Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I found this whilst surfing yesterday, what the bloody heck is going on here then ?

Volkswagon Advert

Album Review : The Resistance - Muse****

Muse are well on their way to becoming a national musical treasure in the style of Queen or Marillion, keenly forging their own musical path, slightly bonkers, misunderstood by America and quite gloriously over the top.

The Resistance can pretty much be split into two parts, the first 8 tracks, referred to by Matt Bellamy as 'the singles' follow the traditional Muse route, innovative drum rhythms, alternating soft keyboards and thundering guitars and some radio friendly pop prog all accompanied by Bellamy's trademark vocal style and paranoid, conspiracy theory lyrics. The latter part of the album is a three part prog and classical music symphony.

The opening single Uprising has a familiar feel, easy going chant-a-long power pop with the sort of non-specific lyrical touch that you can read your own meanings into as "They will not control us, they will stop degrading us" washes across you. A slew of similar pieces of pop rock follow, many sounding an echo of something else you might already be familiar with, are Bellamy and company playing some sort of musical game here ? I wouldn't put it past them. From the distinct echo of the Dr. Who theme on Uprising, shades of Queen on United States Of Eurasia and Guiding Light with the drum beat from Ultravox's Vienna and its U2/Queen like stylings, many of the songs on The Resistance seem to exhibit an influence which Muse then twist into their own musical pattern.

Throughout the 'singles' part of the album there are some good tracks, although very few seem to really reach the musical heights displayed on the band's last release 'Black Holes And Revelations'.

Where Muse really show off on this album though is the outstanding 3 part symphony that ends the album. Lyrically this seems to revolve around the idea that humanity evolved somewhere away from Earth and was then transplanted here, but don't worry about that, turn up the volume and let the magnificence of Exogenesis sweep you up. Part one, Overture, opens gently then builds with the string section swelling into a repetitive refrain that has another musical echo nagging at me (Adagio from Spartacus by Khachaturian perhaps ?), then Bellamy adds his falsetto vocals to the mix, you can't really define a word he sings on this piece, but it is beautiful. Part 2 (Cross Pollination) and 3 (Redemption) are piano based with definite shades of Chopin, but then Bellamy does sit awake at 4am in his Italian villa channeling the spirits of dead composers, where would we be without barking mad rock stars.

The Resistance is overall a good album, parts of it are truly great and show what a talented group of musicians can do when unconcerned with passing musical fads, other parts of it though are a little weaker and seem a tad formulaic, almost as if they exhausted their creativity on the Symphony.
1001 Books To Read Before You Die

47 books read, and the calculator says I need to read at least 29 books from the list per year in order to complete the list being popping my clogs at age 74 or so. I've bought some more books from the list to read, I can almost feel War And Peace and Pride And Prejudice glowering at me from the bookshelves, each having been passed over numerous times on the way to a new Neal Asher or Stephen Baxter novel.
Book Review : Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut**

In my auto didactic quest to become better read, especially in the sphere of classic literature, I have so far come across some novels which are quite wonderful, Brave New World / Moby Dick / The Red Badge Of Courage, some which I didn't enjoy quite as much but did persevere with, Candide / The Accidental / The Great Gatsby, and then one or two that despite being widely regarded as pinnacles of style or content I personally did not enjoy one little bit, and that includes Kerouac's On The Road and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5.

If you havn't read the book, S5 is a partly autobiographical account of Vonnegut's time as a POW in Dresden told through the eyes of the character Billy Pilgrim, the hopeless American who has come unstuck in time and now experiences his life in small segments in no chronological order. In addition, he has also been kidnapped by an alien race, the Tralfamadorians, and made to live and breed with another kidnap victim, a porn model Montana Wildhack.

The novel explores the nature of fate and free will, but in an indistinct and revelation free style. I found the chop and change nature of the novel hard work not because of the sci-fi time travelling element (which has been done much better in other books, The Time Traveller's Wife for one) but because Vonnegut's style of writing, much like reporting factually for a newspaper, leaves little room for flair and description. Vonnegut also employs the refrain 'so it goes' continually throughout the novel to emphasize fate and the lack of choice, it might work, but it isn't subtle and I found it quite distracting after about the 50th repetition.

Oh well, on with the reading list, Call Of The Wild next.....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wheatley AFC 4 v Moortown Merlins 5

Wheatley battled heroically on Sunday against a rampant Moortown side in the first round of the cup. Whilst the home team was left frustrated with the 4-5 score line, Mark Powell’s men can be comforted with the fact they fought to the end in a bruising battle with the Merlins.

