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Friday, 29 November 2013

Sexy Sirens Sell Songs

Whatever happened to talent being enough to get to the top? I am talking here about female singers, who appear to be little more than strippers these days. Now I know that sounds like some old reactionary, raging against a world from which he increasingly feels estranged, and on some subjects that accusation may have an element of truth, but I feel that I can safely refute such a charge in this argument.

Let us go back to the 1950's when the top female singers included Doris Day, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.

Doris Day  -  Rosemary Clooney

or the 1960's when the top female singers included Lulu, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Jackie Trent and others.

Petula Clark - Dusty Springfield

Similarly in the 1970's Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Tina Turner, and Kate Bush were the chanteuse's of the decade ....

Kate Bush - Donna Summer

Now the one thing they had in common was that their voices sold the songs, not their bodies .... oh sure, they would occasionally appear in 'risqué' publicity photos, such as these below, but they were hardly anything you couldn't show your mother, or their mothers.

Doris Day - Rosemary Clooney - Risqué But Not Rude

But suddenly things started to change through the late 1980's and into the 1990's .... sex had always sold records but never more than the lyrics or tunes, partly because records always sold more by radio than TV ..... but the charge towards nudity as the seller was really led by the rise of MTV video's. The high princess of this change was Kylie Minogue, a pop pixie from Australia who had been around for a while, but when she released the video for the single "Spinning Around" in September 2000, it became her first number one in the United Kingdom in ten years, and largely because the accompanying video featured her in very revealing gold hot pants.

Kylie Minougue - Hot Pants

This success was apparently duly noted by record producers around the globe and more of this kind of flesh flashing video was marketed by female singers .... but more importantly a legion of young wannabe girl singers, growing up in the first decade of the century learnt that what sold records was skin. Kylie herself incorporated what she described as 'Burlesque' into her videos and stage act, and broke into the US club charts with the single "Can't Get You Out of My Head", which was her biggest ever hit, reaching number one in more than forty countries, and which featured as near nudity as could be achieved ..... without quite crossing the line.

Kylie Minougue - Risqué

This mega success seemed to cross some sort of Rubicon for both the video producers and the female singers of the last decade, because we now have seen a procession of singers such as Lil Kim, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and now Miley Cyrus (a right little twerker), who seem to be in a competition to be the first to cross the final red line, and promote a record single with a nude video of themselves ..... so much so, that there have been increasingly vocal calls to get music videos age rated before their release, with an 18+ rating for many of the girl singers. Needless to say, the music business is trying desperately to prevent this, because it would probably remove half their female acts from the young teen market.

Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus - Risque or Porn?

In the last twenty years or so, we have descended a long way on the path that has led to to women selling their bodies for money on TV videos, using the excuse of a record single as the raison d'être, and so far the bottom of the barrel doesn't seem to have been scraped.

I Drink Therefore I Am

The meaning of life is an issue that many have pondered over the centuries .... few have found a solution that applies to us all, although many have claimed to. Before Monotheism, it was the philosophers of every culture who would consider this question - amongst the Greeks it was questions such as:

  • "Why are we here?",
  • "What is life all about?", and
  • "What is the purpose of existence?"

All these have been asked asked by philosophers such as Plato, and Aristotle, through to Epicurus. In the more modern era, giants such as Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Arthur Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill have all asked the questions ....

So when did this all questioning start exactly? Well certainly since men discovered brewing, fermenting, and 'krasí' ('wine'), and then started sitting around camp fires, or in huts. Conversations like 'drop of good stuff lads, makes life worth living', and then followed the next morning, by the clutching of their heads and asking the real questions; 'Where am I', and 'Why am I here', and finally 'Is life really worth living?" ... well at least until the hangovers wore off and the cycle of philosophical drinking started again.

Monty Pythons Philosophers Song May Have The Meaning Of Life

So while its easy to see why such questions were first asked, its much harder to determine if anyone ever came up with an answer (apart from maybe to say stop drinking) ..... perhaps 'Monty Python' got it right after all.

♪♪ Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as sloshed as Schlegel

Oh there's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya 'bout the raising of the wrist;
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed!

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill
Plato, they say, could stick it away
Half a crate of whiskey every day
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am".

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed ....

A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed! ♪♪

....... in other words "I drink therefore I am" 

Nuclear Clock Tick Tocks

With the news that not only did Saudi Arabia (the cockpit of Wahabism and the home of the 9/11 planners and bombers), pay for the Pakistani Nuclear weapon making program, but also has first call on such weapons should it feel the need to 'instantly acquire them', the world has stepped just a bit closer to 'Armageddon'.

Nuclear Clock Ticking Closer To Armageddon
 
The Saudis already have the delivery system in the form of the dozens of CSS-2 ballistic missiles bought from China in a deal in the 1980's, and for which rail track launchers have been deployed.

