Sunday, March 29, 2009

A quarter of a century ago I read an article on male hair loss (a great fear of mine) and some figures therein stuck in my mind. According to the author:
One male in five starts to lose his hair before the age of twenty.
One male in two starts to lose his hair before the age of thirty.
If a man still has a full head of hair at forty he almost certainly will not go bald.

I was pleased to read this, being forty-five at the time and still in possession of my barnet, but with me there's always a nagging doubt ("knowing my luck ...", etc.).
Another snippet of information on the subject - almost an obsession with me - was a statement by a trichologist made during a television programme on the subject. If you want to know whether or not you'll go bald, he said, don't look at your father, look at your mother's brother(s). His hair will be your hair.
This too was reassuring; my father had begun to lose his luxuriant black curls around the age of thirty. Though he never became completely bald, the few wisps on the top of his head amounted to pretty much the same thing for us, his sons.
My mother's only brother, on the other hand had hair so thick that it had to be kept cropped in order for him to look civilised. His hair went grey at an early age, which seems to me to be a common trait among Irish males, but he retained that wiry crop until his death at circa seventy years of age.
Looking good for the brothers and me then. At fifty still OK, at sixty too. At sixty-five no problem, but today - horror of horrors! - the curse of calvity has fallen upon my bowed head. I'm combing miniature birds' nests out every time I groom. The hair has visibly receeded from my forehead, though the term "baldness" doesn't really apply as yet. But the hair atop my skull is thinning. I keep inspecting my scalp for visible bald patches. None so far, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
I pray that this attrition will come to a stop. Or I would if I knew of a deity or a saint to whom to address my whining prayers. There's almost certain to be a patron saint of hair.
But then, since when did I believe in the efficacy of prayer, or an afterlife stuffed with indulgent spirits waiting to answer my petitions?
Why should I care at my age and in my physical condition, about losing my hair? Well I'm such an ugly specimen of humanity, that any form of covering is welcome , and any further exposure of my person to the public gaze will erode my self regard even further. I'm going to make a pitiful looking corpse.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quote of the Week -
"I am not a man - I am Cantona."
This morning I heard on Sky News that "tens of thousands" of protesters were gathered on the Victoria Embankment in London. This afternoon the tens of thousands had become "thousands". I await a Metropolitan Police estimate of something like 500 marchers.

Update, 29th March. According to the police there were more than 35,000 on the March, so I'm guessing 40-60,000.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marina Hyde on the latest FA fashion line -
"Whether you believe replica England shirts to be a tax on stupidity is irrelevant."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jade Goody - I wish I was there. I wish I could be outside her gaff laying down flowers, with a little note attached full of misspellings. I would write something about heaven and angels and all that shit. Then I'd find somebody to hug, and I'd pretend to weep - but only if the TV cameras were there. First though I'd ring home and say, "Put Sky News on and start recording, I'm going to be on the telly."
No, on second thoughts I don't honestly think I'd bother. Still I'm sure plenty of people will; I don't think the media hacks will have to pay anybody to do it.
"I have always felt some discomfort in claiming the money, to be frank. I decided that it's simply time that I stopped – partly because mortgage interest rates have gone down and partly because I can do without it."
Tony McNulty, New Labour Minister. So you're going to give your immoral earnings back,Tone?
He's done nothing wrong, that's how the system works. Great, eh?


Saturday, March 21, 2009

"I categorically deny that I spat at anybody. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch ..." (Cesc Fábregas)

"Mentira, mentira ..." (Manu Chao)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ehud Barak pontificates -
“The Israeli Army is the most moral in the world."

An Israeli soldier speaks -
“What’s great about Gaza — you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, ‘Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Relax, everyone! The New York City police are really on the job these days. With rapists, murderers, bank robbers and dope peddlers, not to mention corporate thieves, rampant throughout the City, they made a significant dent in the crime statistics yesterday, March 18, when they arrested seven grandmothers aged 67 to 90 in Times Square.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"A[n] inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission cleared the Met of any wrongdoing over the arrest."
Yet they've paid Babar Ahmed £60000 in compensation for the beatings he received,and for the insults to his religion. Why? Is this another case of the PCC being a complete waste of public money? No wonder so many of their staff have resigned. Will there be an enquiry about how the PCC got it so badly wrong? No.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Patrick's Day
A poem from the Irish -
I do not know of anything under the sky
That is friendly or favourable to the Gael,
But only the sea that our need brings us to,
Or the wind that blows to the harbour
The ship the ship that is bearing us away from Ireland;
And there is reason that these are reconciled with us,
For we increase the sea with our tears,
And the wondering wind with our sighs.
(tr. Lady Gregory)

More -
Sagairt óir is cailís chrainn
bhí le linn Phádraig in Éirinn;
sagairt chrainn is cailís óir
i ndeireadh an domhan dearóil

Golden priests and wooden chalices
in Ireland in Patrick's time.
Golden chalices, wooden priests
as the wretched world stands now.
(tr. Thomas Kinsella)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mr. Kim Ryley, chief executive of the Hull City Council - that's the man who tells the people we elect what they can and can't do in our name - earns £2000 per annum more than the Prime Minster of our proud nation. Not bad, eh?

We used to pay a bloke a tidy sum to sell the world on the delights of Kingston upon Hull; publicity officer, or some such title. I don't know if he's still on the payroll, he certainly keeps a low profile if he is. The great thing about this bloke was he wouldn't live in Hull, preferring a billet somewhere in Lancashire, which suggests to me that his heart wasn't really in his job.
Sign on a florist's stall in town -

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Damned CIA, they've been reading my blog. I ought to charge them a consultancy fee, but I suppose they'd claim that the argument that Israel has only 20 years of existence remaining stems from their own research and intelligence-gathering. I call it plagiarism.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Home Office minister Vernon Coaker, who initially said the response had been 'proportionate', later apologised to MPs after it emerged the 70 police officers he claimed had been injured in clashes with protesters had suffered unrelated ailments - including bee stings and a toothache."

"The confiscation of the camp's supply of soap was justified by police 'because protesters might use it to make themselves slippery and evade the grip of police', the report says."

And this from yesterday's Telegraph -
" ... more than 1,000 serving police officers have criminal convictions."

" ... no fewer than 77 serving officers have convictions for violence and 96 for dishonesty."
I had to reproduce this letter, from today's Guardian, in full -

Your story about the chimp set me thinking (Report, 10 March). We are told that "forward planning takes considerable cognitive skills, because it requires an animal to envisage future events it will have to deal with". Perhaps we could borrow a few of these chimps to work in the FSA, the Bank of England, or the Treasury where their forecasting skills might come in useful.
Paul Twyman
Birchington, Kent

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A poem to the author Julian McLaren-Ross (1912-1964) that I chanced upon yesterday. I'm not sure if it is permissible to reproduce it in full so I'll just quote a few lines and point to it. This is my kind of poetry, nothing abstract or vague about it, no need for interpretation. Author, David Collard -

We love your tales of squaddies, spivs and chancers;
Of clots and colonels, pukka sahibs, drunks;
Of chaps in digs, of salesmen, tarts and dancers,
How some are decent types and others skunks.


You fabulous, bibulous arch self-inventor -
With cane and dark glasses and camel-hair coat.
Seductive, productive, intransigent mentor
To thinkers and drinkers and this pisspoor poet.
I note appreciatively this reference by Angry Arab to Christopher Hitchens and his tall stories -
" Hitchens seems to want to be a part of every occasion, like Woody Allen’s Zelig."

There is a Hitchens Watch website for those who, like me, are fascinated by the great man's posturing,
STS Bulletin no.19
Our BBC local radio station has a daily feature called "Mad World". This is usually a snigger at regular right wing targets, health and safety, human rights, "political correctness". It probably goes down well among those types who decry the "nanny state" but are currently demanding that the government pays their mortgage.
Anyway today's story was about Leicestershire County Council fitting "sat navs" to lawn mowers. However, a statement by a council representative made it obvious that these devices are no such thing. They are instruments for spying on employees; checking on their whereabouts and the time they take on jobs (though he didn't say so in so many words). The use of the term "sat nav" is clearly a cover-up. Needless to say it fooled the bloodhounds of the British media. Have a laugh and move on to the next silly story.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"American and British diplomats have thus made explicit efforts to build links to the Sharif camp. "Pragmatism is the order of the day," said one UK diplomat."

So Zardari is to be removed.
I'm assuming Karzai is on the way out too, as I heard a BBC report on Afghanistan that called his government "corrupt". The BBC doesn't speak of foreign leaders in this way without a signal from above.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

"Who the [expletive deleted] does he think he is? Who's the [expletive deleted] superpower here?"
Bill Clinton, after a lecture from Netanyahu. Let's hope Hillary gives the Yahoo a kick in the beitsim for old times' sake.

Friday, March 06, 2009


"Revealed: police databank on thousands of protesters"
They're journalists and they didn't know. Didn't they suspect?

Same newspaper has an article on a blacklist operating in the construction industry. Information about potential employees could be bought from a cyberstalking outfit called 'The Consulting Association', or 'Son of Economic League', run by one Ian Kerr. He's been shut down by the data protection people. Big deal! Now what about the people whose lives he's ruined? Let's hope that they can find out if they are on the list, then those who are can sue this snake, and the blackguards who bought his services; Balfour Beatty, Keir*, Wimpey, etc. - recidivists all.

* Recte 'Kier'

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A good time was had by all.
The party for rich people who want more of our money.
"Despite the wealth in the room, little money was raised on the night and instead the organisers launched a campaign to persuade the Treasury to provide a 50% tax break for donations to the UN millennium development goals."

"... The only glitch came after word got out about the tax idea, and a group of protesters from the Tax Justice Network and War on Want gathered outside the hotel and shouted 'Make poverty history! Tax the rich!' as the guests arrived."
"The Durand Line was demarcated by the British and signed into a treaty in 1893 with the Afghan ruler Amir Abdur Rehman Khan. The treaty was to stay in force for a 100-year period. According to Afrasiab Khattak, a political analyst, the areas from the Khayber Agency Northwards to Chitral, however, remained un-demarcated.

"This disputed land was legally to be returned to Afghanistan in 1993 after the 100 year old Durand Treaty expired, similar to how Hong Kong was returned to China."

Concern is being expressed in various quarters about the viability of the nation of Pakistan. It is an ersatz nation, like the state of Israel. It was cobbled together as a secular state for Indian Muslims, and there we have one inbuilt tension, secular/Muslim. Twenty-four years after it's foundation the detached part of the nation, East Bengal, "East Pakistan", had gained its independence following a bloody "civil" war, and become the state of Bangla Desh. The Baloch in the west have fought unsuccessfully for their independence. Pakistani Baluchistan is a province under virtual occupation by the Pakistani army.
Then there's the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). This region has always had a degree of autonomy, but now the district of Swat has been, to all intents and purposes, been ceded to the Taliban. Why not go the whole hog and cut the whole province loose. It should by now be part of Afghanistan, so let the Afghans have it. Whis will weaken the Taliban in Pakistan while doing the right thing. Whether or not the Afghans want the NWFP in its present lawless state is irrelevant. If they refuse to accept the gift then the Pathans should be allowed to create their long desired Pukhtunwa and sort out their own problems.
If common sense prevails Pakistan will then cut Baluchistan loose and withdraw from so-called Azad Kashmir. Its leaders could then concentrate on consolidating the remaining provinces into a real nation, while clamping down on the religious fanatics, militias and terrorist cells that poison the body politic and threaten stability. Then there's the corruption, croneyism and nepotism to deal with.
Alas, none of this is going to happen. The army for a start would not stand by and allow it. It would make alliances with other threatened bodies, including the always useful terrorist gangs, some of whom the army helped to bring into the world, then sustained.
Allah, Army, America. Pakistan is doomed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cricket, according to the Islam Pasand, is unislamic. So is buggering little boys but that does not stop them. Or maybe in their perverted version of Islam buggery of children is permitted. An adult who submits to buggery, however, must die. These were the people the CIA used to finance and train in their war against the Soviet Union. Child rape or communism, which is more acceptable? Check with the CIA.
Though, if I lay my cards on the table, I'm inclined to see cricket as an unnatural act.
STS Bulletin no.18
"Community protection"
The UK surveillance state.
"A joint Home Office and police report recently found 80% of CCTV pictures are of such poor quality they cannot be used for detecting crime, and a police surveillance expert estimated last year that just 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV."

... but where would the companies who make programmes for digital TV be without them?
(via Obsolete)
From yesterday's 'Independent' -
"Members of the highest-ranking American delegation to tour Gaza were shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade against the Hamas-ruled territory included such food staples as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste."
"Yet since the end of the war in January, according to non-government organisations, five truckloads of school notebooks were turned back at the crossing at Kerem Shalom where goods are subject to a $1,000 (£700) per truck 'handling fee'."