Wheatley front man Phil Bolton opened the scoring with a tap-in from an Andy Hibbert header that bounced off the cross-bar.

The midfield looked solid, with Johnny Keith doing what he does best – getting stuck in with a typical pugnacious display. At times Wheatley played truly attractive football, helped by the introduction of a light ball and a fairly even playing surface. One touch passes often broke the Merlin’s defence and for a while Wheatley enjoyed the fruits of their labour.

Danny Bott had a strong sighter on goal but shot straight at the Merlin’s keeper. Amazingly Hibbert’s dominant right boot nearly produced another goal from a free kick inside his own half, the ball all but bouncing over the keeper’s head.

Chris Quaife was relieved of his midfield duties with a stint between the sticks – a position which proves much harder than it looks. Suddenly Quaife’s box was peppered with a torrent of long-range thrown-in by the Merlins. But Quaife had got his angles spot on when he let a cross cum shot drift over his head, the ball harmlessly striking the cross-bar, much to the hullabaloo of the travelling away fans.

At half-time the score was 2-1 to Wheatley. Only time would tell whether this one goal lead would be sufficient.

Terry Pearson then made it three with a confident strike just inside the Merlin’s penalty area. Five minutes later a seemingly innocuous challenge was judged to be an unfair one, and Merlins pulled a goal back with the resulting penalty. John Turnbull was left seething, and his enthusiastic remonstration was deemed harsh enough for the game’s first booking.

Ben Cater replaced a battered Dave Healy on the defensive flank. Another slight contact brought about a free-kick twenty yards from the home team’s goal and the ball was splendidly curled around the wall and past the despairing diving Quaife to level the score at 3-3.

Another long throw-in by Merlins caused confusion in the penalty box and a strong header now made it 4-3 to Moortown.

Soon afterwards a long range effort found its way to the bottom left corner to make it 5-3. Wheatley morale could have dwindled, but a fantastic Hibbert free-kick proved enticing and Andy Wheeler rushed in gleefully to nail a high quality header past the keeper into the top right corner. This was an exceptional goal, and could only have been more accurate if the impressive Wheeler had kept his eyes open!

So 5-4 to Merlins with ten minutes to play had both teams pressing on until the final whistle. Pearson then had a genuine claim for a penalty in the dying minutes, only for the referee to wave away his shouts.

A truly entertaining game enjoyed by both players and spectators.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flintoff Sees Horses Backside From Stable Door

Andrew Flintoff says he will be available for England's one-day and Twenty20 matches for the foreseeable future, once he returns to fitness.

Only a couple of weeks ago this would have brought sighs of relief from England's suffering ODI fans, today though, after defeating Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa in a row, Freddie's chances of a quick return to the England ODI/20-20 may be looking a bit less certain.

Flintoff, and Kevin Pieterson, look to have a fight on their hands to regain a team place in the short form of the game, both of the injured England players have less than stellar records in one day cricket, and with rising stars such as Eoin Morgan, and dare we even say Owais Shah (pray it's not a flash in the pan), looking to cement a regular slot, Flintoff may not find that an instant return to the national side is on the cards.

Flintoff is at the moment recovering from his 327th consecutive injury, when he recovers, he says it shouldn't be long until he reaches the milestone of 'most injury prone England cricketer ever.'

Another busy weekend over, prepped like mad all day on Saturday so I could get away from work early to see The Wildhearts/Black Spiders, then Sunday we had a lunch booking for 70, plus about 50 casual golfers all wanting feeding.

I ran some Facebook advertising to recruit new staff two weeks ago, we selected 7 people for interview and our new unlucky victim staff member is young Fred here.....

Yes, well, I'm sure he'll fit right in with the rest of the gang. Thanks to the Sunday crew for getting us through a very busy day, Super/Fail Rob, Nutty J, 'Lovely' Saskia and Noob Fred.

In other news, Mrs YS has a touch of plague, if you give her a call she can wheeze down the phone in a menacing Darth Vader like manner.

Railings in Assisi.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spider web browser thingy

You can play with this one and make it bounce around, oh, and snap it, oh dear, I've ruined it now.

How many doors, the bells rings but you can't let them in

(Found by Tony C)

Windows 7 Launch Party

The worst bit is, that the lead up is the actual Windows advert.

