Sunday, 24 December 2006

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Tim Hardin - Blacksheep Boy.

Tim Hardin (December 23, 1941 – December 29, 1980) was a United States folk musician and composer who was a part of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene and performer at the Woodstock Festival.

Hardin was born in Eugene, Oregon. He dropped out of high school at age 18 to join the Marine Corps. After his discharge he moved to New York City in 1961, where he briefly attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was dismissed because of truancy and began to focus on his musical career by performing around Greenwich Village, mostly in a blues style.

After moving to Boston in 1963 he was discovered by the record producer Erik Jacobsen (later the producer for The Lovin' Spoonful), who arranged a meeting with Columbia Records. In 1964 he moved back to Greenwich Village to record for his contract with Columbia. The resulting recordings were considered a failure by Columbia, which chose not to release the material until 1969 as Tim Hardin IV.

His debut album, Tim Hardin 1, was released in 1966 on Verve Records. This album saw a transformation from his early traditional blues style to the folk that defined his recording career.

Tim Hardin (December 23, 1941 – December 29, 1980) was a United States folk musician and composer who was a part of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene and performer at the Woodstock Festival.

Hardin was born in Eugene, Oregon. He dropped out of high school at age 18 to join the Marine Corps. After his discharge he moved to New York City in 1961, where he briefly attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was dismissed because of truancy and began to focus on his musical career by performing around Greenwich Village, mostly in a blues style.

After moving to Boston in 1963 he was discovered by the record producer Erik Jacobsen (later the producer for The Lovin' Spoonful), who arranged a meeting with Columbia Records. In 1964 he moved back to Greenwich Village to record for his contract with Columbia. The resulting recordings were considered a failure by Columbia, which chose not to release the material until 1969 as Tim Hardin IV.

His debut album, Tim Hardin 1, was released in 1966 on Verve Records. This album saw a transformation from his early traditional blues style to the folk that defined his recording career. Wikipedia:

I 'discovered' Tim Hardin and his music when I was about 18 years old (almost 40 years ago) - this was thanks in part to a wonderful woman who ran the Premier Record Shop in Belfast's Smithfield Market. The record shop is still there but that wonderful woman (I never found out her name) no longer works there.She would stock records that other shops would not and the shop was a treasure trove of all sorts of good music including East Coast psychedelia as well as contemporary and classic American folk artists. She was also a mine of information about the records, the artists and their music and would never mind spending time imparting the same to youngsters such as myself.
Tim Hardin died the same year and month as John Lennon but his death was never considered newsworthy other than by people like myself. He was a man of great talent, he had a wonderful singing voice and his songs still sound as good now as they did all those years ago. 'Misty Roses' which I posted a couple of days ago has to be one of the best love songs ever and songs such as 'Black Sheep Boy' and 'Lady came from Baltimore' along with 'If I were a Carpenter' have become classics. Sadly his heroin addiction took control of his life and he died on December 29, 1980 in Los Angeles, of a heroin and morphine overdose.

Article: Reason to believe in Tim Hardin
Article and music clips

Friday, 22 December 2006

Aylmer, Quebec

My email.

Anything George Bush can do ......

Prime Minister Tony Blair - with 'angel' Katie Bennet - narrates the 'Greatest story ever told' as he joins the cast of the Nativity play during his visit to the Wingate SureStart Children s Centre, in his County Durham constituency.
This scene looks kind of familiar!

Man to appear in court over Ipswich murders

A 48-year-old charged with the murder of all five women in Ipswich is due to appear in court today.

He was charged last night with the murders of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24 and 29-year-old Annette Nicholls.

Wright was arrested early on Tuesday at his home.

The prime suspect in the hunt for the Suffolk Strangler was a workmate of lost estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, it was reported today (Thursday 21 Dec).

Steve Wright, 48, and Suzy were shipmates on the QE2 liner in the 1980s before she went missing in 1986.

Yesterday it also emerged that Wright was notorious among prostitutes as a cross-dresser.

He would wear high heels, a PVC skirt and a wig as he went looking for sex.

Wright was the landlord of a Norwich pub, the Ferry Boat Inn, in the 1980s where two other murdered women, Natalie Pearman, 16, and Michelle Bettles, 22, often drank.

Their killings in 1996 and 2002 are still unsolved.

Tina, 45, a former prostitute from Norwich, said Wright was 'strange'.
She added: 'I never did business with him – he just freaked me out so much. The police were aware of him because he sometimes scared the girls that much.'

She claimed Wright would dress as a woman, adding: 'He wore a wig, a PVC skirt and high heels.'
The revelations came after police were granted another 36 hours to question Wright about the deaths of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24 and 29- year-old Annette Nicholls.

Now what do you suppose is saying here?

First Post:
Questions will now be asked about police procedure and the behaviour of the British tabloids.

The use of a potentially prejudicial photo in the Sun will likely be raised when Wright comes to court.

Greek monks clash over monastery

At least seven Greek monks have been injured in clashes over a disputed monastery in Mount Athos.

Fighting broke out between rebel Esphigmenou monks occupying a monastery office and a rival group of legally-recognised monks.

Police said the fight - in which fire extinguishers and crowbars were used as weapons - left seven needing treatment.

The rebel monks, who oppose closer ties between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican, have ignored orders to leave. BBC:

Well I don't suppose there is a commandment that says 'Thou shalt not brain your brother monk with a crowbar' (c:=

Airports in NI return to normal

Flights leaving Northern Ireland are returning to normal after the delays and cancellations of the last two days.
However, dense fog is continuing to cause problems for Christmas holiday travellers at Heathrow and other UK airports.
Hundreds of domestic flights and some international flights are grounded.
British Airways said it expected its services at Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports to be affected well into the weekend.
Heathrow airport was worst affected on Thursday, but there were also problems at other airports.
However, the managers of George Best Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport said backlogs had gradually been cleared.
Good news for my daughter (I hope). YaY!
The Met Office has advised that the dense fog is set to continue over coming days. As a result passengers intending to fly in the next few days are likely to be heavily affected and we therefore strongly advise you to check with your airline before leaving for the airport.
Aberdeen flights to Heathrow remain the worst affected. .
... but bad news for Murray Walker!!

