Monday, December 17, 2012

World due to end on Friday...

say followers of the Mayan calender. As a means of measurement the Mayan method has long ceased to be the cherry in history's pie. The Mayan baktun is as useful today as those Martian rocks Challenger keeps stumbling into. Honest, the bus timetable is more accurate a predictor of events than the ancient baktun. One forecasts the arrival of charabancs the other universal disaster but which has stood the test of time? There's plenty of buses but can anyone remember the last apocalypse? I think not. The timetable, however, predicts a bus is due and lo, here's the 192 to Piccadilly Gardens and in the distance? Oh, another 192 to Piccadilly Gardens and behind that? MY GOD IT'S ANOTHER 192. Giddy with excitement I'm now atop the shelter and peering through binoculars I see in the far distance OMG yet another 192. Let's hear it for the bus timetable a chart that just keeps on giving. Which is more than can be said for the Mayans.

If the world does end on Friday, mind you, I'll be the first to hold my hands up and admit I was wrong. And you can't say fairer than that.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Seaton Carew...

in County Durham on a freezing December morning. In the distance is Redcar steelworks and I'm reminded of the film Silence of the Lambs when trainee detective Clarice Starling visits the home of Frederica Bimmell who is Buffalo Bill's first victim. The scene begins with Clarice driving over a girdered bridge into the cold industrial town of Belvedere, Ohio. We see a barge hauling goods on a soulless river then Clarice's car beneath trees bare of foliage on a street of clapboard houses. Amber leaves lie all around. A freight train clatters on the elevated rail line before the camera cuts to a woman in buttoned coat hanging out washing beneath the gloomy grey sky. Mr Bimmell stands by his pigeon coop as nervous Clarice crosses a grubby lawn to meet him. The dull green coat Clarice wears adds to the sombre tone.

Arrival in Belvedere links a harsh industrial landscape with the weariness and pain in Mr Bimmell's sad unshaven face and is amongst the film's bleakest moments.

Last Friday, I looked south from Seaton Carew. To the right and out of shot is Hartlepool's nuclear power station and the huge oil and chemical factories of Billingham.

A beautiful beach diminished.


Largest black hole...

in universe is discovered. Last week I was driving down an old farm track and encountered some very large black holes. Nearly buggered my car's suspension.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Uncrackable code...

found in chimney attached to pigeon's leg.

"We don't know what it means." Says representative of GCHQ where Britain's premier code breakers work.

"We're not sure either." Says spokesinfant for SOOT, the Federation of Sweeps, Urchins and Allied Child Labour.

Klaus Von Boid, of the "Lost Pigeons of WWII" Cardiff East Chapter told Associated Press, "That code has stood the test of time which is more than can be said for the leg."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Detached leg...

of spy pigeon found in chimney 70 years after getting lost. Attached canister contained undelivered message.

"He adored that leg." Said veteran spokespigeon Klaus Von Boid whose great grandfather knew the owner. "Of course it looked a lot better back then, more fleshy."

Mr Von Boid, Chair of the "Lost Pigeons of WWII" Cardiff East Chapter told the press "Mind you those canisters were a bloody death trap. Bakelite you see, weighed a ton. Avoid chimneys they were warned and ledges. Damned things dragged many a good bird down that final squawking plunge. Found in a chimney you say? Well, it just goes to show."

* and the undelivered message? More of that later.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Man breaks four...

limbed sprint record, shock. Except the record Kenichi Ito beat was his own. Ken spent nine years training to defeat himself in this singular event. Being the only known non primate exponent of four limbed sprinting Ken congratulated himself on a job well done. Far be it from me to focus on the bleedin' obvious but coming first in an event of which you are the sole practitioner can hardly be a surprise. Watching the footage one wonders where those nine years went.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Years Eve 1931...

and in  New York hopefuls parade their new season designs for Masonic regalia.

