Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Getting arrested for walking around barefoot .

Simple question, where in the world would you be arrested for walking around barefoot? Surely walking around barefoot is not a crime, it is no harm to anyone. The answer is that walking barefoot may be a clue in the search to capture escaped prisoners.

Nato and Afghan security forces trying desperately to round up at least 475 escaped Taliban prisoners who broke out of a Kandahar jail were forced to resort to the most primitive detection methods yesterday: searching for suspects with bare feet.

The approach was deemed logical because the escapees, who crawled to freedom down a 1,000ft tunnel, all left their shoes behind when they made the extraordinary escape on Monday. "Basically there's an order out to arrest anyone walking around barefoot," one US soldier told Time magazine.

This story really made me laugh and brightened up my day. 475 escaped prisoners is a rather large number and Afghanistan's Justice Minister told President Hamid Karzai yesterday that "collaborators inside the prison staff" were partly to blame for the break-out. Well that is very funny, crooks guarding crooks and Afghanistan has a very vibrant culture of corruption as this hilarious tale demonstrates.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cycling Boris may ban half the cars in London.

Britain could be fined up to £175m by the International Olympic Committee if it continues to break air pollution laws by the time the Games begin next August. To meet the legally binding agreement, London may have to reduce traffic levels by more than 30% over a period of nearly a month, raising the possibility of draconian measures such as banning cars with number plates ending in odd and even numbers on alternate days.

London is one of the most polluted cities in Europe, with official studies showing that air pollution – mainly from traffic – causes more premature deaths than passive smoking and traffic accidents combined, at a cost of about £2bn a year. Even a 30% reduction in normal traffic during the period of the Olympics may not be enough to bring emissions below the legal limit. Lawyers said London now has few options left beyond actions such as imposing an odd and even number plate ban throughout the city to enable endurance events, such as the marathon, to take place. At the last Olympic Games, in 2008, Beijing had to ban more than 1m cars and close factories.

...So then, cycling Mayor for London, Boris Johnson may have to ban half the cars on alternate days. I remember this scheme working in Paris in 1997 during September, when fine weather produced more smog, the government banned cars from entering Paris on alternate days, according to whether they had odd-or even-numbered licence plates, and made public transport free.

So that is the answer Boris, ban the cars driving around London and declare public transport free! Our country should not be forced to pay a fine of £175m because some Hooray Henry's love driving around London in their Chelsea tractors. Public transport should be for everyone to enjoy and so should the air we breath.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Every little helps .

Oh yes, the Tesco tag line does declare that Every little helps. But Tesco is not popular with everyone and there has been a lot of opposition to the opening of a Tesco Express store in Stokes Croft, Bristol. Well, on Thursday night there was a riot involving over 160 Police Officers. The video below shows a lot of the action...

...More comment and an eye witness report can be read on the Indymedia website.

So, it is not just people in the Middle East in popular uprisings, there is something a little closer to home. Tesco - giving you clubcard points on your riot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anjem will not be bringing a bottle to the party!

Some people are known as the "life and soul of a party". Some people, myself included, enjoy beer and biscuits with friends. I do not need an excuse to party and I will not be told when to party by the calendar or the press. I have no interest whatsoever in the Royal Wedding a week on Friday. Anjem however wants to protest against the Royal Wedding but has been refused by the Police to hold a demonstration near Westminster Abbey.

On his website Muslims Against Crusades he writes about the evils of the Royal Wedding...

We therefore urge Muslims to distance themselves from the Royal wedding and realise the evils associated with it, such as alcohol, free-mixing, wasting money, forgetting the crimes which have and are being committed in the name of the Queen and with her full support etc.

