Monday, 29 October 2012

Deep-Fried Crunchy Crabs

Lunch out to day for El Prez and myself, plus honoured guests, at the Atlantida restaurant in Paphos. Their unique selling point is that they have their own fishing boats that catch fish locally so you can be sure it's fresh - well, apart from the prawns, mussells and fish sticks and crab meat in breadcrumbs, that is. The fish meze is a tad expensive at €24 but we went for it anyway, sharing three servings between four of us. Plenty of grub to go round and the fish was jolly good, fresh as advertised. In amongst the offerings was something I'd not had before: deep fried little crabs. 
Mmmm, crunchy!
[The draft Keo was excellent too, served very cold.]

Whoopee! The Recession is Over!... errrm...

We all jumped for joy t'other day when figures for economic growth in the third quarter showed that the economy had grown by 1%, thus (technically) ending the UK's double-dip recession. Phew! Mr Osborne's plan is working! Well, cut off my legs and call me shorty and pardon me for doubting.
But hang on, what's this? Apparently 0.7% of the growth is sales of tickets for the Olympics - which won't be repeated so that will drop out of the figures for the next quarter, which leaves growth of 0.3%. Moreover, the sales of Olympics tickets merely goes to offset some of the £9 billion the Olympics cost us. So actually things are still looking a bit shaky. Back to the drawing board!

? for President...

I'm not sure whether this says more about McCain, Palin or Romney. Or whether it shows yet again how dumb so many Americans, and particularly Republicans, can be.

Frank Zappa Signature Model Gibson SG

Exciting news for Zappa nerds. Dweezil has been working with those splendid chaps at Gibson to produce a signature model of FZ's famous SG that Frank customised extensively. Dweezil is using the prototype on his next tour and we can expect the guitar to be commercially available sometime soon.
I doubt if it'll be cheap though and, no matter how hard you try, you still won't sound as good as FZ!

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Sounds odd doesn't it? It refers to the headless horseman character in the film Sleepy Hollow, but basically it is another one of these photo crazes similar to planking.

When planking, one lies flat, face down on the ground with their arms straight by their sides resembling a plank of wood. A cracking example of planking can be found here.

Back to horsemanning... this requires at least two people. One person hides their body and the other person hides their head, making it look like a person has been decapitated with their head on display elsewhere.

It sounded funny so here at Xorg HQ we decided to give it a go, roping in some help from long time ally Chamberlain Inc. Here's what we gots...


Friday, 26 October 2012

Tory Idiots # 3,432 : Iain Duncan Smith

There is nothing particularly unusual about a politician having inconsistent views or failing to think through a policy proposal. But Iain Duncan Smith has gone a step beyond by insisting that benefit claimants should limit their family to two children (he calls it 'cutting their cloth'). First, Mr Smith is a Roman Catholic and thus presumably accepts his Church's teachings that contraception is not permissible. Neither can he be expecting that families who accidentally fall pregnant for a third time should have an abortion. (Pope Paul VI, 1968, encyclical letter Humanae Vitae). Which just leaves sexual abstinence. Is that what he is actually proposing? Secondly, what of the family who already have more than two children before falling sick or becoming unemployed and claiming benefit, such as Mr Smith who has four children? Are they to abandon the surplus somehow? Perhaps to a Catholic orphanage, a solution popular with the authorities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Or perhaps Mr Smith hopes to persuade Mr Osborne to reverse the recent cuts of £1.86 billion (NSPCC estimate, 2011) made to local authority funding for children's services so that the surplus can all be taken into care. 
Good luck with that one, Mr Smith!
[Note: Mr Smith is not proposing as Herr Hitler did that we should cut the goolies off the poor, unemployed, disabled or unemployed. That would also amount to contraception.]

Petrol from Air: Fandabbydozy! Or not...