Accomplice, n. One associated with another in a crime, having guilty knowledge and complicity, as an attorney who defends a criminal, knowing him guilty. This view of the attorney's position in the matter has not hitherto commanded the assent of attorneys, no one having offered them a fee for assenting" - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
The People Living In The Drains

People living in flood tunnels under Las Vegas

(Thanks to James H)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Eyes, My Eyes !

Safe for work, but not so great on your peepers.

Black Stallion

Wouldn't it be boring if everyone was the same ? That said though, who wants to live next door to horse boy here ?

Local Team In Match Fixing Scandal ?

On the opening day of the season home town team Wheatley AFC let in so many goals that their poor keeper had to have a doctor's appointment after his RSI back injury flared up again when repeatedly picking the ball out of the back of the net.

The next week's match was cancelled as no referee could be found, and the same mysterious occurrence caused the cancellation of the match the week following that as well.

Yorkshire Soul can now reveal the scandal behind the refereeing mystery. Referee Dick Typhlotic has made the sensational claim that a mysterious man lurking in his garden offered him a '2 for 1 at Harry Ramsdens' voucher in order to cancel the first game. The week following, referee Nullius Filius Atramentous made similar claims that a lurking man offered him 4 cans of Tesco Value Baked Beans to drop the game.

How long can this go on, who is this mysterious 'Lurker' and how long can he keep forcing the cancellation of games in order to stop Wheatley AFC getting a mauling ? We think the public should be told.

A statue inside the Vatican, I can't now remember who he is, Pope or Saint ? The statue has obviously suffered quite an amount of damage in the past and has been repaired a few times.

I have taken a lot of photographs of doors, this one is in Assisi. Doors are security, we all live behind a door closed to the rest of the world, each others personal spaces only available by invitation. All our journeys in life involve doors, leaving the safety of our own home and moving to another place where the door may be open, closed, imposing, impressive or banal.

This door is much smaller than the wonderfully ornate doorway it inhabits, perhaps it was once a coachhouse door, it obviously had some significance, whoever lived here wished to impose themselves upon visitors and publicly demonstrate their own importance.
How Not To Make Coffee

I went to work yesterday morning before 7am to get ready for Ladies Invitation Day, I got started with some little jobs, filling up the sugar/tea/coffee caddies.

It was only after I had tipped the second bag of ground coffee directly into the rubbish bin that my brain kicked into gear and realised I wasn't getting it quite right.

Oh well, thanks to Phil, April and Amelia for steering their hopeless boss through the day. We are out for drinks at Bar'tat tonight with the older staff as last night was Amelia's last shift before leaving for university and longest serving staff member April leaves soon as well for the serious world of full time work. Best wishes to you both.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Almost Speechless

Having just watched the new Rammstein video.

I'm just not that sure that the gap between heavy metal and hardcore uncensored pornography needed bridging, oh my eyes.
I Went To See District 9 Last Week

And in today's news, this.

Strange how closely art reflects real life.


The more of these you recognise, the more time you waste on teh interwebnet, but still, 'Charlie's biting my finger' does makes me laugh.

Explosion at a pie factory in Huddersfield.

3.14159265 dead.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where I Write

This photo gallery by Kyle Cassidy shows science-fiction writers in their places of work, many are gratifyingly similar to my own office, crammed with books, but Joe Haldeman above, seems to live in a previous century, penning sci-fi by lamplight.

Kyle Cassidy Where I Write

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Bit Of Xenophobia For Your Amusement And Pleasure

The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats in Islamabad and have raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross”. Brits have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to a “Bloody Nuisance”. The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender”. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability.

It’s not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout loudly and excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.

The Germans also increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose”.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies, just in case.

New Zealand has also raised its security levels - from “baaa” to “BAAAA!”. Due to continuing defence cutbacks (the airforce being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister’s bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is “Shut, I hope Austrulia will come end riscue us”. In the event of invasion, New Zealanders will be asked to gather together in a strategic defensive position, called “Bondi”.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, mate”. Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is cancelled”. There has not been a situation yet that has warranted the used of the final escalation level.

(seen over at Permanently Untitled)
6 Things for 6 People

Er, I started this project back in March and managed to do one for Eleanor, well I've managed to do one for Olly this afternoon so there is an outside chance of the other 4 getting something before the year ends, probably, if I don't forget again.

Olly Aitch
Terry G
Job Vacancies

"I'm looking for a couple of new staff members at Ilkley Golf Club, waiter/waitressing and helping out in the kitchen, applicants must be 16+, call me on 01943 607277."

