Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Pound in Your Pocket

Recalling that my parents bought our Geoff's piano for £12 made me wonder how much that would be in today's money so I had a look at This is Money website and according to their inflation calculator £12 would now be £203. That's just over two weeks' Retirement Pension these days.
Whilst there I found this graphic showing comparitive prices over the last 49 years. The most frightening price rise is for fish and chips which has risen by 7,400%. Caramba!

Fire and Piano

It's a cold winter's evening. You're tired. What you need to do is sit by the fire with a glass of whisky and listen to some soothing piano. Here's the fire and piano, bring your own whisky.
(Filmed at Lord Trousers' country retreat in Yorkshire).

Saturday, 30 January 2010


Phil has finished his refurbishment of my Les Paul and it had its first serious outing today with a band practice. Katanga! - the Di Marzio pick ups are so different. The key is to turn the pick ups up high and the volume down on the amplifier. Fantastic sound. And the new Grover machine heads make tuning so much easier as there's no slack or slippage in the gearing. What's more, the band practice went much better than I feared, given my lack of practice. We got some new songs sorted out quite well, and revived some old ones:
Valerie - The Zutons
My Hero -Foo Fighters
Steady As She Goes - Raconteurs
Stumble and Fall - Razorlight
Can't Stop - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Warning Sign - Coldplay
Brief attempt at Cochise by Audioslave but very sloppy. Next time!

Liar Liar Pants On Bliar

You should make up your own minds about Tony Blair and his cohorts and the rights and wrongs of the Iraq War. Their statements are on the Iraq Inquiry website. It remains to be seen what conclusions Lord Chilcott draws, and we should remember that this was not a trial, but an exercise intended "to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned." But I think I have concluded that:
  • It had been American policy to secure regime change in Iraq since at least1998 but Clinton wasn't prepared to go to war. Dubya Bush and his neo-con cronies, however, were all too keen to remove Saddam and were merely waiting for a pretext for military action. The atrocity on September 11 provided that, notwithstanding that there was never any link between Al Qaeeda and Saddam.
  • Blair had said to Bush that he would be stand with him in taking military action for regime change whatever happened, but he wanted to seek approval via the United Nations and his own Parliament. He likes to present himself in a cloak of righteousness. Blair had convinced himself that Saddam was a security risk for 'the West', although there was no evidence that Saddam had the slightest intention of attacking anyone except Iran and the Kurds (and maybe Israel). The Blair machine then set about producing a basis on which to justify an invasion of Iraq.
  • Lord Goldsmith was 'persuaded' to change his view on the legality of military invention without a clear mandate from the United Nations. The Security Council was in a quandary; whilst Iraq might have been in breach on UN resolutions so were other states, such as Israel. So there was never going to be a 'second resolution'.
  • Military planning had begun fairly early in 2002 and once troops and so forth were mobilised and in place, there was no way Blair and Bush were going to pull back.
Essentially, the decision to go to war had been taken early on and the rest was window dressing. Who knows what it is about Blair's psychological make up that made him so determined to stick with Bush and the USA. I don't think this makes Blair a 'war criminal' although it does make him a duplicitous, and self-deluding, bastard. The result has been that far from making the world a safer place, the Iraq War has made it less secure and empowered Al Qaeeda and Iran. Meanwhile, lives and resources have been squandered. What makes it doubly annoying is that there were those who were telling Blair at the time that he'd got it all wrong - but he wouldn't listen. So the lesson to be learned? Be careful who you vote always elect a politician.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Happiness is a Beatles Remaster

I pondered slowly and cautiously about whether or not to buy the latest re-issue of The Beatles' albums - how many times am I going to buy the same stuff? I got them in mono, then stereo then on CD. Hasn't McCartney had enough of my money? Moreover, I tend to listen to music mostly in mp3 format via iPod or PC these days so I queried whether it was worthwhile, given that mp3 loses a fair bit of dynamics and so forth. Eventually, however, I was tempted by a limited edition box set for £28 comprising Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road and I am glad I took the plunge. Of course, one has to play them on a proper stereo system with proper speakers to get the full benefit but it is wonderful. The remastering has been done exceptionally well - especially the vocals, and the guitars sound so crisp. And you can hear all the little tweaks and extra bits that were previously lost in the mix. So I've gone ahead and got the White Album as well and I'm about to spin it on the groove machine...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Carpet Catastrophe

