dating from years when the Kingdom of Naples was a major power. This necklace tells the history of Europe, and includes a relatively humble pair of earrings, the only possession of a commoner spared in a disease epidemic in 1844 who donated the family heirloom to the saint.
But most breathtaking of all, another centrepiece is an enormous golden mitre, the ceremonial headdress of bishops, commissioned to crown the saint's bust in its annual procession and made of 3,300 diamonds and hundreds of rubies and emeralds, given in many separate donations.
So much for the vow of poverty and just add that mitre if nothing else to Rome’s riches.
So where in the scheme of things does money come in as far as god is concerned?
Bill Maher (love the man) on television recently said that southern fundies have given up on Christ’s basic teaching in favour of a ‘f*** you, drop dead’ philosophy applied to anyone who isn’t of their particular persuasion. He tells two stories about tipping in restaurants. In one a group of Christian diners refused to give their young waiter a tip because of his homosexual lifestyle, although they admitted the service was excellent. If they seriously believed by denying him a tip it would change his lifestyle shows you just how stupid, ignorant and bigoted these people can be. The second story involves a receipt across which is scrawled, “I give 10% to God, why should I tip you?”
This is arrant nonsense, what possible need or use has god got for her ten percent? The money isn’t going to line the pockets of his robes but the pockets of her charlatan pastor whose mega-church makes him millions and which he informs his congregation is a gift from god. No, it is not. It is a gift from the gullible, nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dead to the world

Spent all morning in the doctor’s surgery and all afternoon sleeping to recover so forgot to post Monday’s Blog. Monday is always a bad day for a visit to the doctor and the surgery was packed but Elizabeth won’t be thrown by this. She takes all the time it needs to see to each patient and she must be totally exhausted at the end of the day.
This has nothing to do with my visit but last Saturday I died. You might not find that very interesting but it is very interesting to me as it is always what I imagined death to be like. I was sitting here at the computer and I suddenly realised I had blacked out. I don’t know how long for before I came too in the blink of an eyelid; it could have just been a matter of seconds, could have been longer.
For a while now I’ve tended to doze and drop off and it is when I tend to topple over sideway on the chair that I wake up but this was entirely different.
There was no feeling of sleepiness, no drowsing, no dozing off and, in fact, I didn’t know it had actually happened until I found myself, still sitting upright, staring at the screen slightly bewildered until I realised what had happened – instantaneous black, nothingness, Did my heart for a time stop beating? I don’t know and there was no way of finding out. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Anyway it was a unique experience.
The blood tests from Monday’s visit to Elizabeth indicate that I have to cut down drastically on the rat poison. Glad of that, I hate the stuff especial as it discolours my arms and hands in so ugly a fashion. The second test indicated anaemia which is probably the cause of (a) dozing off all the time and (b) breathlessness and (c) legs that grow steadily weaker, so Douglas reckons he is going to beef me up on broccoli (hate it) and ox liver (hate it) but I suppose I might as well submit or give way to a wheelchair (hate the very thought.)
The first couple of years I was in England I wrote my first play, “The River of Sand,” set in South Africa natch and a story around the Boer War. Apart from a play reading many years ago it has never been done but I suddenly, a few days ago, decided to look at it again and maybe do some work on it and I am so glad I did. I’m also glad that Chris read it, made some astute criticisms and I realised time- scale wise and character wise I was all over the place. Father at one point became grandfather, brother at one point became nephew etc.So that has now all been set to rights and Chris meanwhile has more ideas I’m waiting to hear about.

The situation in Greece gets worse and worse. The government, having raised the price of heating oil to such an extent that most ordinary people can no longer afford it is now banning wood burning stoves in cities because of smog. How are people expected to keep their houses warm and dry. Already the temperature has dropped and the rain set in.?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Story from Facebook - Conversation I had while at work today.
Me: So what do you want to be for Halloween?
Little Girl: I think I should be Thor.
Her Mother: You know that’s a boy, right?
Little Girl: Yeah, and I am a girl and I want to be Thor.
Her Mother: Don’t you want to be something pretty?
Little Girl: Thor is pretty.

Second story – from a proud mum whose seven year old son had broken his arm and, when asked what colour caste he would like, asked for one in pink. The smiling doctor objected, saying pink was for a girl, to which the boy replied with words to the effect there is no blue and no pink, no boy and no girl which wiped the smile off the doctor’s face and the boy got his pink caste.
There have been many instances of actors and actresses successfully entertaining as a member of the opposite sex- drag as it is called, britches part, (female) or female impersonation (male).
Elliot Sailors had a successful career as a female model until she hit thirty. Facing a dramatic decrease in job offers, many models are forced to shift gears as they age. But instead of turning to behind the scenes fashion work or hosting shows like America’s Next Top Model, Sailors pursued a career as a male model. To make herself appear more conventionally masculine, she binds her chest, cuts her hair, and highlights her jaw. She believes that transitioning to male modeling has afforded her more time in the industry as men don’t face the same limited standards of youth: “Men don’t need to look as young as possible, so I have a lot of time,” she tells New York Post. Her life has changed since taking on a male role. She and her supportive husband are often considered to be a gay couple, and she realizes that people rarely hold doors open for her. She now prefers dressing down and going out without make-up. Let's hope her actions encourage others to challenge gender norms in fashion and lead to less rigid standards for youth in female modeling. 
 “Male and female created he them” and there you have it, one or the other, masculine or feminine and nothing in between. Unfortunately for those of a religious bent who believe this it simply isn’t true. M. or F. on a birth certificate places a person squarely in one corner or the other but what if a person doesn’t’ exactly fit in either box?
Research in the late 20th century has led to a growing medical consensus that diverse intersex bodies are normal—if relatively rare, 1 in 1500 or 1 in 2000 —forms of human biology. The great designer either meant it or his screwdriver slipped along the way.
This pink and blue thing is nonsense'
 Germany has become the first country in Europe to allow babies with the characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female, with the introduction of an X designation on passports to follow. Parents are now allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates, in effect creating a new category of "indeterminate sex". The move is aimed at removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns. Sometimes surgery is done on the baby to turn its physical characteristics as far as possible in one direction or the other. In one case, a person with no clear gender-defining genitalia was subjected to surgery. The person said many years later: "I am neither a man nor a woman. I will remain the patchwork created by doctors, bruised and scarred. Hopefully those days are over despite the problems intersex may cause.
Sarah Graham, an intersex woman says there is "absolutely no visibility for intersex people in the world." She said many intersex people were happy with their gender, but "it would be nice... to have a box where you can choose to come out... as an intersex person."
How many intersex persons like gays unwilling or unable to admit their sexuality are still in the closet? But the world in parts is changing.
Australians have had the option of selecting "x" as their gender - meaning indeterminate, unspecified or intersex - on passport applications since 2011. A similar option was introduced for New Zealanders in 2012.
In South Asia, Bangladesh has offered an "other" gender category on passport applications since 2011.
Nepal began recognising a third gender on its census forms in 2007 while Pakistan made it an option on national identity cards in 2011.
India added a third gender category to voter lists in 2009.
Though transgender or intersex people have long been accepted in Thailand and are officially recognised by the country's military, they do not have any separate legal status. But, Germany now apart, in our Western world they don’t even have recognition.