I put that advert on Facebook yesterday, and I've got half a dozen to interview already.
10 Inspirational People

In no particular order.

1) My middle school English teacher who gave me a copy of Lord Of The Rings when the rest of the class were reading Stig Of The Dump and thereby managed to transform a bored and disruptive student into an lifelong literature fan.

2) My wife, where on Earth would I be without her, my endless creativity / daydreaming / absentmindedness is nicely balanced by Meg's organisation and determination. People often say that we're a bit chalk and cheese, but that's what you need in a marriage, you provide balance for each other and make something stronger than the sum of the parts, I don't know how I would manage to business without Meg.

3) My parents, although I was a typically disruptive and awkward teenager, I managed to soak up Father's work ethic and a dollop of Mum's compassion along the way.

4) My Scoutmasters, Scouting was wonderful, and I was lucky enough to experience it before the dismal tide of political correctness and health and safety overwhelmed it. We had a lot of rough and tumble fun, we did things and went to places that we wouldn't have otherwise, my lifelong love of walking was started by Tom, John, Mick, George and the rest, and I'm very grateful.

5) Keith Floyd, God rest him, who couldn't love Floyd's tipsy, rambling presentations, often a hopeless businessman but with a huge passion for food. Floyd's food wasn't about creating abstract art on a plate, it was about good ingredients, flavour and a deep understanding of the cuisines (of France especially) int he countries he visited.

6) My best mate, most of us do pretty ordinary jobs, we're cooks, computer fixers, office workers, drivers and the like, but my best mate does one of those hero's jobs where he is often in the line of danger in order to protect the public. I know he doesn't like me banging on about it, but it is what I think, cheers matey.

7) Jo Strummer and The Clash, I used to be rather right wing you know, but Strummer's lyrics were always there, tales of liberty and political insurrection. Justin Sullivan and New Model Army are another big influence and inspiration.

8) The kids, Joseph, Ellie, Stephen, Natty, Joshua and Kayleigh, spending time with my niece and nephew and my friend's children is always wonderful. The best thing about children is that when you're really just a 42 year old child yourself, messing around with the kids is just great fun.

9) The young people I work with, in turn positive, exasperating, hilarious, joyful, progressive, lacking in all common sense, forward looking, hopeful, audacious and unpredictable but never, ever dull. Oh, to be young and have no responsibility.

10) My friends, and especially my friends who are parents because that's like having at least one extra full time job per child, and to see such great young people being well guided into their place in the world gives you a bit of hope. I think my favourite thing to do is just to get all my family and friends and the kids round for dinner, eat too much, drink some good wine and have a good laugh, a family and friends dinner will invariably end with me in helpless fits of giggles over some daft joke.

Charities have been having a hard time as the recession continues in the UK, but if you find that could spare a few quid, then please consider a charity like Farm Africa.

"Over the last 20 years there has been a chronic lack of investment in agriculture. Yet over 80% of people living in remote or rural areas of Africa rely on the food they grow and the animals they keep to survive. Faced with harsh conditions and poor access to vital resources, subsistence agriculture can be a constant struggle.

FARM-Africa provides the training and support that poor rural communities need to identify and implement appropriate solutions to many of the key problems they face. Families are directly supported to help work themselves out of poverty through improved ways to manage their crops, livestock, forests and access to water.

"FARM-Africa can play an important role by being able to work at the local level, but with an eye on impacts at national or regional level. We need more of this kind of innovation and learning - finding out what works well and where. FARM-Africa is more strategic in their thinking that most small development organisations, in terms of how to get the maximum impact from a limited budget" Derek Byerlee, co-director of the World Development Report 2008." - From the Farm Africa site.

Farm Africa Website

Meg and myself donate a day's takings from the business each year, plus small but regular donations throughout the year, if someone started giving just the price of a pint of lager each month to Farm Africa then that person would be helping to change and save lives, it does not have to cost a lot.

Friday, September 18, 2009


"The Rage is set in the world of Danny Boyle's 28 Days and 28 Weeks Later films. It shot in Glasgow for 4 days in 2007 and two days in 2008 and was made on a low to no budget."
Do watch if you like zombie movies, very scary.

Zombieland - Official Trailer [HD]

Shaun Of The Dead with a bigger budget and less laughs by the look of it.

What Terrible News


Should Avril need a shoulder to cry on, or indeed any other part of my anatomy, just call.
Paddy and Harry went down to London to donate sperm, but it was a disaster!
Harry came on the bus and Paddy missed the tube.
Cow & Gate

After the recent scandal involving milk subsidies, I will be presenting an in depth report tomorrow on the dairy price fixing, yes folks, be ready for Cow & Gate.