This sounds fantastic. Well, a bit too fantastic actually. Literally, a fantasy...but Nick Clegg is keen (!!).
The boffins at Air Fuel Synthesis claim to have come up with a technology that will manufacture petrol (or similar) from air. The chemistry involved is straightforward i.e. petrol is made up of hydrogen and carbon so one simply takes the carbon dioxide from the air, strips out the carbon and combines it with hydrogen taken from water (which eny fule no is made up of hydrogen and oxygen). Fair enough, I thought. But wouldn't this involve a massive input of energy into the process as one would effectively be trying to reverse entropy? As eny other fule also nose, this cannot be done, so the overall effect of the process would be a net energy loss i.e. the energy you get from burning the hydrocarbon you have created is less than the energy you have used to make it. As seekers of truth, we here at Xorg Inter-Galactic commissioned the expert advice of a leading panel of engineers on the viability or otherwise of this initiative:
"When you convert hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide you get energy out. To get it to go the other way you must put energy in due to the tiresome workings of entropy....The only way this can work is by using some form of low grade (ie cheap) energy such as waste heat, solar to drive it. This stuff is low potential ie low kW per m2 or m3, and so kit to process it must be big, and so risks being expensive. In addition, the CO2 in air is 300-400 ppm, so you have to process many tens of thousands of tonnes of air for a tonne on petrol.This story is bollocks because it has always been possible to make hydrocarbons from CO2 and H2 - the South Africans have been doing it for years to make petrol from coal to get round sanctions. It's only profitable if coal is a lot cheaper than oil, as again, you have put to a lot of energy in to push the process uphill against entropy.
I think these guys are after funding or something. Harumph!!!" - (Prof Rufus T Firefly, Warrington)
"My first take on their website was that it's an April Fools Joke ! I reckon these guys are extorting public money, which Whitehall splashes around on anything green, in order to keep themselves off the unemployment register.   Remember we are all paying for the subsidised electricity that people with PV cells on their roofs are getting from their “feed in tarrifs”.  It created a false market. That's what public funds do if they are wrongly directed. So my simple mind says this is tosh and nerdish politicians like Nick Clegg can’t see it." - (Prof Eustace McGargle, Oxford)
A chappie writing for Forbes magazine is similarly sceptical.
"There’s always someone out there claiming to have found the latest method of gaining free energy. But it does have to be said that most of these claims are nonsense: as with this being reported today, a method of producing petrol (gasoline) from just the air."
Oh, well. Back to the drawing board!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

While the cat's away...

...the mice will eat fish finger sandwiches and pretend they're healthy.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Blow It Out Yer A***, Baron Bichard, KCB!

This odious looking gentleman, Michael Bichard, is a Member of the House of Lords, a former career local government officer and civil servant. He has come up with the brilliant wheeze that pensioners should be required to undertake some form of community support work or face losing some of their pension.
He has suggested that the government should use the pensions system to "incentivise" retired people.
"The current generation are very heavy contributors to the public purse, whereas previous generations have benefited from the public purse. We are now prepared to say to people who are not looking for work, if you don't look for work you don't get benefits, so if you are old and you are not contributing in some way or another maybe there is some penalty attached to that. Are we using all of the incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society?"
Bichard says this is a new idea and he intends to look into it further. In other words, like many of the twerps in Parliament these days, he hasn't thought it through. Here's just a few clues to get you started, Baron Bonkers:
  • Pensioners have earned their pensions by paying National Insurance and taxes over their working lives. 
  • Pensions are in fact 'deferred earnings' and it is simply immoral to suggest that pensioners should have to 'earn' their pensions all over again.
  • The current generation were supported when younger by today's pensioners.
  • Pensioners already provide a large proportion of voluntary workers.
  • Pensioners provide free childcare for grandchildren, and are often caring for their husband or wife
  • (and many more).
[Note: Bichard was the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education when tuition fees were introduced. 'Nuff said!]

Monday, 22 October 2012

El Presidente Walks

Wonders will never cease. I somehow or other persuaded El Presidente to go for a walk yesterday morning. Not just a stroll, ambling along, but a proper walk involving aerobic exercise. I am vastly impressed that she completed the task. The walk lasted for just over one hour and we covered about 4 kilometres. Photographic evidence herewith:

Sunday, 21 October 2012

David Cameron: Oh! What a Lovely War!