Unfortunately the post Crash depression forced a retreat from ostentation and return to the small pinafore but we can see that a bit of effort was being made. 

Sadly, none of the above is true, except of course the 1931 and Crash bit. These fellows are in fact architects wearing models of the buildings they designed.

Would that such a practice remained in place today because Anish Kapoor should be forced to wear a model of the monstrosity he designed for the London's Olympic Park. Mind you, he'd only trip over it, probably sprain something. Looking like an eruption of park railings the thing's clearly a neck hazard.

The structure's original brief called for Eiffel Tower elegance and Statue of Liberty chic. Normally, elegance and chic are big ball parks and hard to miss. However, the final design was passed unanimously by a committee of nine meeting regularly in an ivory tower overlooking neither Elegance nor Chic. And lo this circle of nine agreed a composition matched in ugliness only by its name: The ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Fortunately, and to prove we've all not lost our senses a Guardian Poll at the time recorded 38.6% for "Yes, it's a grand design" and 61.4% for "No, it's garbage"

I'm also cheered that "arse" is the first syllable of the bloody thing's name. 

Been meaning to get that off my chest for sometime.

Monday, November 12, 2012

John D Barrow...

speculates that our present Universe might not be alone and concludes "Copernicus taught us that our planet is not at the centre of the universe. Now we may have to accept that our universe is not at the centre of the Universe."


I'll return to this once once I've had a lie down.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Stanford Love Competition...

uses MRI scanning to survey the brains of people in love, or not, as someone learns. Each gets five minutes to think and feel deeply about whom they love whilst the machine captures brain chemistry changes. Cold science maybe but in a very sweet film the winner is very sweet too. Ah...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

There's something...

bloody odd about having an owl instead of the best man (or woman) deliver the wedding ring on that happiest of days. The Church Weddings Handbook begs to differ. More couples are breaking with tradition by using animals to convey those golden bands to the altar. Eagles, Vultures and Condors are not suitable given their propensity to eat the smaller guests. Being highly strung excludes cloven hooved creatures like gazelles and wildebeest. Not much point tying those darling rings to an animal geared for flight at the first crack of knee on pew. With twitching ears, pawing of nave floor, wide panicky eyes and snorting nostrils those beasts are built for neither patience nor the Christian liturgy.

Should marriage ever heave itself over the Flynn horizon my choice would see the rings borne aloft by hordes of soldier ants. Those tiny scurrying nipping creatures could also double to keep the congregation alert.  Ha ha, imagine the jealousy.

"Darling, I know the Komodo Dragon can be a problem but we need an outdoor creature since those ants ate the church. It's very simple really."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Archer fish...

spitting mystery solved, says BBC. Well, and here's me thinking they were just plain rude. In the UK spitting is sometimes called "hocking a loogie". Scientists have discovered that Archer fish don't hock loogies as previously thought but instead push water through their gills and mouth into a jet so powerful it could have your eye out. In piscine terms Archers are not happy fish and say a reputation for spitting has never really opened doors.  Federico Archerfish, pictured, told the BBC, "We're not happy. Spitting has never really opened doors. We're hoping that this scientific breakthrough will do for us what a previous study did for piranhas. Those guys eh? So, it's goodbye spitting and hello gobbing. That noise, Alfonse? Why it's the sound of doors opening. Yee Haw! Sssssspppprritttt...!"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Feathers go back...

a really long way, like really far back. This recenty discovered picture has lain preserved in Canadian shale for millions of years and proves feathers were decorative before they were practical. Ostrich sized Ornithomimids, for it is they, pre-date the animals that pre-date birds by quite some distance. Possessing a toothless beak, large eyes, long legs and tail these animals were particularly succulent when roasted. I've mentioned elsewhere the problems of forcing such creatures into the modern oven.

Ornithomimids were peaceful animals and not prone to fighting, even after a drink. Shorn of hands that might become fists, in a bar scrap, the Ornithomimid made like the peacock, astrutting and apreening, when with feathers for fingers they should have been arunning and afleeing.

