Archive for June, 2006

Pneumatic judge gets a stiff one


In the awed silence of judge Donald D Thompson’s (DDT) courtroom, the distraught and tearful grandfather of a murdered toddler testifies at the trial of the man accused of the crime.

Court reporter Lisa Foster becomes aware of an unfamiliar sh-sh-shing sound, which she traces to the judge’s bench…

Read the full story

Just call her, man…

This follows up another post in another of my blogs, only I’m not making it clickable so if you want to read it first, call Agatha.

Go ahead, you know what to do.

That’s a telling piece of linguistics isn’t it?

Think about the phrase: “You know what to do”.

Do you?

You live in a liberal-leftist sort of society and things are, you know, quite cool.

At least, for forty or fifty or so years you’ve been propagandised to feel that they should be.

Then, with seeming suddenness, another bogey-man raises his hand, starts bombing and killing, politicising and radicalising young Muslim men and, generally, making life feel less safe than they told you it should be.

After all, they fought wars so you could be free from this threat.

People died, man, good Americans, and British folk, some French, and a few million Jews. 

This new threat is hard to categorise: “We got rid of the fascists” (some would say), “We dealt with the communist menace” (was it ever there?)!

So, do you know what to do?

Yeah, sure, you know what to do, man.

Wait a minute; I feel a certain circularity coming on.

So, what am I talking about?

I begin to wonder.

Everyone seems to be worried about religion taking over politics and fundamentalists being in control of (our?) oil, when really what we ought to be more concerned about is eradicating the influence of religion (and I’m not talking Islam here) on politics and decreasing our dependency on oil.

Perhaps we should be more concerned with what’s going to happen when our water runs out, when we can’t grow things anymore…

What will we do, drink petrol?

Smoke diesel?

Call Agatha…

Go on, just call her, man…

Going Dutch


I've always liked the Dutch, you know, their common sense attitude towards drugs and sex etc.

But get this: registered smack-heads (Heroin addicts) will soon be earning money.

What for?

For being smack-heads, that's what for.

New participants in the Heroin dispensation project (yeah, they already get the drugs free) will earn up to 56 Euros per week if they provide urine samples that are negative for cocaine.

A spokesperson for the MDHG, a kind of junkies' union, says that, whilst almost no-one limits themselves to just heroin, and coke is the most important drug to heroin users after heroin itself, "This bribery brings interesting questions".

I can think of a few myself.

For example, is a habit now considered a real job? Will there be benefits like a pension, savings plans, paid holidays? How does the pay scale work – the bigger your habit the higher the wage? Are there overtime opportunities? Prospects for advancement? And what happens if you become unfit for work?

I've always liked the Dutch.

May I introduce to you…


There is a sector of society (let's, for the sake of argument, call it the British w**king class), which holds that the American sense of humour is bereft of irony.

I believe the following comment, written in response to one of my posts by my buddy Mike E, whose excellent blog, The Open Container Speedway, I heartily recommend, dispels that myth:

Just watched the France/Korea match, and I actually was kind of wondering – do all these people all of a sudden love the crap out of their countries, or are they always like that? Couldn't figure it out…

My mom was rooting for France, for no particular reason, which I thought was unconsciously racist (France=white, Korea=brown), but kept that opinion to myself and settled in to watch the game.

I rooted for Korea because I think French people are stupid.

Down on it.

Are we there yet?


Three years into a war in the country and after 2400 military deaths there, nearly two-thirds of 18 to 24 year old Americans cannot find Iraq on a map – of the Middle East.

And there's more:

"Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.

Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.

Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.

Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.

Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.

Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.

Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.

Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.

Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico."

Source: The Associated Press

(almost) Live at Leeds


Last Saturday saw the revival of a legendary gig in the refectory at Leeds University students' union.

Only 50% of the original line up took the stage but the audience, mostly in their 50s and 60s, didn't seem to mind.

Pete townsend, 61, and Roger Daltry, 62, looked more than slightly ridiculous as they ran through their back catalogue supported by a 6 piece band, which included Zac Starkey behind the drums, and session-man Pino Paladino on bass.

Townsend, portly and grey-bearded, executed his windmill act enthusiastically enough, and Daltry's voice has retained it's edge (although the shorts and blue ankle socks were less than rock n roll) but it was nothing that couldn't have been achieved more convincingly by a dozen tribute bands.

In short it was all a bit sad.

One recalls the lyric "hope I die before I get old", and regrets it was not more prophetic.

After the gig Townsend said he had suddenly woken up and realised that, although Keith Moon and John Entwistle were long gone, The Who was now a "brand" rather than a band, and it was time to exploit it.

"We played the Hollywood Bowl and nobody asked for their money back," he said, unable to totally disguise his astonishment.

Well, I had a meal in an expensive restaurant the other day.

The vegetables were over-cooked and the steak under-done, but I didn't demand a refund; I just didn't eat it.

The two pensioners embark on a 21 date European festival tour later this month.

I wish them luck.

The Rolling Stones can still perform their brand of wasted R&B and get away with it; but The Who at it's height wasn't just a band, it was a youth movement, and these two old guys just can't cut that kind of mustard anymore.



I'm out  for a beer the other day.

England is playing against some other team and all the bars are televising it, you know, it's the World Cup thing?

So, I'm ordering a drink and this guy starts talking to me about football – soccer, for my Transatlantic buddies – and I tell him to feck off and get a life.

Like I've said a hundred times before in more posts and on more websites than I've got webbed fingers:


Listen, I have friends who love it, for the skill involved and, sometimes, the politics and… whatever.

I can dig that.

But it's the flags and the fake patriotism I can't hack.

The St George Cross to me is just another Fascist symbol, football or no football.

And everybody dresses up in ill-fitting "strips"; and some of them drape the flags around them and trip over them, and get upset when their mates vomit over them…

And an hour after the game no one knows who won.

In other words, it's a feck up, and it's got absolutely feck-all to do with sport, or me, or my life.

Anyway, turns out I know this guy; we were at university together, well not exactly "together", you understand, rather we were there at the same time?

So, after the big recognition scene, we get around to talking about the door marked "Death Studies" on the philosophy corridor of the Trent Building (Humanities) at Nottingham University.

I can't recall which of us mentions it first, we're in a pub and I'm drunk, and it's the World Cup…

But both our faces turn the proverbial whiter shade of the pale variety. 

You see, only one person had ever entered the door marked "Death Studies" and no one had ever come out.

The cleaners said the door had always been locked and the room was not on the cleaning rota.

The teaching staff of the philosophy department strongly denied the existence of a "Death Studies" module and, as far as anyone was aware, there were no "Death" students.

But to this day, neither my football-fan friend nor I have seen anything of Michael Bow, of Chelmsford, Essex, UK, although we both saw him enter the room.

Parallel Lines


It was Queen Elizabeth’s birthday on April 21. Yesterday she celebrated for a second time, with a lunchtime shindig at London's Mansion House.

Speaking after the meal she delighted guests with the Groucho Marx one-liner: "Anyone can get old, all you have to do is live long enough." 

Now, I didn’t write much about it on her real birthday and I’m not going to now. There’re just a couple of things, however, I’d like to get off my chest.

Did you know the Queen owns all the whales, dolphins, porpoises and sturgeons in the waters around the UK?

That she has sat for 139 official portraits, opened 15 bridges, launched 23 ships and sent her first e-mail in 1976?

And were you aware that buried somewhere on the moon is a microfilmed message from the Queen addressed to any alien life forms who might come across it?

When Dennis Gear, born on the same day as the illustrious lady, went into Borocourt asylum at 16, because he was “unruly”, they gave him a pair of wooden clogs, a tin plate, a mug and a spoon.

They didn’t have TV or radio, so in the evening he and the other inmates would play games.

“For supper we had cocoa and rock cake,” said Dennis. “In the afternoons we had a big dinner that was served through the hatch.”

Dennis ran away once but “a policeman caught me and brought me back.”

He was released from the hospital in 1984 having spent 40 years of his life there.

On April 21 He celebrated his birthday at the Phab Day Centre at Mount Pleasant in Reading. He watched John Wayne movies with his friends.

I dare say living long enough to get old has been a bit harder for him than it's been for the Queen.



Truth is important to us, it's what we all strive for. But what is it, and how do we know when we've arrived at it? […] 

Read complete article.


Imagine there's a small town somewhere out in the weeds. Call it "Raggedy End" or "Shimmering Stone", "Dodge City" or Nottingham, London, Barnsley, New York…

I've got it – let's call it "Slippery Slope".

Now let's take it out of the weeds and place it in the secret centre of "Your Town Anywhere", USA, UK or U Name It.

It exists, it's a city within a city, it's "Cop Town" and the potential for gradual deterioration of moral inhibitions hits you as soon as you arrive, the perceived sense of permissibility for deviant conduct is in the air you inhale at the coach stop as you wait to collect your bags.

There are cops everywhere. This is where they live, where they rest, where they internalise the conditions in which they work, conditions that don't measure up to the rigours of the usual comfort zones, the ones to which we normal people have become accustomed.

In Slippery Slope cops can be cops.

Undercover work?

False identity and crime inducement?

Every day activities, my son, like taking the kids to school or mowing the lawn.

Feeding disinformation to the media?

Making false promises to hostage takers and kidnappers?

Interviewing witnesses with a hidden agenda?

Employing deceptive interrogation techniques?

Making all kinds of excuses to avoid responding to "difficult to solve" crime reports?

Trading days off?

Selling desireable work assignments?

All quotidian aspects of life as a cop in Slippery Slope.

Imagine being a cop: you don't make much money but you've got a heck of a lot of power.

So you learn how to play the game, how to angle yourself into cases requiring court appearances so you can put in for the overtime, how to strain the truth in order (at first) to protect loved ones and crime victims to whom you're sympathetic, how to bend those skills towards more profitable activity.

"Come on, all the guys do it, it's called being a cop, for feck sake what you gonna do?

"You come across more cash on a narcotics bust than the gross national product of some small countries… You gonna hand it over?

"No way, my friend, I'll tell you what your gonna do, what you gotta do.

"It's called the Four-way Shakedown. First you secure the cash, spread some of it around to make sure your buddies are sweet; then you seize the product; then you sell the product; then you arrest your customers for buying the product…

"That's what cops do, son, and in Slippery Slope you don't have to feel bad about it, any of it.

Routine invasion of privacy via covert surveillance?

It's like going to the bathroom.

Behaviour inconsistent with norms, values or ethics?

What norms? What values? What ethics?

Forbidden acts involving misuse of office for gain?

Oh yeah!

Wrongdoings, violations of departmental procedure?

Only way to get the job done, son.

Unfair bias towards family or friends?

Well if you can't look after your own, right…?"   

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