Once again, the US, which has close ties with the Saudi regime, is unable to put down a firm marker to stop any such transfer of nuclear weaponry (even when the Saudi's have signed the non proliferation treaty), and without doubt, Saudi Arabia will acquire the weapons (probably when Iran, the other financier of world terror, acquires them next year or the year after), and then Israel will be placed on the horns of a dilemma.

Do they stick or twist, because without any doubt, the these weapons will point not only at Iran, but at Israel, who will also face the same threat from the Iranian weapons pointed at both them and Saudi Arabia.

Whose finger will be on the buttons will be anyone's guesses - The 89 yr old Saudi King (or his likely equally elderly successor), the Supremely elderly Ayatollah in Iran, or the democratically accountable leader of a fragile coalition in Israel - all seem shaky choices for the fate of humanity to hang its hopes on should there be 'Cuba Crisis' moment.
     
Lets not beat about the bush here, two of these states are extreme theological regimes, who think nothing of killing opposition both internally or externally, and who export terror worldwide, and both of whom would also like to see Israel wiped from the map .... not a happy set of circumstances in which for nuclear proliferation to be taking place.            

Penny For Your Thoughts

When people lose trust in the money they are given by their banks, its usually the beginning of the end in some regard ..... for example the hyper inflation of the German Deutschmark in the 1920's was one of the aids to the election of the Nazi Party.

So one has to wonder what the news that Kenyan bank ATM's are accused iof dispensing fake notes could mean. The reports state that the money being dispensed by the ATM's is then being declared as 'fake' by shops, and the very same banks that dispensed the notes outside.

Fake Money Not Easy To Spot

Of course the banks have denied the accusations, and the 'Kenyan Bankers Association' tweeted: "We are not aware that it is an industry-wide issue; it appears as five isolated cases." But this denial has been ridiculed by all and sundry, including 'The Consumer Federation of Kenya', and more rumours are swirling around following a financial crime survey in Kenya by Deloitte's, which suggested that most of the money the banks lose to theft, is in fact the result of collusions between bank staff and outsiders.

'The Nation' newspaper, has suggested that genuine notes are being replaced with counterfeits when the security agents hired by banks refill the ATM machines, and a senior official of the consumer federation, reacting to the spread of these stories, demanded that banks do more to safeguard customers.

We at PC Towers, will be watching this story with interest, because it has the potential to destabilise East Africa, if the notion that the money is not real, spreads .....

Friday, 22 November 2013

Do Robot's Dream Of Suicide?

An interesting, if small story caught my eye. There are some wags who believe that we have had the first ever recorded robotic suicide ....

The prompt for this story is that a robotic cleaner (one of those round ones that circle the floor) was found burned out .... nothing unusual in that one might think, maybe a burnt fuse. But the story has some unusual aspects that raised it to a story that was reported around the world.

Apparently the cleaning device was left alone in a house in Austria and was 'cleaning' when somehow it managed to climb on to a kitchen hotplate, where it 'burnt to death'. The owners are insistent that the hotplate was turned off, and have no idea how

(a) The robot got on top of the hotplate, and
(b) how a 'cold' hotplate managed to burn a cleaning robot.

Crime Scene or Grave Plot?

The comics are insisting that the robot, bored to death by the prospect of a life of cleaning for evermore, had used its limited A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), to get on to the cooker and turn on the hotplate. The Austrian owners are planning to sue the makers of the robot after the smoke damage to the house left them temporarily homeless.

Asimov's Three Laws Of Robotics

Isaac Asimov will be laughing in his grave right now ...... it even sticks within the first two of Asimov's "Three Laws Of Robotics", but the naughty cleaner broke the third. However there is a serious note to this because one day we may well use A.I. robots to make inter-stellar explorations on our behalf .... and whose to say that these journeys, taking decades or even centuries, won't drive these intelligent robots insane?

Would we then be morally right to send them on these trips?

Sweet Revenge

A while ago, and I am sorry but I can't recall the exact date or year of the report (although it was probably 2012 -13), I saw a newspaper or magazine story that a strange disaster had hit a town in Brazil ....

CARAMEL surge hit town in Brazil. 30,000 tonnes of scalding sugar flowed over walls and threatened houses in Santa Adelia in Sao Paulo state. The flow killed fish and poisoned the local river ...

I can't remember the exact wording, or the rest of the report, but I noted this event because the story reminded me of a disaster I had read about from years ago, where a sugar vat spilt and engulfed a town ..... So I finally looked it up this week. It was remembered as the 'Great Boston Molasses Tragedy' and was when .....

150 people where injured in what became known as 'The Boston Molasses Disaster', aka the 'Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy', which occurred on January 15th, 1919, in the North End neighbourhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. When a large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated speed of 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and for many decades residents claimed that on hot summer days, the area still smelled of molasses.

Boston Molasses Disaster 1919

Now you wouldn't have thought that this could happen even once, let alone repeat again approximately a century later .... its almost like nature taking a sweet revenge on its ravagers. 