Toothless beaks transformed into evolutionary handicaps  as these poor creatures learned that in a world of bone crushing mandibles the gum is not king. Ribald cries of, "Show 'im your teeth, Barry," only emphasised just how bitter the gum pill really was.

Even the Ornithomimids didn't think they'd make it through the early selections. Evolution, laughing like a drain.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Badgers reprieved...

shock. Brian May, sporting a badger said, "It is clear that nothing clings to the head quite like a badger."

A badger spokesbadger pictured below said. "Head clinging is an honourable profession. It's time for the persecution to end. Thank you, we'll take more questions after the buffet."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Approaching Manchester...

eastbound along the M56 I spotted a pheasant dithering on the hard shoulder. Deciding to cross the daft bird was promptly crushed beneath the wheels of a car.
What last thought might have fluttered through the creature's tiny head? It certainly was not "My, the traffic's busy today." It could have been, "Well, Lionel, best foot forward eh?"

The bird did not even look around. In my view that bird was COMPLACENT. 

"Tra la la la la. I'm a happy bird. La la la. Day twenty two and no guns. Ha ha ha ha ha. Fuck you Mr Hunter. I know, I'll go this wa_________________________________" *

The pheasant. Can any more be said?

* the shooting season began on 1st Oct.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

My antipathy...

towards cats is boundless. Cats shit and piss in my plant pots. Cats give me asthma.

In the 1874 Alexander Graham Bell et al were developing a transducer to make sound from electrical impulses. With some success they used the tympanic mechanism from a human cadaver to generate noise. Years later two psychologists achieved better results with cats. First removing the cat's brain then wiring its ears produced an early MP3 device or so insists Jonathan Sterne. Accompanying the EMTY-CAT format streaming through kitty heads clamped to the skull also came the urge to shit in plant pots and piss on babies heads. Early baby netting was not the familiar white gossamer but instead a heavy gauze designed to repel streams of fetid urine. Netting became a de rigueur barrier since the wearer of these pioneering devices was unlikely to hear the shocked parent cry out.

Batteries the size of a modern fridge hampered mobility until the market leader began giving away urchins free with every device. However, innovation could not overcome the product's main handicap which is the cat heads limited shelf life. In winter this period might be measured in hours during summer they could rot off the ears before the satisfied customer even reached the till. Much thought was given to refrigeration as a preservative despite increasing the likelihood of death to the wearer from over-cooling. Some suggested the answer might lie in a smaller battery but the threat of an urchin strike stopped that line of enquiry.

Empty cat to MP3, who'd have thought?

Monday, October 15, 2012


found on Mars, shock. Last week news was dominated by a rock. Scientists were aghast that Martian terrain might feature rock. "We planned for everything but this." Said an ashen faced engineer.

A local who would not give her name told  reporters, "Thank you people of Earth for this huge thing that's landed. We've no idea what it does. Send duvets next time eh? It gets cold this far from the sun, dontcha know."  Asked about the rock she replied. "Damn thing, people are always tripping over it."

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I've dwelt previously on items...

that may become trapped in car grills. Decorative grills are not designed to catch the unwary. In Massachussets this dog whom we shall call for anonymity's purpose, Dim, was wedged for some 11 miles in the grill of sedan. A qualified mechanic, passing as they often are, safely removed the Toyota from the dog's head. Fortunately, damage to the paintwork was minor though the same cannot be said of the dog whose skull was fractured. I think the lesson is very clear. Fit bumpers.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slave ants...

or, Temnothorax longispinosus have demonstrated that rebellion is a natural state of being. Put more pithily by Dr Susanne Foitzik, "Enslaved worker ants kill the offspring of their parasites and thereby improve the chances of survival for their neighboring relatives."

Rebellion, it's a DNA thing. Dontcha just love that? A little lesson for us all, methinks.