Aaaaaaargh ! Please, please, please will all lazy journalists stop adding the word 'gate' to everything involved in scandal or shady dealings, it's driving me mad. Where will it all end.......

Scandal in the allotments - Garden Gate
Trouble with computer systems - Bill Gates
Objects Of Desire

A cake shop window in Assisi.

By A Vagabond over at

By Barabrossa at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy 15th Kevin & Liz

Oh good grief, did I forget your wedding anniversary again ? Sorry, I even forgot my own this year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cucumber & Coulis Pac Man

Made by Amelia, she's going to study Eastern Art at University you know.

This is Amelia, looking quite scary. We try to keep her away from the sharp objects.
Nanny State, Or Big Brother ?

"Hiya brother, I'm running late at work, do you think you can pick up Joseph and his friend and drop them off at scouts ?"


"No ?"

"No, because I did that 3 weeks ago as well, and under the draconian new laws that Nu-Labour have brought in, taking children to organised events on a regular basis (defined as more than once a month) means that I have to get a Criminal Records check done before I can take them."

Somehow, slowly, bit by bit, our longstanding and reasonable legal system of innocent until proven guilty is being usurped by a media led drip feed of paranoia and misinformation that almost daily allows an ever more centralist and power hungry government to erode our civil liberties, change our way of life and damage the social cohesion of our society.

In the near future, I will not be allowed to take my friend's children for a day's hiking without having a piece of paper from the government which decrees that I am not a pervert. We are moving into an era where everyone is assumed to be a danger to children unless proven otherwise. People, is this future of fear really the society you want your children to grow up in ? A society where children are taught that all adults are dangerous, where mistrust is the default mindset, where the unknown is to be feared and shunned rather than explored and engaged with ?

Modern British society is treading a dangerous line between Brave New World and 1984. Large parts of the British public are too apathetic to vote, but are dulled and pacified by cheap booze and nightclubs, X-Factor and Big Brother and a dozen celebrity gossip magazines, the antics of multi-millionaire footballers and 24 hundred channel television. We openly accept, and even demand, more and more official control and snooping into our lives, CCTV proliferates, we don't complain when the government plans to spy on our phone calls and e-mails.

Parts of the (mostly) right wing media constantly use highly emotive issues, in particular the threat of Islamic terrorism and the vastly over inflated (but copy selling) possibility of paedophiles on every street corner.

Everyone wants children to be safe, I want my niece and nephew to be safe, I want the children of my friends to be safe, I want all children to kept free from harm, but to achieve this I do not think we need to sacrifice all trust in society.

As media consumers we each need to think carefully about the newspapers we buy and the issues we react to. Most of the tabloid press use salacious banner headlines to sell copies. Criminal sex stories, and especially underage criminal sex/murder stories sell newspapers, and they sell newspapers because on some level the public get some level of enjoyment out of them. Reading about, or watching a television documentary on, for example, a child killer, gives us some sort of dark visceral thrill. Of course we are horrified and appalled by these reports, but at the same time we are fascinated by these events and drawn to to discovering more and more about them. At a level probably below conscious decision, we are excited and stimulated.

Newspapers know what sort of headlines will shift more units. "Girl kept in dungeon for 13 years" sells more copies than "UK VAT rate to change", despite the fact that the latter story is more important and will will impact upon the lives of all UK citizens whilst the former will only affect a tiny handful of people.

So, paedophile headlines sells copies, newspapers want to increase sales so we get more stories about paedophiles and we come gradually come to believe that the threat to our children from sexual predators is ever present because we are always reading about it. This mindset makes the passing of draconian laws both more likely and easier for the government. More likely because any government, and especially a failing government with a general election looming, would like to pass and enact legislation that has broad popular support. Easier for the government because with people and the media using emotive flashpoint issues such as Soham/Ian Huntley as rallying calls in debate it becomes harder to structure a considered counter argument without someone accusing you of assisting paedophiles in their aims.

Where are we going to allow our society and legislature to drift to ? CRB checks on every adult ? Similar checks on all teenage children before they become parents ? CCTV on every street, a government allowed and encouraged to listen in on our phone calls and read our e-mails and its agents granted permission to hold suspects in shadowy quasi-legal confinement in other countries, to torture people or collude in the same ?

Society is held together by threads that are unseen, but which can still be damaged by a paranoid ruling class. Every week, all over the country, millions of people volunteer to take children to sporting events and clubs, to look a friend's children for a day, to organise a Saturday afternoon kick about in the park or to drive up the Dales and get up on the hills, this is a part of how society functions without interference, how it had always functioned. Now though, unless I have an official document, I am not to be regarded as a a friend willing to help out, but as a potential pervert and sex offender.

One of the regularly dragged out arguments about CRB checks is the old chestnut of "If you havn't done anything wrong, what have you got to worry about ?". One thing I worry about is that over 2,700 people last year were wrongly given negative CRB results, innocent people were the victims of human error or computer mistakes and were temporarily branded as sex offenders, they were all innocent, but the person handling the CRB results at their football club or Guides group would have thought they had a pervert working for them. When the scheme expands you would assume that the amount of errors will also increase.

There is a natural relationship between adults and children, a duty of care for children that does not need to be taught or ratified. I worry that are walking into a society where I would not wish to help, for example, a frightened and crying child in a shopping centre who has obviously lost her parents, for fear of being branded a paedophile if I held the child's hand. The overwhelming majority of adults are not only safe for your children, they would be helpful and protective when a situation demanded it.

The new CRB system will damage many voluntary organisations and private events, many people will be unwilling to pay the £64 fee in order to continue doing a favour (of driving the neighbours' children to rugby practice along with their own for example) that they have always done previously for free and without suspicion. We should not have to prove our innocence to the state before we engage in simple social interaction, we do not wish to take risks with vulnerable children, but this system will do little or nothing to further protect children whilst damaging the invisible cohesion that holds our society together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Drag It Down

Children should be “falling into ponds, eating poisonous berries, contracting stomach-ache from under-ripe stolen apples, getting lost, being bitten by dogs, fighting and starting fires, sitting in cowpats and acquiring bumps the size of a duck-egg on their heads” - Keith Waterhouse.

Yorkshire author, playwright, columnist and drinker Keith Waterhouse died last week, in his entry in Who's Who he listd his only recreation as 'lunch'.
I saw a Labour MP drowning the other day and reported it to the Emergency Services.

I hope they saved him or else that was a waste of a first class stamp.

By Newnab over at b3ta.

The problem being though, that other twats just get in.

By Mushroom over at b3ta.
Little Moments Of Happiness

When your i-pod is on shuffle and it segues from The Clash straight into Rancid, that brings a little smile to my day.
Five consumer laws you really ought to know

Great article on the BBC website.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Album Review : Let The Dominoes Fall - Rancid*****

The only band that matters, that was the tag line that The Clash created to describe themselves, and in the era of hyper polished pop punk that takes longer to record than the average prog concept album , Rancid still stand firm as true punk heroes, defiantly pumping out rough edged but heartfelt political anthems.

Rancid look like the sort of people you wouldn't want to allow into your home, yet their lyrics exude warmth, brotherhood, trust and fraternity, and on their 7th album their brand of Clash inspired working class roots rock is as powerful as ever. Let The Dominoes Fall is, as with much of their previous work, tinged by ska, run through with early punk and is unashamedly edgy, rough and fun. This isn't Green Day spending epic Metallica lengths of time in the studios, this is a real punk band using their art to communicate their love of comrades and confusion with the USA's (and its allies) political direction.

Rancid may plough the track of commonly used punk themes, an anti-global corporation stance on This Place, the desire for freedom of expression on Liberty And Freedom, but they craft their lyrics with a skill beyond what a brief listen to their guitar based reggae punk might indicate. There are a number of songs on the album which explore the USA's involvement in foreign wars, Disconnected plays like a paean to young love but the lyrics indicate a profound disappointment and detachment from modern politics, Civilian Ways sounds almost like a Johnny Cash song, both in musical and lyrical style as a young soldier returns from an extended tour in a foreign war and in The Bravest Kids Rancid praise the young people volunteering for the armed forces, no support or condemnation for politicians, just a simple homage to their simple bravery.

Rancid play a lot of short songs, which can be a good thing, if they can express an idea in a minute and a half then they don't feel the need to stretch and dilute their feelings, and as always with Rancid albums you get plenty of songs for your money, 19 on Let The Dominoes Fall.

The music is, as many others will say/have said, similar to The Clash, Rancid freely mix rabble rousing solid punk with bouncy and happy sounding ska, and it works, if I'm to be really honest, Rancid are better at mixing punk with ska and reggae than Joe Strummer and the boys were. There, I've said it, please don't come knocking at my door.