The Sins Of the Father

'Uber Bad taste' doesn't just extend to golf courses in the USA. Oh not by a long way, because by a strange twist of fate, by using the German term 'Uber' in my last bad taste posting, I almost prefigured the next such story to come along .... from a German Hotel.

Now I have to admit that I am a bit perplexed as to why I don't get more stories out of Germany anyway? They are after all our 'BIG brother' in Europe, and are generally freely putting their weight about with both the French and the US, having it seems finally thrown off their diffidence about WWII.

Strangely, as I recall Mrs Thatcher predicted that German reunification would lead to this Super Germany, and for that reason was not keen on it happening ....

Anyway's, the bad taste story from Germany surrounds the 'Kristall Sauna-Wellness Park hotel' which has been forced to apologise for promoting a "romantic Kristall Nacht evening" for spa-lovers

Romantic Kristall Nacht

.... on the 75th anniversary of 'Kristallnacht' ..... 'Kristallnacht' was of course the name given to the Nazi's attack on Jewish homes and businesses - On the 9/10 November 1938, at least 91 Jews were killed and tens of thousands were arrested and so much broken glass was on the streets that is was described as a 'Crystal Night'

Kristall Nacht 1938

.... The hotel has been forced to apologise and describe it as "insensitive and extremely inappropriate" as an advert but pointed out that they had used the name 'Kristall' in their promotions in the past, without complaints.

Now interestingly, I would see this event in rather a different light .... surely this shows that Germany has moved on so much, that these events are too distant for the current Germans to constantly remember, or recognise, as being their collective historic fault, it being probably their grand-parents who were alive then.

This idea that Germany should be 'punished' forever is nonsense, just as we shouldn't be asked to keep paying for 'colonialism', and its about time that we consigned some events to the history books .... the sins of the father should not be continually visited upon their children.

Slavery, UK Style

Commenting on yet another 'slavery case', Labour MP and ex Labour Culture Secretary, Dame Tessa Jowell said on BBC radio London 94.9. that

'She woke up three times during the night thinking about the women who were held as slaves for 30 years. "How is it possible? We've had so little information from the police about the conditions the poor women were living in." .... she also questioned if parts of the city were so disconnected that nobody noticed anything.'

Domestic Slavery - Not A New Crime

This is a laughable comment from one of the architects of 'New Labour' and its 'let it rip immigration policy' .... a policy that did so much to destroy social unity in the UK, and especially in London, where 38% of the population are not from the UK originally at all. Tessa Jowell is an ex-social worker and administrator for a mental illness charity (which tells you everything you need to know about her ideas), and once she had got the 'magic ticket' of a safe seat in Parliament, she was reckoned to be very supportive of the 'New Labour project', and was considered to be fully loyal to its agenda, earning herself a strong reputation as a 'Blairite' .... although her position is said to be on the right of the current Labour Party.     

She has apparently announced that she is stepping down as an MP at the next election .... well all I can say is that although that's a bit like closing the stable doors after the horse has bolted, its still better than having the threat of her returning in another Labour government in the future .... I mean honestly, what sort of person would claim that they 'woke up three times thinking about the women ...'

These are complete strangers, and although if the story is true, the women are to be pitied, I doubt few of us would really claim to have 'woke up three times thinking about the women ...'. Also the fact that the alleged 'slavers' have already been bailed by the police, suggests that there are at least a few elements of doubt in the story …  well, at least enough for it to be considered no risk to let the accused couple go back home without them fleeing. Police Officers said the arrested couple were not British nationals, and that it was "very unlikely" that the alleged victims were related to them because of their nationalities ... so the full background of this case may yet throw up some interesting details, in which immigration to the UK, legal or otherwise, are likely to feature quite a lot.

So let the politicians can the hyperbolic rhetoric, and let the police do their jobs ... who knows we may just end up with another politician saying that they 'woke up three times thinking about the poor falsely accused pensioner couple' ... stranger things have happened.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Botch Jobs

The news out of China isn't all about unprecedented economic growth, and environmental collapse - no, it includes other news, such as a tale of a botched art restoration job, in which local communist officials in the city of Chaoyang, instructed to restore some Buddhist frescoes, handed the work to a local firm, who apparently had no experience in art restoration work. So when they looked at the inside of the 270-year-old temple in the north-eastern province of Liaoning, and saw the frescoes (dated to the early period Qing Dynasty), they apparently decided that the best thing to do was put up new frescoes.

However, they also decided that rather than stick to that Buddhist nonsense, it would be better to put new murals up. Maybe with cartoon-like Taoist figures for the kiddies?

Buddhist frescos - Replaced by Taoist Cartoons - Conservation Gone Wrong

So that’s what they went with .... Gone are the ancient murals and now we have cartoon land. Cue outrage ....

Kinda reminds one of the Spanish pensioner, Cecilia Gimenez, who 'restored' a prized Jesus Christ fresco 'Ecce Homo' (Behold The Man), by Elias Garcia Martinez in the 'Sanctuary of Mercy Church' near Zaragoza.  She did such a poor job that it became an Internet and tourist sensation and led her to demand royalties for her work ...

