Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Le Petomane

I know it isn't Saturday when the whimsical muse usually takes me,but I thought you might be amused by this item on Joseph Pujol.
In Victorian times France had a reputation for the risque and down right weird,this item comes under that heading.
Joseph Pujol was born in Marseille,the son of a stonemason and at a very early age he discovered he had the strange ability to fart at will!
Local Doctors advised that he had an abnormal ability to control his stomach muscles allowing him to effectively inhale air through his anus.
Whilst in the military he used this rather unusual talent to entertain his comrades in the barracks and upon release from military service began a career in the French entertainment industry,which at the time welcomed acts with a difference!
After touring the provinces he finally appeared at the famous Moulin Rouge for the first time in 1892.
Stage highlights included playing O Sole Mio and La Marseillaise through his bottom causing catatonic fits of giggles amongst the audience.Indeed the theatre management employed nurses in the auditorium to attend to ladies who had collapsed as a result of laughing whilst wearing tight corsets!
His many fans included King Leopold II of Belgium,Edward Prince of Wales and Sigmund Freud.The literal English translation of Le Petomane(his stage name)is The Fartmaniac!
Imagine how the Environmentalists would react today to this emitter of green house gases!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Captain and The Dictionary

Today we take for granted The Oxford English Dictionary and just assume it suddenly arrived in it's current 20 odd volumes.The story behind the dictionary is too long for this post,but nevertheless I will try to summarize key elements behind it's creation.
The idea behind the dictionary was postulated at a meeting of the Philological Society in 1857 in London.Prior to this there had not been a truly satisfactory and comprehensive dictionary of the English Language.
Academics not withstanding,work did not actually begin on the creation of the dictionary for some years.The task of collation of words and the coordination of the project was put in the hands of an Oxford academic called Dr James Murray,a Presbyterian Scot from the borders town of Hawick.
It would take some seventy years before the first edition was published in 1928.
To undertake such a vast enterprise Murray advertised throughout the English Speaking World for volunteer lexicographers,to submit regular words together with in depth meanings.
Over time Murray began to be aware of a particular contributor who clearly was extremely well educated and provided him with a considerable amount of contributions,which to this day are more often than not still in the dictionary.
This compiler ultimately became a good friend of Dr Murray.
His name was Dr W.C.Minor,an American who had been an Assistant Surgeon during the Civil War,rising to the rank of Captain in the Union Army.
Dr Minor's contributions were immense over the years,which made Dr Murray wonder how he had so much time to commit to the dictionary.
What Murray was unaware of was that Minor was an inmate at Broadmoor in Berkshire;an institution for the criminally insane.
He had been incarcerated there for the murder of a man in the slums of London and because there was absolutely no motive for his actions,he was certified insane to be retained 'at Her Majesty's pleasure'.
Not being a particularly balanced individual in the first place,joining the Union Army and being attendant at The Battle of the Wilderness,seems to have tipped him over the edge.
Suffice to say that one of the most important contributors to the world's greatest dictionary,was a criminal lunatic!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Listening to Trees

How often have you stood on a windy day and just listened to the sound in the trees?It has a wonderful calming influence and makes you appreciate these beautiful life forms.
Now an English artist has taken his own passion for trees a step further by creating a device that allows you to listen to what is actually happening inside the tree.
This non-invasive device magnifies the sound of water travelling from the roots to the leaves by a factor of 300.
In the process you can hear pumping through the trunk as like a heartbeat with a deep rumbling in the background as the tree responds to a breeze.
Currently he has an installation at Westonbirt Arboretum in County Durham and he says,"The aim of the installation is to allow people to appreciate what happens inside a tree and to change their perception of a tree as being a static architectural object,to a living entity that is constantly changing".
Wouldn't it be great if this device could be mass produced,so that on our weekends we could all go tree listening!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Violence of the Modern Economy

