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Bramblings


Ramblings on life

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Having described how you could get a police dossier yesterday, have a look here and find out how you could end up on a Terrorist Watch List.  At least, you could if you are an American, though given the way some American institutions overreact, I suppose you could just about be anywhere.  As with all kinds of reactive and hastily developed criteria the US government guidelines have given rise to extremely vague and loosely defined criteria being developed by nineteen federal agencies, supposedly to fight terrorism.

  Which might be seen to be ok, until you realise that thousands of people are being needlessly swept up but legitimate threats, eg: the Boston Marathon Bomber, just aren't clocked at all.  Encouraging eh?  Apparently the way you discover whether you might be on 'the list' is when you find you can't fly.  Fly by plane that is, you can't fly yourself, can you now?  Then you can set about trying to get yourself off the list.  Hah!  Getting put on the list is a whole lot easier, but then, it would be.  Go on, have a look at the article.  Seems like the Home of the Brave has become the Home of the Scared and Suspicious, which is a great shame.  And having had a read of the article, it seems like that comment might get me at very least near a list, specially if someone reported it!

  Meanwhile the death toll in the Gaza strip has passed 900 - men, women and children, including known UN schools, even pregnant women.  I don't know what the Israeli leaders are thinking, but haven't they realised that continually attacking a group results in the group uniting against the common enemy?  They've been breeding more anti-Israeli Palestinian.  As a way of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel their rocket attacks have been a complete failure.  Israel has lost fewer than fifty people, most of them soldiers.  High time for a cease fire, a truce, even peace.  Not that that will come until both sides really want it, and those at the top on either side don't, yet.  Gah!

  Ok, sufficient seriousness.  You've probably read about how you can light a torch bulb with a lemon, if not actually done the experiment.  You can almost do it with marmalade!  For that matter you may have a clock which runs by sticking two bits of wire into a potato?  Artist Caleb Charland has produced an art installation from 800 pieces of fruit and potatoes linked with galvanized nails and copper wire - and was able to charge a mobile phone.  Apparently it's the galvanized nails and copper wire which really do the trick, the apples etc could be replaced by anything which conducts electricity, like brine - which is what they used in making the original 'voltaic piles'.  All the same, 'green' phone recharging - a quick visit to the hardware shop, and a somewhat longer one to the green grocer . . .

  According to some Oxford researchers more than 90% of human DNA is doing nothing very useful, and large stretches may be no more than biological baggage that has built up over years of evolution.  But before you go chucking out that 92%, bear in mind, says the chief researcher, that while it is not 'functional' the DNA is still active in some way in the body.  Bearing in mind that there is very little in nature that is actually redundant, I think the researchers might need to do a little more research.  You never know, they might find the 'surplus' 92% does have functions, and probably quite necessary, if not vital, functions.

  For quite some while now house prices in the London area have been ridiculously high, and rising.  Apparently the rate of increase is 20% per year!  Understandably most people can't afford the prices, so they're having to rely on privately owned rental properties.  Hmmm.  Oh yes, properties are being built across the Greater London area.  Four and five bedroom 'family homes'.  Great blocks of 'luxury appartments' are shooting up in Central London, and as they shoot they are being snapped up by rich, investment savvy Chinese (Mainland and Hong Kong) - who may or may not visit their properties, and may or may not actually rent them.

  All of which means that there is nowhere for ordinary people to live.  Hmmm, who will run the underground, the buses, the hospitals, etc in Central London?  Where will they live?  Ever since Margaret Thatcher encouraged council house tenants to buy their properties the stock of rentable properties has shrunk massively.  Oh, some new property developments contain a few 'affordable homes', but not many.  'Affordable' homes are only slightly less expensive to build than four or five bedroom properties.  They generate far less income for the builders and developers, so they aren't popular among builders and developers.   What is needed is the Political will to Do Something.

  Apparently in Hong Kong they have a 26% levy on foreigners who want to buy properties, which dissuades them.  Whether a similar tax would work in London remains to be seen.  Remains to be tried too!  Apparently the British economy is growing again, it is back, they say, to pre-crash levels.  Maybe it's time now to start looking after the people of this country and insist that developers build many more 'affordable homes'.  Goodness only knows they're needed.

  It's still main warm here.  Yesterday the front room stayed around 27°C for most of the day, which was bearable with the fan.  We were promised thunder yesterday.  As 'twas the day was mostly overcast and we got one rumble late afternoon.  Come evening it rose to 29°C, which was just bearable with the fan on full throttle.  In bed, with the larger fan on full throttle, it was terrible.  Humid, too darn hot, just uncomfortable.  We gave up, got up, opened a few doors and had a wander round the back yard around 3.30am.  It was cooler outside then, quite pleasant actually.  Eventually we had drinks, went back to bed, had the larger fan on full and, glory be, dozed off.  Methinks we'll both be dozing today!