In another illustration of what a vacuous twit he is, David Cameron who, by some curious fluke or another, is the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has announced that his government is to spend £50 million on commemorating the First World War. He plans various festivities to mark the commencement of hostilities and the major battles thereafter, with a shindig four years later to mark the Armistice. Along the way, the Government is to facilitate in some way trips for school children to the battle sites and memorials in France and Belgium.
What a plonker. Who in their right mind celebrates the start of a war? Cameron says that it will remind us all of what it means to be British...Well, Mr Cameron, one of the things that being British meant a hundred years ago was the mentality that thought it was a good thing to go to war to establish who had the right to determine everyone else's future and who would control which colonies. It was about militarism, imperialism and nationalism and the outcome, besides the millions of deaths, was bad for everyone (except the profiteers).  
Will Cameron be commemorating the Sykes-Picquot agreement? This was the outcome of a carve up between British and French 'diplomats' of what would happen in the Middle East after the war - i.e. they drew lines on a map and arbitrarily allocated bits of territory to those who had been on their side during the war, meanwhile betraying others who had been promised rewards - hence we have Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan and so forth.  And anyone who has done GCSE History will be aware that the Treaty of Versailles was a total disaster for Europe. And doesn't Cameron know that secondary schools have been organising battlefield trips for years?
Cameron would do well to borrow the DVD of Oh! What a Lovely War which might give him a better perspective on the conflict and how badly it was managed. He should also read some of Wilfred Owen's poetry - Owen was moved to write his poetry when he realised that he and millions of others had been conned by their Governments into fighting industrialised warfare on the spurious basis that they would be 'liberating Belgium'. But Cameron knows all this as he's got 12 'O' Levels and 3 'A' Levels, including history.
Meanwhile, where is he getting the £50 million from?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Staring into Space

I have just spent a couple of hours chilling on the veranda, sipping a dry martini, and watching the Universe. I doesn't seem to be doing a lot, to be honest. Mind you a lot of it is obscured by light pollution from first, the Moon reflecting the Sun and secondly, the artificial light being generated by the various goings on of the Earthlings on the ground below. I dare say if I were to wait a couple of hours till the Moon disappears below the horizon I might be able to spot a lot more but who knows if there is anything to see in any case? However, it is probably reasonable to assume that if it's night time where I am, then it's night time in 50% of the rest of the Universe too and, given that it is statistically likely that there is something out there, there's a good chance that there is some other wally sitting on his veranda elsewhere in the Universe staring into space at me, even if we can't actually see each other. In which case, Hi!

Tory Idiots #371: George Osborne

Virgin trains are to be commended for their discretion in attempting to calm the somewhat embarrassing episode in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to buy the correct ticket for his journey from Wilmslow. It is reported that Osborne's flunky attempted to negotiate with the ticket inspector but, in any case, Osborne eventually did pay up the difference between standard and first class and he was thus spared the indignity of having to move into standard and brush shoulders with the plebs.
But the fact remains that Osborne knew when he got on the train that he only had a standard ticket but nevertheless sat in first class. If paying the difference was not an issue, why not buy a first class ticket to start with? The suspicion remains therefore that he intended to get away with not paying the difference and would have done so had it not been for the diligence of the ticket inspector.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Last Chance to See... Not at Those Prices, Matey!

The Rolling Stones have recently passed their 50th Anniversary as a rockin' teenage combo and are commemorating this with a tour of sorts, featuring two nights at the O2 Arena in London. The cheapest tickets are £106 (£95 plus booking fee); the most expensive is £406. In case any of you chumps out there are considering going along to this event I feel I should warn you that they are not as good as they used to be. More like a dodgy grandad combo, notwithstanding Sir Jagger's admirable physical fitness. He never was much of a singer and he hasn't improved. Keef was the business for a while but no longer - just look at his arthritic, gnarled fingers - and he can barely put a coherent sentence together. If Ron Wood can stay off the sauce he might stay in tune. Charlie seems a tad lifeless, even more so than twenty years ago. They can't possibly need the money, so maybe it's a sentimental delusion. In which case, why charge such high prices?

