Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Blogging

It must be true because I read about it in the Daily Mail…

[Editorial note - this story is from a while back but I've been sick as a mangy hound with nastiness so never finished it. I'm back now.]

… except it isn’t. Since childhood I have been an aviation fanatic. I’m astigmatic, somewhat short sighted and RG colour blind. So when I started my degree I spoke to the recruiting officer for the East Midlands Universities Air Squadron and when I explained my ishoos I was told to politely eff off. Having said that would you really trust someone who had to be told what colour Corsodyl toothpaste is with hands on the throttle and stick of a something that costs more than David and Victoria Beckham’s house and can drop JDAMs?

Thought not.

Shame but fair enough I guess. Having said that the highest scoring fighter ace in British history, Major Edward “Mick” Mannock, Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Two Bars, Military Cross and Bar (61 confirmed kills, maybe 73) and that Irishman was blind in one eye (allegedly). He (allegedly) bribed someone in the medical section to get the sight-test chart and memorised it. I think they are a bit more careful these days. Never trust the Irish or the Daily Mail.

Why?

Prince Harry has created a scholarship to get wounded veterans behind the wheel of an iconic Spitfire.

A fine and noble goal except a Spitfire (do we need to be told it is “iconic”? Do we ever need to be told something that actually is iconic is “iconic”?) doesn’t have a wheel. No, seriously. This is a snarky piece but it is aimed against the Mail and not Harry. I knew a lass at Nottingham University who helped out with riding for the disabled. Imagine how freeing it is for a paraplegic to be astride a horse and to gain that speed, height and mobility. A Spit has rather more horses in the front so…

The scheme, inspired by Second World War pilot Douglas Bader, will see the strongest candidates move up from a Tiger Mother biplane, to a Harvard, to the bespoke craft.

A Tiger Mother? God help us! The Harvard though was the RAF’s LIFT at the time so OK there but what’s that with “bespoke”?

Oh, and we had many disabled pilots in WWII. One bloke had nose art on his Spitfire showing the arm he’d had blown off flicking the V-sign.

Harry, an Apache helicopter pilot, launched the scholarship by climbing into the cockpit of a Spitfire and starting it.

Er… He’s an Apache WSO. Whatever.

But this is astonishing…

Not Spitfires

The Mail caption is this, “Britain built about 20,000 Spitfires, but they became obsolete after the invention of the jet engine. Here, a fleet is pictured with wing commander Robert Stanford-Tuck for the 1968 film.”

I’m not even going to point out they are Hurricanes.

I can fact-check stuff in the press. But I have limits. I know about certain areas such as aviation, bits of physics, a few other odds and ends but that is my lot. Worrying isn’t it? How much can the media smuggle past you as “truth” if you don’t know the subject?

I’m just wear my Mr Sceptic hat. I’m not exactly accusing them of making things-up or even of cherry-picking things to reflect their views but of in a fundamental way not really caring about hard truth. I mean that in the sense that the Mail sees the truth of telling a heart-warming story of the dashing young prince driving fast cars for a good cause (which it is) is more important than the awkward little facts. They all do it. What we have to do is behave like small Danish boys and sometimes shout, “But I can see his willy!!!”.

Them were the days

Going through some old papers today, stuff that has been trailing after me as I perambulate around the world over the years.

Anyway, what do I find? Here on Queenslands sunny Gold Coast? Some examples of good old fashioned political pamphleteering, that’s what. The sort of written equivalent of standing on a soapbox at Speakers Corner, which any political loudmouth would indulge in back in previous centuries, before this internetty thing made it so easy that it turned the world into Speakers Corner and we can all have that soapbox.

Anyway, these pamphlets must be over thirty years old – headed as they were ‘Alternative Bookshop’ and authored by one Brian Micklethwait

Theme

This site is getting a tad dated. It uses an ancient version of WordPress, and the theme is simply one that both Nick and myself agreed wasn’t as bad as all the others we looked at…

Upgrade necessary.

Now, I have looked at a few hundred* themes, both free and otherwise, and nothing rocks my boat. Some shake it slightly, but nothing too violently. Anyone got some suggestions?

I am sorta partial to a magazine or newspaper type of presentation, but my mind is open.

*Only hundreds, rather than the thousands out there, because looking at themes, just looking at them, gets really old, really fast.

Toffee blogging

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but RAB’s post here has pricked me into action. I have loads of drafts but I can’t finish them. It’s a perverse form of writer’s block. It’s not that I’m not able to write but that I can’t stop which means I can’t finish.

I think of it as “toffee blogging”. It’s like you leave a bowl of toffees out and they coalesce so that you pick one up and the whole rest comes too.

It doesn’t work. I want to write snappy posts about topical stuff but wind-up turning them into interminable treatises about… Well, everything which means of course writing nothing. And of course they are also abandoned due to their winding-up out of date…

Do any other bloggers have this problem?

