Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hey, check me out; the blog had some ‘technical difficulties’. No, that’s not an Israeli army euphemism for my blog slaughtering scores of innocent Palestinian children. No, my blog home page simply went blank. As blank as a Creationist's science book. If you logged in looking for updates (ahem, yeah right) and found a blank page instead, then that’s why. Sos.

Today I nearly scalded myself quite badly trying to teach an insolent Asian a lesson in manners, which completely backfired. There's a girl\woman\female at work I see fairly regularly around the office and who has a striking absence of courtesy. I don’t think I have ever heard her say please or thank you to anyone. She hardly acknowledges the presence of anyone around her, she pushes into queues, she will barge her way off a bus in front of the other, patiently waiting passengers, she asks for stuff from the canteen with no civility, no “please can I have?” or “thanks very much”: she’s horrible.

The main thing she does that aggravates me is stalk around with her arms folded and stride through doors being held open for her with absolutely no “thanks” and no acknowledgment of the person holding the door for her. She will also, happily it seems, let a door close behind her with no attempt whatsoever to hold it if there are people following.

So, after holding doors open for her a number of times myself and being blankly ignored (like it was my job to hold doors open specifically for her) I decided that the next time I came to be going through a door in front of her, I would skim through the smallest crack and make no attempt to prop it open for her. So, I just came back from the canteen with a large cup of tea and noticed that she was walking my way back into the office. The door was already closing and seizing my opportunity to let the door close in her face I tried to quickly scoot through the diminishing aperture. What I actually managed to do was catch the sleeve of my sweatshirt on the handle, stumble and kick the door loudly enough for people to look up at me and then tip half a cup of boiling tea partly down my leg. Still, she did have to unfold her arrogant arms to open the door herself, so that taught her a lesson. I think. My leg hurts.

Back to the main theme, it would seem, of this blog – co-incidence. I’m interested more in these co-incidences now from the angle that some more impressionable people would read into them more than I do, even though I'm the one that the co-incidences are happening to. What I mean to say is that some folk with a supernatural, superstitious and religious bent would be seeing the work of a higher force at work here. Possibly.

1. Sarah and I watched ‘The Root of all Evil’ last week and in the final interview Richard Dawkins is speaking to the Archbishop of Oxford in the cemetery of a small, possibly local (to Oxford) church. In the background is a dual carriageway and I wondered out loud if it was the A34 and the church in that case would be in Botley. I took Toby to music class the following morning and as drove back home I took a wrong turn in Headington. I had my bearings roughly and decided to follow the road back to the ring road. I came to a small T-junction amongst some houses with The Black Boy pub on my right. I looked left before puling out and lo and behold, there was the church from The Root of Evil with the A40 dual carriegeway in the background. It’s in Barton by the way. Spook!

2. I was posting in the Superfuture.Superdenim forum about the dangers of buying (fake) PRPS jeans from eBay and made the statement that I didn’t want others to make the same mistakes as me. I posted, “I’m very altruistic like that”. Approximately 5 seconds later Sarah called me from the car to tell me that Richard Dawkins was on Radio 4's 'In Our Time' talking about altruism. Double spook!!

3. [Not a co-incidence as such]

I bought a McDonalds breakfast on Sunday and as I was waiting for my yummy pancakes and syrup I considered the charity box on the counter. I’ve seen them, but never paid attention to what they are actually collecting for. The money collected goes towards McDonalds’ own foundation to help families with children in hospitals that are not local to them by finding or providing low cost or free accommodation. This seemed noble enough and, as I have been paying particular attention to the level of charity work undertaken by religious organisations and the criticism of atheists and their, alleged, lack of charity I decided to donate my 98p change. I didn’t really get a “warm glow” as such from donating; it just felt like more of a duty. After all, what is 98p? Not enough money to really miss, but a decent enough amount to make some kind of difference when donated.