News - Air alert: Aberdeen and Inverness
Formula One racing commentator Murray Walker faced problems at Aberdeen Airport as he tried to fly to Heathrow. She said: "I hadn't known anything about it until we arrived at the airport." 10 Aug 2006

Quote of the day

"Celebrity can be malign in that it becomes a form of idolatry, and people live their lives vicariously through the rich and famous rather than attending to their own lives."

Who said this? .... answer here:

Thursday, 21 December 2006

'Thief' caught with her pants down

A woman suspected of shoplifting who tried to evade security guards was eventually caught with her pants down.

Read the full story here: with pic!

Cabbage promotion draws a crowd in Beijing

BEIJING: At 5:45 in the morning the cabbage line outside the Old Drum Tower Outer Street New People's Produce Market is nearly two hours old. First in line is a 72-year-old woman named Wang, who awoke at 3, arrived at 4 and would wait until 8:30 for a single head of winter cabbage. Free.

Cabbage, or bai cai, costs about 4 cents a head, so Wang's prize was not quite a free refrigerator. She did not mind. Nor did another retired matron who passed the time singing patriotic tunes and a shaky but enthusiastic English rendition of "Baa Baa Black Sheep." And neither did two elderly combatants who shouted at each other in unprintable Chinese for inexplicable reasons.

"They are just fighting because they have nothing better to do," explained Wang, who declined to provide her first name. "We all know each other. We're all old neighbors."

Cabbage and old people are civic institutions in Beijing. Winter brings them together. For generations the cabbage, known in the West by its Cantonese name of bok choy, has arrived in markets by November, and Beijingers have hoarded it as an insurance policy to last them until spring, depending on the outdoor refrigeration of rooftops or windowsills. Cabbage and turnips were the staples that saw people through the uncertain harvests and aching poverty of the Mao era.

But the markets are now overrun with enough fruits, vegetables and meats that cabbage, if still widely used, has become as unglamorous as old people — except to old people. The predawn line outside the Old Drum Tower market represents a marriage of convenience: Market managers give away cabbage to attract hordes of fixed-income old people in hopes that the spectacle will attract the curiosity of younger, more affluent commuters.

"It's a win-win situation," said Zhang Pinsheng, 68, a retired teacher. "The market doesn't have to spend money on advertising, and we don't have to spend money on cabbage."

They do have to wait in the predawn cold to collect a chunk of greenery of almost no value — or, for that matter, of almost no taste without sauce.

This year farmers grew so much cabbage that prices dipped to record lows in November, with markets charging only a few pennies a head.

Even so, when the Old Drum Tower market introduced its cabbage promotion in late November, the daily line soon stretched under two overpasses and past a new luxury hotel.

"If they were going to give away fish or eggs, the line would stretch all the way to Qianmen," a neighborhood several kilometers away, said Li Bao, a vendor inside the market. "People would start lining up at midnight."

The incentive for the hundreds of people who come each day is a blend of need, habit, boredom and a desire for companionship.

International Herald Tribune

Customs grab fake condoms

Any of you lads who are intending to PARTY over the holiday period - take heed!

More than 50,000 fake condoms were seized from a UK port on Wednesday, HM Customs and Excise said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned consumers to watch out for counterfeit Durex condoms which have already slipped through the net.

Officials were tonight going through the stash which was uncovered on a container ship at Felixstowe port.

The exact number and origin of the counterfeits is not yet known, HM Customs and Excise said. An MHRA spokeswoman said some fake Durex condoms had been found on sale in Essex.

The fakes were in the Durex Fetherlite, Gossamer and Performa varieties.

Durex is warning customers that the three types of condom with batch numbers 21405074 or TGL4142 on the packaging could be fakes.

It is advising customers not to use the condoms and to contact its care line for further advice.


Car Park Scam: Warning

I have heard of an email doing the rounds (though I haven't seen it yet) about people returning to their parked cars and after starting them realise that there is a piece of paper stuck on the rear window obstructing their view. The natural thing to do is get out to remove the paper and this is when the buggers strike - usually the keys have been left in the ignition so all the criminals/thugs/expletive deleted have to do is drive off and leave the poor bemused motorist standing.

This may be another urban legend but at this time of year (or any time of year for that matter) it does no harm to be extra careful. Remember there is always somebody out there trying to separate you from your property.

According to:

Status:False - Totally unsubstantiated
Example:(Submitted, December 2005)

(originated from [Name of Insurance Company Removed])

Be aware of a new car-jacking scheme. You walk across the car park, unlock your car and get inside, lock the doors, start the engine and select reverse. You look into the rear-view mirror to back out of your parking space and notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift back into park or neutral, unlock the doors and get out to remove the paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.When you reach the back of your car the car-jackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off. Your engine was running and you would have left your handbag or briefcase in the car.


Remember, if you see your rear view blocked like this just drive away and remove the paper later! It is stuck to your window!


Be thankful that you read this email and forward it to friends and family especially to women!



Santa kidnaps girl from shop

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
A man dressed as Santa Claus lured an eight-year-old girl on to his motorcycle and drove away in Georgia, US.

Her father gave chase until he rescued her. John Barton, 55, has been charged with kidnapping.

The girl's family had stopped at a convenience shop off an interstate highway when they met Barton refuelling his motorcycle.

He invited the children to come look at a stuffed Rudolph in his sidecar. Barton had been dressing up as Santa Claus for a few weeks.


Still a lot of evil out there ....

Triplets - from my two different wombs

Yes, you read the headline correctly. Hannah Kersey has beaten odds of 25million-to-one to deliver a most unusual family.

Indeed, Ms Kersey may be the first mother to give birth to surviving triplets from two wombs.
Identical twins Ruby and Tilly were delivered from one womb and their (non-identical) sister Gracie came out of the other.

The odds of a woman with two wombs having twins or two separate births is 5million to one. The odds of giving birth to triplets is 25million to one.

Baby expert Dr Simon Grant said he had never heard of a case like it, adding: 'About five per cent of women in Britain have a division of the womb to some degree but a complete dividing wall is at the rare end of the spectrum.'