We measured the floor in the auxiliary accommodation as 5m by 2.3m and went to the carpet shop and ordered some carpet accordingly. The fitter turned up today, chirpy chappy, and he set out fitting it, only to discover that the piece of carpet is 3cm too short. Apparently, although you might order carpet in  a 5m width, the manufacturing process means that it can turn out to be plus or minus several cm either way i.e 4.97m or 5.03m. The fitter chappie says that you should order it in 5.10m width - but that would mean it would be 4m the other way incurring a lot of wastage and extra expenditure, which is why the shop had ordered it in 5m width. (You can't get 5.10m by 3m). So, bad luck mate, your bit came out 3cm short. Ho hum. Any road up, the helpful fitter chappie has cut a strip from the side off-cut to fill in the gap (there's 0.7m spare that side), the only problem being that the weave goes in the other direction so, on close inspection, it looks a bit odd. I think we'll be putting the wardrobe or some such at that end of the room!
We live and we learn. Apparently.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Ivories Move On

We said farewell to our old piano today. It has had to make way for Phil's drums, amplifiers, wires, electric piano and so forth. The piano was bought for £12 by my parents second-hand back in 1961 or 1962, as far as I can remember, for my brother Geoff. I think it was bought from or via his piano teacher and he passed it on to the Xorg Collective when he bought himself a nice new one. All three Xorgorinos have since learned to play so thanks, Geoff. The old piano will remain in active service; it has been bought by a chap in Welwyn Garden City whose two young daughters are keen to learn to play. Ah well, another bit of our childhood goes on its way...Meanwhile, here's a piano-related joke:-

A pianist and singer are rehearsing 'Autumn Leaves' for a concert and the pianist says, 'OK. We will start in G minor and then on the third bar, modulate to B major and go into 5/4. When you get to the bridge, modulate back down to F# minor and alternate a 4/4 bar with a 7/4 bar. On the last A section go into double time and slowly modulate back to G minor.'
The singer answers, 'Crikey, I don't think I can remember all of that.'
The pianist replies, 'Well, that's what you did last time.'

The Great Wallpapering Disaster

We are currently refurbishing the auxiliary accommodation area at Xorg HQ. Insulation material has been installed on the walls and ceiling to reduce heat loss and improve soundproofing but they didn't tell us that this material is a bugger to wallpaper. Apparently you are supposed to apply paste to the wall as well as to the paper when, of course, in our naivety we applied paste only to the paper. The result is some seriously unstuck wallpaper. This photo shows the worst example and there are quite a few places where only parts of the paper have stuck leaving raised bumps elsewhere. We are now faced with the decision whether to try and bodge it or scrap it and start again. I think we all know what we ought to do but can't yet face up to it. I don't think duct tape or WD40 is going to be sufficient on this occasion. Ho Hum.
Still, look on the positive side: it's been a learning experience.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I Know My Place

The Guardian reports that the Tories are "losing the battle over class" and that one third of voters see the Tories as the party of the upper classes. There is a huge debate to be had over the issue of 'class' in the UK and where the divisions fall. For example, a lot of people consider themselves to be working class socially although their income and standard of living is middle class e.g. a train driver on the London Underground earns £40K a year but would probably say he is working class. And not many people admit to being upper class for fear of being labelled arrogant.
But in any case, David Cameron scored a 'class issue' own goal last week on the subject of teacher training when he showed himself up as a toffee-nosed snob by saying it will be the Tories' policy that teachers should ideally have 'first class' degrees and that candidates with only a third class degree would be denied funding for teacher training. He actually said he wants it to be an elite profession.
What's wrong with this?
First, there is no evidence that having a First, a 2:1 or 2:2 would necessarily make you a better teacher than someone with a third class degree. Being a good teacher requires something more of a person than merely being brainy or good at passing exams. You have to be able to communicate enthusiasm for learning to children from all backgrounds and social classes. Many of us will have had experience of teachers who, although extremely well qualified academically, are just no good at (or couldn't care less about) getting it across to others and inspiring otherwise disinterested children. And yet I've known others without a degree who could get children involved and enthusiastic within minutes. Moreover, there are many good teachers (now approaching retirement) who do not have a degree at all but instead completed a three-year teacher training course - I think it was 1976 when it became a requirement for teachers to have  a degree. Basically, Mr Cameron is missing the point of what makes a good teacher.
Secondly, if you want to employ the 'high-flyers' you're going to have to pay 'high-flyers' wages or else they'll all be off to work for J P Morgan after the first difficult teaching practice. But more more importantly to be a good teacher you have to want to be a teacher and not just interested in money.
Thirdly, Mr Cameron's views imply a criticism of all those unfortunate wretches who have only managed to get a third. This casts a bit of a slur on some otherwise useful members of society such as:
Carol Vorderman - a maths whizz and TV presenter.
Fiona Shackleton - Paul McCartney's divorce lawyer, and solicitor for Princes William and Harry.
Stanley Baldwin - three times Prime Minister (a Tory).
W H Auden - quite good at poetry, and he actually worked as a tutor and schoolmaster for a while. And he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford.
Philip Pullman - successful author, and he was a teacher in Oxford and at Westminster College before that.
It would appear that this is indeed a 'class' issue for Mr Cameron resulting from his own educational experience in independent schools and at Eton, where teachers generally have not been through the usual route for teacher training. Unlike State schools, those in the independent sector require only that teachers have a 'good degree' from a 'good university' (although they no doubt prefer candidates also to have Qualified Teacher Status).
Mr Cameron, of course, does have a First Class degree. It's surprising that someone  apparently so clever should come up with such half-baked ideas.

