31 July, 2005

Berkshire Hunts

The Countryside Alliance tried to use European human rights laws to overturn the ban in England and Wales. The ban was upheld by two judges on Friday but the pro-hunt group plans to appeal against the judgement. They said the ban robbed people of the right to work, destroyed businesses and ruined people's social lives. Full story

The Countryside Alliance isn't. It is not an Alliance. It is not a group of people coming together behind an idea, or a manifesto. For a more accurate picture imagine a clearing house of bitter Daily Mail housewives aligned with country-set bigots, "I'm not a racist, Geoffrey has a client who once spoke to a black man, I just think there are too many coming here". Each with a different selfish pot to bang, the pound, the darkies, the right to kill animals.
Half the reason they have failed in their aims is that each one who gets to do vox pop to camera in the street gives a different reason. Usually hog-whimperingly stupid. The other reason is that when a character like Otis Ferry pipes-up in a plummy voice, even if he has a fair point you still want to slap him about - it's unfair but there it is.

The destroying jobs argument is cute. I don't know how many people are employed in the businesses of looking after hunting dogs and making red coats and little trumpets, but I'm going to guess it's a couple of hundred, tops. Funnily enough during the miners strike, I don't remember the huntsmen coming out in solidarity for their countrymen. When Margaret Thatcher was breaking the coal industry and destroying thousands of jobs, the huntsmen were at home poring over the Telegraph pictures of strict nanny Thatcher fantasising about her sending in the SAS.

30 July, 2005

Birmingham, Alabama?

A massive clean-up operation is under way in Birmingham, England after a terrifying tornado devastated hundreds of homes.
Some 20 people were injured when the freak twister - which reached speeds of up to 130mph - ripped through the city's south.
For on-the-spot photo reportage click here

On Thursday afternoon, people ran in terror as vicious winds overturned cars, tore up trees and ripped slates or entire roofs off properties in the Kings Heath area of Birmingham.

Clever meteorologists, with beards now reveal that in 1931 ago a similar whirlwind struck the same spot. In the nearby Hall Green and Small Heath district. One woman was even killed in her bed by that twister. Some commentators are now describing the West Midlands as Britain's very own "Hurricane Alley"

A local resident last night adjusted his trucker cap, ran an unsteady hand through his mullet and described plans to start over. Apparently his brother-in-law has a 'bostin' caravan in Tamworth, and could do with the 'ackers' since the car plant closed down.

John Kings, a University of Birmingham meteorologist said
"A similar sort of thing happened in Selly Oak in 1999, where a funnel cloud took off slates, but nothing like this."

29 July, 2005

Pass the Duchy

Prince Charles has been criticised for the way in which he runs the estate which generates his private income. MPs say the way the Prince handles the Duchy of Cornwall creates a potential conflict of interest. Full story

Charles accused of "cronyism" after the Duchy employed his sister-in-law as an interior designer. A Clarence House spokeswoman, said: "Annabel Elliot is a professional designer. She has been employed for her expertise. We're delighted with the results."
Full story

Whether you liked the old firm or not you had to give credit, Liz was a class act through and through, people respect that, even your enemies, especially your enemies. She took care of business and she kept her mouth shut.

When the time comes to step-up what the work experience lad Chuck doesn't understand is that it's a fucked-up inheritance. One day you run things, the next day you run like a dog. It happens that quick, when the long knives get drawn.

It's going to get dark and wild as the good folk try out some new ideas. No-one's quite sure where it ends "but sure as shit not with me taking a bullet for the ginger one" is a sentiment that's buzzing round the streets tonight. There's about ten years left for Chuck to do some serious shit, and if it's not enough it'll get ugly. He might think the press are swine right now, but when he's cornered in the palace cellar he'll see what a bunch of hungry pigs are capable of.

28 July, 2005

Games set and scratch

News sources yesterday released more details of how the 2012 Olympic Games will be paid for by lottery scratchcards.

Good news all round I think, even if the principles of the Olympian movement and the Lottery seem a little inconsistent.

The National Lottery embodies so many Olympian ideals doesn't it? Hard work, a firm grasp of reality, fair competition amongst your peers. No not those Olympian ideas, I mean the ancient ones when Zeus' hand reached down from Mount Olympus and could bestow immense fortune on a random citizen, for no other reason than to remind the toga-wearing motherfuckers that it could happen to you, and next time it might not be fortune that gets bestowed Stavros, kapisch?

The Modern Olympic Games are supposed to be a paragon of sporting excellence - no short-cuts here, oh no. You don't win the gold medal with three-in-a-row on your scratchcard, it's nowt but hard fucking grind, and if you don't like that then sorry fella bad luck.

The creed, or guiding principle, of the modern Olympic Games is a quote by the originator of the modern Olympic Games, Baron de Coubertin:
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." If only the Thunderball rollover was played in that spirit.

No, here's the best bit. When I'm riding my bicycle round the People's Velodrome in 2014 having enjoyed the lovely transport network to get there, it will be improved by the rosy glow that comes from knowing it was paid for by a bunch of turkey-twizzler eating charvers for whom fresh air might as well be kryptonite.

Truly these games will unite the whole nation.

27 July, 2005

Spanish bull contracts Burberry poisoning

A 16-year-old girl from Essex who was gored by a bull while on holiday in Spain said she would never go back to another bull fight.

Katherine Barron, from Harlow, was attacked by the animal during the traditional bull run near Alicante.

She commented "I think they should have it (bulls) under better control, so that they don't get wound-up and actually hurt people" .

full story

Karma? Dumb luck? You be the judge

26 July, 2005

Occam's Razor

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary.

For the second time in less than a fortnight I've had people come door-to-door inquiring if I was all right for spirituality, or perhaps I could do with a couple of pints of christianity every other day?

I don't mind these chaps, at least they believe in something enough to get out there and do something. Do something as in politely enquire if I'm interested, as opposed to strapping on an exploding vest.

I usually give them a couple of minutes, underscored with a brusque no-nonsense glint in the eye that says "you've got two minutes fella - sell it to me" rather in the style of one of those hard hitting captain of industry types off the telly. I'd like to think it's natural politeness, but let's face it I like a little debate, and I'll take it where I can.

I was intrigued that the second visitor (the first was a lovely little carribean lady, who asked a couple of questions then bid me good day with a smile) countered my scientific doubt with the idea of "Intelligent Design". I'd read about some schools in the states wanting to teach this as the acceptable face of creationism. Very basically the argument is - rather like coming across a pocket watch in the desert, some things in the universe are too complex and wonderful to be the product of chance ergo they point to the existence of a higher power.

It's a pretty poor argument as far as I'm concerned. But when you get people who really want to believe in something a certain amount of philosophical rigour gets left behind.
Whenever I think of Occam's Razor I ponder on how religious types and conspiracy theorists ought to emply it a bit more. It basically means the simplest explanation is the most likely: - if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, the chances are it's a duck dude.

These are the kind of people who hear the sound of neighing and immediately think "Aha! Zebras"