Mum sues over ruined nude pics

Detail from an untitled work by photographer Sigmar Polke.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A German woman is suing a foster agency, after her teenage foster son ruined valuable naked photos of her - by comitting an act of self-love all over them.

Marietta Anton, 50, who now lives in Portugal's Algarve, was 25 when she was photographed naked by her boyfriend at the time, Sigmar Polke. After they split Polke went on to become a world famous artist, and the old pictures were valued at over £35,000.

But when Anton's 15-year-old foster son Mehmet found the old snaps, he thought he had unearthed a secret porn stack, and proceeded to do what teenage boys will do.

In news that seem likely to keep local psychiatrists busy for a while, he did not realise who the model was whilst enjoying himself with the pictures.

Despite work by art experts to restore the pictures, they were extensively damaged, and only made £8,000 at auction.

Anton is now suing the German child services organisation that placed Mehmet with her two years ago for the remaining value of the pictures. A court in Bonn will rule on the case on December 29.


Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Misty Roses

You look to me
Like misty roses
Too soft to touch
But too lovely
To leave alone.

If I could be
Like misty roses
I'd love you much
You're too lovely
To leave alone.

Flowers often cry
But too late to find
That their beauty has been lost
With their peace of mind.

You look to me
Like love forever
Too good to last
But too lovely
Not to try.

If I believed
In love forever
I'd forget the past
Cause you're just too lovely
Not to try.

Tim Hardin

Latest Fashion: Living in Cars!

A Belfast taxi driver, who was made homeless after a family row and who had been living out of his car for almost a year, is now preparing for a Christmas with a "proper roof" over his head.

The man who did not want to be identified is now living in a house he has rented from a friend.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Natasha Sayee he said: "This is now home, the gas fire is lit and it's great just being able to make someone a cup of tea.

"I am getting settled now, getting my life back on track, you can just see from the smile on my face that I am happy to have a roof over my head."

St. Lucia Day

St. Lucia Day (Sankta Lucia, also known as St. Lucy's Day) is a holiday dedicated to St. Lucy and is observed on December 13. It marks, together with Advent, the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia. It is celebrated in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy, Bosnia, and Croatia. Before the reform of the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, St. Lucy's Day fell on the winter solstice.

In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, Lucy (called Lucia) is venerated on December 13 in a ceremony where the eldest girl in a family, portraying Lucia, walks, with a crown of candles, ahead of a procession of other women holding a candle each. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take her life. The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia, still well-known through the recording by Enrico Caruso but, whereas the Italian lyrics describe the beautiful view from the harbour area Santa Lucia in Naples, the various Scandinavian lyrics are fashioned for the occasion, describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. Each Scandinavian country has their own lyrics in their native tongues although commonly it is the melody of Neapolitan which is used.

The Lucia procession in the home depicted by Carl Larsson in 1908 (illustration, above), the oldest daughter brings coffee and St. Lucia buns to her parents, while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter wears the candle-wreath.

The modern tradition of having public processions in the Swedish cities started in 1927 when a newspaper in Stockholm elected an official Lucia for Stockholm that year. The initiative was then followed around the country through the local press. Today most cities in Sweden appoint a Lucia every year; schools elect a Lucia and her maids among the students; and a national Lucia is elected on national television from regional winners. The regional Lucias will usually visit local shopping malls, old people's homes and churches, singing and handing out ginger snaps. Recently there was some discussion whether it was suitable if the national Lucia was not a blonde Caucasian, but it was decided that ethnicity should not be a problem, and in the year 2000 an adopted non-white girl was crowned the national Lucia


Tomte by Jenny Nystrom

A tomte or nisse is a mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore, believed to take care of a farmer's home and childs and protect it from misfortune, in particular at night, when the housefolk were asleep.

The tomte/nisse was often imagined as a small, elderly man (exact size varies from a few inches to about half the height of an adult man), often with a full beard; dressed in the everyday clothing of a farmer. However, there are also folktales where he is believed to be a shapeshifter able to take a shape far larger than an adult man, and other tales where the tomte/nisse is believed to have a single, cyclopean eye. Since he was thought to be skilled in illusions and able to make himself invisible, one was unlikely to get more than brief glimpses of him no matter what he looked like.

In the 1840's the farm's "nisse" became the bearer of Christmas presents in Denmark, and was then called "julenisse". In 1881, the Swedish magazine Ny Illustrerad Tidning published Viktor Rydberg's poem Tomten, where the tomte is alone awake in the cold Christmas night, pondering the mysteries of life and death. This poem featured the first painting by Jenny Nyström of this traditional Swedish mythical character which she turned into the white-bearded, red-capped friendly figure associated with Christmas ever since. Shortly afterwards, and obviously influenced by the emerging Father Christmas traditions as well as the new Danish tradition, a variant of the tomte/nisse, called the "jultomte" in Sweden and "julenisse" in Norway, started bringing the Christmas presents in Sweden and Norway, instead of the traditional julbock Yule Goat.

Gradually, commercialism has made him look more and more like the American Santa Claus, but the Swedish "jultomte", the Norwegian "julenisse", the Danish "julemand" (as he is more often called today) and the Finnish "joulupukki" (in Finland he is still called the "Yule Goat", although his animal features have disappeared) still has features and traditions that are rooted in the local culture: he doesn't live on the North Pole, but perhaps in a forest nearby, or in Denmark he lives on Greenland, and in Finland he lives in Lapland; he doesn’t come down the chimney at night, but through the front door, delivering the presents directly to the children, just like the Yule Goat did; he is not overweight; and even if he nowadays sometimes rides in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, instead of just walking around with his sack, his reindeer don’t fly - and many in Sweden still put out a bowl of porridge for him on Christmas Eve.



Viktor Rydberg

Midvinternattens köld är hård,

stjärnorna gnistra och glimma.

Alla sova i enslig gård

djupt under midnattstimma.

Månen vandrar sin tysta ban,

snön lyser vit på fur och gran,

snön lyser vit på taken.