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) Before Full Deterioration

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) Fully Deteriorated

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) If Properly Conserved

Ecce Simia (Behold the Ape) by Cecilia Gimenez

I doubt that these Chinese boys will get such Internet accolades ...... but maybe its not exactly their fault either. Many local councils in 'old' countries such as China, Spain, Greece and Italy, those with long histories, are expected to maintain hundreds or thousands of works of art and cultural items, whilst receiving virtually no help to do so.

Many of us want to see the ruins in foreign parts, but come back and live in modernity - but this not always an easy mix to achieve for the locals where the antiques exist, but not without a great deal of money ..... restoration work can be something of a nightmare for those councils overloaded with history.

The Things Men Do

There is probably one thing that most women can agree with, and that's that 'men are the same the world over'. And in those three quarters of the world where women are free, and alcohol is allowed, there is no greater reason for men to lie, than to make excuses for 'having a drink with the lads'.

But in the annals of male excuses for this event, I suspect that even in the ports of Europe, no man has ever used the excuse of mermaids as a reason for a piss up, but certainly not in a land locked country. However, in what I can only continue to consider a world first, the builders of two irrigation pump reservoirs near Gokwe and Mutare  in Zimbabwe, downed tools, claiming that they were being 'menaced by mermaids'. Apparently this belief in mermaids, aka Njuzu, is very strong in Zimbabwe, where they are supposed to have supernatural powers and are bad Juju

Pictures of Zimbabwe Mermaids aka Njuzu are circulating the Internet

The water resources minister Samuel Nkomo reported that "All the officers I have sent vowed not to go back there, we even hired whites thinking that our boys did not want to work but they also returned".

The solution? Ah, well, this is where many women would share a knowing glance, the minister suggested that they would solve the problem the African way by "brewing a traditional beer to carry out rites to appease the spirits" .... well we all know what those special rites are, don't we lads, 'wink'.

A Breath Of Fresh Air

In case you weren't aware of it, the world is going to hell in a hand cart, and just in case you aren't convinced, here's a little news snippet that you may have missed.

On the 18th October 2013, the World Health Organisation issued a communique, which bluntly said that the very air we breath is officially classified as 'carcinogenic' (alongside cigarette smoke) ..... now I have to qualify that startling statement, essentially they are reporting that 223,000 people per year die from lung cancer attributed solely to breathing polluted air.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer confirmed that outdoor air pollution would from now on be classified in its group 1 of carcinogens, which ranks it alongside more than 100 other known cancer causing substances such as Asbestos and Plutonium. A spokesman for the I.A.R.C said that "The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer causing substance". 

Many people in China can attest to this as being a fact ..... the city of Harbin is regularly wreathed in pollution smog for days on end.

Harbin In China - Blanketed In Smog

... and in Beijing, air pollution regularly soars to hazard levels ..... the cost of fast progress has been very heavy in that country, a cost for which they haven't received the final butchers bill.  And as if that news wasn't bad enough, there is also apparently compelling evidence that the air pollution is now increasing the number of incidences of bladder cancer.

So goodbye to the great outdoors as a breath of fresh air, and hello to face masks ..

Face Masks - Not Fresh Air In The Future

... we are already in the first stages of the world of 'Soylent Green', but many don't know it yet.

Hyperbole, Spin, And Outright Lies

What is it with the Middle East, and Arabs in particular, that makes them describe every event that affects them with hyperbole? Earlier in the year, the Turkish Prime Minister was using crazy terms such as 'hooligans', 'foreign (read Israeli) plots' and 'terrorists' to describe opponents to his high handed regime. Now we have the late terrorist leader Yasser Arafat's widow reacting to the faint possibility that he had been poisoned by radioactive Polonium-210 by describing it as "the crime of the century".

The actual report that she uses to support this outlandish claim states that 'the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium 210.'

He actually died following brain haemorrhage. But that's not good enough for his followers who must conjure a conspiracy out of every vulture flying over their heads. Of course, the Polonium, if it was being used as a poison had to be administered by someone close to him ...... ah well, best skip past that 'fact' as inconvenient, so perhaps not unexpectedly Palestinian officials have already said that there is only one suspect, Israel, and called for a new international inquiry into Arafat's death.

Yasser Arafat - The Usual Conspiracies Abound.

Why? What's so important about Arafat? Nothing, and as for Polonium, well while Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive substance, it is also found naturally in low doses in food, and in the human body, but like everything else is dangerous in very high dosages - it was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, but in much higher quantities than was found in Arafat's remains ....and Arafat died of a stroke following a brain haemorrhage.

And they wonder why many of us consider them to deserve little support or sympathy. As the Israelis said 'more soap opera than science'.

Triva: Talking of science and facts, the last mechanical rover on the Moon, the 840kg (1,900lb) Soviet vehicle known as 'Lunokhod-2', was kept warm by polonium-210 .... and not a lot of people know that!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Yeti Nother One Bites The Dust

It was with a tinge of sadness that I read the story about the death of the 'Yeti' – or rather the death of the dream of there being a Yeti.

Apparently, it’s just an unusual and probably large brown bear, closely related to the polar bear. Its habitat in the forests on the slope of the Himalayas etc probably account for its occasionally unusual behaviour (for a bear) of walking upright, and that has caused it to be attributed as a Yeti / Abominable Snowman, rather then being recognised as a bear …. Or at least that’s the hypothesis of the scientist who has performed the latest DNA tests on ‘Yeti’ hairs brought down from the high forests.

Big Foot or Bear or a_Bush

Still this is better than the last lot of DNA tests, which said it was a 'Himalayas Goat' …. So we are heading in the right direction with a bear.

Still I can’t help being disappointed that the only major cryptological animal (Sea Monsters, Thunderbirds, Giant snakes etc) that I actually thought might be real, has apparently finally been found to be something rather more mundane.  On the other hand ... 'Jurassic Park' could be back on the drawing board. It seems that they've finally found a fossilized mosquito full of prehistoric blood!

I am not holding my breath, but hey after the death of the Yeti, at least this is a bit of good news.

I.T Dinosaur

'Flossie' the Dinosaur is to be brought back to life …. That got your attention didn’t it? Visions of a T Rex or Brontosaurus flooded your imagination, as your minds eye version of ‘Jurassic Park’ kicked in … and yes I know there is no such dinosaur as a ‘Brontosaurus’ … but there was when I was kid!

No, this particular ‘Dinosaur’ is the Information Technology version of a dinosaur – the 'ICT 1301', which was one of the first commercial large mainframe computers produced for businesses, and originally used to produce exam results for students at the University of London in the 1960’s.

It should be noted for historical purposes that the original valve computers were so large and hot that T.J. Watson of IBM allegedly said that "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers", which although never proven as a quote, makes the point about what a breakthrough the ICT 1301 and other similar machines were. Indeed you wouldn’t be looking at this on your, desktop PC, Laptop, Tablet or Smart phone if not for this breakthrough. 

Now ‘The National Museum of Computing’ has taken delivery of what’s believed to be, the last ‘working model’ left in the world of this particular computing dinosaur  … or rather it will be when they get it rebooted and running again in about 3 yrs time. It was originally saved from destruction, when a bunch of Nerds and Geek students bought it at scrap prices, and one of them stored it on a farm. 

ICT 1301 aka "Flossie" Had An Interesting Life

Strangely this model type has a bit of movie glamour, as its ‘computer looks’ meant that models featured in shows such as Doctor Who, the Pink Panther and the James Bond movie 'The Man with the Golden Gun', which all featured ICT 1301's as props …..  Now if only it was programmed to sign autographs the museum could be on a winner. 

Rotten Boroughs

A long time ago we had in the UK what were called 'rotten boroughs', which were parliamentary electoral seats that had a very small electorate, and could easily be bought by a prospective Member of Parliament in elections. These boroughs were eventually abolished and a reformed House of Parliament was elected, but we have developed in the 21st century a new version of these 'rotten boroughs', and that is the 'one party rule' borough councils.

These councils are a feature of the landscape in many areas of England, and also in Wales and Scotland (although in Scotland the rise of the SNP, has both lurched politics further to the left - if that's possible - and stirred up a brew that had long been becalmed for decades. And which the Scottish Labour Party totally misread when they adopted Scottish devolution as a vote winning policy). But where they particularly thrive is in the heady mix of a virtually one party dictatorships, combined with racial vote politics, that so many of the London councils now exhibit.

Welcome To Tower Hamlets

Take for example the London council of Tower Hamlets, something of a byword for political correctness driven incompetence, and now seemingly financial mismanagement. Recently they have been faced with having to make cutbacks of £100 million over the next three financial years, out of a £1.2 billion budget.

So what did they decide to do? Well one 'trick' was to consider axing the post of Chief Executive Officer, but in the meantime they needed someone to take the role of CEO on a temporary basis, while it was decided whether to phased it out .... but instead of taking someone from outside to cover the role for about 6 weeks, up steps one of their own, a man who was already on a reported salary of £119,000 pa in his role as 'corporate director for development and renewal' - what the hell that is in a council such as this, its hard to guess. It's in such a state that it even while it operates 'Foodbanks' for the poor, a councillor from another London council (Newham), has claimed that the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, is still "maintaining a personal limousine that collects his dry cleaning.” ... so much for cutbacks at the top.

Anyway, their (ex) corporate director for development and renewal, takes on the role for a total of 46 days, and is reported to have been paid £115,000, which in itself is obscene for a council making cuts, but then, when the decision was confirmed that the temporary role had ended, he threatened to sue for (racial?) discrimination because he hadn't been given the role on a full time basis - even though Labour councillors were amongst those who blocked his appointment. Rather than dismiss his claims, the council paid him another lump sum to drop the case, to take the total payout he received to a reported £256k for just 46 days work. Then to crown a miserable set of actions, they gave him back his pensionable role of 'corporate director for development and renewal'' .... nice work if you can get it.

