Friday, 27 April 2007

Belfast's Spire of Hope.

I have read the BBC news reports about the ‘Spire of Hope’ and I must admit to being bemused by the fact that it is going to be dedicated on the anniversary of September 11.

What I would like to know is WHY? Why the anniversary of a terrorist attack in New York, why not the anniversary of terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland, why not McGurk’s Bar (4th December 1971), why not The Abercorn Restaurant (4th March 1972), why not Belfast's Bloody Friday (21st July 1972), why not Claudy (31st July 1972), why not La Mon Hotel (17th February 1978), why not Enniskillen (8th November 1987), why not Omagh (15th August 1998), why not select a date some time during the year to remember all of the victims of terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland and dedicate the spire on that date to the people of Northern Ireland?

Dean McKelvey of St. Anne’s Cathedral says that the spire fits in well with the existing cathedral building’ but I would like to know how he has arrived at that conclusion. When I view it from the bus on the way to work all I can see is 4 (large) pieces of metal bolted together looking, for all the world, like the chimney flue of a central heating boiler. To describe it as a needle gives it the semblance of grace and elegance that it does not possess. It would probably look a whole lot better if it was one continuous piece of metal or at least gave the appearance of being one continuous piece of metal. The architecture of the cathedral is neo-Romanesque and the interior has exquisite mosaic works with a floor made of stone brought from all over Ireland – so how, in the name of all that is holy, does this huge lump of junk fit in well with the existing cathedral building? I did read somewhere that this one of the cheaper projects submitted - which would explain a lot.

Now! - this is a spire.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Internet entrapment

Internet entrapment is less about crime prevention than public spectacle, says Charles Laurence

Miss America has used her charms in a 'honey trap' to catch internet paedophiles in a stunt for a 'reality TV' show.

This breathtaking confluence of some of America's nastiest social trends - the artifice of the beauty pageant, the public humiliations of 'reality' shows, internet sexual prurience and police entrapment schemes that are illegal in Britain - airs on Saturday on Fox TV's America's Most Wanted.

Lauren Nelson, who is 20 and an all-American blonde from Oklahoma, paraded her wares in 'chat rooms' while monitored by police from New York's Suffolk County suburbs. What is it about suburbs?

Not surprisingly, she attracted a few hits. Then she pretended to be under age.

"I would say 'I'm a 14-year-old female from Long Island'," Nelson said breathlessly through Fox publicity. "Some would continue chatting, it would only take a matter of time before it got pretty explicit."

So four mugs trooped off for in-the-flesh meetings with a young woman who looked perfect for what they had in mind. Did they really think they would get that lucky? Cameras and cops were waiting.

"I was nervous," Nelson said, "but it was a very controlled environment, very safe."

Host John Walsh, who turned the tragic murder of his own child, long ago, into a multi-million-dollar TV franchise, sprang his trap. The men were caught on film, and in handcuffs.

Nobody condones paedophilia. But what had America's 'most wanted' done, exactly, before they switched on their computers? Would these fools have been child-molesters if they had not been lured by pictures of the beauty queen as a teenager?

Blind justice will certainly never know. But this has more to do with the cheap drama of Homeland Security America than protecting children.

Rien n'est joué

This says it all really (c:=

Spire of hope to light up city

Another bloody awful piece of junk.

It's frugly!

Spire of Hope!

They're probably hoping it won't come through the ceiling!!

I don't suppose the erection of this monstrosity has anything to do with the fact that Dublin has a Millennium Spire (otherwise known as the stiffy by the Liffey) ??

p.s. Dublin's spire was erected on the site where Nelson's column once stood (cheeky or what?).

Dublin's spire also has a red light on the tip - I don't know if this is a reflection on the area or a safety feature (c:=

Now! - this is a spire.

... and if you like conspiracy theories and such like,

you will love this: Dublin's 'Millenium Spike'

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Juste pour le plaisir...

A terrific photo that I found here:

This is not a door

Trompe l'oeil near l'île De La Grande Jatte, Paris.

Forbidden photo

Apparently, photographing the Eiffel Tower is not "forbidden" by daylight but, at night, the lighting is copyrighted and it is not permitted to publish a photo of the Tower at night. So it looks like I am in deep doodoo again. Ah well c'est la vie (c:=
Anyways - here's a much better photo - of Sacré Coeur at night.

Scientists discover new planet

Scientists have discovered a planet outside the Solar System that may support life.

The Earth-like planet has the right temperature and terrain to contain liquid water, which is critical to life as we know it.

The new world, which is 20.5 light years away, is 1.5 times larger than Earth and is thought to have a rocky terrain.

The planet has about double Earth's gravity, meaning any creatures living there would weigh twice as much as they would on earth.

Orbiting the Gliese 581 star in the Libra constellation, the planet was found by Swiss, French and Portuguese astronomers using a 3.6m telescope at La Silla in Chile.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Pope abolishes state of limbo
Sunday, April 22, 2007

The 800-year-old concept of limbo, in which unbaptised babies who die are said to be stuck between Heaven and Hell, has been abolished by the Pope.
Benedict XVI said there were 'serious grounds' to believe that children who died without being baptised could go to heaven after all.