Monday, 25 January 2010

R L Stevenson Alert

A couple of months ago I was rattling on about my favourite writers, one of whom is Robert Louis Stevenson. I mentioned the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - well, if you still haven't got round to reading this story you can go to the BBC iPlayer and listen to Tim Piggot-Smith reading it for you. Highly recommended. Hurry up - it won't be there for much longer. Only 11 hours, in fact, before Episode 1 vanishes from the ether.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Beaucoup de Retours Heureux

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Django Reinhardt. Innovative, unorthodox, and supremely talented. Something about his music just makes a chap feel better. All his stuff is now out of copyright so you can get any number of anthologies, box sets or whatever quite cheap.
 More at all about jazz.

Jeff Beck is Rather Good.

Jeff Beck with Jimmy Page on 'rhythm' guitar. Mr Page gets the prize for obscure guitar - a Fender electric 12-string. Jeff Beck is playing the Albert Hall in October, and meanwhile with Eric Clapton  at the O2 next month.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Tell Me About It, Glenys!

Baroness Kinnock, Minister of State, complained yesterday that the Foreign Office is facing a £110 million budget shortfall as a result of currency fluctuations i.e. the value of the pound has fallen against other currencies. It used to be that The Treasury protected the Foreign Office against this difficulty because most of the Foreign Office's expenditure is overseas and they were thus vulnerable to currency fluctuations, making long-term financial planning a tad tricky. But The Treasury have recently gone all hard-headed and mollycoddle them no more.
When El Presidente and I began the planning process for our building project in Cyprus, the pound was worth 20% more against the Euro than it is now. So I know how you feel Glenys; we're having to find more money than originally budgeted and we've cut back on our plans! Of course, what makes it doubly difficult to stomach is that it is mostly the Treasury's ineptitude that has caused the fall in the value of the pound. Moreover, if they hadn't been so paranoid about the Euro and had joined the Eurozone when we should have, there wouldn't be a problem!
When I worked for the Government, we used to have a phrase that kept cropping up - 'The Dead Hand of the Treasury'. No change there, then.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Putting the Heat on Tony Blair

The campaign group 38 Degrees is seeking support for some really strenuous and searching questioning of Tony Blair when he appears before the Chilcot Irag Inquiry. It seems unlikely that Blair will cave in and admit he got it all wrong and that he lied to us, but they want to make sure that he at least has a tough ride and is made to squirm. If you agree then you can sign up and add your suggested question for Blair.
Background: As far as I know, 38 Degrees is not a front for the Soviet Union, or a devious  double-bluff plot by MI5 to get the names of people who might think differently from The Powers That Be. They comprise the usual left-leaning types such as Greenpeace, The Big Issue, Reprieve, Amnesty International and The Body Shop and so forth. No party political affiliation. But any road up, I approve of any effort to make life less comfortable for Mr Blair.

Romantic Uke

(from Daze of Our Lives)

Tchaikovsky's early works for the ukulele were stupidly lost in 1878 during a poker game in Vienna.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Well. That's Cleared That Up!

