Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hamas : 4 - Israel : 374

Israel's cabinet is meeting to discuss proposals for an immediate suspension of air operations against Gaza.
Calls have come from Middle East peace-brokers including the US and EU foreign ministers. But Israeli leaders are reported to be split on the issue.
A foreign ministry spokesman said a unilateral 48-hour halt was "unrealistic", as long as Hamas continued to fire at Israel.

Palestinian officials say about 374 Palestinians have died in Israeli air strikes since Saturday;
4 Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza. BBC:

In my opinion, the only reason a unilateral 48-hour halt is "unrealistic" is because it doesn't suit their intention to wipe out the Palestinian population. The Israeli air strikes began less than a week after the expiry of a six-month-long ceasefire deal with Hamas.... which says to me that the Israelis were just waiting for an excuse to start hostilities again - that may well be a very simplistic view of the situation but as far as I can see that is the Israeli's main objective.

If the Israeli's really wanted to rid themselves of the Hamas they could move troops in and weed them out instead of indiscriminately bombing.

But, while condemning the Israeli action I really think that the Hamas should also be criticized for carrying out their action from within Gaza: by using civilians as cover for their operations and putting them at risk from the inevitable military retaliation they are also showing a total disregard for their lives.

Israeli air strike kills five daughters from one family as Gaza death toll passes 300.
Six months of secret planning - then Israel moves against Hamas

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Bon Jovi - Living on a prayer

We've got to hold on to what we've got
'cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love - we'll give it a shot.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Pilot: 'I'm not qualified to land'

A pilot flew 80 passengers from Cardiff to Paris then told them: "We have to turn back - I'm not qualified to land."

The pilot took the decision after thick fog cut visibility to 700 metres at Charles de Gaulle airport and he told passengers he was not trained to land the aircraft in such conditions.

So, they flew the 300 miles back to Cardiff airport - having left just hours earlier.


So, let me get this right - he's not qualified to land in Paris but he is qualified to land in Cardiff !? Strikes me as very odd. Anyhow, were there no other airports closer than Cardiff where he could have landed? Sounds to me like he shouldn't be flying at all.

Mr Blue Sky

New brew for Guinness anniversary

Guinness is to brew a special stout next year to mark its 250th anniversary, it is understood.

It is thought the commemorative beverage may be launched in March to coincide with St Patrick's Day.

The 250th anniversary marks the date which founder Arthur Guinness signed the lease on St James's Gate brewery in Dublin.
Oh yes!, we've heard this before - whatever happened to the red Guinness?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Missionary - D.M. Thomas

A harsh entry I had of it, Grasud;
the tiny shuttle strained to its limits
by radiation-belts, dust storms,
not to mention the pitiless heat which
hit it on plunging into the atmosphere
- its fire-shield clean vaporized; and then,
on landing, the utter cold and stillness
of a mountain-slope, cedar-trees and
what they call
snow. As I went numbly through the
routine I could do in my sleep -
mentalizing myself, smothering
my body and the shuttle in a
defensive neutrino-screen, hiding them
securely in the snow,
I looked up and, between the branches
of the cedars, could see
the mother-ship sliding away through
the dark, like an unfixed star, westwards
to its other destinations: that was
the worst moment of all, Grasud! I'd have
called it back! So lonely, such an alien
world they'd left me in. Goodbye, Lagash!
goodbye, Theremon! fare well! (But no
voice now even to make a gesture against
the silence.)
_________Then the agonizingly slow
descent, towards the village,
my spirit dark, already missing
not only Theremon and Lagash, but
that other friend, my body's familiar
chemistry. By now I felt my
vaunted courage ebbing, Grasud; I think
those years of training
alone forced me to go on, into the village,
into the house, inns, into
- after much vain searching - a ripened
womb; there superseding
(not without a pang) its foetus-spirit.
How black that airlock,
after the six suns of our own system,
I needn't tell you. Even space,
in recollection, seemed a blaze of
supernovas. But I settled to my task,
wrestling to get on terms with carbon
compounds fearsomely different from
the synthetic ones I'd practised in.
Of course, as I was born and the years
passed, it seemed as natural to go
on man's two legs as on our Vardian
limbs. But when these pains eased,
one far bitterer grew: my seeds were cast
on stony ground; the more
I exhorted,
- the more I spoke, obliquely, of
the many mansions of our Vardian
Commonwealth, and of the place
that could be theirs - the more it
seemed those simple, instinctive creatures
lied, stole, slandered, fornicated,
killed. . . . Grasud, how often, sick with
failure, only the words of Vrak
sustained me - 'a world lies in your hands.'
That was the time he
sent for the three of us when
all ears were ringing with the news of
the three life-planets, found in
NDT 1065. If we had hopes,
we masked them. His words to us, for
all that's happened, I'll hoard always.
'Thoorin, Lagash, Theremon,' I hear him
saying, 'I'm sending you. . . . you're young,
but this is what you've trained for, bio-
enlightenment. You've done well.'
And then - 'a world lies in your hands.'
So, Grasud, I toiled. In the end
I tried too hard; the time of space-
rendezvous was almost come. Anyway,
they killed me.
___________Yes, it was hard,
as you can well imagine,
on the return-journey, to avoid feeling
the faintest warp of
jealousy, as Theremon and
Lagash talked with
the happy emissaries of their
planets. - What does Vrak say? He is
kind, promises - after this loathsome
rest - another
chance, though not of course on that
planet. My 'inability' (he avoids
the word failure) to raise them
ethically to the point where we could
safely announce ourselves, proves, he
says, there's no point trying again
for a few thousand years. Meanwhile,
he suggests, maybe some of my words
will start to bear fruit. . . . He is kind!
His last words were 'Forget about it,
Thoorin; enjoy your stay on
Atar.' Forget!
with the relaxed faces of my friends a
perpetual thorn!