His decision followed a three-year study by a theological commission.
The problem has been the Catholic belief that baptism is the only way to remove the stain of original sin that they think all children are born with.

In the fifth century, St Augustine said babies who died without being baptised went to Hell.
In the 13th century, theologians came up with the concept of limbo as a place where dead babies were denied the vision of God but did not suffer.

The latest report said: 'There is greater theological awareness today that God is merciful and wants all human beings to be saved.
'Grace has priority over sin and the exclusion of innocent babies from Heaven does not seem to reflect Christ's special love for the little ones.'
The report added that baptism was the only way to remove original sin and urged all parents to baptise their babies.

British priest Father Paul McPartlan, who helped compile the report, added: 'We cannot say we know with certainty what will happen to unbaptised children. But we have good grounds to hope that God in his mercy and love looks after these children, and brings them to salvation.'

What a load of old shite!!!

Patricia Who??

Patricia Hewitt: I smoked dope

Patricia Hewitt: I am trying to drum up some street cred'

Branson edited out of Bond movie

British Airways reportedly airbrushed arch-rival Richard Branson out of its in-flight version of Casino Royale.

The Virgin Atlantic chief is briefly featured in the 007 film at an airport security scanner, but - in the edited version - can only be seen from the back.

Shots of the tail fin of a Virgin plane have also been obscured, sources said.

A spokesman for BA said only that it "previews films before they are screened on our aircraft and regularly edits films" on the grounds of taste and suitability.

"We edit our in-flight films to remove material that might upset our customers," the spokesman explained.

Virgin apparently appeared in the film because it had helped the film's producers get a plane to Prague where some of the scenes were shot.

Oh how childish!

Skinny dipping in the Trevi fountain

An office worker overwhelmed by heat became the centre of attention yesterday after skinny dipping in Rome's historic Trevi fountain.

The 38-year-old identified only as Roberta stunned lookers-on by stripping out of her clothes and swimming several lengths of the fountain before stretching out on the marble plinth at the base of a statue of Neptune.

The fountain was the site where Federico Fellini shot the famous scene featuring Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita

'The water is everyone's. I was hot,' Roberta said after her bathe.

But police took a dim view of her actions and frantically tried to cover her up with their helmets and arrested her.

It is illegal to swim in Rome's fountains and those who break the law could get a fine of £70.

But a spokesman for the police said she had been released with just a warning.

'She has been released but she has been warned she could face a charge of indecent exposure as this sort of behaviour is not allowed in the fountains of Rome or anywhere else in the city,' the spokesman said.

'She told us that she felt hot and that when she saw the water she lost control and dived in to cool off.

'Looking back now she is obviously a little embarrassed and wondering how to explain it to her boss when she goes to work.'

Una donna milanese, quarant'anni, si fa il bagno nuda a Fontana di Trevi

Thank heavens for the Italian newspapers. It would seem the only camera available was on a cellphone (IN ROME!!) - video here:

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Women of Plymouth mural.

Women of Plymouth by Lucia Fairchild Fuller--mural in Women's Building, 1893 World's Exposition.
The "Women of Plymouth" mural by twenty-three year old Lucia Fuller depicted seventeen early American women engaged in daily tasks such as washing, educating children, and spinning. Although other murals commissioned for the Women's Building at the 1893 World Fair seem to have disappeared, her Women of Plymouth was found in a deteriorating building in Cornish. One source claims that her mural was never shown at the World Fair because of the anachronistic error of showing tree stumps sawn smooth rather than roughly axed by the Pilgrims, but photos of the Honor of Gallery in the Women's Building show her mural on the wall.

Bogside Peace Mural

A mural which was painted by 'the Bogside Artists'. The mural was completed on 30 July 2004 and was unveiled by the then Mayor of Derry. It is situated on Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Derry.

Sex Theme Park to open in London

A £7m sex theme park, which has no rides, is to open in London's West End later this year.

no rides --- that's not going to be much fun now is it ?

You have to be aged 18 and over to get in and tickets will cost £15 for the attraction which opens on 7 September.

.............. probably cheaper to pick up a hooker (c:=

American Justice

Guantánamo prisoners denied a Supreme Court hearing
The Associated Press Published: April 2, 2007

WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from Guantanamo detainees who want to challenge their five-year-long confinement in court, a victory for the Bush administration's legal strategy in its fight against suspected terrorists.

The victory may be only temporary, however. The high court twice previously has extended legal protections to prisoners at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. These individuals were seized as potential terrorists following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and only 10 have been charged with a crime.

Despite the earlier rulings, none of the 385 detainees has yet had a hearing in a civilian court challenging his detention because the administration has moved aggressively to limit the legal rights of prisoners it has labeled as enemy combatants.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Stupid Cow!

Paris perplexed

Paris Hilton landed in the Swiss city of Basel and told fans: "I am delighted to be here, it's my first time in Zurich."

Island found in Arctic Circle

A new island has been discovered in the Arctic after rising temperatures melted the giant ice sheet which covered it.