Mr Anjem Choudary
Former UK Head of Al-Muhajiroun
Lecturer in Shari'ah Law

Call 07956 600 569
for more details

...Well then, Anjem will not be bringing any beer and biscuits to share with friends, which is a poor show and is lacking community spirit! I always enjoy beer and biscuits with friends. And what is this about "free mixing"? Is that a reference to casual sex or is this standard Muslim rhetoric about the infidels? I am all in favour of the democratic right to protest but surely a nice beer would go down rather well in this lovely weather.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Did I hear right?

Driving to work this morning I had the radio playing in my car. The time was around 05.45 and I was tuned to my local independent music station Capital FM . A record is playing and it has a catchy tune. A girl is singing about something or other and breaks into what sounds like a chorus ...

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

...Did I hear right? The record continues and the girl sings the same chorus again...

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

...WOW! Thought Mister Wiggly , that is rather strong on broadcast radio as the dawn breaks around Cardiff. That is rather a raunchy song to play and later on the girl sings...

S-S-S & M-M-M
S-S-S & M-M-M

...Oh yes, I thought, that is definitely S & M young lady. This record really made me smile and whilst I was driving my coach I kept singing the chorus in my head. When I got home I told Gail about the record and sang the chorus to her. I did not know who sang this song and neither did Gail. Today we have the grand children with us and Leah, who is 12 years old smiled and said "I know who it is Grampy Steve, it is Rihanna and the song is called S & M". Gail gasped in horror as she believes that 12 year old girls should not know about S & M - I just smiled and wondered if I would be put on the naughty step.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Is prison for serious offenders?

I thought that prison was for serious offenders who were a danger to the public or posed a great risk of re-offending. Andrew Ryan has been sent to prison for 70 days. Sentencing him at Carlisle Magistrates' Court, District Judge Gerald Chalk said: "This is a case of theatrical bigotry."

So, what was this act of theatrical bigotry? Well it got off to a poor start as observed by Ryan's former probation officer. Andrew Ryan wanted to follow in the footsteps of Pastor Terry Jones and burn a copy of the Koran. He failed in his first attempt with matches before he succeeded with a lighter. So, not the brightest spark in the box!

Okay, I understand that his actions are offensive to Muslims but did his actions really warrant 70 days in prison at tax payers expense? Andrew Ryan has been very foolish and childish. He should be treated as a naughty child and put on the naughty step, have some privileges withdrawn and sent to bed early. There are other control measures that could be given to Andrew to encourage him to grow up and act like an adult.

Instead, the general public have to pay more for this unemployed fool to be held in prison for 70 days. This is a bad joke at tax payers expense and demonstrates a knee-jerk reaction from our justice system.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Are Fulham playing away?

Years ago if a friend was given a drink and the glass or mug was not full to the brim, the friend would jokingly enquire "Are Fulham playing away?". I grew up with this popular saying and have always considered it bad form to offer a person a drink with a short measure. I think it is rude to offer any drink when the glass or mug is not full.

Britvic have started a £4 million TV campaign, directed by BAFTA award-winning director Shane Meadows and will communicate that Robinsons Double Concentrate gives consumers ‘a lot from a drop’. I have no complaints about the product , as we have a bottle of Robinsons Double Concentrate squash on the go in our kitchen at the moment. The problem I have is with the TV advert . Okay, I understand that Britvic want to demonstrate just how many glasses you can get from one bottle of Robinsons Double Concentrate as part of the £6.8 million launch campaign to drive consumer awareness and value growth in the squash category.

Now watch the television advert either on YouTube or the Robinsons website . Just look at how little squash is in each glass! That is an insult to offer someone half a glass! You are offering a half empty glass as part of a television advertising campaign to promote your product. It demonstrates just how tight and stingy some people can be by thinking your friendship is only worth half a glass! What an awful message this advertisement is sending out. It may be legal to claim that you can get 50 servings out of a 1.25 litre bottle of Robinsons Double Concentrate squash but give me half a glass of anything and you will not be my friend for much longer! You serve someone a drink in a glass or mug then you fill it, rather than give them a half measure. I think Britvic have made a faux pas by demonstrating their product using half empty glasses or did Shane Meadows only get half a BAFTA?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shockwave Flash crashing on your Google Chrome browser?