Mikella Psara: Αυτό, με επιτηδευμένο?

It is difficult to come up with a translation into the Greek from the Franglais. Moreover, despite the commonly held belief, the Greeks don't have a word as such for 'pretentious' as we understand it in its derogatory sense when combined with Le Francais - 'Pretentious, Moi?'
But this is the perfect description for an Art Exhibition visited by members of the Xorg Collective yesterday. The artist concerned is named Mikella Psara and she is apparently taken seriously in some parts. Here's what Dr Tonia Loizou (allegedly an Art Historian) says about her:
"Like a symphony moving in time and space, like a ritual different from previous ones, the paintings of Mikella Psara impress with their simplicity and their subject matter. Here, the materials (wax, safety pins, paper) and every combination thereof, guide the creation of the work with ease. With wax (multiform - multidimensional - timeless) and paper (recycled- tied to its history - fragile), shapes are created in which are embodied objects (safety pins like talismans - reminders of childhood. The wax dematerialises the shapes and, through its fragile relationships, conveys everything that we carry only deep inside ourselves. The works carry the viewer away on a timeless journey and, at the same time, they function as synchronies, a return to our perpetual course in which exquisite simplicity reveals fragile, transparent relations." (That's enough - Ed.)
First, I tend to agree with The Brother that if an artist can't be bothered to give a work a title then I can't be bothered to look at it, so I am automatically put of by a work entitled 'Untitled'. I'm willing to concede to it now and then but there's such a thing as pushing yer luck, Mrs! Every single piece in the exhibition is 'Untitled' - a room full of 'Untitled'. Yer 'avin a larf, or what? I doubt it, as there's no humour otherwise in a collection dabbling in different ways of mixing up wax, paper and safety pins, some representational, some not. The fact is, the artist had one idea (wax, paper, safety pin) and has flogged it to death, producing forty-odd items for which she hasn't had the wit or imagination to dream up titles. Maybe if she were to pick two or three of her best pieces in this wax, paper, safety pin medium and include them in a broader exhibition of her work, one might be able to take it seriously. Otherwise forget it!

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Now that I've completed my course of academic study (for now at any rate), I have been free to read stuff for fun, without taking notes and worrying about whether or not it'll come up in the assignments. Some of the stuff I've got through is:

John Le Carre - Call for the Dead
His first novel introducing George Smiley and 'the Circus', first published in 1961. I think I first read it thirty years ago but I'm not sure. Either way, it's pretty good and not quite as complicated as some of Le Carre's later Smiley stories. There's a nice tension created as Smiley realises his East German foe is one of his former colleagues when both were fighting the Nazis.

Andrew Motion - Silver
I would have thought that the former poet laureate was an unlikely candidate to write a sequel to Treasure Island but he hasn't done a bad job at all. He's tried to stick to R L Stevenson's style of adventure and complement Stevenson's writing, with outright scoundrels and other less than clear cut goodies and baddies, only letting himself down by introducing a 'love interest'. Enjoyable, if a bit slow to get going.

Monica Ali - Brick Lane
Well written in that the author gets you to identify early on with the central protagonist, a young Bangladeshi woman relocated to Tower Hamlets in an arranged marriage. Quite compelling reading which raises all the issues associated with the problems of immigration and cultural integration.

Black comedy, written in a pseudo-Wodehouse style. Amusing and quite ingenious premise in which gormless twit Eric Rowbotham has to escort the corpse of his late Uncle Luigi around Monte Carlo. Hilarity ensues as he is pursued by the Mafia and a lady lawyer from a Dogs' Home. Wot a larf! There has been a musical Lucky Stiff based on the book, and there is a forthcoming film.