Missing the zeitgeist by quite some margin this ant from the species Selfish Bastardos has a lottery ticket.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Impressive image from...

 the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

Some of the light has taken over 13 billion years to reach here. Hubble focused on a tiny spot below the Orion Nebula and discovered it to be full of stuff. Or rather, less empty than previously thought. The universe is huge, even bigger than big. So massive is the area between things the place is more empty than full. Extraordinarily empty by all accounts. So empty in fact that what's in it amounts to almost nothing. Lucky for us then that we've a little corner of almost nothing to call our own. Group hug, yay...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Raging storm batters...

UK shock. Foam covers Aberdeen suburb, shock. Professor says foam is plankton snot. All those tiny creatures, all those colds. Someone ought to complain.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


this bit of old papyrus is causing quite a storm. The size of a credit card and written front and rear the text is a note from Jesus to his wife complaining that the chickens were crapping everywhere. The note concludes "Tell your useless brother John to get his head out of his arse and stop letting the chickens in the fucking house."

The argument goes that this note is proof Jesus was married.

The Vatican challenged the document's authenticity by reminding everyone the Son of God never married or used expletives. Cardinal Boniface Strokeachild told the world's press "It is well known the Son of God never married or used expletives." Asked to elaborate further His Eminence replied "In those days Jesus was a common name so this could be anybody." Asked about the chickens the Cardinal said "They can be difficult animals to keep especially if they get in the house."

The controversy is expected to continue. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's been a bloody awful...

summer in the UK. Days of torrential rain, whole towns bobbing merrily down temporary rivers. Mountains washed to the size of pimples by the downpour. The force of falling water stripping paint from house exteriors. The weather was so strange, one minute scorching sun (well, not that scorching nor that much sun) then afore you know it major floods.

Originally, these two went looking for sun screen, something with an emollient. Maybe they were crushed by a fickle summer and the driving rain because with backs bent they staggered home beneath 100 kilos of the finest marbled fat. Perhaps only the incessant morse of rain on noggin can explain a firm belief that Lard futures were poised for the upswing. Oh, how this summer nearly did for us all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Here's amazing footage of the Mars Rover landing. Our first view is the craft's extremely heavy heat shield falling away towards the Martian surface. I couldn't help but think that if there are any natives they'll be really pissed off when that thing lands.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Last weekend enjoyed walking from Chapel en le Frith to Buxton via the path above Combs. It was so cold even the sheep were warning us to keep of't hills.

"Keep of't hills," they said.
"It's bloody cold up there." they said, nodding upwards.
"Aye, and keep of't moors." murmured one sheep.
Another coughed, hawked black spit and muttered, "Aye, ent moors... where's that back rub Jeremy?"
Then they all wandered off to hunt for Jeremy.

It's been some years since I encountered moorland sheep sticking their noses into my business.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday's Observer...

newspaper published an article called "Making a silk purse from a goat's udder." wherein it reported how genetic technology now allows goats with spider genes to produce milk containing spider silk. David Cronenberg dealt wittily with the subject, well I laughed, in his film 'The Fly'.

Inverted goats bleating from the kitchen ceiling. I suppose it's progress, of sorts. 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Discovered this...

whilst looking for something else.

It's footage from 2008 of a man jumping off a cliff, or, basejumping. His parachute fails and he breaks his leg before a tree breaks his fall. Not in the least impressive.

Friday, January 06, 2012

My dad loved...

tripe. Tripe is the stomach lining of sheep and other ruminants, apparently. Tripe really is what it says, it's tripe. Tripe tastes horrible. Dad would poach tripe in milk with onions. Dad would eat tripe raw with vingar and salt. It seems a new book called "Tripe: A Most Excellent Dish." is not tripe.

Dad's lips would also smack for pigs trotters pressure cooked for 30 minutes or so. My childish face would look on aghast as dad chomped and slurped and burped his way through plates of tripe. The years have diminished my aghastness not one jot.