D.M. Thomas

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Easy Quiz

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What color is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Answers will be published in a couple of days - why not post your answers in the comments and see how good your general knowledge is.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Batman to the rescue

A mystery businessman dressed up as Batman is bringing seasonal cheer to Sheffield.
The caped Christmas crusader has been spotted lending a hand at a soup kitchen and in a charity shop at a children's hospice.
But despite his good works and charitable donations totalling £10,000, the Yorkshire Batman's identity is still unknown.
He is known to be a local entrepreneur, but wears a mask at all times and speaks with a fake American accent.
"I don't want to reveal my identity because it's more important to highlight the charities," he told the Daily Express.
"I don't care if some people think I'm bonkers. If I inspire others to give their time and money to good causes this Christmas, it's been worth it.
"My message is that you don't need to be a superhero, or super wealthy, to give to deserving causes. If you can give cash, or toys, that's fantastic. The most precious gift of all is your time."
Batman helped stack shelves and man the tills at Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice charity shop in the city, where staff said that his presence sent takings through the roof.
"At first we thought he was a joker, but he turned out to be a true superhero," said one shop worker. "We're thinking of getting a Bat light installed so we can send him a signal whenever business is slow." Ananova:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

New Wine for Seniors

California vintners in the Napa Valley area, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night. The new wine will be marketed as Pinot More.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Spanish fake kidnap mother jailed

A Spanish woman has been found guilty of staging the fake kidnapping of her two children seven times in order to obtain ransom money from her husband.

Over five years, Josefa Sanchez Vargas conned her estranged husband out of more than 600,000 euros (£535,000), saying she had to pay the kidnappers.

But he eventually became suspicious, and hired a detective to investigate. BBC News:

He eventually became suspicious - after SEVEN fake kidnappings. What an idiot! Wouldn't you have thought he would have become suspicious after the second or third kidnapping but seven? He has to be lacking a few brain cells.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Santa demands toy ransom

A mystery Santa demanded a toy ransom for an orphanage after pinching a builder's £3,000 digger.

Jaroslaw Kryzwonos was ordered to buy £200 of toys for the children's home in Lublin, Poland, in a phone call from a man identifying himself as Father Christmas.

After dropping off the sackloads of toys, the builder found his digger parked back where it had been stolen from.

A local police spokesman said: "This must be a very tough time for the economy if even Santa is trying his hand at kidnapping."

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Enya - Oíche Chiúin

Just had to re-post this.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Thanks to Alan in Belfast another amusing link: MARRAMGRASS
- a superb “new psychometric test”, “free from unwieldy four-letter acronyms”.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

on your bike - take 2 (updated)

..... the previous photo was so poor I just had to get a much better one

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Simon & Garfunkel - 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night

This is the early evening edition of the news.

The recent fight in the House of Representatives was over the open housing section of the Civil Rights Bill. Brought traditional enemies together but it left the defenders of the measure without the votes of their strongest supporters.
President Johnson originally proposed an outright ban covering discrimination by everyone for every type of housing but it had no chance from the start and everyone in Congress knew it.
A compromise was painfully worked out in the House Judiciary Committee.

In Los Angeles today comedian Lenny Bruce died of what was believed to be an overdose of narcotics. Bruce was 42 years old.

Dr. Martin Luther King says he does not intend to cancel plans for an open housing march Sunday into the Chicago suburb of Cicero. Cook County Sheriff Richard Ogleby asked King to call off the march and the police in Cicero said they would ask the National Guard to be called out if it is held. King, now in Atlanta, Georgia, plans to return to Chicago Tuesday.

In Chicago Richard Speck, accused murderer of nine student nurses, was brought before a grand jury today for indictment. The nurses were found stabbed and strangled in their Chicago apartment.

In Washington the atmosphere was tense today as a special subcommittee of the House Committee on un-American activities continued its probe into anti-Vietnam war protests. Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting anti-war slogans.

Former Vice-President Richard Nixon says that unless there is a substantial increase in the present war effort in Vietnam, the U.S. should look forward to five more years of war. In a speech before the Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York, Nixon also said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single weapon working against the U.S.

That's the 7 o'clock edition of the news,Goodnight.

... it's christmas time

On a horse called autumn ...

I knew the title to my post was from a poem but I cannot find it on the internet so I dug out a book of poetry entitled 'Love, Love, Love - The new love poetry' first published 1967 by Corgi 552 07789 5, which has a lot of great poems and well worth hunting down - the price then was 25p (or 5 old shillings). I found another copy recently in a second hand book shop which set me back £2 but well worth every penny. The poem is by Brian Patten and I might post it later.

No need, I finally found a copy here: 'On a horse called autumn'