The rocky mass - dubbed Warming Island - lies 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle in eastern Greenland, reports The Sun.

It was found by US explorer Dennis Schmitt 60 and is seen as further proof of global warming.

'Death to Shilpa' after Gere kiss

He may have a reputation as a ladies man - but Richard Gere is now public enemy number one in India.

Effigies of the Hollywod actor have been burned after he repeatedly kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness event.

He had joined Shetty, the winner of the "Celebrity Big Brother" in a safe sex campaign for lorry drivers.

The 58-year-old shouted in Hindi to thousands of truck drivers who roared with delight and whistled loudly as Gere swooped down to kiss Shetty to kiss her on her hand and a number of times on one side of her face.

But it started to go wrong when groups of men turned on him and started shouting "Down with Richard Gere".

They burnt the Hollywood star's effigies and kicked the smoking remains in the northern Indian cities of Kanpur, Meerut and Varanasi as well as in the central city of Indore.

The protesters said Gere's kissing of Shilpa was against Indian culture.

Some burnt Shetty's posters, shouting "Death to Shilpa Shetty", and danced around the smouldering ashes, TV footage showed.

Sex in Shanghai

I must admit to not having read ChinaBounder's blog for a while but when I checked back yesterday I discovered his newest masterpiece: which once again is making him many new friends (c: but unfortunately too many people are being angered by the revelations of his sexual conquests and ignoring the point he is making about corruption in Chinese society. Admittedly it's nothing new but he does have a way of driving the point home.

Mammoth skeleton sold at auction

The skeleton of a prehistoric mammoth has sold for 260,000 euros ($352,196) at an auction in Paris.

The 15,000-year-old Siberian mammoth skeleton, dubbed The President, along with other prehistoric curios, was put up for sale by Christie's

Anger over US shooting warnings

"I'm not saying there is someone out there,
and I'm not saying there is someone who is not,"

Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum who refused to rule out the possibility of a co-conspirator in the shootings at Virginia Tech university.


Nail-biting crane crash on web

Click the link below for the video which shows the nail-biting moment when a 100-ft high crane crashed to the ground in a Belfast shipyard.

Workers at Harland & Wolff in Belfast looked on in horror as the crane fell, in a potentially lethal accident.

No-one was injured. But one person recorded the moment when the 300-ft high Sampson crane moves down the building dock, as sirens blare.
BBC: with thanks to my daughter for pointing me in this direction.

The stronghold of immoral women

An Irish village has cleared the latest hurdle in its campaign to change its names to the Fort of the Harlot. The loose translation of its old Irish title means "the stronghold of immoral women".

Many residents in the village of Doon in County Limerick reportedly prefer the name of Dun Bleisce, translated as the Fort of the Harlot.

However, locals said the name referred to a strong woman and local women were noted for their beauty and culture.

The first mention of the name Dun Bleisce was in 774.

The name was changed in 2003, but more than 800 local people signed a petition calling on the government to reverse the decision.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Campaign for Real Beauty #2

Edouard Boubat - Jeune Fille Aux Fleurs (Lella, Bretagne, 1947)

Just Amazing

This, believe it or not, is not a flower but an insect called an Orchid Mantis (for obvious reasons).

Orchids - Real Beauty

Aren't Orchids just amazing?

The Campaign for Real Beauty #1

Photo from: Penelope's Loom
How did our idea of beauty become so distorted?

On the bridge

Janine Niepce - woman on bridge

Art Appreciation

Elliott Erwitt - Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1995

Friday, 13 April 2007

A Morality Story

The previous post (the bit about The man's head is cut off in the picture) reminded me of this joke

A young beagle pup walked along the railroad track on his way to the woods. Just as he was crossing the tracks, a train roared along and cut off the pup's tail.

The pup searched and searched for his tail, but finally gave up. Just as he was crossing back over the tracks, along came another train and cut off his head.

"Moral: Never lose your head over a piece of tail."

I'm too sexy for my shorts ....

An advert for men's underwear has been ruled sexist for featuring scantily clad women and depicting women as "mere objects for male sexuality."

The adverts, for Axe boxer shorts, were ruled inappropriate by ERK, the Swedish Council Against Sexual Discrimination in Advertising.

ERK looked both at Internet adverts for Axe and at the packaging for the boxer shorts.

The packaging depicts a man wearing the boxer shorts embraced by two women wearing underwear. The man's head is cut off in the picture, although both the women's heads are visible. A pink kiss-mark is visible on his chest. The packaging also carried text warning that the garments "may get pulled out of shape, or even lucky boy."

The washing instruction label carried a symbol representing a "woman magnet".
via The Local:

More killjoys, more humourless faceless civil servants with nothing better to do with their time. (c:=

One of our boats is missing

It is 15metres long and crawls along at a top speed of 4mph – but police have spent three weeks searching for a missing barge.

David King was due to return narrowboat Holly to a depot in Middlewich, Cheshire, on March 23 – but there is no sign of him, despite the efforts of two police forces and British Waterways.

Mr King told owner Adam Foskett he was heading for Llangollen, near Wrexham, but he was last seen in Market Drayton, Shropshire, on March 20.

