A pain in the blacked-out passage

blacked_out1

So Harriet Harman has pledged to “look again”  at the issue of blacking out details on MPs’ published expenses claims.

That’s nice.

Staring at a black piece of paper with the odd figure peeking out isn’t very enlightening.

And MPs’ could also face up to a year in jail under plans for new criminal charges for Parliamentarians.

That’s interesting.

Strange that we should have to consider our leaders as nothing more than a bunch of crooks and vagabonds (well they do like to flip their principal residence), out to screw you (the taxpayer) if they can and the need to legislate accordingly.

I think it may be along time before we can say we are proud of our parliament again.

Maybe it’s a period of our history that should be blacked out.

Here comes the sun?

Under the Weather: Us and the Elements

                 Another fantastic prediction ...

Weather , weather all together what’s it gonna’ do?
We don’t know so let’s just ask weather man Emu!

– EBC 1, Emu’s Broadcasting Company (Children’s TV: Late 1970’s)

I’m not sure if it shouldn’t be weather Emu Emu, but I’m not going to complain. I’ve got other fish to fry. (Mmm, trout with fennel on a bed of … well I digress.)

As most of us have been basking in glorious weather recently I thought it’d be nice to dwell on our obsession with all things weathery.

Apparently down in Devon, they’re not just clotting cream and whacking jam on scones, they’re busy building the mother of all weather predicting machines. It’ll be 30 times more powerful than the present weather forecasting computers. (Does that mean 30 times more liable to get it all wrong?)

To people, who this kind of fact-thing impresses, it has one PetaFlop of performance.

What the hell is that?

Sounds to me more like something that a rapid rush to the Docs. for Viagra may cure rather than something to boast about.

It fills two halls about the size of two football pitches. So obviously NOT something you’re going to just tuck under the desk.
As well as that it uses 1.2 megawatts of power. WOW! That sounds like something from the sixties where it took the electrical output of a small town just to produce a bank statement.

This beast should be available for derision, mockery and insurance claims by August. I can already imagine the cries of parents with their distraught children, trying to console their charges because of ruined kids parties.

“The bloody ’30x’ better forecast said it would be lovely!”

Likewise, I find it hard to believe that I won’t find myself sat on a beach somewhere in my waterproofs, hiding behind a windbreak, because I was reliably informed it would be scorching that day.

I think we should just leave it to Emu.

Please close the gate

Now that the boys n’ girls in da house are rushing to don their sack cloth and ashes to atone for their sins (mainly because of David Cameron’s boot up their collective arses) and try to find out which right royal bar steward dobbed them in.  I thought it would be nice to consider other scandals.

Y’know of course, of Watergate (1974) which first coined the phrase -gate for political scandals; Irangate, Monicagate, Iraqgate etc. There’s a whole list of them here.

But what about all those scandals from history that haven’t had their own –gate attached because they were too early?

Here’s a few contenders …

Caesargate (44BC). Oh he of the multiple stab wounds. Poor Julius. Worst case of suicide I ever did see. (Old joke but what the hell, it’s an old story.)

Marygate (1586). Mary Queen of Scots. Caught sending crypto messages and beheaded for her part in a plot to overthrow Elizabeth I. Swore to the last she was just writing to an old pen-pal about nothing in particular. Swapping knitting patterns I think.

Appeasementgate (1938). Easy mistake to make. They just like to do a bit of off-roading with tanks, armoured vehicles and the like. No harm in them. It’s not their fault they get a bit lost and drift over borders accidentally. All 100,000 of them.

And finally one of my own …

ItWillBeOverByChristmasgate (1914). Oh it will, will it? That old chestnut appears under different guises with the same regularity as real chestnuts at Xmas.

So what are we to call the present -gate then?

I guess it could be named Allowancegate or CaughtWithYourDamnFingersInTheTillgate or StickyFingersgate.

But I prefer NewGardengate.

Cannonball Run

It’s been a little while since I slagged off, I mean talked about cricket,  so I thought what better time, as the season to bash extremely hard balls about is bowling off in earnest, than talk about the bloody sport.

I mean bloody in the kindest (you know me) sense of the word. I’m amazed that we don’t hear more stories about the carnage on the cricket ground. Forget murder on the dance floor.