Watching videos on You Tube and other websites requires a browser plug-in called Shockwave Flash. Software gets updated every week and often there are technical conflicts and things simply stop working. Recently I have noticed that the Shockwave Flash plug-in on Google Chrome has been crashing an awful lot. Some days it works but mostly it just crashes with the warning appearing across the top of my browser screen.

I have waited a couple of weeks and it still crashes more often than not! A quick search on the internet reveals this is a common problem for many people using the otherwise excellent Google Chrome browser. But there is an answer that worked for me on this computer running Windows 7 Home Premium and Google Chrome.

Click on the far right icon on the top line - spanner (customize and control)
then - options
under the bonnet
content settings
under 'plug ins' - Disable individual plugins
top right click 'details'
then listed under flash,

1 - Flash 10,2,154,25 - built in Chrome flash

then click - disable

Then launch You Tube and a message will ask you to download and install Adobe
Shockwave Flash. Follow the prompts and hey! presto! your Google Chrome browser will run videos and surf You Tube without Shockwave Flash crashing! I wish I had done this a couple of weeks ago rather than waiting for Google to get around to making Chrome stable.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What crime has Kenza Drider been arrested for?

You look at the picture above which was taken outside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and wonder what crime Kenza Drider has been arrested for. Then you see that Kenza is wearing a niqab, a Saudi-style veil and yesterday was the first day of the French ban on full face veils. Only thing is that French police were under orders not to enforce the ban on its first day. So what crime was Kenza being arrested for?

Kenza Drider was arrested for taking part in unauthorised demonstrations, not for wearing face-covering veils. Naughty woman, she did not show her face in public but her demonstration was unauthorised! Laughing out loud and her gamble was that she would be arrested in the full glare of global media, so that she could take her case to the European Court of Human Rights. Ah, the sneaky French would not be wrong footed by her childish game and nabbed the naughty woman for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration!

Most of the estimated 1,900 habitual niqab-wearers in France appear to have stayed at home yesterday or bowed to the law and taken off their veils. I do not think that President Nicolas Sarkozy will be bothered at losing those 1,000 votes, as many French voters fear what is lurking behind that burka as she strolls through the streets. Under that burka in the hot summer sun, she could be completely naked, walking around the streets commando-style or she could be a suicide bomber. What dark secrets lie behind that veil? Nicolas Sarkozy does not want to find out or alarm the public, so he introduced the ban on full face veils. Time will tell if a test case is brought before the European Court of Human Rights and if it does, it could be a close call for Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The North Face has been demolished!

Amused as I was by Mat Snow's article in the Independent newspaper on the 30th March 2011 - the North Face has now been demolished from British streets!

It is sad that Mat's excellent article did not attract any comments on the Independent newspaper website. His article rang true with me and I enjoyed reading his piece, I thought his views were spot on.

Now Britain is shrouded in sunshine as spring has broken. All around our country people are walking around in vibrant colours and flip-flops. The North Face has been consigned to the back of the wardrobe. Our country has shed it's black camouflage and sprung into a summer season of bright colours and joy. Thank goodness this black misery has gone!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Stone Cold by David Baldacci .

Casino king and vicious thug Jerry Bagger is hunting Annabelle Conroy, who conned him out of millions. Oliver Stone and the Camel Club must marshal all their resources to protect her.

Stone Cold involves the members of the Camel Club and follows on from the collectors , although this is a stand-alone novel. You do not need to have read Camel Club or the collectors to enjoy Stone Cold.

Stone Cold was written in 2007 and has 511 pages. It is a tale of cunning and lies. It is like a made-for-TV movie. The pace is steady and the plot is straight forward. There are two separate plots that are linked only by the characters and do not affect each other. The action is evenly split across a range of twelve characters with major parts played by three of them, two of whom are members of the Camel Club.