In another council and another age, this sort of activity would likely have resulted in the council being suspended, maybe the police being called in, and probably the wipe out of the ruling party in new elections .... but this is 2013, London, and Tower Hamlets, where the normal rules of probity hardly apply ... so nothing has happened, and apart from a few raised eyebrows, this sort of dubious financial management is just accepted ..... By the way, this is not the first time the corporate director for development and renewal and Mayor have been in the news. In May 2012 their were allegations of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets. In fact four separate news organisations – the newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, and the Evening Standard, and TV channels the BBC, and City AM – all reported to have uncovered evidence of postal vote harvesting, ghost voters, impersonation, or all of the above, in Tower Hamlets - both gentlemen featured in the reports.

What does this all lead too, apart from the obvious management issues and lack of accountability? Well Tower Hamlets is also becoming known for its production of 'Jihadists' such as "Talha," a Muslim from Tower Hamlets who was killed last November, while fighting for the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab .... before his death, he appeared in a recruitment video aimed at others in the borough. "All the Muslims in Britain, especially the people of Tower Hamlets, the citadel I was born in. I call upon you to come to jihad" was the video message .... no doubt others will go. Apparently one of the drivers for this, is the complete lack of development projects and jobs in Tower Hamlets, as one Muslim resident said "Growing up in Tower Hamlets, there wasn't much to do. No-one had any money. There were hardly any youth centres. Young men just hung around on the streets getting into mischief. It was like no-one cared about us." .... and the corporate director for development and renewal continues to get a handsome salary as 'corporate director for development and renewal'' ... hmm.

We need a root and branch reform of these new rotten boroughs, but while some political parties continue to derive some support from these areas, you'll see nothing happen soon ...... Welcome again to 'Broken Britain'.

A Lost Age Of Innocence

A BBC Picture - In A More Innocent Age

The main picture above shows a front row from left of Peter Powell, Jimmy Savile, Dave Lee Travis, Noel Edmonds, Paul Gambaccini, Simon Bates, David 'Kid' Jenson, and a bit of either Tony Blackburn or Alan Leslie "Fluff" Freeman - all working for the BBC as Disc Jockeys in the 1960's and onwards.

A Rogues Gallery - 11 men, 6 accused of Sex crimes.

However when you look at the same picture with the hindsight of the last two years news, then an age of innocence is stripped away. I have added three more pictures of performers from the same period .... the bottom three are performers or ex BBC staff, Jonathon King (Presenter), Chris Denning (DJ), and Rolf Harris (Performer).

  • Jimmy Savile - Dead mass paedophile.
  • Dave Lee Travis - Arrested and charged with several counts of indecent or sexual assault - denied the allegations. Update: He was found guilty by a majority verdict of 10–2 of indecently assaulting a female researcher working on the Mrs Merton Show in 1995. On Friday 26 September 2014, he was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years.
  • Paul Gambaccini - Arrested on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of an investigation by Operation Yewtree in the United Kingdom - denied the allegations. Update: It was announced on 10 October 2014 that no charges would be brought.
  • Jonathan King, was convicted of multiple sex crimes against boy minors and who was only caught when another former BBC radio 1 DJ, Chris Denning was arrested and charged with a string of sex offences against boys - he was known to King, and the police connected both to the grooming offences being committed at a disco known as the 'Walton Hop'.
  • Former BBC radio 1 DJ, Chris Denning was arrested yet again as part of the Operation Yewtree in the United Kingdom - Denning helped launched the career of Gary Glitter (another convicted sex offender) and later moved overseas. Update: In December 2014, Denning was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.
  • Sadly even Rolf Harris has been arrested and charged with historic paedophile offences against young girls. Update: He was found guilty of all 12 counts of indecent assault and sentenced to a total of five years and nine months in prison for the offences. 

These may not even be last of the arrests of men all seemingly connected with the entertainment industry  ...... they were part of the background to mine and many others childhoods in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, and these arrests have stripped away many happy childhood memories. Sadly its not just the children who were allegedly abused whose lives were ruined, but a whole memory of an age of innocence has been wiped out for a generation, by the apparent activities of these men.

Friday, 1 November 2013

World Gone Nuts

If there was anything that drives me more nuts than anything else in the crazy world we now live in, then its the collapse of common sense in favour of a litigious blame someone else (anyone else) culture. This of course has been driven by ambulance chasing legal weasels, for whom there is always someone to sue (even with no case), because the hardship of litigation may make the innocent pay up, and in any case, with 'no win, no fee' lawyers, there's hardly any cost to making a claim these days.

It's an illness that's infected us as fully as the US, with adverts on UK TV offering no fee claims on every night. I would close 75% of the law courses in the UK to stop these cockroaches breeding in numbers .....

All this has led to ridiculous disclaimers and warnings everywhere you look, as personal responsibility is diminished in public life ..... Here's an example from my local pub .....

A Packet Of Peanuts - Salted

A simple packet of salted peanuts .... it even comes with a picture of the expected contents.

Now most of us would agree that it couldn't be more plain what you had purchased, and what was in the packet. But no, not for lawyers, because somewhere (probably in the USA), someone with a nut allergy has managed to buy a packet of peanuts and somehow convinced a jury of imbeciles, aka their peers (it must have been the deep south), that they had then eaten these nuts, not knowing what they were, and that the allergy attack they suffered was the sellers of the peanuts fault!

Yes, they must have, because other than that explanation, how else can you explain this .... 

Peanuts - Contains Nuts

Yes, a packet of Peanuts contains nuts ..... there's almost nothing I can say.

We live in a western world that has gone plain nuts, and we deserve the slow collapse that our societies are undergoing. And before anyone tells me that we live in a better society than ever, I'll simply point out that when the Ostrogoth Germans under Theodoric the Great took over Italy in 523AD, after the Western Roman Empire had collapsed, there were Roman writers who were still insisting that the world was actually getting better. They were just too close to events to be able to see that in fact the lights were going out, and that they were in the twilight of their own world. Fifty years later it was extinguished in the West.

There are websites that allegedly list more of these warnings or instructions for idiots - these below are just a small selection - there are many, many, more, examples out there:

WARNING - VERY LONG LIST - REST YOUR EYES IF DROWSY OR TIRED!
 
On Sears hair dryer:
Do not use while sleeping.

On a bag of Fritos:
You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.

On a bar of Dial soap:
Directions: Use like regular soap.

On some Swanson frozen dinners:
Serving suggestions: Defrost.

Printed on the bottom of Tesco Tiramisu dessert:
Do not turn upside down.

On Marks and Spencer Bread Pudding:
Product will be hot after heating.

On packaging for a Rowenta iron:
Do not iron clothes on body.

On Boot's Children's Cough Medicine:
Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.

On Nytol Sleep Aid:
Warning: May cause drowsiness.

On most brands of Christmas lights:
For indoor or outdoor use only.

On a Japanese food processor:
Not to be used for the other use.

On an American Airlines packet of nuts:
Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.

On a child's Superman costume:
Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

On a Swedish chain saw:
Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.

On a toboggan:
Beware: Sledge may develop high speed under certain snow conditions.

On a knife sharpener:
Caution: knives are sharp.

On shin pads for cyclists:
Shin guards cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.

On any takeaway coffee cup:
Caution: Hot beverages are hot.

Emergency safety procedures at a US summer camp:
In case of flood, proceed uphill. In case of flash flood proceed uphill quickly.

In a microwave oven manual:
Do not use for drying pets.

On the back of a pilot's seat in a Nato aircraft:
Seat must be facing forward for take-off and landing.

On the bottom of a cola bottle:
Do not open here.

On a Harry Potter wizards broom:
This broom does not actually fly.

On a box of aspirin:
Do not take if allergic to aspirin.

On a bottle of laundry detergent:
Remove clothing before distributing in washing machine.

On a muffin packet:
Remove wrapper, open mouth, insert muffin, eat.

In a kettle instruction manual:
The appliance is switched on by setting the 'ON/OFF' button to the 'ON' position.

On a ketchup bottle:
Instructions: Put on food.

On a bottle of rum:
Open bottle before drinking.

A car park sign:
Entrance only. Do not enter.

A sign in a street in Hong Kong:
Beware of people.

Rules on a tram in Prague:
Beware! To touch these wires is instant death. Anyone found doing so will be persecuted.

Sign on newly-renovated ramp entrance, USA:
Take care: new non-slip surface.

On a can of air freshener:
For use by trained personnel only.

On a bottle of baby lotion:
Keep away from children.

On a pair of socks bought in Egypt:
Do not wash.

On a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle:
Some assembly required.

On a can of pepper spray used for self defence:
May irritate eyes.

In a car handbook:
In order to get out of car, open door, get out lock doors, and then close doors.

On a packet of cashew nut pieces:
Warning: This product may contain residue of nuts.

Directions for mosquito repellent:
Replacing battery: replace old battery with a new one.

On a birthday card for a one year old:
Not suitable for children aged under 36 months or less.

In a hotel bedroom:
Please do not turn on TV except when in use.

On a toilet cleaning brush:
Do not use orally.

On a can of Spray paint:
Do not spray in your face.

On a TV remote:
Not Dishwasher safe.

On a blowtorch:
Not used for drying hair.

On a washing machine inn a launderette:
No small children.

On a bottle of hair dye:
Do not use as Ice Cream topping.

On a push along lawn mower:
Not to be used as a hedge trimmer.

On a box of fireworks:
Do not put in mouth.

On the packaging for a wrist watch:
Warning this is not underwear! Do not attempt to put in pants.