Considering the fact that it consists  of whizzing a cannonball about and trying to score runs while someone throws those same cannonballs back at you, I mean at the stumps, to get you out, I would expect the body count to be higher than a Rambo film.

Rollerball? Ha! That’s like playing shove ha’penny with the grand kids compared to dodging one of those projectiles as some spotty young oik, out to prove himself, tries to flatten you with the village greens version of WMD’s.

I know that the few instances I’ve been persuaded, cajoled, press-ganged into playing cricket I’ve felt the need for more than just a box to give me some modicum of protection. More like full Kevlar body armour. And that’s when I’m fielding on the boundary.

Yep, there’s nothing like stretching out to try and catch a ball as it hurtles past you at sub-sonic speed, only for it to catch the tip of your fingers and damn near take your finger nails off. And what do you get for your kamikaze efforts? Looks of dismay from your team members and shakes of their heads.

So I tip my hat to those about to do battle for Queen and County and hope they’ve got their slot booked at A&E.

It certainly is a huge price to pay for cucumber sandwiches in the pavilion.

But really this post was just an excuse to show this cover from a new book by Simon Hughes which I think is marvelous.

A sneaky plug?

It’s just not cricket.

And God Created Cricket

And God Created Cricket (shame he didn`t use softer balls)

Can the can

I was mooching on the net yesterday, wondering if the irritation in my nasal passages was Swine Flu or just pepper from teatime. (Spicy burgers don’t y’know.)
Anyway, I had next to me my trusty can of coke (other beverages are available) and I got to thinking that this little guy had done nearly as many miles as the dreaded lurgy.

I couldn’t decide whether I should be appalled or impressed by the coke can. On the one hand it’s amazing that you can mine aluminium, move the metal half way across the world, produce a can from it, print on it, fill it with a liquid and sell it in a multi-pack and all for a few pence.  It truly is a modern wonder.

But then again what an amazing waste of resources! All that effort just so I can have 330ml. of fizzy, frothy, nothing.

So I finished my drink and pondered, “How can we justify the enormous infrastructure that it requires just to present the bloated Westerner with a piddly bit of a drink?”

And went and got another …

can

Snap, Crackle and Flop!

Now that our Alistair has written out British Historys biggest IOU and left the nations great-grandchildren in hock to who knows who, for how knows long; It was nice last night to settle down and take solace in the latest episode of The Apprentice.

The two teams had just two days to become media advertising geniuses and create a breakfast cereal brand name, character, box design, TV advert and client pitch.
Wow! It’d take most execs. that amount of time to clean the whiteboard and get out their felt marker pens.

One team achieved the task admirably and produced a good campaign. The other team? Well, like all bad products, it all starts with a crappy list of ingredients.

First take a small amount of sclerotic Noorul, the man who never says too much. Well, getting him to say or do anything would be worthy of a prize in itself.

Then add a spoonful of negative Lorraine. “We don’t need the other side to beat us. I’m gonna’ f*** our teams chances up, by whinging and generally carrying on, quite nicely without any help from them thank you.

Mix in a generous measure of  ‘tantrum of the North’ Philip. “It’s quite simple, either I get my own way or I’ll lie down on this floor right now, wave my legs in the air and have the biggest hissy fit the world has ever known.”

To finish this concoction, simmer not-so-gently with Kimberly, ‘I’m an American, get me out of here’, Davis as the finest transatlantic wet blanket project manager ever and you have the makings of a truly, madly, deeply er … mess.

I won’t go through the events of the episode. You can watch them perform in all their cringe worthy mediocrity here.

But I forgot, there’s one other ingredient that you need to produce TV gold like this.

Just add Sugar.

The end of the world as we know it

Quoty quoting from The Washington Post: Scientists have produced strong new evidence challenging one of the most fundamental assumptions in biology: that female mammals, including women, are born with all the eggs they will ever have.

In a provocative set of experiments involving mice, Chinese researchers have shown for the first time that an adult mammal can harbor primitive cells in her ovaries that can become new eggs and produce healthy offspring, they reported yesterday.

Well folks, now I know how the world’s gonna’ end.

One of these re-engineered mice will escape somehow, breed and produce a new race of super mice that’ll be able to reproduce for their entire naturals. Cut to five years down the line, the world is awash with mice. End of story.

Come on, you know it’s just gonna’ happen.

Tragedy in Mouse Utopia

The shape of fur to come. A tale of many tails