(from All About Jazz, by Steve Chalke.)
Interviewer: What do you expect is in store for the future of jazz trumpet?
Yogi: I'm thinkin' there'll be a group of guys who've never met talkin' about it all the time...
Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it's right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.
Interviewer: I don't understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldnt know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don't understand.
Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.

Schadenfreude vol.3: That's No Way To Run A Battleship

Manchester United's owners are £716.5 million in debt, which is secured against the club. The club made a profit last year of £6.4 million, thanks only to the £80 million they got for the sale of Fancypants Ronaldo - the previous year they made a loss of £47 million, despite winning the Champions League and the Premier League. They paid £68.5 million in interest on their debts last year...! It beggars belief that a business can be run in this way, but there you go - the financial world is a rule unto itself. But maybe we can now see the real reason Sir Alex didn't want to pay for Mr Tevez to stay.


Here's the boy genius working on his next project: an effects pedal, guitarists for the use of. It's going to be a kind of overdrive thingy.  Phil is doing this in partnership with another guitarist chappie called Rohan who, whilst he's nifty on the fingerboard, is useless with a soldering iron. The components were bought as a kit from somewhere in Germany and unfortunately the instructions are only online, and in German. So there's been a bit of head scratching. There's a lot to be said for iterative trial and error as a learning process.

Schadenfreude vol.2: Carlos v. Gary

Nice to see Gary Neville up to his usual childish behaviour following Carlos Tevez's emphatic two-goal response to Neville's endorsement of Sir Alex's view that Carlos wasn't worth the £25 million asking price. Given Mr Neville's track record in this regard, I expect the FA will be asking him to explain himself. You'd think he'd realise that there'd be photographers watching and waiting to catch him out. It'll be a tense second leg next week...maybe Manchester City will buy a new defence in the meantime. No doubt they'll be sending a couple of hefty bodyguards round to accompany Mr Tevez wherever he goes for the next week or so.

Les Paul Renovation Sitrep Update Scenario

The new Di Marzio pickups are in and working, but further remedial work has been necessary on the nut in order to lower the action. Meanwhile, the machine heads are to be replaced - one has split completely and another is cracked. So we've got some 'Grover' replacements on order. It's taking a while, but looking good! I'll have to learn to play it properly now...

I Want One!

NASA is disposing of its retired space shuttles. A snip at $28.8 million.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Το κτήριο έχει αρχίσει!

After several years of back and forth and here and there, work on our building project in Cyprus is finally under way. (See previous posts). The Building Licence came through from the Larnaca Municipality (thanks to El Presidente's cousin), and after much chivvying the architect got three different quotes from builders and we've taken the plunge. We decided after all to employ Uncle Hambis' friend who we met on our last visit. He's been dead keen to get the job, phoning the architect and El Presidente at frequent intervals, and eventually cutting his price. So now it's down to the architect to supervise the work in our absence and to authorise the staged payments - this is where he earns his percentage.
The architect reported to us in the first week that he thought the builder might be cutting corners so El Presidente phoned the builder and gently reminded him that we were counting on him, but she also phoned her mother, who phoned Uncle Hambis, who told the builder to watch it or else his sister would be on the blower non-stop and life might get tiresome. We will be making a short visit to Cyprus next month to choose the tiles and bathroom suite etc so we'll see what we shall see. Being optimistic, the work should be finished by the end of May.

Fab Photos

Another works outing for the Xorg Collective last Friday, to The National Portrait Gallery to see the photographic exhibition Beatles to Bowie. Fascinating stuff, featuring some well known pictures of all your poptastic favourites from the Sixties as well as some forgotten gems. The exhibition focuses on British artistes from 1960 to 1969, so it starts off with Cliff and the Shadows, Johnny Kidd and Helen Shapiro and passes through The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks and many more. It's interesting to note how, despite his continued commercial success, Cliff Richard vanishes from the exhibition after 1963 - no longer cool. Some of the photos can be seen on the website; Google the photographers for loads more examples. Gered Mankowitz, Robert Whitaker, Fiona Adams, Brian Duffy, Angus McBean, Robert Freeman, David Bailey.
There seems to be a convention for photos of pop stars to have studio shots with a plain background which is leftover from the previous era. But with the arrival of The Beatles, photographers became more innovative - I believe this is because people like The Beatles, The Stones, and Hendrix had an effect on the photographer and gave them a boost of creative inspiration. Another factor was that the photographers were (mostly) of the same generation as their subjects, identified with them, and were wanting to do something different as per the spirit of the times.
The exhibition also features some artefacts from the Sixties - LP covers, magazines, concert tickets and the like. Groovy.

Friday, 15 January 2010

NYJO Nearly Broke

Alarming news via the Evening Standard. The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) needs to raise £105K by April, or face financial ruin. This is apparently part of the knock-on effect from the cancellation of the annual National Association of Youth Orchestras festival, which has a shortfall of £50K. Winding up NYJO would be a great tragedy as it provides a tremendous training ground for young musicians. To help them out you could book them to play at your wedding, bar mitzvah or whatever. Or if you are a rich businessman you could sponsor them. If you are an employee of Goldman Sachs you could just give them a bit of your bonus.
Further Thought: £100K is 1% of the amount being spent on the war in Afghanistan per day. Maybe we can persuade Her Majesty's Government to divert some funds!

Dancin' Fool

(via Kill Ugly Radio )
This has to be one of the best ever cover versions of a Frank Zappa song.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


It seems appropriate somehow that the Germans have a special word, schadenfreude,  describing the pleasure we take in the misfortune of others. Not that the Germans are the only people who enjoy such things. And of course we enjoy even more the misfortunes of those who usually get everything right and have a high opinion of themselves.
Manchester City (and others) will be cackling over Alex Ferguson's current unease at the lack of goals his team are scoring whilst Carlos Tevez is knocking them in like billyo for Manchester City - 15 goals so far this season, equalling his total for the whole of last season. Sir Alex reckoned he wasn't worth the £25 million asking price. Ronaldo, whom Sir Alex presumably thought was worth the £80 milliion Real Madrid paid for him, meanwhile has scored 13 goals. And Dimitar Berbatov whom Sir Alex bought for £23.4 million has scored 6. Presumably, Sir Alex blames the refereee.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Clothing Fibre Re-alignment Sitrep Update

I am pleased to announce that I have finished the ironing, a process whereby heat and water loosen the long-chain molecular bonds within polymer fibres thus allowing them to be straightened by the application of pressure. And, as if by magic, they retain their shape as they cool. Re-orientating the fibres has no practical value as far as I can tell but it gives a more aesthetically pleasing outcome if applied after washing.

Any Road Up

The Larnaca Municipality has been digging up the roads in the town centre for some time now. It seems like about 103 years and, typically for Cyprus, they never seem to finish. All the work is carried out by the same contractors Iacovou Brothers, whom I suspect must be related in some way to the Mayor and/or officials in the contracts department. Here's just some of the works under way in 2009. As I often say about Cyprus: "It'll be nice when it's finished..."

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Dale Winton in Credibility Shortfall

I generally listen to Pick of the Pops on BBC Radio 2, hosted by the estimable Dale Winton. This week he played stuff from the charts of 1965, including 'Little Red Rooster' by The Rolling Stones - a splendid recording. However, Dale went on to refer to this as a Sam Cooke song. Ahem - enny fule no that it was written by Willie Dixon and definitively recorded by Howlin' Wolf. Mr Cooke covered it the year before the Stones; they referred back to Messrs Wolf and Dixon rather than Mr Cooke's more 'soulified' version. So, Dale, despite your entertaining orange skin and camp delivery, I'm afraid you have just lost all credibility as far as I am concerned. This just won't do.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Viva Ukulele!

Three cheers for the English Martyrs school in Litherland, Liverpool which now has its own Ukulele Orchestra. I understand Year 4 will be learning a new chord very soon. (I have no information on who the mysterious 'Mr Dinsdale', credited with these videos, might be.)
The ukulele can only bring happiness wherever and whenever it appears. Teaching children how to play will undoubtedly make the world a better place, leading to peace and prosperity for all. The ukulele will facilitate a proactive recontextualization of the in-school experience to drive a tringulation of  real-world objectives - Life, the Universe and Everything -  thereby achieving a convergence of meta-cognitive functionalities and competencies unleashing synergistic child-centred real-time development. This is the way forward and I urge all educationalists to brush aside their obsessions with SATS, league tables, curricula, and assessment-driven pedagoguish paradigms and to envision one simple, holistic outcome-based mission statement: To Play the Ukulele!

Elvis Quacks

You like Elvis and you take a bath from time to time. What you need is an Elvis Rubber Duck!
As far as I know, it neither sings nor quacks. But maybe you can do your own singing in the bath. Uh huh huh, uh huh huh. Oh yeah, I'm all quacked up.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Typical. You wait all this time for A Wise Man and three turn up at once.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Anyone Can Change Their Mind

As reported in The Independent:
David Cameron insisted today that the Tories were "the party of the NHS" as he claimed that health service spending was safe only with them. Mr Cameron said the first section of the Tories' manifesto confirmed the party's commitment to protecting the NHS budget in real terms. "It was our number one priority four years ago when I became leader of the Conservative Party - and has remained so ever since," he said. "It's only three letters long but in it lies the hopes of millions in our country - the NHS.
Somewhat of a contrast to the Conservative Party's attitude towards the foundation of the NHS, back in 1946, as described by Patricia Hewitt MP in a speech to the Fabian Society:
"The Tories opposed his (Aneurin Bevan, the Labour Health Secretary) plan tooth and nail. The Tories' health spokesperson Henry Willink warned the House of Commons that the NHS 'will destroy so much in this country that we value'. The Tories voted against it in Parliament no fewer than 51 times. Once might be a miscalculation, but 51 shows a degree of determination!"

Now That I Have Humility I Have Everything

The sayings of the cranially endowed Cristiano Ronaldo: 
"It's true lots of people hate me but there are even more who love me and who support me. I feel bad only when I play badly. Fortunately that happens rarely."
"It is the best I have scored. It was a fantastic strike and I can't wait to see it again on DVD."
"The great players cost a lot of money, and if you want them you have to pay it. I'm happy to be the most expensive player in the world."
"I'm going to win the Ballon d'Or back, this year or next. I have an ambition to become the best player in history."
It was a lively match for Cristiano: he missed a penalty, failed to celebrate when Benzema netted the rebound, scored another himself and finally ended up being dismissed towards the end of the encounter (second yellow card for kicking Ortiz).  Cristiano stated, "I am a human being, and I can also make mistakes. It was an instinctive reaction, and I have already apologized to my team-mates. I am a perfectionist, but the good thing is that Karim scored."

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Why Am I Not Surprised?

The judge in the trial of the Blackwater employees who shot 17 Iraqis has dismissed all charges against the defendants on the grounds that they had been told that what they said in their initial interviews would not be used against them, but this has nevertheless been included in the prosecution's evidence. Notwithstanding that one of the defendants pleaded guilty and was to testify against his former colleagues, and that there are other witnesses prepared to give similar evidence. So, the Blackwater guys are guilty but they get off on a technicality. Another example of 'the Law' not providing justice, which will lead to disillusionment and to other people taking the law into their own hands. And it won't hurt Al Qaeda's  recruitment activities.

Elvis Lives

This week marks the date when Elvis Presley would have been 75 had he not slowly committed suicide in Las Vegas. There will be a flurry of 'specials' on TV & Radio and the press which I fear will tend to focus on the jumpsuit era when the cognoscenti know that he did nothing worthwhile after 1962. With maybe one or two exceptions, everything after he came out of the army was total crap with a capital K. Meanwhile, the Elvis Industry will be offering endless piles of rubbish 'collectibles' and I'm keeping an eye out for the most tacky and yecch-inducing item to appear. So far, in amongst the keychains, clocks, plates, hot water bottles and barbecue aprons, this item is in the lead. I don't know why, but the fact that it emanates from Bradford gives it that extra wha?.. quotient.

Friday, 1 January 2010

...You Caught Me Standing Alone

Not only was it New Year's Eve last night but it was also a blue moon. Defined in Wikepedia as follows:
A blue moon is a full moon that is not timed to the regular monthly pattern. Most years have twelve full moons which occur approximately monthly, but in addition to those twelve full lunar cycles, each solar calendar year contains an excess of roughly eleven days compared to the lunar year. The extra days accumulate, so that every two or three years (7 times in the 19-year Metonic Cycle), there is an extra full moon. The extra moon is called a "blue moon." Different definitions place the "extra" moon at different times. The term blue moon was coined in 1933.
Blue Moon is a track on Elvis Presley's first album.
Until the arrival of Carlos Tevez, the frequency of a blue moon coincided with a goal being scored by Manchester City.