There is even some confusion as to who should be searching for him. A Hertfordshire Police spokesman insisted: 'It's nothing to do with us. If the boat went missing in Cheshire you should try them.'

But a Cheshire Police spokesman replied: 'Herts are taking the lead because the missing person comes from there.'

He added: 'We have a Cessna plane which has been searching with no luck.'

A woman at Mr King's home in St Albans refused to comment.
.... sounds like a case for Inspector Morse (c:=

Daily Crossword

This is the crossword from today's and I dare anybody to complete it (c:=

number: 11507

6 Phrases about angels (7)
7 Leans on tables (5)
9 Looks over a tin in a ship (5)
10 Things moved next to the king in a chess game (7)
12 Expresses approval about a public disturbance involving Roman racers (11)
14 The doggedness shown by recent spies? (11)
18 Ready to be unwell in side (7)
19 Mountains Danes went around (5)
21 Destined, say, to be honoured with celebrations (5)
22 Fashionable whim of childhood (7)

1 Respond to crate being opened up (5)
2 A meal outside a boat (6)
3 Bashful throw (3)
4 45, and still not married (6)
5 Sculpture about right in height (7)
8 Showing no emotion when property chain breaks down? (7)
11 Now give (7)
13 Wanted to see one of the 10 in a legal document (7)
15 Gloomy American girl returning (6)
16 Study the male who's a trickster? (6)
17 Fight with a criminal (5)
20 The intention is to finish (3)

Bank door keys left at cashpoint

A cleaner left the keys to a bank's front door sitting on top of a cashpoint.

And staff at the Natwest didn't even thank the honest passer-by who found them and returned them safely the following morning, reports the Daily Mirror.

Paul Andrews, 58, couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted the keys while out walking near his home in Pinner, Middlesex.

He said: "I tried them in the door and it worked, so I locked up, put them in my pocket and went home. It's ridiculous.

"They spend loads making sure everything is locked and then someone leaves the keys outside. I'm pleased I haven't got an account with them."

Paul rang the police, but two officers who turned up said: "You could open up for them and hand the keys back personally."

However, Paul said embarrassed staff were far from appreciative the next morning.

Branch manager Kay Patel said: "They're the cleaner's keys. If anyone had gone in the alarm would've gone off. Security would be here in an instant."

But Paul hit back: "I rang the emergency number on the door and left a message but nobody got back to me. I did a good thing and instead of thanking me they were defensive. That annoyed me."

Later a NatWest spokesman said the locks were changed as soon as they were aware of a problem.

He added: "We ask the gentleman to accept our thanks for the safe return of the keys."
via Ananova:
Common courtesy is obviously not so common.

Beer 'stripped' off the shelves

A Belgian lager with a risque marketing strategy has been stripped from sale.

Bottles of Rubbel Sexy Lager featured a picture of a woman with a removable swimsuit on the label.

Drinkers could scratch her clothes off to leave her naked, reports Sky News.

Alcohol industry regulator the Portman Group has ruled the name of the drink and the scantily-clad model could lead drinkers to associate the product with sexual success.

The group had received a complaint from trading standards officers in Buckinghamshire.

The lager is produced by Brouwerij Huyghe and had been imported to the UK by Beer Paradise Ltd. It has now been withdrawn from sale.

David Poley, the boss of the Portman Group, told The Publican newspaper: "Some people might think this is harmless fun but there is a serious issue involved.

"The industry has set itself strict marketing rules and this drink has fallen short of those high standards."
via Ananova:

For Pete's sake - get a grip! Lord Forbid that we should associate sex with alcohol. I think I'll put in a complaint about 'Miserable Old Git' beer on the grounds that it's ageist!

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Devoid of love ???

9 Chickweed Lane

April fool fairy sold on internet

An April Fool's Day prankster has sold the mummified remains of a "dead fairy" for nearly £300.
Magicians' prop maker Dan Baines, 31, from London, was flooded with e-mails on 1 April when he published pictures of his creation online.

He claimed a dog walker had found the tiny corpse at Firestone Hill in Duffield, Derbyshire.

Mr Baines, formerly of Derby, later admitted it was a hoax, but sold the fairy on an internet site for £280.

An account on his website read: "The 8in remains, complete with wings, skin, teeth and flowing red hair, have been examined by anthropologists and forensic experts who can confirm the body is genuine."

Conspiracy theorists did not believe him when he admitted the convincing model was a hoax.

He said: "There are still a lot of people who believe it's real. It's started quite a lot of conspiracy theories. One claims that the fact I revealed it was a hoax was because of government pressure to stop people digging the ground up."
"Dead fairy" page on Dan Baines' website

TV cheat guilty of assault over coughing

TV game show cheat Major Charles Ingram came close to tears yesterday after he was convicted of assaulting a boy who coughed in his face.

He was found guilty even though the 13-year-old admitted in court that he had 'made up' a lot of his evidence.

During the trial, Ingram said: 'Every time I go out someone coughs in my vicinity. It happens hundreds of times. I can be watching TV and comedians like Jasper Carrott can cough and I know it's directed at me because he's a director of Celador [the production company which makes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?].