Soulive at Ronnie Scott's

Another works outing to Ronnie Scott's estimable jazz club last Friday to see the world's greatest groovingest jazz-funk-rock-soul trio ever,  Soulive.
Absolutely fantastic! One of the best gigs I've ever been to; the lads done tremendous etc. They generate enormous energy and have such chemistry between them - the place was buzzing. If you are not familiar with their stuff there's loads on YouTube and on their record label website, Royal Family Records. Of course, as a founder member of The Bass Players' Union (now lapsed) I don't generally approve of this but their keyboard player, Neal Evans, who plays bass on the keys is rather good. I suspect half of his brain (at least) is a bass player. Alan Evans on drums is probably the coolest dude on the planet, and Eric Krasno on guitar can do no wrong.
Here's a video of Soulive, made for their Nipponese fans, which gives you a pretty good idea of what they are about. Note also that these guys are involved in a number of side projects - it's all there on the website.

(The usual negative comments about the cramped conditions and rubbish toilets at Ronnie's apply).

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Airport Security vol.213

Our recent sojourn through airport security provided a new angle on the vagaries of the system.
El Presidente's hand luggage was rejected by the scanner so we were invited to 'step this way' and stand by whilst a functionary examined the case. The security chappie was huge - must have weighed at least 160 kg (mostly fatty tissue), about 1.9 m tall, shaved head and covered in tattoos. He set about removing the contents of El Presidente's bag somewhat gingerly and probing it with his explosives detector doodad and eventually declared it safe. I asked what might have triggered the scanner rejecting the case and he replied, "The books -  large amount of organic matter." Hmmm, it had not ocurred to me before that books might be classified as 'organic matter' but any road up, no harm done. (Older readers will be aware that El Prez always takes a ton and a half of books with her when on rest and recuperation leave). So went on our way after exchanging a few pleasantries with aforesaid functionary who turned out to be a big softy despite his appearance.
Of course the irony is that my handbag escaped scrutiny, despite it containing a screwdriver, a spanner, a pair of scissors, a small penknife, a corkscrew, a small metal torch, a metal tape measure and a mini spirit level. And a box of matches. Meanwhile, my hand luggage which contained almost as much organic matter (books) as El Prez's likewise passed through unmolested.
The best we can say about all this palaver is that it is all there for show - a kind of deterrent. I wonder if it has ever detected a real attempt at sabotage?

iPad Mini/Microsoft Surface: Xorg Inter-Galactic Beats 'em To It!

Speculation is rife that Apple is about to announce the launch of an iPad mini as a rival to the KIndle and similar tablet devices. Microsoft are also keen to get in on this market and have apparently developed something which we are told is called the Microsoft Surface and will be launched at the same time as the new version of Windows, not surprisingly entitled Windows 8. It remains to be seen whether or not Windows 8 is a worthwhile upgrade or merely messing about for the sake of it and causing unrest.
Be that as it may, Xorg Inter-Galactic is proud to announce today the launch of its new hand-held device that will make the competition wish they hadn't bothered. The Xorg i29 is in stores now!
Comprising a feature-packed snazzamungo design with mind-blowing memory capacity and durability, the Xorg i29 will knock your socks off. Dual sketch-o-matic controls, virtual keyboard, and integral carrying handle and strap, not to mention super-efficient extending aerial.
Available at all good Poundstretchers, dodgy market stalls and their ilk, RRP £7.49.

Unexpected Bonus

The lady who lives in the ground floor flat is reknowed throughout the neighbourhood for being a noisy loud-mouthed interfering busybody. Older readers may recall that she was turned down for employment  as a foghorn by the Port Authority on the grounds that her voice is too loud and might thus actually be a danger to shipping. That doesn't mean to say she's a bad person as she and her dog are effective deterrents against intruders and a useful conduit for information. Moreover, she is exemplary in her approach to housekeeping. 
She has customarily been visited every day by her aging mother, arriving in the morning and departing mid-afternoon. Sadly the old dear has developed an unspecified 'problem with her legs' and she can no longer visit. But, as the Duke of Edinburgh is wont to say,"'It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good". The consequence of the old dear's immobility is that the lady downstairs now goes to visit mother every day and, in her absence, it is relatively quiet round here. No shouting, no dog barking etc etc., for the first half of the day at least. Bliss.

Xorg 4 v. Cockroaches Utd 0

There has been a small blunder by the electrician when wiring the kitchen. He has brought the cable for the sockets through the wall behind the larder cabinet. This has resulted in there being a hole about 1 cm in diameter being made in the larder cabinet which accommodates the conduit for the cable but which also allows cockroaches to gain entry to the cabinet. El Presidente has consequently been spooked a couple of times when taking out comestibles of one sort or another only to find a cockroach lurking there. The bastards have had limited success in contaminating anything as most of it is in sealed containers, but a packet of flour, a packet of rice and a packet of stock cubes have been compromised. They have also been leaving droppings very similar to mouse crap.
In my role as Logistics and Support, therefore, I have been called upon to exterminate the little buggers. Of course, they move about a bit quick when being hunted so the trick is to employ a pincer movement to get them to move in the direction you want them to go and then wallop them. So far, four of the blighters have felt the might of my wrath and cunning. Steps are being taken to bung up the entry point.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tory Idiot # 2,437: Chris Grayling

If this Tory twonk, Chris Grayling, tries to gain entry into your house uninvited, it will be alright with him if you bash him on the head with a mallet. Whether or not that would knock any sense into him is another matter.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Grappler Grayling announced that as Secretary of State for Justice he intends to change the law so that householders will be permitted to beat seven bells out of (or otherwise kill destroy or mutilate) any intruders so long as such behaviour is not 'grossly disproportionate'. This edict serves to illustrate the perils involved in appointing someone to the post of Justice Secretary who is not a lawyer and, moreover, is a reactionary twit who lacks the mental capacity to think things through sufficiently. The law already allows a chap to use reasonable force against intruders - and what counts is what seems reasonable to the victim (i.e. householder being intruded upon) in the circumstances. What it doesn't permit is chasing after the miscreant and shooting him in the back, or rounding up your in-laws to hunt the bastard down and stab him to death and/or lynch him. Such behaviour would be, errm, disproportionate and is what, under the existing law, the Crown Prosecution Service would call 'very excessive or gratuitous force' which would lead to a prosecution. So Mad Dog Grayling plans to change the law so that it provides for what it already provides for. But saying that at the Conservative Party conference wouldn't get you a round of applause, would it?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Defeat of The Rest of The World

From our Chief Sports writer, Big Ron Cliche McCliche: 
The game got off to a brisk start with Haines playing as a lone striker up front, supported by a five-man midfield of Haines, Haines, Haines, Haines and Ray. But it became apparent that The Rest of The World were not to be sniffed at and they launched attack after attack stretching the central defensive set-up of Haines, Haines, Haines, Haines and A N Other. Before long the ROTW star striker Dusty Miller had penetrated the flat back five to shoot past Haines in goal, leaving Haines and Haines the two full backs stranded and forlorn. But led by their redoubtable captain, Haines, the Haineses reorganised and were soon back on level terms. Haines was tireless in midfield putting in a full shift and Haines at left back made typical forays down the wing, getting several challenging crosses into the box for Haines and Haines to test the ROTW goalkeeper - a safe pair of hands, and he kept his team in the game. But it was not until the fourth quarter that the Haineses pulled their master stroke by changing tactics, swapping Haines in goal with Haines in midfield. Haines got the winner with only minutes to spare.

Miserable Self Pity

It's Monday morning, the sky is grey, it is drizzling with rain and it is cold. I hardly slept and I have a headache. We just had a delivery of five 25 kg bags of salt for the water softener which I've had to carry  from the delivery van to t'shed out t'back; if you add it all up that equates to carrying a 25kg bag for over 300 metres - slightly knackering.
One is not feeling that great. This song by The Kinks seems somewhat apt.