Friday, 19 December 2014

Happy Christmas

Finally .... as its the last post before Christmas, and because its become something of a tradition on this blog, here's a copy of one of the Christmas Annuals I received as a child.

The 'Victor' .... An Exciting Read For A Boy

Its 'The Victor' annual from 1967 .... I admit its not particularly 'christmassy', but for a lad just leaving the Beano and Dandy fully behind (we were innocent for longer back in the day), it was a big step to tackle comic books that had real written stories, as well as cartoon characters.

For those not familiar with the contents of this long disappeared comic book (it finished as late as 1993), the characters included 'Morgyn the Mighty' (a sort of poor mans 'tarzan' on an island called 'Black Island'), and 'Alf Tupper' aka 'The Tough of the Track' (a jobbing track runner who could run virtually any distance, make up any lost ground, and beat anyone) .... my what scrapes he got into, including I recall, pole vaulting into a burning bedroom window to save a child, which was a 'world record', but Alf couldn't prove it because the fire burnt the window wall down before it could be measured. Plus numerous others I am struggling to recall.

'Morgyn The Mighty' ... Worlds Strongest Man

Even after looking it up in Wikipedia, I can't recall them, although 'The Hammer Man', a knight with a hammer instead of a lance rings a vague bell.

In fact the only other thing I can recall from this comic (which I read religiously for at least six years if not longer), is the front and back cover, which was usually a 'true' account of heroism by a British or Empire soldier, against either the Germans or Japanese in WWI or WWII. Often 'our lad' would die, but take half a division of the 'Hande Hochs' or 'Banzais' with them first.

Now that I recall this, I moved from 'The Victor' comic briefly into the world war combat square war magazines, which contained only those kind of stories, but then into the world of DC and Marvel .... ah well, happier and more innocent days, which is what I wish you all for the coming year.

Well done Big Fella!

A Christmas Tale ..... at the traditional time, the traditional story is usually a fairy tale .... not necessarily in New York though .... its a now proven fact that Santa Claus imbibes just a little too much sherry on his rounds.

As any follower of Health and Safety rules will know, drinking while in charge of reindeer, as well as climbing down chimneys and other hazardous Christmas tree approaches is a dangerous practise. So perhaps its not a surprise that over the years, good old Kris Kringle has had a few accidents .....

There was that incident with the wrestler Alberto Del Rio when he was hit by the wrestlers car ...

Drunk Santa

.... lucky not to get breathalysed on that one.

Then of course, there was the regrettable incident in the Florida shopping Mall ..... when His beard became tangled in the winching gear, and for a wrenchingly long time he wriggled furiously to free himself, losing his hat. To distract the crowd, an assistant below led them in a rousing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

When Santa finally landed, he ripped off the tangled facial hair, told the children that he was actually an elf, and fled .

Santa Losing His Cool ... His Hat and His Beard

.... another moment to forget.

However, you have to give the old fella his due. He just dusts himself off, walks unsteadily back to the chimney or his sleigh and carries on .... not missing any Christian boys and girls out.

So spare a thought to the busiest man of next Wednesday .... he's hundreds of years old, packing a lot of timber, and fairly pissed .... but he gets the job done.

Well done Big Fella!

Old Maps Modern Appeal

Old maps are a source of endless fascination for me as well many others .... so I was pleased when many news outlets published an old and previously lost map of the County of Lancashire in England. Dated from 1602 AD, and part of a set of fifteen from which it had become detached centuries ago, before recently being found again.

Old Lancashire Map

This was of course before the Great mapping of Britain and Ireland in the 18th and19th centuries .....

The Modern Version Of The Same Area In Lancashire

I was particularly interested to compare it with the Google version of the same area .... and I can say that its not bad, but also that looking at it "I can see my house from here".

It was an early attempt to accurately and proportionately display the features of the area it was covering but was an improvement on the first non topological Gough map of Britain which was stitched together between 1355 AD and 1366 AD.

Gough Map Of Britain 1355 AD To 1366 Ad

Funny how they never got the shape right (because they believed the world centred on Jerusalem), but you can see what countries it represents ....

Saddest Little Boy

Kun Kun is a little boy from a village near Xichong in Sichuan province China. Kun Kun is HIV positive ... he inherited this from his mother who has abandoned him with very elderly non-blood-related grandparents. Kun Kun doesn't go to school because they don't want him. Kun Kun has no playmates because no one wants him to play with their children. "Nobody wants to play with me, so I just play by myself," he was quoted as saying.