A strange title you may think,but we are all victims of it in some way or other.Whether you live in a developing country or a developed one,the dehumanising way that people are manipulated by major corporates continues apace.
Just on a small scale it affects us all;my home is in the small Northumberland market town of Alnwick and when Woolworths closed this directly impacted on ten local families.Loss of any kind of job in Alnwick is a disaster since the local economy is heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture.
What caused the collapse of Woolworths was the banks refusal to reschedule their loans,even though the long term future of the business looked promising.
This brings into play another element that has been much in the news over the past few months.BANKS!
I know we live in what purports to be a free market economy,but there are moral issues at stake here,which bankers and industrialists would do well to remember.The world is becoming a smaller place and greed can no longer be socially acceptable.
Shunting manufacturing to China or India to save on wages,avoid health and safety considerations and then expecting the advanced economies to continue to buy their products,is not sustainable.
When the FarEast becomes too expensive or legislation is put in place to protect their workers,where do these industrialists go then?
Will the banks finance sustainable development in Africa or South America?Their record to date suggests not.
Western tax payers money has been used to bale out banks,which continue to reward overpaid traders who deal in spurious financial instruments.Money is not being released to support growing and new business,but the bankers insist on their bonuses.
Unemployment is a form of violence that should be resisted at all costs,since it affects the family,society and the world as a whole.
On a human level I believe we are coming closer together,thanks in part to the internet and our ability to exchange ideas and form friendships around the world.Politicians are starting to listen to the chatter in the ether;as yet the industrialists and bankers are blind to their own imfamy.They can't all live in Martha's Vineyard or Monaco!
The micro-financing system I mentioned in a previous item may well be a solution to a growing crisis in the West.But it will require ethical banking and sod the industrialists!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A Happy Moment

I am happy to announce that my daughter,Justine,has just become engaged to a very nice lad called Michael.
Now I know that this blog isn't intended to be about my personal life,but there are occasions when a man is entitled to a little drum beating.

Earth Crust Displacement Theory

We have all heard of various catastrophe theories,from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the biblical flood.
In 1958 an American Professor of History published a tome on the Theory of Earth Crust Displacement,which was greeted by the geological world with a spontaneous burst of indifference.
After all Prof.Hapgood was an historian,not a geologist,so how dare he impinge on another discipline!
Nevertheless I will outline the basis of the theory before you all fall asleep.
In essence what the good professor suggests is that at some time around 10,000 BC the lithosphere shifted as one mass,instantaneously,by a margin of 30 degrees.
Wow,I hear you say,but where is the evidence to suggest that such a cataclysm occurred;in this brief item I will highlight one example.
Evidence has been found in Siberia where significant quantities of mammoth carcasses have been discovered,seemingly instantly frozen.Some even remain in a standing position and the contents of both their mouths and stomachs show their diet was a mixture of plants only to be found in temperate zones.Today these zones are located much further to the south.
To freeze a beast the size of a mammoth instantly would tend to lend creedence to Professor Hapgoods theory.Couple this with global myths of deluges and the curious fact that ancient civilisations in the Indus Valley,Sumeria and Egypt seem to have suddenly appeared fully formed,rather than over a long period of development;
one must come to the conclusion that such myths as Atlantis,may have some basis in truth.The argument being that sophisticated civilisations may have existed in pre-history,but were destroyed in a major global catastrophe,remnants of which survived to build new cultures.
Now just to cheer you up,Global Warming is seeing a rapid decline in the size of the polar ice caps,indeed at such a rate that there is a possibility that the reduction in pressure on the Earth's Crust,caused by this,may result in a repeat of the events of 10,000 BC.
So in the final analysis,if God suggests you build an Ark,It might be a good idea to take his advice!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Dr Muhammad Yunus

This blog would be remiss if it did not have an item on the great Dr Muhammad Yunus,founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
Dr Yunus has created a practical vehicle for the concept of micro-finance,initially only operating in Bangladesh The Grameen Bank,under his guidance and inspiration has empowered thousands of poor people in the country,to create small businesses which slowly but surely take them out of poverty.
Discarding conventional credit scoring techniques,which would be utterly useless,he developed a system that looks at the problem first,rather than the solution.
He encouraged the creation of groups of people who would take out loans to start small enterprises,with the groups themselves monitoring the repayment process.If my understanding is right a parallel savings scheme is created.
As a result over $156 million has been loaned with a repayment record of 97%;this in itself is an outstanding achievement and every year the system continues to take people out of poverty.
In 2006 Dr Yunus together with The Grameen Bank were awarded The Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to innovative solutions in the war on poverty.
Please visit The Grameen Bank site where you will gain a fuller understanding of their aims and methodologies and I highly recommend you becoming a supporter.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Pollution in LA

Well Saturday is here again,so I intend being a little whimsical again!I have recently reviewed a site of a guy in Los Angeles who makes his living organising peoples lives.This includes anything from the contents of your wardrobe,kitchen cupboards,your diary and your day to day life.I struggle to find anything more boring and pointless to waste your money and time on!
But we are talking about LA here,a city that does not live in the real world;a place where trickle down economics starts with Movie Moguls and Actors,earning rather large sums of money for entertaining us.Don't get me wrong the silver screen has been a haven for ordinary folk,to be able to forget their worries for a couple of hours.
However there is as you know a whole host of people living off this industry,from PR Gurus,Plastic Surgeons,Life Organisers,Spiritual Guides,Personal Trainers et al.
It got me thinking about pollution in cemeteries;well think about it!
Archaeologists in 1000 years time will be digging up the graves of LA residents and besides the expected skeletons they will discover toxins like botox,these curious silicone sachets,toupees and teeth that shine in the dark!
So when your favourite movie star lectures you on saving the planet,tell them to get cremated!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