LTDF is a really great punk album, in the stretch of its 19 tracks it makes you want to get drunk and dance badly, break stuff and change the system, hug your best mate and tell him you'll be friends forever and have a lot of fun all the way through. Sixteen years after their first album was released, Rancid are as good as they ever have been, there songwriting is strong and catchy, their lyrics polemic, combative and heavily rooted in their working class upbringing. The world is a complex place, and Rancid's lyrics reflect that, inclusive and sincere, Rancid want you as part of your gang, and for me, that makes for one very happy old punk.

Rancid - Last One To Die (Official Music Video)

I think I love Rancid almost as much as I do The Wildhearts, punk as f**k !

I was very shocked by the death of Michael Jackson, mainly because I had just started listening to his music about a month before he died.

I started listening to James Blunt three weeks ago. Fingers Crossed.
A priest is travelling down to London for a Christianity seminar. After checking in he asks the receptionist:
"I presume the porn channel is disabled?"

"No, it's regular porn you sick bugger!"
Oasis Have Split Up

Still copying The Beatles then.
For Sale

DISPLAY CABINET, one of the most elegant and functional display cabinets currently on the market.

o Fine timber details
o 4 leadlight options
o 4 side access doors (there is maximum frontal display)
o Adjustable shelves are extra deep to accommodate large items
o Halogen down lights
o Mirror back with glass shelves provide max illumination of collectables from top to bottom.

To give indication of size of the Cabinet it previously held the following:
o Rugby League World Cup
o Rugby Union World Cup
o International Rules Trophy
o Tri Nations Trophy
o Super-12 Trophy
o Trans-Tasman Touch Football Trophy
o Davis Cup
o Hockey World Championship Trophy
o Bledisloe Cup
o Ashes urn.

All these trophies are now overseas and the Cabinet is excess to requirements.

To make an offer call R Stuart, R Ponting, S Mortlock or P. Fitzsimons who once commented "The Australian Cabinet is groaning under the weight of all the trophies!"

They can be contacted on: 1800-LOST-THE-LOT

(Thanks to Wosser)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Oh no ! We missed the Italian Bee Gees !

Actually, I'm not all that sad about that.

A street in Foligno, Italy.
Oasis Split ?

Dear Noel,

I am writing to offer my deepest sympathy for the split up of Oasis. I too know what it is like having a talentless sibling achieving fame and fortune on the back of our skill and hard work. We are better off without these fucking leeches.

All the best,

Kylie Minogue.

(from Sickipedia)
"My best mate is entering the X-Factor this year and I wanted to give him all the help and support I can.

So I've killed his mum."

From Sickipedia, before you click the link you should ask yourself "Is there anything I am offended by, anything at all ?" because if there is something you deem to be bad taste, you'll find it there.
Oasis Have Split Up

Let the party commence.

Hitler's Reaction to the Oasis Split

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Who Watches The Disney ?

(By oAmadeuso at B3ta)

After Marvel's takeover by Disney, should we be fearful that DC, and therefore the awesome Vertigo, might be swallowed up by a film studio ?
Jesus On The Pavement

Drawn in chalk by a street artist in Assisi.
Tesco, The Nadir Of Good Customer Service

A few weeks ago I had gone up to Tesco to get some staples for the kitchen, bread and milk and a few salad bits, I didn't have any cash but I had my cards so no problem. I didn't have any customers booked in for breakfast, but I'd put a "back by 8.30" notice on the door just in case.

At the check out I presented my business card, typed in the pin number, and the machine said that I had entered the wrong number. I very carefully typed in the number a second time, again it was refused, and a third time, really carefully now, making sure I could not possibly get the number wrong, and the card machine cancelled my business card.

Slightly annoyed now I tried my personal bank card, with the same result, after entering the number the machine said I had entered the wrong number. I was asked to go and see the manageress at 'Customer Services' where I explained that the store PDQ machines were wrongly refusing my attempts to type in my pin numbers. The manageress said that I had typed in the wrong numbers, I said that this was not so, she said it must be so because the till said so, I said that the till was wrong and possibly malfunctioning. The manageress denied this and I had to go back into Ilkley to wait for the bank to open.

At the bank I explained my problem and they checked my cancelled business card and my personal card, on their system it showed I had entered my pin number correctly three times in a row. Just to be safe they wiped my pin number and re-entered it, then we tested both cards in the cash point, but I didn't withdraw any cash thinking that now my cards were fine I could go and pay at Tesco.