Monday, March 02, 2009

On the 11th February I wrote -
"I read that the Israelis charge something like £100 on every wagon-load of humanitarian aid passing through their checkpoints. It sounds credible, considering that they are trying to starve the people of Gaza to death, but I'd like to find some support for the claim."

Now I read -
"And while a conference with the stated aim of helping reconstruct Gaza is subverted by efforts to prop up the PA, the Israeli government, in the style of a banana republic, is shaking down aid convoys going into Gaza. Each truck of humanitarian aid is forced to pay a $1000 'handling fee' — unless of course it’s determined to be carrying 'luxury goods' such as macaroni, in which case it isn’t allowed to enter."

Worse than I was led to believe.

Addendum: more on this -
"Israel continues to block goods on trucks from entering Karni, the one border crossing point with sophisticated security screening equipment and the capacity to handle up to 750 trucks per day. Sufa crossing, which can also accommodate trucks on a smaller scale, also remains closed. Instead, Israel requires all trucks to enter through Kerem Shalom, located near Gaza's southern tip, where every item on trucks must be unloaded, inspected, repackaged and reloaded, with a "handling fee" of US$1,000 per truck."
The Guardian reports that Blair has said that Israel must lift the blockade on Gaza. What I heard him say on Sky News was that Israel should allow more aid into Gaza. Not the same thing. Was the Guardian reporting a different interview, or were they misquoting?
I heard that Blair's priority was to "stop the violence coming from Gaza", which was the kind of thing I was expecting from him. He didn't let me down.
It turns out that the whole visit was a photo oppportunity, doubtless arranged by Tel Aviv in an attempt to give their creature some credibility on the world stage. He spent just an hour outside of his comfort zone, just inside the border at a place that was relatively unscathed by the blitzkrieg. He didn't meet any representative of the elected government, of course (verboten). He didn't meet any individual shorn of a limb or two. He didn't meet anyone grieving for slaughtered children. But the TV cameras recorded him in Gaza.
What of the remark about Israel easing the blockade? Did he stray from the script?

I imagine a discussion in Tel Aviv -
Tony: This remark about the blockade, do you really want me to say this?
Mark Regev: Yes, it's to show that you are your own man.
Tony: (gulps) My own man - er - I don't know if I can pull that one off. Can't you fix me up with an earpiece?
Regev: (sotto voce) Oy vay! Why didn't we hold out for Bill Clinton?

The other Clinton has promised $600 million to try to rehabilitate Israel's kapo on the West Bank, Abu Sallama. The people of Gaza will only get a sniff of this if they oust their preferred representatives and embrace the collaborator - some choice.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Where am I?
I was just doing a search for something I'd written and was pointed to a site called "Technorati". I'd seen the name on blogs but didn't know what it was. I assumed it was some sort of technical aid or advice site.
Anyway on the page I found a couple of references to my blog, but also an intriguing piece of information (or misinformation?). It seems that someone or something has a list of blogs in order of popularity, and I stand at number 2,506,937 on the list. Phew, the dizzy heights! My head is reeling.
The missing datum, of course, is the number of blogs being tracked, as the procedure is called. I looked Technorati up on wikipedia to find a figure of circa 27.7 million pre-2006. It seems that after Technorati claimed to be tracking another 56 million facebook blogs things get a little murky.
So what am I to make of all this? Nothing I suppose. It's just that it's better not to know that you are a statistic in yet another database, otherwise you begin to ask questions like "Why?". Well somebody reads this stuff, if only one or two people, but if a person starts to think about that a person is liable to get a little self-conscious.
Our Middle East peace (sic) envoy has finally made it to Gaza. The Israelis gave him the laissez-passer but ordered him not to talk to any Hamas representatives. What will the multi-millionaire war criminal have to say to the people of Gaza? I imagine it will be something along the lines of "You brought it all on yourselves you nasty terrorists, and there's more to come."
There's also news that the UK government is going to donate £20 million towards clearing up the Israeli-created shambles in Gaza. That'll be £20 million more than the Israelis will donate.

"The world has laid low, and the wind blows away like ashes
Alexander, Caesar,and all who were in their trust;
grass grown is Tara, and see Troy now how it is.
And the English themselves, perhaps they too will pass."
(Anon., Irish, 17th century?)