'Or a minister in Parliament coughs, and it's recorded in Hansard, or an easyJet pilot coughs.'

All these coughs were jokes at his expense, he said.

YOU AT THE BACK! - stop clearing your throat!

AOL wipes thousands of emails

Thousands of e-mails have disappeared from cyberspace after inboxes were mistakenly wiped by an Internet service provider.

Customers of AOL all over Britain have been left fuming at the error – with no prospect of getting the messages back.

Jacqueline Fleming lost 2,000 e-mails. 'My stomach started churning,' she said of the moment she realised what had happened.

'There were business e-mails, sentimental ones and even details of my holiday booking.'

To add insult to injury, AOL wiped her inbox again a few weeks later.

Heather Sager lost about 1,500 business e-mails, while AOL customer Robin Harrod lost saved messages three times.

When they tried to ring AOL they were told the firm was not liable for the lost e-mails.

Consumer watchdog Which? is investigating the complaints. It said AOL initially tried to blame customers for the loss of the messages, saying inboxes were too full or computers were faulty.

Although only about ten customers contacted Which?, Ms Fleming said message boards showed many others had suffered the same problem.

Writer Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84

One of the outstanding figures of modern US literature, Kurt Vonnegut, has died aged 84 in New York.

He became a cult figure among students in the 1960s and 1970s with his classics of US counterculture. He wrote plays, essays and short fiction.

The defining moment of his life was the firebombing of Dresden, in Germany, by allied forces in 1945 - an event he witnessed as a young prisoner of war.

His experience was the basis of his best-known work, Slaughterhouse Five.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Nude inline skater to raise profile

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
A champion speedskater has shed her clothes in a bid to raise the profile of the sport and attract a sponsor.

Nicole Begg, the 19-year-old inline skating 10,000-metre points elimination race world champion, agreed to the photoshoot after becoming frustrated at a lack of recognition back home.

'Not too many people are into speedskating here, but it is huge elsewhere,' explained the Kiwi.

She also shrugged off fears that baring all would detract from her achievements in the sport.

'Lots of sports stars, both male and female, have done this sort of thing,' she added.

Nicole hopes that the more people get to see the photos, the more people will learn about the sport and help it grow in stature.

Well, it would be rude not to help wouldn't it?

I agree! ... and just so the girls don't feel neglected ........


Delivery men held their heads in horror after a £45,000 grand piano crashed off a lorry.

Music lovers spent two years raising cash for the half-ton Bösendorfer, reports The Sun.

Organiser Penny Adie, 54, was ready with her camera as specialist removers arrived at an arts centre in Barkham, Devon. But she watched in horror as it fell 14ft off the tail-lift.

It hit a set of granite steps and ended up wrecked in a ditch.

Penny said: "We are numb." Her husband John, 61, added: "We'll have to start fund-raising again."

The removal firm refused to comment.

What a way to spend Easter

What a waste of good wine (c:=
What can I say that would not be regarded as chauvinistic or misogynistic?

Johnny Cash's house destroyed by fire

The lakeside Tennessee home of late country music superstar Johnny Cash has been destroyed in a fire.
It burned down on Tuesday while renovations were being carried out for its new owner, Bee Gee Barry Gibb.

The interior of the house, in Hendersonville, Tennessee, was used in the video for Cash's final hit, his 2002 cover of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt.

Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, lived in the house from 1968 until their deaths, months apart, in 2003.

... it went down, down, down
as the flames crept higher
and it burned, burned, burned
in a ring of fire.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Mannequins have feelings too .......

I came across this photo while cruising the internet and I get the impression that she is downright unhappy with her lot. Well, can you blame her? That's a really crap dress that she has been made to wear, why couldn't they have given her something more elegant, more fashionable - something like this - and really brighten up her day?

The Last Autumn Journey

The Last Autumn Journey, is an animation which attempts to capture the beauty and serenity of leaves dancing in the wind, brightly colored by the warm tones of autumn.

Breathe (Respire)

Director: Jerome Combe & Stephane Hamache
Music: Mickey 3D - "Respire"

The Balloon

The story is about a dream after a traffic accident.
Animation by: Bum-Jin Lee

Friday, 6 April 2007

CityJet's first female pilot

Next week Catherine Cousins (23) will pilot her first commercial flight for CityJet. The former Victoria College pupil from Belfast talks to Chrissie Russell about life as the airline's youngest female pilot, why finding love helped her achieve her dream job and how anyone can recognise a pilot at a party

Everyone knows the standard pilot joke," quips Catherine Cousins: " How do you know a pilot at a party? Don't worry, he'll tell you."

It's fair to say that many people's image of pilots will fit this stereotype - the self-assured alpha male cashing in on his four-engine jet to get the ladies. But Catherine couldn't be further from this hackneyed cliché. For a start she is 5ft 4in and petite, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She is quietly spoken but, above anything else, she is resolutely self-deprecating and not at all arrogant.

