Tuesday, August 26, 2008

qpr 4 - 0 carlisle united

strange doings down at loftus road. ok, carlisle is a team from a lower division. nevertheless, i cannot remember the last time an r scored a hat-trick, not to mention getting through to the third round of the league cup. o frabjous eve.

mccain has trouble counting

thanks to the editrix blog for showing me this short film in which republican presidential candidate john mccain attempts to be non-committal, i.e., to not use directly the word 'gay'; and pro 'family values' at the same time. apparently gay couples who wish to adopt are not "two-parent families".

Monday, August 25, 2008

the return of piglet

captain piglet of the mayflower

we went to see plymouth rock, but it was under construction, surrounded by a wire and plastic fence. thus it was that we made our way through the sunday afternoon crowds, past the carousel and on board the replica of the mayflower. despite a terrible tribute band blasting out 'billie jean' on the dock, we explored the decks of the ship. i was asked whence i came by one of the pilgrims, and told him london. 'within the walls or without?' he asked. 'without,' i replied. 'then you're not really from london, are you?' he said. damn, they got me again - i had the same conversation with mistress brewster when she visited our school last year. we then had a lovely chat about religious tolerance in seventeenth century holland. luckily i'd had to teach it to the third and fourth graders in the spring :-)

qpr 2 - 0 doncaster rovers

emanuel ledesma scores his first goal for qpr

the sun was shining, qpr won, and all was right in the world. however, ledesma's new-found popularity and success make me wonder how my akos will fit into the team when he is again fit.

Friday, August 22, 2008

top ten funniest jokes from the edinburgh fringe festival

according to today's times online. some of them are actually funny, but there are a couple i just don't get (7 & 10). do you think it's cultural?

The top 10 funniest jokes from the Festival Fringe:

1. Zoe Lyons: "I can't believe Amy Winehouse self-harms. She's so irritating she must be able to find someone to do it for her."

2. Andrew Laurence: "Most of us have a skeleton in the cupboard. David Beckham takes his out in public."

3. Lloyd Langford: "My girlfriend said 'did you know that hippopotamuses kill more people every year than guns?'. 'Yes,' I said, 'but a gun is easier to conceal'."

4. Josie Long: "When I was a kid I asked my mum what a couple was and she said 'oh, two or three'. And she wonders why her marriage didn't work."

5. Tim Vine: "Velcro. What a rip-off."

6. Stephen Grant: "The Scots invented hypnosis, chloroform and the hypodermic syringe - wouldn't it be easier just to talk to a woman?"

7. Edward Aczel: "So far Bird Flu has only killed 47 people. By the time it ends, it's going to have killed 37 million. It's got to get going, hasn't it, if it's going to be the pandemic we've all been hoping for."

8. Joan Rivers: "Grandchildren can be f****** annoying. How many times can you go 'And the cow goes moo and the pig goes oink?' It's like talking to a supermodel."

9. Tom Stade: "I like Jesus but he loves me, so it's awkward."

10. Jeff Kreisler: "People were outraged because of Barack Obama's spiritual advisor. I think it's great he had one. Who was George Bush's spiritual advisor? Jim Beam? Johnnie Walker? Jack Daniels?"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

dancing with the stars

this just in - barack obama's dancing with ellen leads to a youtube version of rick astley's song 'never gonna give you up'. a president who looks good shaking his booty - what do you think? i could get down with that. of course that would never be a reason to influence my vote :-)

csi: the hive

a positive story from the bee world was reported by the bbc recently, telling us that the way bumblebees search for food may help humans hunt down serial killers (human ones). a team at the university of london reports that:

" ... bees create a "buffer zone" around their hive where they will not forage, to reduce the risk of predators and parasites locating the nest. It turns out that this pattern of behaviour is similar to the geographic profile of criminals stalking their victims. "Most murders happen close to the killer's home, but not in the area directly surrounding a criminal's house, where crimes are less likely to be committed because of the fear of getting caught by someone they know," Dr Raine explained."

so all we have to do is apply bee patterns to human ones and ... hurrah! well, it is certainly an interesting idea. i wonder how it occurred to someone in the first place?

the full story is here.

leo abse z"l

leo abse, a welsh and labour member of parliament for over thirty years, has died at the age of 91. apart from being the older brother of our beloved friend dannie, he is also worth celebrating for his pioneering work in the reforming of british family and social life when i was a child. the times notes:

"His concerns were at the heart of the reforms that touched and revolutionised family and social life in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s: the acceptance of homosexuality, divorce and family planning, although he also interested himself in a great range of other social issues including abortion, prisons and, more recently, in vitro fertilisation."
the times obituary

in the grauniad, geoffrey goodman begins:

"The politician, social reformer, writer and lawyer Leo Abse, who has died aged 91, was a unique figure in the public life of our time. He reflected, and transmitted in grandiloquent style, the paradoxes of our age along with his own egocentric capacity to express, often in pyrotechnic rhetoric, the contradictions and absurdities in all our lives. He was a leftwing socialist with a Disraelian quality of showmanship, and a product of a Welsh–Jewish idealism oft times coated with Celtic imagery — always laced with a Jewish romanticism he sought, pointlessly, to disguise."
full obituary

from the telegraph:

"Abse was the first MP to initiate debates on genetic engineering, the dangers of nuclear power generation at Windcsale, and in vitro pregnacies; and he campaigned to change the law which made attempted suicide a criminal act. He made a special study of the problems of delinquency, divorce and counselling. It was due to him that the law was changed, in the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, to allow divorce after a marriage had broken down beyond repair. He despised the system of having to secure a divorce by a bogus admission of adultery or couples being compelled to remain married in name. He also saw that the interests of the child were made a prior consideration in divorce settlements. Perhaps his best-known achievements, however, were piloting through the House of Commons the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in 1967 and sponsoring what eventually became the 1975 Children’s Act."
full obit

with regard to the political psychobiographies abse wrote later in life, tam dalyell says in the indy:

"Abse's approach was to study the relationship between politics and personality. He dared to place under scrutiny the interior lives of practising politicians. He insisted this had nothing to do with cheap and scurrilous probing, but related to the belief that when political decision-making can have such fateful consequences as peace or war for a nation, the elected politician cannot claim the same right of privacy as that afforded to the electors.

Policies, for Abse, cannot be disengaged from the policy-makers. The drives and psychological needs of the politicians invade and distort the panaceas they offer to the electorates. If more objective assessments are to be made of policies, assessments must be made of the men and women who expound them. Abse himself deserved to be remembered as one of the most significant social reformers of 20th-century Britain."
full obit

it sounds like he was a man for his time. where are such people today?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the engastrimyth

in my new-found fervour (don't ask how many times i have viewed nina conti videos this week) for the art of ventriloquism, i have been trying to find a good book for beginners. the 1904 version of practical ventriloquism by robert ganthony is not available in my local library network. however, i did discover what, according to the grauniad, "the great ken campbell" considers the perfect practice sentence for ventriloquists to be:

"Who dared to put wet fruit bat poo in our dead mummy's bed; was that you, Verity?"

a post on the olympics

so the americans print a medal table where the team with the most medals of any type (i.e., the usa) is top and the chinese print one where the most gold medals gets counted first (we like them better because then britain is higher up). the aussies are busy dissing the brits, saying that they smell and are only good at sports where they get to sit down. some guy beat mark spitz's olympic medal record, etc., etc.

the big question i had, though, was: what is yngling and how do you pronounce it? thank you grauniad today for answering this. here is what they wrote:

"What is Yngling and how do you pronounce it?

Yngling is a type of keelboat, and easily the silliest of the 23 varieties of keelboat currently accredited by the International Sailing Federation, most of which sound like cast members of the Gladiators - Tempest, Lightning, Dragon, Melges 24. OK, the last one doesn't sound like a Gladiator. Its Norwegian inventor designed it for his son in 1967 and named it Yngling, Norwegian for young man. This is its second appearance in the Olympics, where it is raced only by women - the men's keelboat is the more gladiatorial Star. A spokeswoman from the Norwegian embassy says the word "is slightly old-fashioned now" but confirms that it is pronounced erngling, with the initial Y sounding like a German U with an umlaut. "It's not really a word we use a lot," says a colleague. "

Monday, August 18, 2008

mazal tov ellen and portia

i am not going to write anything about this since many others have already covered it from many angles. i recommend dorothy snarker's site, and clicking through as well to after ellen. am just pleased that this is not being condemned across the board. and of course, i shall have to move immediately to california :-)

pink pound, or boozy brits?

apparently the city of krakow in poland is a popular site for british stag nights. however, as in other parts of europe, the locals are getting a bit fed up with the rowdiness and the vomiting. tourist authorities in krakow have recently announced that they plan to target gay and lesbian tourists instead, believing that they behave better, not to mention having and spending more money. the observer reports the perspectives and responses of local people:

"'They hassle waitresses about sex and brothels. One stripped off in front of all the other guests. They've started drinking out of their shoes, which they think is really funny. They drop ash and spill beer and vomit, and then they go off to brothels.' Nightclub owners complain they have had to fork out on extra security to cope with drunken brawls that often break out between stag groups. And Krakow's taxi drivers are fed up. 'They pack themselves into the car, vomit out of the windows, and run off without paying,' said one driver, named Tomasz."

these are the stag parties. however:

"'I don't know which is worse!' said Piotr Kucharski, spokesman for the Christian Culture Association In the Name of Father Piotr Skarga, which has initiated an email protest campaign and a demonstration in Krakow against the new policy. He added: 'Drunken Britons may get their genitals out in public. But we don't want gays performing public obscenities either.'"

yes, two men holding hands in public is totally on a par with a flasher. the local politicians, however, are no better:

"'We respect people, their autonomy and personal choices. However, we do not support the promotion of perverse behaviour,' said Agata Tatara, Krakow city councillor and member of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party."

it constantly amazes me into how many loops of a pretzel shape people are willing to bend themselves to perpetuate their pink prejudice.

the observer reporter was hilary davies from warsaw and the story was published sunday 17th august

Sunday, August 17, 2008

dottie collins r.i.p.

have you seen the 1992 film 'a league of their own'? dottie collins was at the centre of the real-life all-american girls professional baseball league.

"June Peppas, a rookie with the 1948 Daisies, remembered how Collins “kind of played mother” to her and fellow rookies, teaching them how to conduct themselves as professional athletes, and how she provided emotional support for former teammates over the years. “She had a lot of compassion for everybody,” Peppas said from her home in Florida. “She did a lot of letter-writing to support people who had problems. She was a good shoulder.”"

she was also instrumental in facilitating the cooperstown presentation and preservation of the history of that era:

"The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., had been considering an exhibition on women and baseball during the mid-1980s, but, as Ted Spencer, its chief curator, recalled in an interview, it had little material to display until Collins approached him. “When I connected with Dottie, the ball started to roll,” Spencer said. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where it would have gone.”"

the full ny times obit

Saturday, August 16, 2008

qpr lose and the world is back to normal

emanuel ledesma protects himself from the fierce onslaught of the sheffield united attack as qpr collapse to a 0-3 hammering up north this afternoon. and what is with the weird yellow shorts and socks? where are our hoops, mate?! this isn't our rangers!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

not got melky :-(

melky cabrera homers vs the blue jays

the yankees have sent my melky to the minors. noooooooooooooooooo!

the associated press reports:

"A starting outfielder with the Yankees for most of the past three seasons, the 24-year-old Cabrera got off to strong start this year but has struggled at the plate since May. He was batting .242 with eight homers, 36 RBIs and a paltry .296 on-base percentage. His playing time had decreased lately. “We just felt that it was time for him to go work on some things. You can’t forget how young Melky is,” Girardi said. “We believe that he’s a much better player than a .240 hitter.”"

qpr's league cup win versus swindon

angelo balanta bundles the ball across the line for the first goal at swindon in the cup earlier this week. i post this as inspiration for the 'r's tomorrow as they play their first away game of the season in sheffield. non-sport fans avert your eyes - i am going to do a yankees post next!

crisis point for uk honeybees

now that the grauniad is reporting this story, does that mean it is finally real? here is some of what alison benjamin wrote last tuesday:

"Britain's honeybees have suffered catastrophic losses this year, according to a survey of the nation's beekeepers, contributing to a shortage of honey and putting at risk the pollination of fruits and vegetables. The survey by the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) revealed that nearly one in three of the UK's 240,000 honeybee hives did not survive this winter and spring. The losses are higher than the one in five colonies reported dead earlier this year by the government after 10% of hives had been inspected. The BBKA president, Tim Lovett, said he was very concerned about the findings: "Average winter bee losses due to poor weather and disease vary from between 5% and 10%, so a 30% loss is deeply worrying. This spells serious trouble for pollination services and honey producers."

The National Bee Unit has attributed high bee mortality to the wet summer in 2007 and in the early part of this spring that confined bees to their hives. This meant they were unable to forage for nectar and pollen and this stress provided the opportunity for pathogens to build up and spread. But the BBKA says the causes are unclear. Its initial survey of 600 members revealed a marked north-south divide, with 37% bee losses in the north, compared to 26% in the south. "We don't know why there is a difference and what is behind the high mortality," said Lovett.

The government recognises that the UK's honeybee hives - run by 44,000 mostly amateur beekeepers - contribute around £165m a year to the economy by pollinating many fruits and vegetables. "30% fewer honeybee colonies could therefore cost the economy some £50m and put at risk the government's crusade for the public to eat five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day," Lovett warned.