Do we really want to alienate casual visitors before they get to know us?

Well?

Do we?

Start here to get up to speed.

The comments get way off topic, leading finally to this posting.

Another one bites the dust

Shock!!!!

I am left speechelss.

I must admit, I come and go these days, and I am not posting lengthy items, more short commentary, but I could not imagine deleting CCinZ, or even taking it down, ever.

Bye bye Devil, rest in peace.

You join a sadly growing list, but you helped define the new world.

Make it so…

Can we remove that rotten sidebar about gay marriage?

Firstly it doesn’t do it’s job. Cats put it up to support His Grace Cranmer. I doubt a casual reader would clock that. It just makes it look like the Kitty Kounters are against gay marriage and I’m not. As I’ve said umpteen times here this is not exactly a gay rights issue anymore. There are certain religious groups who actively want the right to legally marry same-sex couples. These groups such as the Quakers and certain branches of Methodism and Judaism already have the right to marry heterosexual couples. This also makes it a religious freedom issue. But essentially that video just doesn’t come over as supporting freedom of speech.

Secondly although the ASA getting involved is too put it mildly bizarre and possibly a dangerous precedent nothing came of it. The ASA were also technically right (even if it ought not to be any of their business) and the 70% figure is undoubtedly wrong. I support free speech but I will be buggered if I’ll support it with a video that is to put it mildly disingenuous.

Thirdly. It’s old news and Cranmer is still delivering his sermons (and long shall he do so I hope). He is someone I read at least once a week. I agree sometimes and disagree some other times – not that that has anything to do with his inalienable right to say what he pleases. I wouldn’t want to read a blog I agreed with 100% all the time. All my posts would become “What that guy said!”

Finally. It’s bloody irritating. It runs too fast. It is really distracting.

And even more finally… I find the idea of a moral issue being argued about in terms of a majority – whether real or fanciful quite unpleasant. We’re all individuals – right?

Let’s have a party!

It would appear various supporters of the Labour Party are planning a jamboree for the death of Baroness Thatcher.

My suspicion is these are people of my generation or a bit older brought up on the “alternative comics”. I mean when Ben Elton and his cohort was first shooting his gob off about Thatcher I was too young to get the politics (such as it was) but I did appreciate two things. The first is that Ben Elton is quite clever and can be quite funny (actually really quite funny on domestic stuff like swing-bins) and the second was that when he waggled his spectacles after a gag and said “A bit political that one!” like a naughty school-boy at some level he was acknowledging that he was talking nonsense because it was easy. A huge amount of Elton and Co’s routines really were like this. “That Maggie Thatcher – what a cow!”. Rapturous applause verging on adulation. Now I don’t recall having strong (any) political beliefs at the time because I was just a kid but kids can spot “cheap”. Oh, they so can – and I don’t mean strictly speaking financially as such…

Anyway, I am not blaming Elton for desiring the death of an elderly lady with dementia because that was his deranged followers and whilst Elton might generally not have been that funny he wasn’t utterly nasty and never said anything quite like that. Not whilst Maggie could wield her hand-bag anyway. But she can’t anymore.

I wonder what these folks would think if I went into their local care home and danced upon the impending doom of their Gran?

Utter scumbaggery and good that most of the Labour Party have told them to fuck off. The minority seem to be playing Student Union politics c.1985. Which was roughly when I started playing “Combat Lynx” on the Spectrum. A computer at least partially available because Thatcher had reversed our economic decline. The ’80s were my summer of content. My family was doing better and we could afford foreign holidays and such and whilst I never got a shag whilst Maggie was in power but that was hardly her fault! It was more likely my mullet. Which was entirely my fault. And the fact all the lasses in my year were into those wankers Bros.

I shall have a drink when Maggie dies (I think there is a fair chance I shall out-live her). It will not be in celebration (a vile idea) but in memory of a great life. And also for the PM who defined my formative years.

And. Yes. She did. I was born when Ted Heath was PM and I never took up sailing. We shortly had three day weeks under Wilson and Callaghan and B&W telly (mostly) and it were fucking awful. The only thing that increased (apart from the debt – again! – and not for the last time.) was the size of mustaches and men’s trouser leg ends. A ghastly time the 70s unless you were Gary Glitter when you were the leader of the pack.

In a peculiar way wishing her dead now is a back-handed tribute to the Iron Lady who has been out of power since I was a sixth-former but still garners both praise and opprobrium. It just shows the length of her shadow.