The first female Master Blender at Bushmills Distillery

Some call the amber liquid the nectar of the gods. To others it's the devil's buttermilk. Scholars say the word whiskey comes from the Irish phrase 'uisce beatha', meaning 'water of life'. But to Helen Mulholland, the first woman Master Blender at the 400-year-old Bushmills Distillery, whiskey is even more important than that. She gives Jane Bell an education on the finer points

It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it. As the first woman Master Blender at the Old Bushmills Distillery, Helen Mulholland nurses some of our finest whiskeys through long years of maturation to the very pinnacle of perfection.

Like a mother with her children, she knows the nuances of all her brood - from the "gentle giant" Original, with its "sweetness in the cheeks" aftertaste, to the "loveable rogue" Black Bush which " kind of does it its own way", packing a velvet gloved punch.

The fragrant 10-year-old evokes memories of apple pie baking in Granny's kitchen, while the full-bodied 16-year-old has a hint of dark chocolate and leather and the luxurious, elegant 21-year-old bursts with flavours " full of Christmas".

Helen waxes lyrical about whiskey the way other women salivate over designer shoes. For a woman who spends most of her working day in laboratory conditions, she has the soul of a poet. Helen is the Jilly Goulden of the hard stuff.
Belfast Telegraph:

I'm not sure if this article is about whiskey or sex (c:=

It was 40 years ago today ... (well almost)

Oasis, The Killers and Razorlight are to cover songs from The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to mark the album's 40th anniversary.

James Morrison, The Fratellis, Travis and the Kaiser Chiefs are among the other acts taking part in the special recording sessions for BBC Radio 2.

The engineer in charge of the original 1967 sessions will use the same equipment to record the new versions.

The results will be aired on Radio 2 on 2 June, a day after the anniversary.

The original album was released on 1 June 1967 and went on to be regarded as one of the best and most influential releases in rock history.
There will be a lot of taping going on that night (c:=

Greek Church attacks history book

Controversy is raging in Greece over a new school history book, which critics say is designed to improve relations with Greece's ancient rival, Turkey.

Leading opposition is the Orthodox church, which says the book waters down the severity of Turkish brutality towards Greece over the centuries. BBC:

... and there I was thinking that the church was supposed to preach love and forgiveness!

"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."Leviticus 19:18

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:43

Holy water hit in Irish bug scare

A contamination scare in the west of Ireland has seen bottles of holy water being replaced.

Up to 90,000 homes and businesses are at risk from cryptosporidium pollution in County Galway, which experts believe could last for up to six months. The parasite causes severe stomach pains and diarrhoea and has made more than 120 people in the area ill.

Catholic Church authorities are also taking the issue seriously and have decided to use spring water rather than tap in an Easter ceremony. About 3,000 bottles of holy water are blessed on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, in Tuam, County Galway.

Father Stephen Farragher, administrator at Tuam Cathedral, said that although Catholics blessed themselves with consecrated water, some people had been known to also drink it.
He said that in particular it would be children who came across the bottles who would be more likely to try a taste. "We fill about 3,000 holy water bottles and these are blessed on Holy Saturday," he said. "But we felt there was a public health issue because I have seen people drinking holy water. "And experience has taught us that these holy water bottles can end up anywhere.

"I got a photograph a few years ago of a woman who visited Elvis's grave at Graceland and in the photograph was a bottle of holy water from the Cathedral in Tuam." "There are people who use it when they want cars blessed, and it can end up in glove compartments for luck," he said.

Ireland's Environment Minister Dick Roche has said he plans to travel to Galway to personally examine efforts to deal with the contamination.

The Irish Hotels Federation also issued warnings to all its members within the contaminated zone to put guests on alert. Visitors are being told to use boiled or bottled water even when brushing teeth, washing food or making ice cubes. Hotels have also been asked to tell residents that while it is safe to take a bath, they should not swallow shower or tap water.

Irish city crippled by water emergency
By Stephen Fottrell
BBC News, Galway

A major water crisis has left scores of people ill and tens of thousands at risk from contamination in a west of Ireland city. Galway's water supply has been hit by an outbreak of the parasite cryptosporidium, with up to 170 people now confirmed to have been hit by a serious stomach bug as a result.

The outbreak has severely affected homes and businesses in Ireland's third-biggest city and residents have been warned that the crisis could last for months. Doctors have warned that the parasite could be life threatening, especially to young children, the elderly and people with low immune systems.

Tests found that the city's water supply contained nearly 60 times the safe limit of cryptosporidium pollution.

Residents have already been unable to drink or use water for food preparation for weeks and have complained that no free clean water has been made available by the authorities.
Parents with young families have also expressed real concerns and demanded action.

Galway City Council has told the BBC News website that they have been advised by the health authorities that tankers of free water could create further health problems, by increasing the risk of spreading bacteria.

The mayor of Galway, Niall O Brolchain, has called on the Irish government to provide more funding to upgrade water treatment services.
However, Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche said that the government had already made 21m euros available for such projects in Galway, but the local council had failed to make use of the money
If that is the case then I think Galway council needs to answer a few questions, such as 'where did this money go'?

Business leaders have also expressed worries over the impact the crisis will have on what is traditionally the beginning of the tourist season in the west of Ireland.