Endast tomten är vaken.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Stone's attack 'performance art'

Loyalist Michael Stone's planned incursion on a crucial meeting of Stormont politicians was "performance art", his defence lawyer has claimed.

We all know it was a 'right performance' we are just not sure about the 'art'.
It's probably just as well they grabbed him when they did - otherwise, like most performance artists, he might have removed his clothes (Not a pretty sight!).

Christmas tree world

Russia had "New Year's Trees" in Soviet times.
This year, Moscow's Red Square boasts a giant
artificial tree but the decoration looks fairly traditional.

This tree in Rio de Janeiro is not only artificial - it even floats, moored on the Brazilian city's Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

This is one tree you would not want to knock over: a 8.5-m(28-foot) creation by the glass workers of Murano, Venice.

Double Dutch

Does anybody remember Double Dutch? Apparently it is

still alive and well ......

Gävle goat unscathed after arson attack

An attempt was made in the small hours of Friday morning to burn down the Gävle goat.

But arsonists did not succeed in setting fire to much more than a red ribbon on one of its legs, lending credence to the Goat Committee's earlier claims of impregnability for this year's beast.

Writer sacked for faking book review

A book reviewer who slated a book that had never been written has been fired.Kristian Lundberg, an author and poet, wrote book reviews for the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper.

"The foundation of all journalism is credibility. This is also true of culture journalism. We have therefore decided that Kristian Lundberg will no longer review books for Helsingborgs Dagblad," said the paper's culture editor Gunnar Bergdahl.

The paper had published an article by Lundberg late last week in which he said that Britt Marie Mattsson's book 'Fruktans Makt' (The Power of Fear), had a "predictable" plot and one-dimensional characters. But despite having appeared in publisher Piratförlaget's autumn catalogue, Mattsson had never got round to writing the novel.

While ruling that Lundberg will no longer write reviews for the paper, Bergdahl said he might still commission creative pieces from the writer.
The Local:

The power of nightmares

First Post:
Was the great liquid explosives plot just a political conjuring trick, asks Matthew Carr

On Wednesday December 13, in a week dominated by the Ipswich murders and Tony Blair's meeting with the police, a Rawalpindi judge handed down a judgment that delivered another blow to the British government's dwindling credibility.
He announced that charges against the British-born terrorist suspect Rashid Rauf "did not fall into the category of terrorism". Rauf had been in custody since his arrest in Pakistan in August on suspicion of coordinating a plot, on behalf of al-Qaeda, to blow up transatlantic airlines using liquid explosives.

To understand the significance of this decision, it is necessary to go back to the torrid month of August, when Tony Blair retreated to the Caribbean against a background of Israel's assault on Lebanon.
On August 9, Home Secretary John Reid delivered another of his familiar anti-terrorist jeremiads, in which he warned of "the most sustained threat since the end of the second world war" from al-Qaeda. The following morning the government announced that some two dozen Muslims had been arrested overnight and that police had thwarted an attempt to "commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale".
Over the next few days, Britain descended into a state of unprecedented anti-terrorist psychosis, as stringent security brought chaos to airports across the country. Sceptics questioned the logistical plausibility of liquid explosives in bottles of Lucozade and the level of security checks that were costing airline companies millions.

On August 14, a British official told NBC news that the attacks were "not imminent" and admitted that the suspects had not bought air tickets and that some of them did not even have passports.
Once again sceptics asked why the official threat alert been raised to "critical" if there was no imminent plot.

Now it appears that the alleged "mastermind" behind the plot may have been no more than a minor forger.
Other cracks in the plot have already begun to appear. Of the 24 original arrests in Britain, only eleven have been charged and their involvement in the plot has yet to be proven.

... was the plot deliberately misrepresented and exaggerated in order to mobilise support for the ongoing state of emergency which our leaders had declared to be inevitable?
The answers to these questions are unlikely to come from a discredited prime minister or his security chief, who has just announced her surprising resignation. But we need to get them from someone, otherwise we may be in even deeper trouble than we realise.

I'm glad to see that I am not the only person wondering about the plausibility of this 'alleged' terror plot. see previous posts MI5 tracking '30 UK terror plots' The War On Terror continued

Flying the Olympic Standard

The Evening Standard failed Londoners with its unquestioning support for the Olympics, says the fleet street collective

Where were the reports from Montreal, where taxpayers only this year finished paying off their 1976 Olympics?

Veteran rocker causes political stir by saying 'au revoir' to France

First Post:
French rock star Johnny Halliday's plans to leave the country have sparked a political row.

The singer, who is a high-profile supporter of the centre-right interior minister Mr Sarkozy, is moving to Switzerland to escape French taxes.

Francois Hollande, leader of the rival Socialists, joked it was "a really nice way to support his chosen candidate".

Mr Hollande told French station Radio J: "If he really thought Nicolas Sarkozy could win, and was so convinced by his policies, he only had to wait four months."

And at a rally, left-wing candidate Segolene Royal said she had deliberately avoided "having as a friend someone who escapes to Switzerland to pay their taxes".

President Jacques Chirac, who presented Hallyday with the medal of knight in the Legion of Honour in 1997, said he valued Hallyday as a friend and an artist but regretted his actions as a citizen.
Mr Sarkozy has declined to comment directly.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Skating on Red Square

Moscow is experiencing one of its warmest Decembers on record, with temperatures mostly above freezing. But Muscovites are still enjoying a traditional Russian winter pastime - outdoor ice skating.

Skate rental costs 500 roubles (around $19, £10). But despite what some see as the high cost, the organisers say it has been attracting up to 1,500 people a day.

Some people have been surprised to find an ice rink on Red Square.
Birgit Marie Solheim (left), who lives near Moscow but is originally from Bergen in Norway, said: "There was nothing like this before. It's very good. But 500 roubles is a lot of money for many Russian people."

Viganella gets winter sun rays!

24/01/2006 - Village fights darkness with mirror
Viganella, a village in the North of Italy, faces a rather odd problem. The village is built at the bottom of a very steep side Alpine valley. The southern side of the valley is so sheer that from 11 November until 2 February not a single ray of sunlight falls on Viganella.

Mayor Pierfranco Midali has come up with a creative idea to cope with this problem. He believes that a motorised mirror about five meters wide could track the sun, always reflecting it into the square. He already hired an architect to draw the plans.

“On a clear day this would produce five hours of sunlight in the piazza even in mid-December”, he said.

Cape Times:
Each year, on November 11, the sun would disappear behind a 1 600-metre high mountain to the south, leaving it in near-total darkness for 84 days in a row. Flowers would die, temperatures would plummet and laundry would take forever to dry.

The people of Viganella dreaded the arrival of winter.They would take a look at the sundial drawn on the facade of their church and sigh. They would become sleepy and SAD - the medical affliction known as "Seasonal Affective Disorder", a condition whereby the lack of sunshine reduces people's production of melatonin, a natural hormone, and makes them depressed.

But the people of Viganella didn't care what the doctors said. The young and brave simply left town, leaving only the elderly behind. Fewer and fewer children were born, until Viganella faced the threat of extinction.

One day, however, one of its brave young men decided he'd had enough. His name was Pierfranco Midali, and he was a railwayman. Instead of jumping on a train to seek the sun elsewhere, Midali got himself elected as mayor and came up with a shining bright idea: "I'll bring the sun to Viganella!" he proclaimed.

Most of his fellow residents simply shrugged, others thought he was mad."Oh yeah? And how do you intend to bring the sun to Viganella?" they would ask him." I'll build huge mirrors on the mountain to the north and reflect the sun's rays on to our village," he told them.

For seven long years, Midali worked and worked on his "bright idea" and travelled around the land, begging local authorities and private sponsors to give him the €99 990 needed to put it into practice.

As his idea began to take shape, people from around the world began to show an interest. Reporters from far and wide arrived in Viganella and mayors from other towns with similar problems called in.

Finally, on a cold late November morning of 2006, a helicopter suddenly appeared on the horizon, carrying a huge mirror, eight metres wide by five metres tall. Workers also installed a powerful "altazimuth" computer that would move the mirror around so as to capture the sun's rays and convey them on the town's square for up to eight hours a day.

The town's inhabitants began to smile, they bought themselves a pair of shades and prepared a big inauguration party, scheduled for December 17, to celebrate the arrival of the first winter sun ever in the town's nearly 800 years of existence.
Published on the web by Cape Times on November 30, 2006.

A sun-deprived village in the Italian Alps has come up with a novel solution to fix the problem - by installing a giant mirror.
The mirror - an eight-by-five metre (26x16ft) sheet of steel - was placed on a nearby peak to reflect sunlight onto Viganella's main square below.
The computer-operated mirror will now be constantly following the sun's path

Man held over prostitute murders

A 37-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering five women whose bodies were found at sites around the Ipswich area.

Supermarket worker Tom Stephens was arrested by police at his home at Trimley St Martin, near Felixstowe.

He is being held on suspicion of murdering prostitutes Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Tania Nicol, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls.

Mr Stephens is in custody at an unnamed police station in Suffolk.

Just what you want for christmas

If any of you fellows want one ... you can buy them here:

Seasonal Pics.

Hundreds of people don Santa suits to take part in The Great Scottish Santa Run in Edinburgh

Two bicycles placed next to a garage wall are covered with snow in the west Austrian village of Hochfilzen

Icicles form on a chain fence after a sprinkler was left on near the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice witnesses the signing of the Joint Strike Fighter deal between the US and Australia (... and doesn't she look pleased about it)

An Israeli border policeman fires a tear gas canister at Palestinian demonstrators near the West Bank village of Bilin

Swiss warn Hallyday he'll die of boredom

Johnny Hallyday, the ageing but energetic French rocker, whose decision to move to a Swiss ski resort for tax reasons has sparked furious debate at home, received advice from his new host country yesterday: "Don't come, you'll die of boredom."

Hallyday, 63, a leather-clad Gallic icon, said that "like many French people, I've had enough of the taxes we are forced to pay" and will spend six months and a day a year in Gstaad.
But the editor-in-chief of the Swiss daily Le Matin warned Hallyday to "stay at home," unless, that is, he could speak the local Swiss-German dialect and was "mad about skiing, walking and solitude".

"And as Johnny is a guy who cannot stay alone, he will be as bored as a dead rat in Gstaad," said Peter Rothenbûhler in his editorial.
Daily Telegraph:

Paris: New Tram Line.

Saturday, 16 December
Paris has inaugurated a modern electric tram line along a section of the city's inner ring road, the first time trams have run in the city since 1937.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe rode the first tram on the new T3 line, built to offer Parisians environmentally-friendly public transport which is set to carry 100,000 people a day along a crowded section on the Left Bank of the Seine.

The opening was boycotted by right-wing opposition parties who have opposed the 300m euro ($400m; £200m) development, calling it a waste of money.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Panto Poster No. 4

At some point it was decided that TV celebs should star in christmas pantos - obviously to increase audience figures. Artwork was also dropped from posters (see previous posts) in favour of photos of the 'celebs', which made the posters less interesting but presumably attracted more punters (more bums on seats). BUT who in their right mind would ever think of using Mr Blobby to attract more custom?

The Holocaust’s witnesses are dying off

First Post:
Soon no one will be left to speak out against those who deny the reality of the Nazi death camps, says colin bostock-smith

It's disturbing to watch those madmen as they gather in Tehran, eager to deny that during the late 1930s and early 1940s there was a determined attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish race.
Those invited to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's provocative two-day conference - Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision - include David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and Michele Renouf, a London-based associate of the revisonist author David Irving, in jail in Vienna for Holocaust denial.
More disturbing is the realisation that the people who actually witnessed the death camps, who freed the skeletons, who bulldozed the corpses into pits... those people are now dying themselves.


My godmother, Nancy, was one such witness. She was a pretty and charismatic woman, and she was an ambulance driver in the first British army convoy to enter Belsen.


One evening, after a heavy and convivial dinner, and far too much burgundy, I asked her about it again. What was it like? How did she feel? Her answer sobered us all up at a stroke.