I felt a lack of empathy for all the characters, who all shared an arrogance of believing "I'm the best". The story is clearly written but I thought "Why do they bother?". This is not the happiest of novels as there is a high death toll from needless violence. There is nothing special about this novel. Stone Cold did however have a good ending.

There was some mild humour sprinkled throughout this book, for example on page 81...

"Now let's try the name thing one more time. What's yours?"
"Oliver Stone, like I told you the last four times you asked."
"Let me see some ID."
"And as I told you four times before, I don't have any."
The other agent said incredulously, "How does anybody in the twenty-first century not have ID?"
Stone looked at him, bemused. "I know who I am. And I don't really care if no one else does."

...Sadly there is nothing special or to recommend about this book. Stone Cold is a poor novel, it is not one of David's best and I shall vote it only 2 stars on Goodreads . The collectors was a good read but Stone Cold, like it's appropriate title, leaves me Stone Cold.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ink & Kink For The Win by BJ Thornton .

This is an odd little book, a kind of romance but it is not conventional. This is a tale of boy meets girl with a difference. This story involves only two characters who fall in love. Harley is a tattoo artist who is very sensitive to female emotions. Shae is recovering from breast cancer having had a mastectomy, which Harley covers up with a tattoo.

This book explores the psychological aspects of gaining a tattoo and how people deal with issues concerning their own body image. People have very differing comfort zones that they maintain in public and Shae protects herself by hiding in her hoodie. Her shyness lends great tension to this novel and I hoped that this story would move on and improve but sadly it did not.

Ink & Kink For The Win discussed how people can feel about their own bodies and how this affects their sexuality. Harley is rather bossy in his relationship with Shae and this has a big effect on her but this makes the reader feel claustrophobic. Shae is only just coming to terms with cancer and is unsure about her health and her new boyfriend. Slowly Shae begins to understand who she is and how she relates to pain whilst having a tattoo or sex. The raunchiest part of this book is this...

“They’re going to run tests next Thursday, but my doctor wants me to have another mastectomy, no matter what.”


She moaned when he twisted her nipple. Shae shook her head against never feeling that sensation again. “I can’t go through this again.”

“You’re gonna. Know why? I’m not letting you die on me, woman, if it can be prevented. I ain’t had nearly enough of you yet.” He pulled the rope against her pussy, quicker and harder than before. “Grind on it. I want to make you come.”

...You read on to the end of this novel only to find that you are no further forward. The ending is very poor and is a let down. There is no feeling of closure or having travelled a life changing journey. Ink & Kink For The Win was published on the 2nd March 2011 and is available as a 227kb Amazon Kindle eBook. It cost just 70p and is part of the Get 5 On It series of short stories by BJ Thornton. I thought this book was poor and have voted it only 2 stars on Goodreads . It passed the time but was a let down. It was however twice as good as Snowbound and BJ Thornton is a far better author than Seth Daniels. BJ Thornton can write okay but she lacks the art of storytelling. She is not an author that I will be following.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

This one is for Vicky .

London is a lively city and is rich in it's diversity. People dress how they want and quietly go about their business with no harm to anyone. Fashions come and go with the changing seasons. What is in one season is out the next. Some people are following a new trend of walking about London barefoot, as this video illustrates...

...there are many advantages to be had from walking around barefoot. Although it does surprise some people, it does feel rather good and you will feel a lot better for it. Trust me on this one Vicky, for there will be many people around the world on this coming Tuesday taking part in One Day Without Shoes .

On Thursday I went for a walk along the South Bank in London. It was a lovely spring day and I had just enough time to take in what I wanted to achieve. I have an interest in bridges and have wanted for a long time to check out the Millennium Bridge across the River Thames. Londoners nicknamed the bridge the "Wobbly Bridge" after participants in a charity walk on behalf of Save the Children to open the bridge felt an unexpected, and, for some, uncomfortable, swaying motion on the first two days after the bridge opened. The bridge was closed later that day, and after two days of limited access the bridge was closed for almost two years while modifications were made to eliminate the wobble entirely. It was reopened in 2002.