The Honey Association warned last month that English honey will run out by Christmas and no more will be available until summer 2009. It blames the shortage on fewer honeybees and farmers devoting more fields to wheat, which has soared in price but does not produce nectar ...

... In the US, honey yields have been decimated by honeybee loses of 36%, many due to colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious disappearance linked to the blood-sucking varroa mite, lethal viruses, malnutrition, pesticides, and a lack of genetic diversity. CCD has spread to Canada, France, Germany and Italy but has not yet been confirmed by government in the Britain."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

nina conti

i found nina conti on youtube via an article in the grauniad re the current edinburgh festival. i watched a short video interview with her and decided i needed to know more. apart from the fact that when i was 14 i had a massive crush on her dad, in those days known as the thinking girl's crumpet, i was just drawn to her act. those of you who know me well may understand why she has caused me to consider learning how to be a ventriloquist. enjoy!

aaaaaaaaaaaar.m.v. part one

bureaucracy - one of the great inventions of the civilised world. of course not. just home in a bit of a fury trying to calm down and go back to the registry of motor vehicles in watertown. first of all, the other day, i discovered that without insurance you cannot get registered, and without registration you cannot get insured. luckily there is a special form for that which means it is not actually a problem, and the insurers will send it to you. eventually.

meanwhile, my first encounter with the commonwealth of massachusetts occurred about an hour ago. you'd've thought that with a licence from the commonwealth of virginia there may have been some reciprocity but apparently not. the first trick is to find the office. there are no signs on any of the surrounding streets. there are no signs in the parking lot. someone i asked in a back street told me it was in the mall. upon getting there, one has to stand in line to get a form to fill out in order to go back into the line in order to get a number in order to get in line to be served. the wooden benches are full of dispirited-looking people trying to figure out whether the woman at the front who is shouting numbers is shouting the same numbers as the ones on the electronic display (she is not). to help us pass the time there is a tv screen up at the front displaying the words "national news". apparently there isn't any.

eventually my number came up. "licence renewal?" the woman asked. "uh huh." i was told to stand in another line. after a while, the line next to us was told to merge with us because the woman at the desk was going to lunch. a few minutes later she started attending to other customers. "hey!" we all shouted. "i'm just going by the numbers," she said. that shut us up. we tried to make sense of what she had said. i decided it was a government plan to prevent alzheimer's by making our brains work. at last i made it to the front. and was immediately rejected. apparently it was a line for renewals only massachusetts to massachusetts. the woman told me i obviously had not been listening properly. i complained, and she sent me to the manager. he had a lovely purple shirt on. by this time, a tear or two of frustration had begun to roll down my cheek. this made the manager very kind and gentle. he explained to me that in any case i would have been rejected because i should have brought my passport with me. or a lease (i don't have one). or a cancelled cheque (i am all electronic these days). so i had to go home.

should i go back now? am not sure if i can handle it all again today. is this really the most efficient way for this office to work? who knows. anyway, i suspect that the deciding factor for me will probably be when i look in the rearview mirror and see how awful my hair is looking after all this tension. after all ... the real issue is surely what the photo on the licence is going to look like!

hip hip hurrah!

was just browsing an old copy of brewer's dictionary of phrase and fable and came across the following entry:

"hip! hip! hurrah! - the old fanciful explanation of the origin of this cry is that the hip is a notarikon, composed of the initials 'hierosolyma est perdita', and that when german knights headed a jew-hunt in the middle ages, they ran shouting "hip! hip!" as much as to say "jerusalem is destroyed."
hurrah was similarly derived from slavonic 'hu-raj' (to paradise), so that hip! hip! hurrah! would mean "jerusalem is lost to the infidel, and we are on the road to paradise.""

and there i was thinking that saying 'hip hip hurrah' was such a terribly british thing to do. shall have to omit the hips from now on methinks, although hurrah still seems to make sense

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


the telegraph has a weekly section wherein it displays photographs of signs that readers have sent in. the focus is on the odd and the amusing, particularly when it comes to mistranslations. it occurred to me that this particular one was most suitable for the ravaj.

anyone still reading?

so i had a bit of a lapse re blogging. i'd like to make it up to you, so here are some links now to things i would have blogged if i had been blogging then:

first of all, obituaries of interesting and amazing women of whom you may not have heard ...

janet askham was a british sociologist who, latterly, had been concentrating on the social aspects of aging. the times quoted her as saying:

"“Ageing is both a social and biological phenomenon. One can start with the notion of when old age begins. There is no biological starting point: it is socially determined. People become old because they are defined as old — by the attitudes and behaviour of others and by laws, rules or policies.”"

pauline baynes was most well-known for her illustrations for works by tolkien and the narnia books. the grauniad wrote:

"Baynes went on to become one of the foremost children's book illustrators of the 20th century. Her highly designed style - witty, inventive and invariably bursting beyond the borders of the page - her strong sense of colour and line, and her careful attention to detail would become instantly recognisable. As for Narnia, despite other artists ringing the changes from time to time with the covers, sometimes disastrously, it is her classic line drawings which have remained an integral part of every subsequent edition of the series."

valerie bennett-levy was nosegay maker to the queen. when describing what she did during the war, the times noted:

"Much more an artist than a physicist, Bennett-Levy amused Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the man credited with Britain’s advances in radar development, when — as a member of a high-level delegation visiting her station — he heard her explaining her work thus: “Well, you twiddle this knob and that knob, and then this other knob, and . . .” He told her: “I’ve been trying to explain what I do to my secretary for years. Yours is the most unscientific explanation I’ve ever heard. I wonder if you’d come round and explain it to her.”"

evelyn keyes lived a far more interesting life off-screen than suellen o'hara, the part that she played in 'gone with the wind'. the guardian ends its description of her life with the following:

"A self-described "flaming liberal" who was once a "mush-minded bigot", the plain-speaking Keyes explained that having an abortion just before filming Gone With the Wind, left her unable to have children."

kathleen kinkade was a founder of a utopian commune near charlottesville, va. the ny times wrote:

"In 1964, while living in Los Angeles and working in a dead-end secretarial job, she read “Walden Two.” Skinner’s novel, about humans living in a hivelike egalitarian society, strikes many readers as bloodless and forbidding, but Ms. Kinkade responded ecstatically. She wrote to the author asking if such a community existed, and if she could join. She received no reply, concluded that there was no such community and decided to create one."

ann lambton was a scholar who specialised in the study of iran. the times said:

"All who knew Lambton respected her not only for her intelligence but also for her physical strength and endurance. She was a fine squash player and often beat students a great deal younger than her. She always cycled between SOAS and her flat in Maida Vale. In Iran and in Northumberland she was a tireless walker up the steepest of hills at a huge pace and she walked everywhere in Iran, besides travelling on horseback or camel."

Monday, August 11, 2008

two goals for one-size

so the season began and i said nothing about it? or maybe i was overcome by the magnitude of two wins in a row. sorry auntie d. and others not into my particular sport fixations. while you should be glad to know that considering the poor performances by the yankees recently, they are less likely to be featured on these pages; at the same time it is the new season and association football is my great love. prepare, therefore, to skip the soccer stories for a while. i understand. really, i do.

meanwhile, here are some pics via action images of the first goal by fitz and his response. nb quite a good nickname i think - he is called fitz hall, and nicknamed one-size. i like it. much better than lee cook's nickname, i.e., cookie; martin rowlands, i.e., rowly; and (why i just do not know) patrick agyemang who is called by many 'dave'. anyway, o frabjous day, etc ...

Monday, August 04, 2008

is she is or is she aint? none of your beeping business!

from the bbc website:

"Actress Lindsay Lohan has hit out at the Los Angeles police chief after he said the star had "gone gay".

"Police chiefs shouldn't get involved in everyone else's business when it comes to their personal life. It's inappropriate," Lohan said. Chief William Bratton made the remark while explaining why he did not support a crackdown on the paparazzi. Lohan, the star of Mean Girls and Freaky Friday, has been linked with DJ Mark Ronson's sister Samantha. The police chief was discussing problems with the paparazzi on LA news channel KNBC. He said: "If you notice, since Britney started wearing clothes and behaving, Paris is out of town not bothering anybody, thank God, and evidently, Lindsay Lohan has gone gay, we don't seem to have much of an issue." Chief Bratton had earlier refused to attend a Los Angeles city task force meeting to discuss ways to combat the paparazzi. Lohan gave her response in a video filmed by paparazzi and posted on celebrity website TMZ. Her publicist Leslie Sloane has previously denied that the actress is in a relationship with Samantha Ronson, but said they were "close friends"."

i am both confused and irked by this. on the one hand, personal lives are of course personal business (unless you are a celebrity who courts publicity for the development of your career, in which case you kind of make your whole life fair game). in any case, i am not a fan of publicly outing people. on the other hand, what on earth did the police chief think he was doing when he made a comment like this? sounds like a bit of a publicity-seeker himself. meanwhile, i think the paparazzi are flesh-eaters ... if you click the link, check out how they surround lohan as she enters the airport.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

happy first birthday zhen zhen

the san diego zoo's latest panda bear cub, daughter of bai yun and gao gao, has her first birthday today. you go zhen zhen!