We all take for granted the fact that we have web-sites,blogs and any amount of email addresses.Just think back,prior to 1990 we had none of this,unless of course you were part of NATO or the CIA.
Today we can create a blog in less than five minutes and start expressing ourselves to people across the globe.Just step back a moment and think about that.You as an individual now have the power to talk to millions,and nobody can stop you!
You can talk on pretty much any subject you choose,add pictures and videos,download others thoughts and all for nothing!
How did all this happen in such a short space of time?Many of you will not be aware of Sir Tim Berners-Lee,but he created The Worldwide Web and we owe it all to him,a 54 year old Englishman,educated at Oxford University.
Sir Tim has empowered us all,thankyou.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Gross National Happiness

As many of you know,one of the guiding tenants of the American Constitution is the pursuit of Happiness and in the West the route to this is often believed to be via material wealth.Judging by the widespread dissatisfaction that exists in these countries,we are wasting our time in this endeavour,in it's singularity.What I mean by this of course is that happiness cannot be achieved purely through material gain.
You will all be aware of the many cults,fads,fashions and faiths that profess to have an answer to this issue.
After all,are we not all trying in some way to achieve this goal?Most of us and the governments that purport to represent us, tend to look at issues that might make us happier as seperate subjects.
Indeed the promoters of various methods of improving our lives use three common words,health,wealth and happiness.
I find this a little curious since the obvious solution must be holistic,in other words all encompassing.As a result of this thought,I have had occasion to look at one country in particular that seems to take the issue more seriously than others.
The little land locked Kingdom of Bhutan,bordered by India and The People's Republic of China seems to me to take the welfare of it's people to another level.
Bhutan is a small Constitutional Monarchy,with a population of just over 600,000 people,predominantly Buddhist,with some Hindus.
Throughout the rest of the World governments are obsessed with Gross Domestic Product,which has no bearing whatsoever on the happiness of their citizens.
Bhutan however,takes an holistic view that balances material growth with the happiness of it's people and any growth must consider the culture,identity and environment of the Country.
They call this system Gross National Happiness and I believe we all have something to learn from their approach.Our culture of more,more,more,is simply not sustainable.
I believe Bhutan has much to offer the World in advising our governments on how they can best balance growth with happiness.We cannot continue to use and abuse.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

200th Anniversary of the Birth of Darwin

This year sees the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species.A book which still enrages certain sections of the World community,bringing about the dominance of science in Western thinking.There are as you know two main schools of thought,on the one hand the evolutionists(science)and on the other the creationists(those of faith).
Until recently there was not seen to be a grey area and indeed with the extremes in both camps there is still not.However things may be changing,with the advent of more open minded scientists and the more moderate followers of faith.
Please consider this:
1.At the present time a team of some of the Worlds finest mathematicians and physicists are analysing what they believe to be incredibly complex codes,to be found in the Torah(First five books of the Bible).It is believed that these codes are so complex that they could not possibly have been conceived by a human mind.Some of these scientists have been so awed by their discoveries that they have become devout Jews.
2.Other scientists during the course of studying Quantum Mechanics have discovered that minute particles may be moved by human thought.
3.On the religious side of things,these discoveries do not surprise those who follow Esoteric thought,whether they be Gnostics,Sufis,Buddhists,Hindus or Zoroastrians.
4.Recent studies of Shamen across the Globe have shown that they use various methods to access other dimensions,primarily for the purposes of healing and medicine,but also to gain knowledge of plants and animals.
What does all this tell us?Well obviously taking extreme positions on any subject is pointless,but more importantly we may be moving closer to our spiritual roots.At present much is hidden from us by both science and faith although the time is dawning when I believe there will be an avalanche of revelations,which will bring the peoples of the World together.
For me December 2012 will be an exciting time.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Robert Mugabe