I walked back to my car and as I opened the door I saw a shiny £1 coin on the wet tarmac. A reward from God for my charity…..? I’ll let you decide. No, not you, the other guy, behind you, yes you, you can decide.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Did you know I was going Coasteering? If so, due to my lack of updates, you might have thought old Neptune had caught me in his net or Davy Jones had towel whipped me from his locker. Not quite, but nearly. Jumping into a wind-swept Irish Sea at high tide on a mid-November morning is a good way to get yourself killed, but if you survive, it's also a damn good way to have some dangerously nervous fun too.

[out of focus water-cam pics to be posted soon]

The drill runs like this:

1. introduction and obligatory, "are you up for it!" hype-speech from blonde surfer dude with the physique of Mr Incredible (seriously)
2. pull yourself into a skimpy, ball-crushing wetsuit, damp from the previous occupant
3. don helmet, gloves and buoyancy jacket and get into transit van to soundtrack of Red Hot Chili Peppers (cliché surf music? check!)
4. drive to windswept cliff edge near ruins of derelict nunnery (?)
5. scramble down lethal cliff edge path. slip....grab gorse bush to stop falling to death. (multiple thorns in your hand? check!)
6. make way over medium size rocks and water to big rock for first jump off. arms across chest, legs together - pencil jump
7. sluice sinuses with ice cold salt water
8. climb onto rock, repeat 6 and 7
9. paddle\bob uncontrollably over to wave battered peninsula of rock and insert self into the small maelstrom hosted there
10. get repeatedly battered against various rocks whilst forcing out collective nervous, "yeee hah!"s
11. get swept down a channel not unlike the clashing rocks from Jason and the Argonauts
12. watch in amazement as instructor and fellow coasteerer are swept off the rock by a 6 foot wave that bowls them into the group
13. witness Dutch guy get his face smashed against a rock and Chris get double-dunked whilst trying to grab some breath
14. laugh uncontrollably
15. repeat until your feet have gone numb and you have lock-jaw from shivering so much
16. get a tow back to shore from Mr Incredible as you think you might drown
17. try to covertly pee in wetsuit through a cold-shrunken, inverted penis
18. get changed out of your freezing wetsuit on the top of the windswept cliff
19. start to thaw out your 'blocks of ice' feet
20. two hours later, thaw out your 'blocks of ice' feet

Remarkably, the recollections I have of this event are good and I want to do it again. What I don't want to do though, is go back to Swansea, where you get the threat of danger, but without the fun. What a dump. Some people like it though. Take this little chap we saw in the park....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Of course yesterday's update wasn't my first topic of choice. Most probably those that died in the "technical failure" would have preferred it not to have been either.

No, the update I was going to put up yesterday was another quite trippy co-incidence. Last Tuesday I was watching
Mughal-e-Azam and had got to the part where the son of the Emperor is cast out of the palace for getting hammered on wine and balancing whores on some super-size, sacred scales of justice. Give him a break, he's 12, he's experimenting! I confess I found the film a bit dull at this point and my 'Concentration Kid' had already skipped off to the park to play on the swings. Considering my next blog update as a more worthy use of my mind-waves I started to think of an analogy to use for the irony in banging my head on a 'Mind Your Head' sign. I likened it, weakly, to writing, "Danger - sharp" in tiny letters on a sword edge and slicing your nose off as you bring it near to read. Time in the film had since skipped forward about 10 years and very shortly we got to a scene showing the exiled son, in his tent after a battle, writing a prayer in his own blood on the edge of his sword....dum dum daaaaa! It's ONLY a co-incidence!! I am not the Messiah!! Go away!!

how shall we go away my Lord?"

A thought has just occurred to me whilst considering this update. Would the devoutly religious fundamentalists, for example the Islamic suicide bombers, consider a society of atheists an easier target when it comes to spreading fear? Atheists have no 'Eternity in Heaven' comfort blanket to get them fearlessly through life (neither do the "faithful" actually if you want to be picky about it). Probably, one could argue, we atheists cherish the current life more so than those that consider it simply a practice run for the afterlife. I don't like this hypothesis: it's a weakness for evil headcases to exploit. Maybe, using the principle of cut-out soldiers on the battlements at night, atheists should put up a fake faithful front to these nut-jobs in order to disguise this potential chink in our armour? I might post this in the Dawkins forums to see what replies I get.

Remember kids, don't have Faith, have certainty.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I see Israel have scored another powerful strike against terrorism in Gaza by using a surprise attack of heavy artillery to shell women and children as they sleep in their beds. I can kind of see the logic and I suppose you can't underestimate how many lives the IDF have potentially saved with this latest bombardment.

Certainly there would seem to be at least 10 less children that could have grown up into terrorists and at least 4 less women to bear little baby terrorists as well. So in that respect, a total success and one that the IDF should feel very proud of.

The Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs website comments
in their latest statement that the Hezbollah fighters frequently use civilian areas as a shield when launching their rockets against the Israeli settlements. The IDF then have to target such areas for retaliation, although in this instance the shelling was actually just wildly off target and they shouldn't actually have been directing fire anywhere near the homes of the defenceless Athamna family, who were all but decimated in the attack.

"The IDF expresses regret at any harm to uninvolved civilians, but stresses that the responsibility for this rests with the terror organizations, which use the Palestinian civilian population as a "human shield", carrying out terror attacks and firing Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers from the shelter of populated areas."

Hmm, "harm to uninvolved civilians". When you've just killed 18 civilians, the majority of whom were blown into chunks of gore and blood vapour, I think that harm is a pretty inadequate word to be using. Unless of course you want to avoid any kind of admission of atrocity and you'd prefer to use such euphemisms to simply deliver lazy, lip-service apologies.

This comment, purely and simply, demonstrates yet again the absolute disregard the IDF have for non-Israeli lives when carrying out any of their military operations. Whether they are Lebanese, Palestinian, reporter, peace activist, child, baby etc etc, it matters not who gets collaterally crushed whilst they try to stamp on the elusive cockroach of terrorism.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs quite openly admits that this was a mistake, they weren't even targeting the area that was hit, but they then go on to blame the terrorists for making them fire on the civilian area, which they just claimed they weren't aiming at in the first place. They don't care about the logic, because they simply just don't care at all.

I find it continually staggering that the governments of the world can do nothing more than 'tut' at the regularity of these outrages and I marvel at how inured we are to reports of innocent civilians being routinely murdered, a high proportion of them children, whilst sleeping in their homes or taking picnics on beaches.

Transpose their country to yours and think how amazed you would be if there wasn't national or international outrage at a neighbouring country indiscriminately firing artillery at your house, family and friends with impunity and with absolutely no redress whatsoever.

Even taking a heartlessly objective view of the aftermath, Israel still seems to fail to recognise these days that these murders are such colossal PR disasters for them. They alienate their supporters and at the same time justify the actions of their attackers.

I've lived in Israel and I loved my time there. The people were just normal folk living in a tough neighbourhod, but unfortunately the one unattractive trait which manifested itself and the one which I've come to recognise in these incidents time and again, is arrogance.

The Beit Hanoun atrocity is simply the latest in a succession of arrogant, abhorrent, disproportionate, remorseless, careless and unjustified attacks against innocent civilians in the IDF's counter-productive campaign of terrorist cleansing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If you can barely hear me it's because I have laryngitis. This came on as an entree to my horrendous visit to the dentist and is a pre-cursor to the pneumonia due to arrive following the coasteering and sea-kayaking I have planned off the coast of Wales this weekend.

The laryngitis could also have been brought on by the 48-hours solid I've spent howling with glee upon learning of Ted Haggard's dismissal from the National Association of Evil-gelicals (
NAE) for having paid for gay sex whilst high on crystal meth.

"I love it!"

