29 January 2009

Today in Schadenfreude

The independent(?) and democratic(?) nation of Iraq has decided that it doesn't want Blackwater's mercenaries hanging about anymore. Who's going to guard the soldiers now?

27 January 2009

A great man passes

Fellow Pennsylvanian and chronicler of the Poconos (who didn't want to be Rabbit at least for a minute) John Updike has has died at the age of 76. No Nobel for him now.

26 January 2009

Auntie's spectacular own goal

By now I am certain that all of you are familiar with the unconscionable decision by the head of the BBC to refuse to air an appeal for donations to alleviate the suffering those in Gaza who are suffering in what is truly a humanitarian disaster. There are probably in excess of a half a million innocent civilians without water and power and certainly over a hundred thousand, probably more, who are without homes. The argument by BBC honchos is that they cannot seen to be taking sides in a political conflict; an argument that has never occurred to them before when they broadcast appeals for aid to Darfur and elsewhere.

There are at least two unanswered questions that demand a response;

As I write this I am listening to an interview on the BBC's own World Service between Mr. Thompson, head of the Beeb, and John Humphreys, one of Mr. Thompson's employees. Mr. Thompson admitted that there was incredible suffering in Gaza but that the BBC could not allow the appeal because the political situation is unsettled. Unfortunately the usually dogged Mr. Humphreys failed to follow up and demand an answer to the question why these hundreds of thousand of innocents are to be allowed to suffer because of politics.

The second, more dangerous question, that also must be answered is whether there was any contact between official Israeli government sources, official Hamas government sources or unofficial lobbyists on either side and any BBC officials before, during or after the time when this disgraceful decision was made.

I imagine that we will not know the answer to the later question for many years, if ever.

America's real entitlement problem

The (not very) eminent bad comedian and worse columnist Ben Stein has penned a column that seems to ask us to feel sorry for those who shouldn't have any expectation that anyone should feel sorry for them; especially in a nation that prides itself on "hard work" and "self reliance" (whatever meaning either of them have in modern America). Whilst he eventually extols the virtues of "saving" he seems to miss the basic problem entirely, especially in the case of his first example.

His first sob story relates to a woman that he "has known since she was a teenager" without noting how long that may have been. Her terrible story is that she is living in a "house", and I use the word reservedly, on which she has a 2,200,000 USD interest only mortgage with payments of about 12,000 USD a month. She is scrapping by on 20,000 USD graciously provided by her ex-husband (10K in the form of child support and 10K in alimony). Fortunately she seems to have a sugar daddy of some sort who helps out by picking up the credit card bills and other incidentals that her additional 8,000 a month doesn't seem to cover. She has a bit of a shop that Mr. Stein seems to describe as a hobby rather than an enterprise. Suddenly because the value of her "house" is falling and her alimony is running out she is suddenly worried about money. I don't know how long she has been sucking at the entitlement teat but she has clearly, for reasons not entirely clear, been living well beyond her means.

There are currently, and there will be many more, tragic victims of the economic crisis in America and across the world. This woman is clearly not one of them. I don't mean to sound hard and unfeeling but is there any other option in this case?

Mr. Stein's other worry seems to be case of his handsome, if irresponsible, son who seems to have gone and got himself married even though his only means of support seems to be his father.

I haven't even crocodile tears for these Americans who seem to feel that not only does America owe them a living (without working or working very hard) but it owes them a living and a lifestyle that very, very few of the planet's 6,000,000,000 human being can even dream of.

Come the revolution!

Meanwhile in cloud cuckoo land...

...we find lunatics making the case for privatising the issuance of currency.

Well this should resolve the Newton v Leibniz controversy once and for all!

An obscure prayer book auctioned off in London ten years ago would seem to indicate that Archimedes had discovered the core tenets of the Calculus over 2000 years ago. This news would have been discovered sooner if some medieval monk hadn't rubbed out most of the maths and scribbled prayers over it. It is not yet known whether said monk was indeed an ancestor of former American president George W. Bush.

Surely this must be covered by Intelligent Design!

These evolving sing robots developed by a researcher at Britain's University of Plymouth are just too cool!

The (nearly) Empress's Old Clothes

It seems that the extravagant wardrobe purchased for the extraordinary Sarah Palin by the Republicans during the campaign remain undonated to charity and languishing in bin liners in an RNC office somewhere. Of course the Republican escape clause is that they had said that "it was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign". The Republican Party's slogan ought to be "We Aim to Please It's Just That Our Aim Is Lousy".

There is still no word as to the eventual last rest place of Todd Palin's silk pants.

21 January 2009

Exploding wing nut heads alert

I plan to sit back and watch as America's right-wing-nut community goes berserk over the completely accurate comments by UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, that US must investigate and prosecute George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et al for crimes against humanity.

The United States has ratified the UN convention on torture which places an obligation of states to prosecute violations and the US Constitution defines ratified treaties as the highest law of the land.

One just has to love Microsoft, doesn't one?

Here I am at my desk at work, opening up a Word document, and at the bottom I get the following message:
100,005 characters (an approximate value)

I have been invited to rejoin the American community

Yesterday, possibly for the first time ever, President Obama acknowledged the existence of the non-believers as real Americans.

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

A bloody good start

Our new President has ordered a halt to the (illegal) tribunals at the Guantánamo Bay Beach and Leisure Resort.

Fair and balanced and insane

Faux News' Chris Wallace (his father must be so proud) opines that Barack Obama may not actually be President of the United States because Chief Justice John Roberts fucked up the oath of office.

Today in infamy

Thirty two years ago today I was pardoned by Jimmy Carter; an act for which I am forever grateful.

One word

My exile in Britain has often been lonely and antagonistic. I have often been called by friends and strangers alike to defend the actions of a country of which I am, and always will be a part, but with which I did not agree.

Today my exile was not longer lonely. I have had emails and phone calls from friends in Britain, Ireland, France,Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, Egypt and Israel. I have finally had a chance to watch the new president's speech for myself.

The one word that was common to all of these contacts, and to my own teary eyed viewing of the speech, was "stirring".

If my and our new president can make America think of itself differently and the world to think of America differently isn't that simply enough.

I think so.

20 January 2009

Auntie has a sense of humour!

I was watching the beginning of the Obama's speech at work on the BBC iPlayer (not available to those of you who do not live in this green and pleasant land). I needed to turn it up so that we all could hear.

I don't know if it is any louder than other embedded video players but the volume control goes all the way up to 11!

12:00 EDT - 20 January 2009

The end of an error!

That is all.

Credit where credit is due

Assuming that the story that yesterday's commutation of sentence for the two US Border Patrol ex-officers convicted of covering up the murder of a Mexican drug dealer are indeed the last of Captain Codpiece's acts of mercy I have to congratulate him on getting it just right. Unlike Bill Clinton's distasteful final flourish the Captain has been sparing and, thankfully, avoided the wholesale, pre-emptive pardons of his criminal cronies, including "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney and "Gone-zo" Gonzales, the rabid right wing has been trying to push him to making.

Even the fact that he commuted the sentences of the two ex-border guards, who had become poster children for the wing nut community, rather than pardoning their crime is, I believe, the right thing.

So let it never be said that I never complemented Captain Codpiece on anything; even though it had to wait for his ultimate day!

15 January 2009

Jesus he's like so seventies man

Our Lord and Saviour along with his Mum have miraculously appeared in an Australian lava lamp. No word as to whether they were upside down.

I think I need to pay more attention to American football!

I confess my interest in the old gridiron sport has faded considerably in the sixteen years I've lived here even though I realise that de Iggles are doing rather well this year, even if unexpectedly so.

However I must confess that the following headline has reinvigorated my interest:

"The New York Jets And The Flaming Lesbian Catfight"

14 January 2009

Some might call it torture

In fact some do! Now that at least one highly placed American official, Susan Crawford who is the convening authority of the (illegal) military commissions, has admitted that the US HAS tortured at least one of those illegally detained at Gitmo isn't it time for investigations and prosecutions? After all Captain Codpiece has gone on record to say that the "US doesn't torture" which must mean it is a crime, right?

13 January 2009

Today in Palin-ville

The Guardian reads Ramb-ette's new biography so that no one else has to and sums it up in their "Digested Read" feature. My favourite paragraph?

"At school, Sarah stood out as one of the brightest children. "I could tell she would go far," remembers former geography teacher, George Bush. "She was the only one who could identify Iraqistan on a map." Sarah's potential was realised when she came seventh in the Wasilla Miss Congeniality competition in 1979"

Ah, it's good to be cool again

I'm just trying to catch up after a month's hiatus. I'm sure most of you will realise that I have spent the better part of the eight years trying my best not to sound American. This act of mine fooled precious few Londoners but lots of American tourists.

How, if the ultimate edition of The Observer for 2008 is to believed I need pretend no longer!

Finally we know!

The credit crunch is not the fault of greedy bankers as those capitalism hating Euro-socialists would have you believe. It is the fault of Bromley and Beckenham local hero David Bowie; or at least that is what The Daily Mirror would have us believe.

03 January 2009

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what your country can do TO you

In its eternal wisdom the US Department of Defence has seen fit to recall 50 year old Paul Bandel of Tennessee fifteen years after he left the Army and to deploy him to combat duty overseas.

Don't tread on him

A Las Vegas area woman has suddenly discovered an image of Jesus on a floor tile that she's had for eight years. Obviously this wasn't the tidiest kitchen in Nevada. It was on EBay for a while but has been temporarily withdrawn.

I think we should take him at his word

Ever courageous neo-con extraordinaire and nearly former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton once again recommends military action by the US, or its regional surrogate Israel, against Iran.

Well I think it is time that we armed the great man with an assault rifle, strapped a couple of bandoliers over his chest, sprayed his mustache with Kevlar and dropped him somewhere over Tehran. After all he "accidentally" missed out on Vietnam and this could be his last chance.

Good luck John; we more or less wish you well.

Mystery in Miami

Thousands of shoes, of all varieties, suddenly appeared on the Palmetto Expressway in Miami yesterday with no apparent explanation. Rumours that Captain Codpiece had been seen fleeing down the highway pursued by a horde of Iraqi journalists shortly before the footwear appeared cannot be confirmed at this time.


The Christmastime carnage continues as South African anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman has passed away at the age of 91.