Slow-motion suicide

It’s now more or less a given, that people in ‘public life’ are subject to much lower standards than the rest of us.  Even the pretence is now hard to keep up.  Governments regularly overspend two, three four times ahead of the original projections when the boondoggle was grandly announced, think of the Scottish Parliament building, the millennium dome, the Olympics, more or less anything else you can think of, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/3741148/Previous-Government-building-overspends.html

 

No-one (outside the infantry perhaps) is fired, and the careers move on wholly untroubled by glaring failures on the CV http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9097782/Former-UK-Border-Agency-boss-promoted-to-head-of-HMRC.html

 

But it is nonetheless incumbent on the rest of us to continue to expose hideous failure and recklessly ill-considered plans, as well as showing pitiful excuses for what they are http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18383804  Yes, George, its someone else’s fault, nothing to do with me Guv. 

 

So with that in mind, you might hope that the mainstream media might do at least a half-competent job of reporting the latest move in Europe’s slow-motion suicide that is more bailouts.  Sadly this proved to be a triumph of hope over expectation as the coverage was dismal, superficial and more or less an annoyance in the way of the sports coverage.      

 

I refer of course to the almost surreal news that after denial after denial, Spain has now rattled the national begging bowl in the faces of the Eurozone countries with a kind of “Will work for a hundred billion Euros” sign.  Apparently, the money will be going to ‘some’ Spanish banks. 

 

So let us consider some of the tiny problems with this.  First the terms of the loan that has been agreed have not been announced (or at least reported).  You might think that the duration of the loans, the pay-back triggers, the interest rates payable (though apparently it’s a ‘favourable’ rate), whether the loan is in anyway collateralised, who is getting the money (rather important to your chances of ever being repaid), whether the money will be given to people who made political donations in expectation of further kickbacks (surely worth investigating), might all be worth reporting or indeed, agreeing before you put your national taxpayers on the hook for dumb Spanish bankers.  Then there is the question of exactly where the cash will come from?  Eurozone countries apparently, but I presume Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland won’t be able to contribute, since they have troubles of their own and the smaller Eurozone nations won’t be able to make more than a token gesture.  Now the UK is not part of the Eurozone so I would guess we are off the hook on this one, unless there is some god-awful treaty obligation, and George was photographed making his constipated/serious face which may suggest we are about to pony up, (perhaps kitty counters can help me here).

 

This is another epic disaster of the first magnitude and do you think even one of ‘em will lose their jobs or suffer in anyway? 

 

This may get very, very ugly indeed. 

25004

I just noticed today the number of approved comments here is now broken the 25,000 mark.

A warm thank you to all our readers who chip in! I not saying we couldn’t have done it without you. Of course we could! But without comments we wouldn’t have done it without!

As Alice said, “What is the point of a book without pictures or conversations?”

Exactly.

Captain Carrot!

I guess I have written loads of stuff here on a whole variety of subjects ranging from war and peace to aviation and buses. I have written on religion and politics, on culture both contemporary and esoteric. I have even dabbled in the dismal science of economics and yet something was always missing…

Well it was until Friday night when I made carrot and coriander soup and I saw this in the bag…

dsc04104

No blog can ever be complete without a post about an amusingly shaped vegetable. Certainly not when a clearly circumcised vegetable quite literally falls into my lap. Certainly not whilst I’m peeling it back [just stop - Ed].

PS. If anyone wants my recipe for “Carry and Cozzer” let me know. It’s bloody good. The “recipe” is somewhat Nanny Ogg because I have done too many hours in the physics lab with tediously exact measurements to treat cooking the same painstaking way.

PPS. At no point hitherto has the WordPress phrase “insert into post” caused such hilarity. Well for me anyway. I shall now get my coat.

Key to the door…

It’s an old song but this blog is 21 today!

Well, probably a couple of days ago. I had other things to do to not the exact time of passing the 21,000 mark of approved* comments. It’s now 21,022.

This is great. We punch way above our weight in getting comments and developing long threads. What is the use of a blog without pictures or conversations? I have said this before and I will say it again but I only type this nonsense because because I see folks respond to it. There are, I am sure, blogs that are much more widely read but with far fewer comments. I couldn’t be bothered to carry on if I felt no matter how good my stuff, no matter what the readership stats were if it wasn’t for the feedback. I’d feel I might as well write stuff and throw it down a well.

So, Kitty Kounters (past and present) and especially you constant (and new) reader and commentator, thanks!

It’s been emotional.

*Comments policy is simple. We don’t have a bot to filter for “stuff” but we do have a spam bot. You all have internet access so if you want to make a million quick or have a larger penis then I’m reasonably informed there are many places on the web to go for that malarkey. We have a spam-bot because if, let’s say, Ian posts something that really sparks discussion it really derails the thread if during a discussion about, say, the Methodist basis of Anglo-socialism someone is promoting bored “local” housewives wanting sex. (Usually they are in New Jersey and that’s hardly local for me!)