The walk to the Millennium Bridge and back took the whole of my rest break in London but it was worth it. The Millennium Bridge does not wobble any more and it is a joy to walk across. The extruded cellular aluminium decking is a novel surface to walk on though!

The walk along the north bank of the River Thames is not very interesting but the walk along the south bank is worth your time in both directions. There is plenty to catch the eye of everyone and you realize why London is a top tourist destination. There are plenty of interesting attractions for everyone to enjoy, for people of all ages, young and old. If you are a people watcher then you will see a global diversity of people as they stroll past, with different skin colours, different styles of clothing and different forms of footwear. You may even spot the odd person walking happily along barefoot with no harm to anyone. Keep your eyes peeled Vicky!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Our conservatory is finished!

Gail has wanted a conservatory for our home for over a decade now. She has dreamed of one day sitting in a conservatory and looking into our garden. She has nagged about the commission of a conservatory for over a decade. Since our mortgage has been paid off we have been able to put a little money aside. The time has now come that we can afford to have a conservatory installed.

We did our homework and got some quotes. There was quite a large difference between the top and bottom prices we received for the same size conservatory. After due consideration we decided to go with a local company called PVC Dot Com . They started the work and 7 weeks later our new conservatory is finished.

We decided to go for a bespoke conservatory rather than a common, one-size-fits-all conservatory available from builders merchants. This enabled us to have a larger conservatory not available from stock sizes. Our new conservatory spans from the fence with our neighbour to just before our kitchen window, giving the maximum usable width without blocking a window or moving a drain. The depth runs as far down our garden as Gail's potted plant collection.

The extra time taken to finish the conservatory was due to the delay in getting the frame machined at another factory - a one-off job. Once the frame was ready, installation progressed. Each man was responsible for his own trade and took pride in their own part of the job. The plasterer took a particular pride in his job, that was not dissimilar to the care a plastic surgeon takes doing breast re-construction surgery.

So now, everything is finished to our complete satisfaction. We have a conservatory that makes full use of the usable space in our garden between our neighbour's fence and our kitchen. We chose the actual tiles that are fitted with under-floor heating. We have a 600mm dwarf wall that Gail can place her ornaments on top of. We have 2 double electric plug sockets, a ceiling light and a radiator served from our existing domestic central heating system. All nicely finished and a joy to sit in.

We have bought some furniture to kit out our new conservatory. There are 2 sofas, 2 dining chairs, a bistro table and a small nest of tables. Gail is well happy with her new conservatory and it is a joy to entertain friends and family in it. We are pleased with the work that the guys from PVC Dot Com have done, they take a genuine pride in their work. Beer and biscuits anyone?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Unfair dismissal .

Look at this picture of Farzana Naz singing at a concert in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in Afghanistan. No big deal you may think, just another woman signing to an audience. But no, Farzana Naz and Rita Wagma appeared on stage without headscarves. Tribal elders complained and President Hamid Karzai sacked Abdul Satar Mirzakwal, the deputy governor of Helmand province.

Some unfair dismissal claims are bogus but this one I would support. This is 2011 and there should be nothing wrong with women singing without a headscarf. It is only natural for women to sing aloud in public and having their hair uncovered is no great shakes. President Hamid Karzai should come to any park in London and see women without headscarves going about their business. Some women go for a run in the London parks, never mind the lack of a headscarf but look at those jogging bottoms, that black lycra and nothing else stretched across their buttocks. That is not inappropriate like the tribal elders of Lashkar Gah would claim, so they should not get their pyjamas in a twist over the lack of a headscarf. Give Abdul Satar Mirzakwal his job back, he has done nothing wrong and I am sure the 12,000 people who attended the concert enjoyed the show as it was hailed as a success by local authorities.

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