In a dishwasher manual:
Do not allow children to play in dishwasher.

On a toaster:
Do not use underwater.

On a mattress:
Do not attempt to swallow.

Two Wongs Still Make A Wong

My favourite story for a long time has just come along, I say 'favourite' for a number of reasons, but principally because it allowed me to pun horrendously in the post title.

Still the story has some merits, as it concerns a part of the world where political correctness has yet to get even a fingernail, and as its a very ancient culture, it may never do so. Anyway 'Auntie' as the BBC is sometimes known, has got her drawers in a fluster (along with tweeters and micro bloggers, in fact everywhere where humour extractions via a backside has occurred).

Beijing Police With Advice For The Ladies

And the reason for all these knickers in a twist? Well the Chinese police in Beijing, in what is seemingly meant to be a bit of good friendly advice for their lady readers, used their micro blog site to identify what they regard as common driving mistakes among women. First mistake, the title:

"Female drivers, please pay attention and avoid driving mistakes" .... Snappy.

Then straight to the heart of the matter:

"The handbrake is normally used to keep the car stationary. A lot of new female drivers often start to drive in a hurry without releasing the handbrake. This increases resistance to the car and results in consuming more fuel." .... Good Advice, I have done it myself!

"Some female drivers lack a sense of direction and are often hesitant as to which roads to take.
"This is particularly so when [they] drive on roads such as elevated bridges. They often can't find the entrance or the exit. They can't remember how to find places which they have been to several times." .... Obviously Tom Tom and Garmin haven't made it yet, and in any event there must be swathes of China where road maps are banned ... let alone GPS.

Advice is also forthcoming on women's braking abilities and jerky acceleration techniques ..... the responses on the site have been largely negative .... Quelle Surprise!! I'll add only one further observation which is that tonight, I drove 6 miles behind a woman in the dark - she had no lights on, and was oblivious to other drivers flashing her. Quelle Surprise indeed!

A Forgotten Man

Had you ever heard of Sean Lester? No, well neither had I.

In fact like most people, I have hardly heard of the ‘League of Nations’, the precursor to the modern 'United Nations'. It was set up after World War I in 1919 and was largely the dream of the US President Woodrow Wilson, but was probably doomed from the start (it had no armed forces, or commitment from ‘the great powers’ to back its resolutions with armed force) – its maximum membership was just 58 member nations.

By the 1930’s, the Axis powers; Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain and others, started leaving and the organization collapsed as the world geared up for WWII.

So who was Sean Lester? Well amongst other things, he was the last Secretary General of the League of Nations, and probably the last person to tell Adolf Hitler ‘No’  in Germany, while he was 'High Commissioner' in the Baltic port of Danzig (which the Germans wanted back under German control) … he opposed Nazi attempts to limit freedom of speech, and he criticised moves by Hitler to silence his political opponents. He was eventually removed from his post as 'High Commissioner' by a combination of events and the Nazis, and spent the war years in Geneva, where he was installed as the last Secretary-General of the League of Nations, before the United Nations was created in 1945.

Sean Lester Last Secretary General League of Nations

Western history never completely forgets these figures, and there are moves afoot to commemorate this Ulsterman’s life with a street name or plaque, here and there ….

Lost Generation

The political cowardice of earlier UK governments, particularly that of Tony Blair, who had to make the decision in the mid 1990's, but kicked the can down the road, in not committing the UK to a generation of Nuclear power station renewal, has not only cost us our national pride - we have had to ask the French with Chinese backing, to build the next one, after all our world expertise was lost, with a generation of non building - but its also lead to the almost certain fact that the UK will be facing power blackouts in any bad winter in the next decade or so.

UKs Fuel and Power Sources
 
Our collapse as a major industrial power, is linked very closely to the inability of the UK to build major projects, from Nuclear to Railways, Motorways, to Airports ..... but the failure to secure the nations power supplies is tantamount to a gross betrayal of the very reason we vote for politicians. We are now in such a mess, that far from promoting the 'green' agenda that the anti-nuclear factions expected when blocking the nuclear option, they have in fact; not only forced the current government to go nuclear at a very much greater cost (double the normal tariff rate for 10 years), than a planned 30 year renewal program would have done; but also to consider reducing the green tariffs in fuel bills (to try and stop the elderly dying); and now finally we may actually have to turn back to coal .... yes coal the very cause of the green house gases.

Apparently we may have to reopen or extend the working lives of coal plants (still 40% of our electric supply), in order to stave off the blackouts because none of our shiftless politicians know who will get the blame as we huddle in the freezing dark. And for sure we will blame someone, and it should be those, who knowingly put off the decisions that they were voted in to power to take .....

What a mess, and all because we have no real national strategic priorities over building the necessary infrastructure the majority of us want and use .... never mind the tiny little pressure groups who seem to hold our politicians in their sway and the rest of the country in their thrall, they need to grow some backbones, and do what has to be done for the good of us all, not the one issue nutters.

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