"The worst thing," she began, "the worst thing was the doctor's rounds. I would have to go round the huts with a doctor, looking at the people. And the doctor would indicate to me which ones to take out for treatment. In other words, which ones stood a chance of surviving. The others were beyond help.


"The doctor knew that those who were left would die. I knew they would die. And they knew they would die. You could see it in their eyes. They crawled at our feet, begging to be taken out. But we couldn't take them all. We just couldn't."

She got up, the convivial evening lying in pieces at her feet. "It's their eyes," she told me coldly. "I can never forget their eyes."

Then she went up to bed. Days later she left England for the last time, returned to her farm in Kenya, and died a few months later after a short illness.

She's not here to tell the lunatics in Iran that they are a disgrace to humanity. And before too long no one else will be here to tell them either.

Unfortunate positioning of headlines

Australian Bushfires

Pictures from First Post of the Australian Bushfires.

Belgium 'abolished'


Belgians were thrown into a panic when a spoof TV news report said their country had been 'abolished'.

Government offices were flooded with calls after the report that the Dutch-speaking Flanders region had declared independence and Belgium no longer existed as a nation.

The French-language RTBF interrupted programming to show footage of cheering crowds waving the Flemish flag and traffic jams at the new border.

Even foreign diplomats were taken in by the hoax which the station said was designed to show tensions between the French and Dutch-speaking communities.

A spokesman for Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt said: "It was in very bad taste. It scared many people."

HaHaHaHaHaHa! HaHaHaHaHaHa! HaHaHaHaHaHa! HaHaHaHaHaHa!


A short animation from First Post

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Plava Laguna

A nice piece of Opera from alien diva Plava Laguna.

Police heroine living in a car

Daily Mail.

A policewoman who rescued survivors of the Paddington rail crash is living in her car, battling stress and depression.

Aphra Howard-Garde, who suffers with post-traumatic stress, has been on long-term sick leave from the Metropolitan Police for the past 18 months.

Four months ago, her three-bedroom house in Crawley was repossessed when she failed to meet mortgage payments.

She is now living in a red Peugeot 106 with her partner and says she feels abandoned by a system meant to protect her.

No doubt she'll write a blog about it and get a book deal . Me? - cynical!

Just the headlines ......

ANC sacks whip over sex scandal
Circumcision can cut HIV infection by 50%.
So could castration but I wouldn't recommend that either -(c:

Baroness Paisley's maiden speech

New DUP peer Baroness Paisley of St George's has used her maiden speech in the House of Lords to warn of the "frightening" spread of HIV/Aids.

The wife of party leader Ian Paisley said the "scourge of HIV/Aids is invading the world at breakneck speed".

She doesn't seem to have said anything that we couldn't have Googled on the internet but I wonder if the speech was actually about Sinn Fein/IRA or has she just got an attack of solidusitis/virgulitis ?

Ipswich Murders - Is there a link with Natalie, found in 1992?

First Post:
Leeds United will turn up on Saturday to play Ipswich Town at Portman Road.Kick off three o'clock. Thirty thousand fans will bring some sort of normality to the old Suffolk port town.
The Portman Road club is on the edge of the red light district where the subject of the Ipswich manhunt evidently picked up his five victims before killing them and displaying their bodies like trophies on the outskirts of town.
Suffolk police have announced new details - all the girls were naked apart from their jewellery - but we do not know whether they have found DNA evidence of the killer.

According to police sources, the killer almost certainly has a record of violence against prostitutes and will have killed before. There could be links with the unsolved murder of a 16-year-old prostitute called Natalie Pearman, whose body was found in 1992 at Ringland Hill near Norwich, 50 miles from here.
As with the five Ipswich girls, no attempt had been made to hide Natalie's body. Seven months after Natalie's murder, an Ipswich prostitute called Mandy Duncan vanished. Her body has never been found.

If there is a link, why would the killer wait 14 years before striking again? One theory is that he has spent the intervening years in a secure hospital or in jail, for another crime.
Whatever the truth, the killer has nothing to lose and is probably crazed with his success. When he kills again, it will be another prostitute, almost certainly in another town.

Extra police have been assigned to Ipswich from other forces. There might have been more had the Met not been similarly stretched at present - with a critical terrorist alert.
Dozens of surveillance teams from police forces throughout the UK have been seconded to the capital where a militant Islamic 'spectacular' is expected before Christmas.

More goodies from Ananova

Smokers trying to quit in Glasgow have been mistakenly prescribed Viagra. More:

Very difficult to smoke anyway with a cigarette stuck up your nose (think about it!)

Two elderly women who are the only inhabitants of a remote Serbian village have become famous for not speaking to each other.
Ruzica Markovic and Ljubica Paunovic, from Serbia's smallest village of Grade, fell out after one insulted the other's cow three years ago. More:

A Swedish police station has ordered toilet paper - for the first time in 20 years.
In 1986, an admin error meant the police station in Hagfors ended up with 20 years worth of paper. A worker ticked the wrong box that meant they got sent 20 pallets of toilet roll instead of 20 packets, reports Metro. Officials tried to return it, but they were told to do so would be time-consuming and expensive.

A couple who won nearly £8m on the lottery have been told to stop giving away their money. More:

3 million bees removed from flat

A couple who phoned pest control when they heard 'buzzing' in their kitchen had to have three million bees removed.

Jesus Molina and his girlfriend had to temporarily move out of their apartment in Miami when the pest control team realised how big the swarm had become.

According to the Sun, he said: "We kept hearing the buzzing but thought that it would go away."
Over 60lbs of honey was removed.

A pest control officer said: "That's the most bees I've seen in one place."

ATM Fraud.

The following is from an email I received this morning - the particular ATM is one provided by the Bank of Ireland who do not have any sort of fraud warning on their website:

If you have recently used the cash machine opposite the cinema on the Dublin Road please check your bank account now. My account has been emptied and attempts have been made to access money on a colleagues account, we both withdrew money from this cash machine on Thursday night. Please pass on to your friends in work here and in Stockman House and anyone you know who works in this area.