One hotelier said it was costing him up to 2,000 euros a week to provide bottled water for his guests, and he was now being forced to install his own filtration system.

However, Galway GP Martin Daly warned that filtration was not the answer.
"The newest water treatment plant we have is 40 years old," he said.

"People have been warning for years about this. Filtration is not the answer. We need to go to the source of the contamination to solve it."

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Drugs smuggled in vibrator (almost)

A Ukrainian woman was arrested after customs officers caught her trying to smuggle drugs inside a vibrator.

Svetlana Ivanyshka, 26, was asked to open her suitcases at Kiev airport after guards got a tip off that a young woman on her flight from New Delhi was carrying drugs.

They found a bag of hashish stuffed in the sex toy's battery compartment.

A border police spokesman said: "She told us that she had put the drugs in a vibrator because she thought no one would ever think of touching it, let alone looking inside it.

Sam Fox statue scrapped

Plans for a statue of former page three girl Samantha Fox in Serbia have been scrapped.

The tribute was ditched after she snubbed fans and then failed to turn up for a ministerial dinner staged in her honour after a concert in Serbia.

The former pin-up said: "The crowd made rude comments about my breasts."

The British singer had stormed off after the gig in the central Serbian town of Cacak after the crowd started singing a chant about wanting to see her breasts.

Local media said the hall she had played in had been only half full and the audience had made it clear they were not there to hear her sing.

Heh Heh!

Bette Davis

Bette Davis (April 5, 1908 – October 6, 1989), born Ruth Elizabeth Davis

Loreena McKennitt

tonight's the night, isn't it? You lucky so-and-so (c:=
we are waiting eagerly for the review, with photos and video.
I just wish that I could be there.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

9 Chickweed Lane

To Chickweed Lane->

No alternative to deal - Paisley

In the first full-length interview since agreeing to go into power-sharing with Sinn Fein, Ian Paisley says he had no alternative but to do a deal with Sinn Fein "for the good of Northern Ireland".

So people have been working for years to bring about a lasting peace while this **** did everything he could to sabotage any meaningful progress and now he's going to step in and take the credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

I find it odd that he has never before done anything "for the good of Northern Ireland". I think it most likely that it was made plain to him that he would be out on his arse if he didn't do a deal "for the good of Northern Ireland".

Gruesome April 1 prank

A Chinese man is divorcing his wife after she pretended to hang herself as an April Fool's joke

It happened when Mr Lin, of Shanghai, came home on April 1 after a business trip, reports the Shanghai Evening Post.

"When I opened the door, I saw a black object swinging in the air. When I turned on the light I was shocked to see my wife had hanged herself," he said.

Lin immediately called police and the property office. Office staff helped Lin take down the 'body' while waiting for the police.

"Suddenly, she sat up, started to laugh hysterically, and said this was my April Fool's Day present," says Lin angrily.

His wife, Han, a 26-year-old actress, is always playing jokes on Lin as a way of keeping the marriage fresh. She says: "I just try to surprise him everyday."

But Lin has has had enough: "I feel as if I'm sitting on a bomb everyday. We're getting divorced!

"I can't stand the jokes and games anymore. She hides the dishes in the washing machine, or changes the lock on the door, so that I can only enter by giving the correct answer to some stupid questions, and so on."

Can't say I blame him.

Joan of Arc relics 'are mummies'

Sacred relics thought to belong to Joan of Arc are forgeries fashioned from Egyptian mummies, scientists have claimed.

The holy artefacts, believed to have survived the pyre upon which the French heroine was burned at the stake in 1431, are recognised by the Church as genuine.

But forensic experts who were allowed to test the remains dated the relics to more than 2,000 years ago – not the 15th century.


You've got mail ...

It began as a candid note between two mates who had been out for some drinks and a curry the night before.

But now thousands are reading the crude message by City law firm employee Matthew Thompson after he accidentally sent it to all his colleagues at solicitors Addleshaw Goddard

Thinking he was addressing a friend, he wrote: 'How're the guts today? I haven't farted all day but I feel a monster dump coming.'

The e-mail spread like wildfire to all 1,500 colleagues of the firm in London, Leeds and Manchester as Mr Thompson desperately tried, in vain, to recall it.

Within minutes the message had been forwarded beyond the company, with a photo of admin worker Mr Thompson helpfully attached.

Soon it was being read across the City and beyond.

One recipient wrote: 'This is the funniest thing I have seen in ages. How embarrassing!'

Another commented: 'Having a bad day? It could be worse...' Calls to Mr Thompson were being diverted to his voicemail when Metro called.

A spokesman for the firm said: 'We are aware of the e-mail.'

Baby named Metallica rocks Sweden

A Swedish couple has run into trouble with authorities for trying to name their baby Metallica.
Michael and Karolina Tomaro are locked in a court battle with the country's National Tax Authority about naming their daughter after the rock band.

The six-month-old has been baptised Metallica, but tax officials have dubbed the name "inappropriate".

Under Swedish law, both first names and surnames need to win the approval of authorities before they can be used.

Offensive, unsuitable or inappropriate names, as well as those that could "cause discomfort for the one using it" cannot be used.