Yesterday I reviewed a site hosted by an embattled Zimbabwean.For obvious reasons he remains anonymous.Usually we receive news from this country via Western media which has to operate undercover because old Bob for some reason doesn't like them!Now there's a surprise.When the old coot took over he inherited an economy that was refered to as 'the bread basket of Africa'.Sadly this lunatic has turned it into 'the basket case of Africa'.He promotes racism to excuse his atrocities and has evicted farmers purely because they are white,and where have they gone?To Nigeria which has welcomed them with open arms.
While he continues to remain in power his people will continue to die through disease,malnutrition and the assaults of his so called security services.He and his cronies have appropriated assets and what is left of the economy is diverted into their pockets and into those who prop him up.
No doubt his security forces will be desperately trying to locate the blogger who is risking his life by posting details of the situation in the country.
The only hope for the people of Zimbabwe is that Old Bob will not be long for this world and then the edifice will collapse like a pack of cards.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Dick Watch

Today is Saturday and I have decided to be a little whimsical and lighten the mood a touch.In the technology pages of some journals at present,they are predicting the demise of the wrist watch,due to the advent of wrist cellphones.Personally I think people will look rather ridiculous talking to their wrists and they will soon tire of passersby shouting 'beam me up Scottie!'
I have therefore come up with a counter measure initially for guys (further work will have to be done to create a similar device for the ladies.)using existing Swiss technology,to create the very latest in must have gadgetry.Yes you've guessed it!The Dick Watch!
A stylish device designed to be attached to the man's member.In future when a man says he's going to the bathroom,you will know he is simply going to check the time or synchronise watches with his chums!
I can see new lines in chat up coming out of this innovative new product.'I've just bought a new Tag Heuer,would you care to see it?'Obviously it will be a little difficult to provide an answer if someone stops you in the street and asks the time and you won't be able to use it as a phone,but as with every new gadget there are downsides.
So whats the difference between the wrist cellphone and the Dick Watch,not much they're both for pricks!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Group 13

Hi Guys,

During the course of my internet day,I have run across something,which to say the least is a little alarming.I was investigating a little known trans-atlantic secret society called The Pilgrim Society.Set up in 1902 to promote a re-unification between Great Britain and the USA.From it's inception the great and the powerful of America and Britain were involved,and they still are today!
But what really alarmed me was to discover their association with a shadowy organisation called Group 13.To put it bluntly this is an assassination squad made up of ex-SAS guys who work both sides of the Atlantic removing politicians and businessmen who for whatever reason do not agree with the aims of the Anglo-American establishment.There is only one mention of this organisation on Google on what is called a cached site.I could find no other reference.
What alarms me about this organisation more than anything are the masters pulling the strings.Much information is available on past members of The Pilgrim Society and the profile of current members will not be much different.Their history to date would suggest that they have no love for the new President's administration.Their association with Group 13 also suggest that they will stop at nothing to achieve whatever it is they see as they're aims!

Healthcare in America

President Obama,just back from his holidays faces a stern test in his resolve to improve healthcare for Americans.He seems to be experiencing much difficulty with an issue that doesn't even figure in most industrialised countries.He was elected on a mandate to provide free healthcare,so why in this democracy do those who lost the election continue to resist what the majority of Americans want?The answer can only be self interest amongst organisations who stand to lose by this major change.The obvious ones will be medical insurance companies and other businesses that benefit from the current state of affairs.
But look beyond this.American taxes will be diverted from other areas of government,such as weapons expenditure,which as we all know has a huge budget.Senators and Congressmen and Women need to stand firm and support the President in what is a fundamental issue.
We in the UK have enjoyed free universal healthcare since the Second World War,life expectancy here is higher than in the States.Why should people have the added worry of financial ruin when they are sick?
If the military industrial complex has to suffer,well so be it.Human healthcare is much better than human warfare!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Human Rights

We live in a world where our politicians consider us as nothing more than voting fodder to get them re-elected.In the UK we have become privy to their excesses.Voting themselves pay rises,abusing expense claims,giving themselves honours and so forth.Times must change! They wish our young men and women to go to Afghanistan to fight,not for us,but to justify their existence.Let us say this,every MP must spend six months in the front line,whilst our young men are there.
Let us say this that every pen pusher in the civil service goes to Afghanistan,in the front line,so that they may understand the requirements of our forces.Lets make sure our soldiers do not pay tax whilst on active duty abroad.
Lets make sure that every army vehicle destined for the frontline in wars is personally tested by the civil servants who sign the cheques.Lets make sure that compensation for soldiers damaged in the fighting is paid for by civil service unions.
Then and only then we may find that our soldiers are properly paid,given equipment that works and are compensated for their service to our country.
At the present time I consider our politicians,civil servants and others in the public sector who earn more than our soldiers as war criminals!