I get the feeling that this is an old warning that someone has decided to re-distribute but there is no harm in taking heed of the warning and being extra vigilant when using any ATM. Although this email is specific to Belfast, N. Ireland I am sure ATM users elsewhere will also be extra careful.
The following is an old news item:-

BBC News Online 24 Dec 05 17:18

Police investigating suspected fraud at cash machines in Belfast have arrested three men.
It follows a PSNI warning that card skimming devices were being put on cash machines in several parts of the city.
They have been used recently on ATMs in Stranmillis and the Dublin Road in south Belfast, according to the PSNI.
When cards have been cloned at ATMs, camouflaged portable card readers are then fitted to the front of the machine.

Apparently this was mentioned on the news last night but I can find no reference to it on the BBC web site.
Bank of Ireland gives general security information here: Nationwide have news and alerts here:

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Bonny Portmore

Busybody of the Month!

Here's another I found on Nothing to do with Arbroath

Christmas has come early to the hundreds of happy diners who have ordered expensive lunches and dinners at Scott's in central London, only to be told by waiters at the end of the evening that there will be no charge for their food or drink."

The fly in Scott's soup is local resident Glenys Roberts, a journalist and author who has orchestrated a campaign to keep noise levels down in the restaurant, resulting in delays with Westminster Council signing off the restaurant's trading licence.

This has meant that the luxuriously-refitted Scott's, which opened more than a week ago, has been put in the position of having to honour all its previously booked lunch and dinner reservations, although legally it is unable to charge for anything.

I do feel a little like Father Christmas," said Scott's manager Matthew Robb, who estimates the restaurant has lost more than £350,000 in free meals, drinks and staffing costs since it opened to the public after a long period of closure and refurbishment on Dec 5.

Don't we just love busybodies like Glenys Roberts - especially when it means a free meal (c:=

This is from her biography on the Westminster Conservatives web site:

Glenys Roberts, a top feature writer at the Daily Mail, has been West End Ward councillor since 1999. She has specialised in planning and licensing and during her four years on the Planning Committee helped make groundbreaking decisions upheld at appeal. She has contributed to new policy particularly in the area of noise reduction and the peaceful coexistence of residents and businesses. Opposed to the West End Crossrail route, she helped write residents' and Council petitions for presentation to Parliament. She has played a lead role in security issues surrounding the US Embassy and in preserving the residential West End from anti-social licensing hours. Currently engaged in reviving the cultural life of Soho, she believes economic growth and a crimeless inner city can only be achieved by the return of residents.

All I can say is she has a funny way of reviving the cultural life of Soho.

She believes that dedicating a quarter of a square mile to live music venues would reduce noise pollution by keeping the music contained and away from residential areas.

Now that's really big of her ... just how many people could you fit into a quarter of a square mile after the band has set up - taking into consideration the building, bar and toilet facilities etc. ?

Plain English Campaign awards

The British supermodel, Naomi Campbell, has won Plain English Campaign's annual Foot in Mouth award for the following comment which she reportedly made in June.

"I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta."

The Foot in Mouth award is given for a baffling quote made by a public figure. Past winners of the award include Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Gere, Alicia Silverstone and Tracey Emin.

Seven Golden Bulls have been awarded this year, including one to the writer, broadcaster and academic, Germaine Greer. Fife Council won a Golden Bull for a confusing letter about bin collection dates. Wheale, Thomas, Hodgins, a recruitment agency, have landed a second Golden Bull for a job advertisement, having previously won one in 2001.

Broadcast journalist Mary Nightingale will present the awards at the Brewery, Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4SD on 12 December 2006. It will be the 27th Plain English Campaign awards ceremony.

Foot in Mouth Award :
Naomi Campbell
"I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta."

Golden Bull winners
Crafts Council of Ireland (CCOI) for a circular letter
'The re-writing of the vocabulary of intemporal Irish heritage is a possible vector for submissions on the condition that this transposition is resolutely anchored in the 21st century through a contemporary lens that absolutely avoids drifting into the vernacular.'

Germaine Greer for a column in the Guardian
'The first attribute of the art object is that it creates a discontinuity between itself and the unsynthesised manifold.'

Bury County Court - for a ‘General Form of Judgment or Order’

Eastleigh Borough Council for a Notice given under the Building Act 1984
'Hereby in accordance with the provision of the Building Act 1984, Section 32 declares that the said plans shall be of no effect and accordingly the said Act and the said Building Regulations shall as respects the proposed work have effect as if no plan had been deposited.'

Wheale, Thomas, Hodgins plc for a job advertisement
'Our client is a pan-European start-up leveraging current cutting edge I.P. (already specified) with an outstanding product/value solutions set. It is literally the right product, in the right place at the right time… by linking high-value disparate legacy systems to achieve connectivity between strategic partners/acquisition targets and/or disparate corporate divisions. The opportunity exists to be the same (i.e. right person etc. etc) in a growth opportunity funded by private equity capital that hits the 'sweet-spot' in major cost driven European markets.'

Fife Council for a letter about a change to bin collection dates
'It has been brought to our attention that due to changes made to your grey household wastes bin collection dates within your new calendar. Your bin will be emptied week beginning the 20th March 2006, then next collection would not be until the week beginning the 10th April 2006. Thus having to wait 3 weeks for collection.
Therefore we are to provide a normal collection on your normal collection day, week starting the 3rd April and again on your new collection date, week starting the 10th April then there after every 2 weeks.'

The Institute for Fiscal Studies for a website document description
'While the literature on nonclassical measurement error traditionally relies on the availability of an auxiliary dataset containing correctly measured observations, this paper establishes that the availability of instruments enables the identification of a large class of nonclassical nonlinear errors-in-variables models with continuously distributed variables.'

Britons rescue Bosnian steam train

A sprawling steel works nestling among the mountains of central Bosnia is not the obvious place to come shopping for steam trains.

But a group of British rail enthusiasts has spent more than $100,000 (£51,234) finding and buying an old locomotive, and is now shipping it back to England.

The engine they found is an imposing chunk of dirty black steel, weighing more than 40 tonnes.

It has spent the last half century at the Zenica steel works.