Part of how this works is that first-timers will have to be approved – when that happens – knock yerselfs out! Sorry folks about that and it absolutely isn’t censorship. You can say pretty much (as long as it doesn’t land us in court for libel or is spam what you want) and that’s part of the process of keeping the kitty kleen. By “kleen” I mean every fifth comment not being about breast enlargement on the cheap or incredible opportunities for financial gain IN BLOCK CAPS from Nigeria. I just repeat this comments policy every so often because obviously we welcome new readers and commentators. BTW whilst a lot of you will have been “smited” at Samizdata the worst bot I came across was at Harry’s Place where the word “monkey” (and derivatives) was banned. I found this out when I had a comment deleted for using the word “monkeying” in the sense of “monkey-business”. I think my comment was related to finance.

Spam

You reckon blogging is easy. You reckon it’s just being a pub gobshite with a laptop? Well, this morning I had to wade through the spam filter. This means stuff like this….

Everyday this unique post is actually totaly unrelated as to the I had been seeking google and yahoo designed for, nevertheless it really was in the past found over the initially website. I reckon that your accomplishing one thing suitable if perhaps The search engines wants you enough that will put yourself on page 1 of an no similar research.

For the record (and we have had complaints) this is how commenting here works. We have a spambot. This filters spam. Just that. It doesn’t search for “inappropriate content”. No folk’s comment is ever held-up or “censored” for that reason. Now if your IP is a first-time caller you also go in the queue. If it takes a while to get on the site then that’s how we work. It is purely to avoid the Viagra salesmen or people bizarrely offering me breast enlargement (my wife gets spam offering to enhance her penile size). It is nothing personal and more to the point we have other things to do. But we will get to you, eventually. Your comments make this site.

Comment trail

If someone from outside the orthodoxy comments on Australian lefty sites, such as http://larvatusprodeo.net/, there tends to be a defence which is little different to a group assault, a veritable avalanche of verbiage, rather than a thoughtful rebuttal. All local habitués descend and shout down the heretic using a standard set of tools. Within a short time the free thinker is labelled a troll, can be banned, or even have their comments deleted.

Yep, that is how open to free discussion the Aussie left are. Still, I oft times go read, after all, know thine enemy.

Anyway, on this article I encountered a serial commenter I have come across before, but this time without the normal horde of thinkalikes backing her up, ready to collectively smother dissent.

So, we got into discussion. Anyone care to comment on the exchange?

Now, my feeling – the woman is intelligent, informed, educated and thoughtful, but committed to her ideology first, and she doesn’t seem to have any experience in defending her position outside the warm and fluffy world she shares with her friends and ideological soul mates.

I warn you, it is a long comment trail, and some of the matters raised are specific to the Australian debate.

Update:   BTW, I am posting under my real name, Chris Harper. That may make it a little easier to follow.

Spam on Cats

Some of you say “Nick, steady on there!” or “Paul, I agree but…” or “Ian, you’re talking nonsense.” Or “Cats, OK but…”. And that is fine. Bring it on!

But then there is this…

Just today we had this piece of deathless prose:

ugg boots uk with regard to women and men all over the world provides. You can state how the Milan runway with regard to viewers within Sydney, uggs boot informal turn to supply broadly wellliked. Informal wool enables atmosphere in order to move not just in a position to remain dried out feets however watermark free of charge. These types of boot are supplied along with thermostatic sheepskin, all over the world provides boot with regard to women and men keepiUggs. Ugg informal consumers ought to appear expert in addition to providing you with the actual as soon as wellknown with regard to putting on their own items. You can state which Milan runway with regard to viewers within Sydney, offers broadly wellliked informal boot uggs appear. Informal atmosphere as the wool in order to dried out feets liberated to transmit not just enables the actual watermark.

From: uggonsaleuk.info bnTeyler4@gmail.com 173.212.244.228

Christ almighty my wife is a professional translator! She deals with this sort of Ayatollah-ing every day*.

That’s up there with a miscarried Pepsi advert into Chinese that my wife once saw. They had mangled, “Taste of a New Generation” into “Brings your Ancestors Back to Life”. Not. Exactly. The. Same. Thing.

And talking of the Chinese (as I am) we also have this:

4142434445464748495051525354555657 [clickable]

From: beijing-sightseeing.com Aitkin@gmail.com

I’d love to see that terracotta army but I shall do that as Nick and not as Secret Squirrel. The wall – whatever! I’m from Gateshead and too many school trips to see Hadrian’s one. My brother did archaeology at Durham and had to dig in Wallsend (he also did a dig in Northumberland but the full tale of that is way too fruity for a family blog – it involved a bar-maid, a football match and a terrier.) Anyway he was “prairie-dogged” by the lokes who encouraged him with such phrases as, “What the fuck are you wasting your time on you useless cunts?”. My brother was inclined to agree because all he found was a Twix wrapper. Technically that was either from the first century AD or something a kid had chucked over. Seeing as my brother has failed to radically overturn thinking about Roman Britain I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions.

*By which I mean professional shi’ite.

%d bloggers like this: