Thursday, 16 August 2012

Helix Pomatia: Mass Open Grave Revealed

The snails can't say they weren't warned. After tolerating their incursions into the garden of the 29th Dimension, and disposing of apprehended transgressors in a thoughtful and organic way, we determined that helix pomatia had crawled beyond the pale. Following extended rainfall, hordes of the blighters appeared and made free with the vegetation. Extreme measures were agreed upon and outright chemical warfare was thus declared and WMD were deployed.
This did the trick and mass slaughter of snails and their loathsome cousins, the slugs, has ensued. Some of the remains have been gathered up - what you see here is perhaps only a third of the victims claimedt. Slugs, of course, leave only a mess of slime.

Olympic Sailing

There have been some complaints here and there about the quality of the commentary on the TV coverage of the Olympics. Most of these grumbles centre on the abundance of cliches and over-worked hyperbole, and fatuous questions such as 'How do you feel?' Overall, however, I would say the BBC have done a very good job of it, particularly in aiming to cover every event whether on the mainstream channels, the red button or online. But the Xorg Inter-Galactic award for presenter of the year goes to this Irish chappie commenting on the sailing.
Warning: contains one or two slightly vulgar words.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Romney & Ryan 2012

What, Me Worry?
The Republican party is nominating Mitt Romney, a Mormon, for President and Paul Ryan, a Catholic, for Vice President. I'm all for inclusivity but these guys make strange bedfellows given their fundamentally different concepts of 'God'. Moreover, each considers the other 'unbaptised'. What are we to think if either should announce that 'God' told them to do it?
Romney has tended to 'flip-flop' on a number of issues over the years but Ryan seems somewhat more steadfast in his (questionable) views. Americans should be alarmed that Ryan might gain real power over economic policy, however. He is a devotee of Friedman and Hayek whose neo-liberalist doctrinal approach to capitalism, which was adopted by Reagan and Thatcher and pursued thereafter by their successors, brought about the financial collapse of 2007/8. I don't think Romney has any particular intellectual commitment to economics - he just likes making money and he doesn't care how ruthless he has to be to make a profit.
Ryan likes shooting things for a hobby so you can forget about any reform of gun control, or of bows and arrows for that matter. Romney just shoots at rabbits with his son's .22 so he's a bit of a namby-pamby by comparison.
Neither is fit to be in charge of America's foreign policy, both being entirely ignorant in this respect.
What they both seem to want seriously is to make health care more expensive for more people, and to enable people with money to make more money and pay less tax. And to hell with the rest of you (whatever their particular idea of 'hell' might be).

Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympics Men's Football

A works outing for  members of Xorg Inter-Galactic t'other day, to the City of Coventry Stadium for group matches between Japan and Honduras, and Senegal and UAE.
Fearing congestion and protracted security arrangements, we set off early but in the event there were no problems and we found the whole shebang quite well organised overall. Plenty of staff were on hand. The volunteers, in magenta tabards, were very cheerful and eager to help although the contracted traffic chappies in yellow tabards were less so. The police were plentiful but kept their distance, and the contracted security staff were serious and uncompromising. The security is, of course, tiresome but I suppose we don't have much alternative given the potential for mayhem should some nutter get through.
There was a very good atmosphere in the stadium, arising from the crowd being composed of family groups as well as football fans. Plus the usual antagonistic inter-club rivalry that you get at football matches wasn't present. Japanese supporters were there in significant numbers, however, and made plenty of noise led by a couple of taiko drummers. About half a dozen Senegalese were there, and there were a few more Hondurans but I failed to identify anyone from the UAE. So the majority of the 28,692 crowd were Brits who had come to enjoy some football, and good play was cheered by whichever team performed it. General positivity abounds.
Senegal were the more entertaining team with players prepared to have a go; Japan were disciplined with only occasional flashes of skill; Honduras included a couple of clod-hoppers; and the UAE were keen with good skill on the ball but lacked oomph, losing confidence after conceding a goal. For the last 15 minutes of their match, Japan and Honduras played out a 0-0 draw that suited both teams which drew a few boos from the crowd. Otherwise, it was all decent football.
We have to deduct points from Coventry because the PA system before the match and during the interval was far too loud. Moreover, the choice of music was crap.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Mitt Romney: Dangerous Nutcase

It has been my view for some time now that everyone in the world over the age of 18 shold have a vote in the American Presidential elections. Let's face it, America produces some right cretins as candidates and some of these dolts actually get elected. They are thus in a position to cause total mayhem all over the world according to their own lunatic ideas or whatever their paymasters might consider profitable.  Reagan had a wonderful time expanding the military to fight pointless wars in central America, for example. Dubya Bush gave us Afghanistan and Iraq. And let's not forget Vietnam.
Besides all the killing, there's the economics of neo-liberalism and globalisation. Mind you, in that respect, American Presidents have had plenty of assistance from British leaders such as Thatcher and Blair.
So it is with some alarm that I see that Mitt Romney is currently in with a 50% chance of becoming the next President of the USA. He's been touring Europe and the Middle East in the hope of gaining publicity for his campaign in the USA, demonstrating how ill-informed he is and that he has a somewhat simplistic view of how to get along with people who are not right-wing Americans. But leaving aside his questionable business practises and his ignorance of foreign affairs (amongst other things), the reasons we should worry about Mitt Romney are well summarised in a letter to The Independent today:
I don't care what Mitt Romney thinks about the arrangements for the London Olympics. What worries me is that, as a Mormon, he believes the golden plates allegedly dug up by the illiterate roughneck Joseph Smith, and then taken back by the angel Moroni, were inscribed with the Word of God; that Jesus appeared in America; that the dead of all nations, regardless of their religious beliefs while on earth, must be baptised before they can enter the specially reserved Mormon heaven; that women can play only a subservient role in the life of the Church of Latter-day Saints; that God lives, with his wife and children, on a planet called Kolub; that the spilling of blood is to be avenged by more spilling of blood; and that his Church should be ruled by a bunch of nonagenarians who receive "divine revelations" from time to time. And even then, none of this would worry me except that this is the fella who wants to be President of the United States!
Dr Meic Stephens