Back at Tesco, and now three quarters of an hour after my own business should have been open, the tills declined to accept my card, so back to the store manageress. The tills are not working I said, it is your cards she replied, no said I, I have been to the bank and they have checked my cards it is your machines, no said she, it is your cards.

I was a bit annoyed now, I had wasted almost an hour on a ten minute shopping run, and the store manageress was telling me I was wrong even when I had verified that I was right. Perhaps, I said, as everyone here knows me, and I'm in the store spending good amounts of money three or four times every week and have been doing so for years and I am known to many of the staff as a local businessman, you could let me take the shopping away (there was less than £50 in the trolley) and I can come back later and pay.

This is the bit that really got to me, the manageress seemed to take great pleasure in telling me that she would not even trust her stuff to take goods away unpaid. Three or four other Tesco staff had been watching this exchange, I said I would trust any of my staff and perhaps if she treated people a little better she would get more trust in return. Her supercilious facade slipped for just a moment and then she offered to let me sign and override the pin number, which could have been done in the first place.

I really don't understand the lengths that Tesco will go to to be unhelpful, and let me be straight about this, the floor workers and till staff are on the whole very friendly and helpful, it is the management that seem to go out of their way to spoil your day.

As Tesco has pursued a policy of price undercutting which has contributed to the decline in the numbers of other small traders, many local business' who require low cost goods (nursing homes, guest houses, off licences, golf clubs, hotels etc.) now get their basics at Tesco. To help and facilitate our shopping, Ilkley Tesco has placed a ban on anyone buying more than 8 of any item in any one trip, the reasoning for this (as explained by the manageress) was that "we put offers on and sometimes the local traders come in and buy everything".

Sorry, you put goods on offer, they sell out and you think that it a bad thing ? If I put something on the specials board and it sells out I call that a good result, the desired result in fact. This rule is posted on the rear wall of Ilkley Tesco beyond the check outs, so that if you are unaware of the rule before taking your trolley load you will suffer the embarrassment of having it removed from you. I saw this happen at Easter when a lady who was trying to purchase Easter Eggs for each child at her school was told she could buy no more than 8 eggs a day, she said that the school had bought Easter Eggs every year at Tesco to give to the children, but she was refused. That's right, a shop refused to sell its goods to a paying customer.

This is the perverse situation of power that Tesco have made for themselves, they have spent years developing a pricing strategy that now undercuts wholesale suppliers, then they refuse to sell goods to you. Now, you can reserve goods in advance (three days in advance is the booking time I think) if you want more than 8 items, but this isn't advertised either, and as I have tried to explain, my business is very much tied to the weather. Looking out the office window right now, I can see that I won't need much stock today, the wind is blowing hard and rain is lashing across the roof in front of me, but had it been a dry, sunny and hot day we would require more bread / milk / salad.

Ilkley is still a nice place with a number of great independent shops, but the giant corporate monster that is Tesco would like to build a huge new store which it admits will drain millions of pounds annually from the local economy and will replace good personal service with the sort of impersonal corporate bullshit that I have detailed above. Keep voting no folks, Tesco are trying to become a single shop that contains everything, it could reach the point where the only place you ever shop is Tesco, for food, clothing, electrical goods, books, cd and dvd's, car and home insurance, dental and medical insurance, pet cover, mobile phones, holidays. Think carefully, do you really want your town to clear its shopping areas for the Big Brotherish Tesco Hyper Conglomerate ?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Places The Swiss Guard Could Hide #1

In front of the painting Full Fathom 5 by Jackson Pollock.
Swiss Guard

A member of the Swiss Guard, possibly the least feared military unit in the world, the only purpose of the Swiss Guard is to tell tourists that they may not take take photos of the Swiss Guard.
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

We went round to see the Pope's place, but he wasn't in.

There were fields and fields of sunflowers all around Foligno, nearly all dying off and drying out ready to be picked for the seeds, but this lone flower was still blooming.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Jim Davidson

This made me laugh, a lot.

SPLINK Your Way To Road Safety

Not perhaps the most useful public information film, were the Splinks an alien race from Dro. Who ?

The Les Dawson Orchestra ?


Assisi, home to the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi and several saints (Agnes, Clare, Francis, Rufinus, Vitalis and Gabriel Of Our Lady Of Sorrow) also has a rather nice fountain in the main square.

Maize field, Foligno. The most common crops growing around Foligno were maize, grapes, olives, tomatoes, figs and although we could not see them, truffles.