Kun Kun ~ The Unwanted Boy. His Grandfather Signs The Petition.

Kun Kun knows no one loves him because he watched as his 'grandfather' signed a petition which an entire village had signed, to have him taken in to state care (nearly a death sentence in rural China, especially if HIV positive), because they are too old to look after him. After he watched this, the poor little boy was said to have "raced home, climbed into bed, and laid there wordlessly".

Kun Kun Watches Villagers Sign The Petition

He now runs wild and plays with fires, because he is isolated, lonely, scared, angry, rejected, frightened and desperate ... Kun Kun is just eight years old. It actually gave me a lump in my throat (for several reasons I won't go into, but lets say I can empathise somewhat with his feelings). Social media in China has now run wild, and the authorities have now promised to pay for his medical care.

But how very very sad ...

If you are a believer in prayers at Christmas or any time, remember Kun Kun in yours this year, because he and other children in similar situations around the globe, really need all the help they can get ... Kun Kun is the sad hidden face of want and need everywhere this year.

Slaughter of the Innocents

Pakistan has been playing with fire for decades .... and people playing with fire always get burnt in the end. On the one hand, Pakistan's been promoting the Taliban inside Afghanistan, to keep the country destabilised, but on the other, the Pakistani army is increasingly finding itself  fighting a war against the Taliban inside Pakistan.

Ever since General Zia Ul Haq Islamised the country, its been sliding into a supine acceptance of Sharia law as the only legal and moral framework for the country, whilst becoming increasingly a hard-line Taliban ridden and intolerant society, where women's rights are going backwards .... but we have a saying in the West which is that you reap what you sow.

The thing about it is is that the more you Islamify (or any religion actually) a country, the more its populations tolerance towards violence towards 'others' is built up ... in Pakistan, attacks on Shia's have been bloody and violent, but more or less silently condoned by the Sunni majority (there certainly has been no movement to stop Sunni's committing the crimes). Similarly casual street violence towards the tiny Christian community is not preached against in mosques. Woman are routinely controlled and killed in honour crimes, with the tacit if silent approval of the elder males ... the 7th century mores are in full force in many areas.

Once a society is saturated in blood to the extent that Pakistan is, then the men of violence find little resistance towards crossing what ever lines there are left in the sand. In Syria and Iraq, minority groups women are routinely raped and used as sex slaves, their children treated in much the same manner. Little is said about this in the Arab or Pakistani press because, well its kinda OK isn't it? Qur'an (5:51/52) 'O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other;' and other such remarks from the holy book.

Then when hundreds are killed in a mosque attack on Shia's, well its bad, but they are unbelievers and we know what the book says about that .... so how big a line is it to cross, to target army school children? Apparently, not much ....especially if the attackers believe they are revenging their own families deaths.

The murder of over a hundred school children in an army sponsored school in Pakistan is a very tragic event, but surely was predictable, as the dual policy of feeding the Taliban in Afghanistan, whilst trying to muzzle them in Pakistan, was bound to come unstuck eventually .... matters have moved on since the 1980's.

The fact that the poor victims now are increasingly Sunni's, means that now the main Pakistani community cries out, that its against Islam's teachings .... but what about the Christian or Yazidis children in Syria and Iraq? Where were the cries when Shia children are killed in Sunni Taliban bomb blasts in Pakistan? .... this latest tragedy was inevitable once Pakistan stopped being a secular state, and started committing acts of violence on other groups with no protests.

The Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan are now looking to what 'I.S.I.S' in Iraq and Syria is doing, and the rise of the other Caliphates in Arab and African lands, are the new benchmarks of jihadist ambition, and that's exactly what Pakistan is likely to find developing in the badlands of Helmand and North Warizstan ....

Pakistan Taliban - Picture Of The Merciless Killers Of Children

Pakistan may not be able to turn back from the course it has followed for decades, there is apparently no real appetite amongst its backward patriarchal masses to return to secular law with minority and women's rights respected, and maybe its actually entering the first phase of becoming yet another failed Muslim state.

Time will tell if this is a final and last chance for the Pakistani leadership to realise exactly what abyss they are staring down, or if they just bluster, make a few futile show blows, and then in a few months carry on as before .... the bailing of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the man India accuses of ordering the Mumbai Atack suggests not everyone is on board with the idea that there are no good Taliban.

So if its the latter course, then they have crossed the rubicon, and really are heading for a collapse.

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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....