That is awesome isn't it? I don't mean gay sex on drugs, I have no idea what that's like (Collard?), I mean the way he went out with a real bang. That's some way to go for a holy man that exerted great energy preaching that homosexuality is a sin that will get you roasted on a spit of white hot steel for all eternity. Remember that smirking that I said I was going to quit, I can't now, it's just too much fun!

Read his confession
here and then, whilst on that site, marvel further at the Christian back-stabbing that goes on within these loony camps. When I say 'back-stabbing', that's not some kind of euphemism for any kind of rear-penetration type shenanigans by the way. I just want to make that absolutely crystal (meth) clear, OK?

There's been a foreign kind of feel to my observations this week. On the bus on Thursday Toby overheard a Polish conversation and asked if it was French. Fool, mixing the Gallic burr with Slavic timbre, tch. I told him that it was probably Polish and he asked, "Why would anyone want to live in a foreign country?". Very astute for a 4 year old. Well, my mono-lingual munchkin, they might want to come to the UK and work as a rude barber for instance.

I went to a barber in Oxford on Saturday and was clipped by a Polish ice-maiden who, without any discernible emotion, remarked, "Your hair is very thin". Why thank you deary, I try my best (!). By the way, that's a really good way to NOT get a tip, "you evil Pole".

Other immigrants decide, benevolently, that UK food is drab and too easy to pronounce, so they choose to emigrate and bring us their lovely cuisine and bizarre culinary language. Take the Thai Orchid in town for example where there is a plethora of Priks and Gongs on the menu and you can also get a very tasty Lad Prig or Hor Mok. I rang them on Friday for a takeaway and was able to recreate the 'Dude, Where's My Car?' scene by being asked, "And then...?" after giving each part of my order. If you know the film, you know the joke.

When I arrived to collect the meal I was followed in by a couple, yes that's 2 people (one, two), who had turned up for a sit down meal and were asked, "Table for...?". Err, two maybe, Ting Tong?

There was a touch of irony on Sunday as I nearly concussed myself on a Mind Your Head sign and then some blatant false advertising on the
Good Seed - Toasted Hemp Seeds packaging I saw in Tesco.

"Good for joints" boasts the blurb detailing the numerous health-giving properties of the seeds. Well they're not, they're rubbish: burned straight through the Rizla. Actually, maybe that's how my throat got knackered.

On the right: new links, old twinks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

wasn't i meant to be writing something here as well??


monkey tennis?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who wants to hear my dentist haiku? Oh, one, two, three, four... quite a few of you. Here you go then.

Dentist and drill
Suffering to ease pain
Toothache still

I don't think they're supposed to rhyme, but I can barely think straight with the pain. Now, if I had me some of these suckers...

Whilst being penetrated and excavated in the dentists today, I attempted to focus on the radio as a distraction. The news at 12.00pm reported that the 4th most important occurrence in the world today was apparently a traffic jam in Moscow. What?! Oh my god! Quick, the phone! I know that every tender nerve in my handsome head is being electrocuted, contorting my face in febrile agony, but I simply have to call Moscow's Traffic Control Centre to see if there's anyway at all I can assist in this colossal human tragedy. Could I offer telephone support to the trapped wretches or maybe donate money so that stranded motorists can at least be given boiled sweets and travel games such as ‘Boggle’ or ‘I Spy’ (the KGB version) to help pass the time? Oh the poor souls I can hardly bear to think of the number of dinners going cold on family tables or meetings and TV programmes being missed. Oh, boo bloody hoo. Who cares!

Now this, is news.

The only other thing I had to note today was my theory on how the Incas died out. (Not dined out, died out, silly). Their diet, I'm led to believe, consisted largely of maize and sweetcorn, supplemented with seeds and nuts. Now I know for a fact that those particular foodstuffs have a very uncomfortable habit of surviving the journey through the human digestive system, often making a second appearance a day or two later, virtually unscathed. I suggest that it was this lack of nutrients being absorbed into the body that weakened the population to the point of exhaustion. Along trot the paella and chorizo scoffing Spaniards and, “estampido”, end of (civilisation that is)