Now isn't that a heart-warming story? ................ I think not! £51,234 is being spent on a chunk of dirty black steel in a country which has been torn apart by war, where orphans are living in terrible conditions, where charities are crying out for funds to deal with the problem of orphans and displaced persons, where it is now one of the top places for tourism and commerce, where £51,234 could have been put to much better use than cleaning up a chunk of dirty black steel.

Human Rights Watch: Europe and Central Asia : Bosnia

War, poverty and the daily struggle for survival have deeply affected the traditional extended family structure. Children and young people cope with deeply traumatic experiences relating to the war and post war period. Family violence is a problem. Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a regional centre for trafficked women and girls.
SOS Children's Villages

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

On the twelfth day of christmas ..........

Vicar bans Santa from carol service

A vicar who decided his village church was a suitable place to show World Cup football on a giant screen has banned Father Christmas.

Rev Tim Storey asked Henry Cuff to remove his Santa costume at a civic carol service in St Peter and St Paul's in Blandford, Dorset.

Mr Cuff, 64, refused and left, followed by members of Blandford Lions Club.

In a website statement, Mr Storey, the Rector of Blandford Forum and Langton Long, said he wanted to put the birth of Christ at the heart of the celebration in the midst of secular, materialistic festivities which had lost much of their meaning. "This means that I do not believe that Father Christmas should be a part of church services any more than Santa's grotto should have a manger and a baby Jesus present."

Mr Cuff, who had been handing out sweets to children in Blandford before going to the carol service, said: "It's political correctness gone mad".
Daily Telegraph

I am not a religious person but what has Santa got to do with a Carol Service - was he the one with the frankincense?

Churches are competing with bars and pubs as venues for watching the big games, setting up screens to lure fans into their pews.

St Peter and St Paul's in Blandford, Dorset, is one of the churches showing games on a big screen. Almost 300 people have watched England games from the pews, three-quarters of them non-churchgoers. The Rev Tim Storey said: "We're not putting the pressure on and telling them that we expect to see them back on Sunday morning.

"But the church is in the middle of the town's marketplace and we are using this to say: 'We are at the heart of the community.' It will be a bonus if our congregations are bigger but we're encouraged that some have been asking us for times of services."
Guardian Unlimited:

Happy Feet: innocent family fun or insidious political subversion?

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto thinks Happy Feet, this season's blockbuster animation, contains 'far-left' propaganda. 'I half-expected an animated Al Gore to pop up,' he said.

Central premise Emperor penguins express themselves through song. If they can't sing, they won't get laid and society will shun them.

Central characters Mumble, who instead of being able to sing, can dance. And Gloria, who can sing like a, ahem, bird.

Message There is a lot, at the start, about self-expression, and how individuality is one's most important gift to society. And yet at the same time, there is all the classic penguin stuff about how they huddle together for warmth whenever it's cold, which is almost always, being as they live in Antarctica. This is a broadly liberal message, containing the anti-totalitarian stress on individuality, while at the same time never using that as a reason to slough off civic duty.

The plot thickener is a shortage of fish. Mumble the non-conformist has seen and heard inexplicable things - a rusty JCB, an eagle with a tag on - and he believes that if he could uncover these mysteries he would know what had happened to the fish. And, of course, he is quite right, because the mystery is mankind, which is the eater of all the fish.

The penguin elders, however, see things quite differently. Whereas Mumble and Gloria are so hot as to be literally sexually desirable, even though they are a) penguins and b) animated, the elders all have hunchbacks. They use a lot of basically Christian rhetoric. They blame the shortage on Mumble, because he is different, and on his friends, because they are foreign penguins (with Mexican accents). They are inflexible, uncurious, savage, Old Testament conservatives. Mumble triumphs. So, er, yeah, I guess you could say this has a leftwing bias.

Woman has double hand transplant

A Spaniard has become the first woman in the world to receive a double hand transplant.
A team of surgeons at Hospital La Fe in Valencia carried out the pioneering operation.
After 10 hours in the operating theatre, doctors say Alba, 47, from Castellón, whose full name has not been released, is recuperating well.
Alba had both her original hands amputated after an explosion in a laboratory where she was studying chemistry nearly 30 years ago.

NI Policing Board looks to south for funding

The Policing Board is to ask the Irish government to contribute to the cost of building a new police college in Northern Ireland.

BBC Newsline has obtained exclusive details of how the college will look - but so far the government has said it will not pay the full cost, estimated at £130m.
So the policing board is looking to Dublin.

I wonder what Mr. Paisley has to say about that!
or this...

RUC police shirts decommissioned

Somewhere, in deepest, darkest Romania, the locals are wearing the green - the old, Royal Ulster Constabulary police green.

Thousands of Northern Ireland's old police shirts are being sent out to Romania to be distributed by a local church charity.

The green RUC shirts were decommissioned in 2001, under the Patten reforms when the RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

A church charity received thousands of them and was wondering who would launder them prior to despatch to Romania.

They approached Magilligan Prison in County Derry and asked for their help.

Now prisoners who, in past times, came up close and personal to the same shirts - only with officers inside - clean, press and pack them, ready for the journey to Romania.

Prison governor Tom Woods said they were happy to help good causes.
Thanks to TrickyDicky for the link to the second item.

Booed tenor quits La Scala's Aida

Top tenor Roberto Alagna has stunned opera-goers at La Scala in Milan by storming off stage in the middle of a performance after he was booed.

The Franco-Italian singer, who was playing a leading role in Verdi's Aida, walked off minutes into the second night of the opera house's new season.

His understudy rushed on wearing jeans and carried on Sunday's performance.


Understudy Antonello Palombi hurried on a few moments later, dressed in jeans rather than a costume and without a proper vocal warm-up, to carry on the show.

"They literally took me and threw me on stage," he told Italian news agency Ansa after the show. "It was a good test and I passed it."

The 'Agnes' Christmas Story

I think I'll book it for here (c:=

Monday, 11 December 2006

Un Jour à Paris

If you would like to see some really good photos of Paris there is a blog here that is well worth having a look at.
... and it comes with music

See the bigger picture

All will become clear - click the pic to see the bigger picture ...

Panto Poster No. 3

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

The Babes in the Wood

Date - 1907