Last month, Goteburg's County Administrative Court ruled there was no reason to block the name, adding that a Swedish woman already has the middle name Metallica.

However, the Tomaro family ran into trouble when they tried to register the name with tax authorities before applying for a passport.

Tax officials objected to the decision, sending the case to a higher court.

"We've had to cancel trips and can't get anywhere because we can't get her a passport without an approved name," said Mrs Tomaro.

Baby Metallica is not the first Swedish child to fall foul of Swedish name laws - the names Ikea and Veranda have also been rejected in the past.

The name Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 - pronounced Albin - was also rejected by authorities in 1996. The boy's parents had chosen the name as a protest against Swedish naming laws. I thought that was pronounced 'brief exclamation mark!'

But, the name Google managed to pass muster in 2005, when Oliver Google Kai was named by his parents, search engine expert Kelias Kai and his wife Carol.

The Local:

Frankly, I can't see what the hell it has to do with the tax officials - if people want to give their children stupid names it's really up to them.

See also: 'My name means penis'

Some headlines

BA is worst for losing baggage ... so tell us something we don't know.

Maze workmen unearth secret escape tunnel

Angry girl takes bite out of Hamburger ... unfortunately this was a male resident of Hamburg.

Rare bird evades bird spotters by quickly dying

Paisley and Irish PM in handshake

Who could have imagined this, a short time ago?

Crime novelist Dibdin dies at 60

British author Michael Dibdin, known for his Italian detective Aurelio Zen, has died aged 60, his publisher says.
The Wolverhampton-born novelist published his first book, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, in 1978.

His first Zen novel, Ratking, was inspired by four years spent teaching English in Italy. It won the Gold Dagger award for crime fiction in 1988.

He is survived by third wife, Katherine Beck, a daughter from each of his first two marriages and three stepchildren.

Dibdin's family moved extensively around the UK while he was a child.

He went to school in Northern Ireland and later studied English Literature at Sussex University before travelling to Canada to take a master's degree at the University of Edmonton.

He died in the US on 30 March after a short illness.

I for one will miss him, I have really enjoyed his novels and especially his Aurelio Zen novels. This will leave a gap in the crime writing field that will be difficult to fill.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007


I think I may have mentioned this before: - Tartiflette is a French dish from the Savoie region. It originated in the valley of Aravis, home of Reblochon cheese. It is not, however, a traditional dish and was, in fact, invented and launched only in the 1980s by the Reblochon trade union in an attempt to increase sales of the cheese. Different valleys in the region have different methods of producing tartiflette and there is probably more than one recipe per village.

The word tartiflette is perhaps derived from the Piedmontese word for potato, tartiflâ, although a number of European languages have words for potato that are similar.

Well anyway, I discovered that our local supermarket is selling reblochon so of course I had to buy a piece and have a go at making the said tartiflette (with great success I must add).

This is a recipe I found on

Ingredients :
1 reblochon (or similar cheese of choice)
500g potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 medium onions, halved and finely sliced
250g bacon, chopped
Oil for frying
Recipe :
Preheat the oven to 200°C
Fry the onions until soft, add the bacon and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry the potatoes in a little oil until browned.
Arrange the potatoes, onions and bacon in an oven-proof dish.
Slice/grate the cheese and layer over the potatoes.
Bake for 25 minutes

and combined with one I found on which lists the ingredients as:

1.2 kg potatoes, 200 g diced bacon, 1 onion, 1 reblochon cheese, 2 tablespoons crème fraiche, 1 bottle Apremont (Savoy white wine)
and adjusted the weights and measures (almost) accordingly. It is fairly simple to cook so don't be afraid to have a go. There are numerous versions of the recipe on the internet but my preference is for the simple version without herbs. I also used smoked bacon, which gives it an extra kick.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any Apremont but did find a decent substitute (though I may have been a bit too free with the amount of wine) and the end result was absolutely delicious - complemented perfectly by a St Emilion red (courtesy of my daughter).

Paris Photographie 1900 - 1968

This is the cover of a book I bought in Paris with photos by many of the great photographers of Paris: Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson etc. - this particular photo was taken by Willy Ronis (another photographer whose work I admire greatly). Those of you wishing to purchase a copy the publisher is Hazan and the ISBN 2-85025-799-0 and I believe it is available at

Paris Photos: Peugeot Showroom

Of course from Arc de Triomphe it's a natural progression along Boulevard de la Grande Armée to the Peugeot showroom where they were displaying these 2 beauties.

Paris Photo: A novel approach to litter.

Walking along Avenue Kleber to the Arc de Triomphe I spotted this bike with its basket being used as a rubbish bin. I don't know how long the bike had been there - obviously long enough for rubbish to be piled in. Of course it's entirely possible that the bike's owner had consumed all this while cycling to work (c:=

Paris: Tour Eiffel

Of course we couldn't visit Paris and not take a photo (or two or three...) of the Eiffel Tower.

The tower from Avenue de Suffern

The tower with Paris' other famous tower (Montparnasse) in the background.

Two of the tower's massive pillars.

... and one of the gold statues by the Palais de Chaillot.