  What with it being so warm the Tombstoners have started again.  Teenage lads leaping off various points, mainly the Round Tower and nearby, into the sea.  What doesn't help is that the sea is kinda shallow at these points, particularly at low tide, and there are strong currents a little further out.  At least Southsea pier is closed so they can't go leaping off that.  Though I wouldn't put it past some of them to try!  In last night's (local) paper there were bits from previous generations of tombstoners.  Seems like it's been going on for a long time.  What might help, they suggested, was if there was a high diving board somewhere safe for would be 'jumpers' to use.  Apparently there used to be one but it was taken away after it became unsafe, and not replaced.

  Hilsea Lido has been reopened by a group of hard-working enthusiasts, which is very much welcomed by local people.  Except that a small group of teenagers (?) started mucking about in a dangerous way the other day.  They were asked to behave themselves properly, they wouldn't, they were asked to leave.  Result, no unaccompanied children at the Lido.  Mind you, bearing in mind the recent publicity about child abuse and paedophiles perhaps it's a Good Thing.  Shame the stupid few spoil it for the many though.

  Phew, think that's nuff for the nonce.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, with added ice
Current Mood:
Too Darn Hot
Current Music:
Claire de Lune - Debussy
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It's finally been bruited about that families of those who have died in police action have had dossiers compiled by the police.  Also families of those who have died and have conducted campaigns to receive justice, or at least find out what actually happened (see Steven Lawrence).  Apparently that particular division of the Police compiled the dossiers 'because they could' and not for sharing with any other police department  It's a bit much, Dear Reader, you lose a family member and you get a police record.

  The item was mentioned on the BBC News last night, but I can't find anything about it this morning on the BBC News website.  I may have gotten a few details wrong, I was turning a heel at the time!  All the same, this is the UK.  You shouldn't get given a police record unless you have actually done something - and having a relative who got shot really doesn't constitute 'something'.

  Nor should the police be allowed to shoot you because they think you might be up to something.  See Jean Charles de Menzes who was shot because the police mistook him for someone else.  Apparently he didn't look that much like the other person but . . .

  No!  This is the UK.  We have the Rule of Law - which applies to everyone, police included*.  You can go out and get shot by the police and questions will not be asked in other countries.  Countries where the Law is only applied to some.  Countries where the police are a bit gung ho and trigger happy (US anyone?)  In the UK we have a long tradition of asking awkward questions of those in authority.  Long may it continue.

  In Other News - an Algerian passenger plane disappeared on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers yesterday.  Apparently the pilot had asked to change direction because of a storm over the Sahara.  It has turned up in Mali, on the ground, in bits.  This is the third plane to fall from the skies in just over a week - there was one in Taiwan a couple of days ago.  All this sounds a tad worrying, until you realise just how many plane flights there are per day.  And how many of them pass over 'trouble spots' on the ground.

  Meanwhile the death toll in the Gaza Strip has passed 800.  Various attempts are being made to secure a cease-fire but a) Israel doesn't seem to want one, b) a UN school and a hospital have been hit - so much for 'surgical strikes' by Israel, c) the Palestinians are getting fed up with being shelled and are becoming more determined to fight back.

  To trivia - 'Tis still main warm here.  There's a breeze again today, it's overcast, but I'll be needing the fan soon.  Definitely needed it last night.  The Good Thing about all this heat is that, while we live in a country with a four-season climate, we also live in a country with weather.  Very rarely does the weather stay the same for long periods.  Ok, so it was unrelentingly wet from late December to end of March this year but that kind of climate stability is rare.

  And Finally - the Queen 'photo bombs' Australian hockey players' selfie!  Tee hee, normally it's 'tother way around!  I mean other people trying to get into shot with HM, not her actually taking selfies.  Which just goes to show that, no matter how out of touch you may think Her Majesty (86?) may be, she ain't!

  On which patriotic note - y'all have a good day now!


  *It had better apply to the police.  They're there to uphold the Law.  Therefore they are under it and so subject to it.
Current Location:
as usual, with fan and added ice
Current Mood:
Too Hot
Current Music:
Too Darn Hot
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Yesterday was the hottest day so far, officially.  It got to 30°C in some places - which, I realise, is small beer for the inhabitants of other places, like the Sahara desert.  The front room got up to 29°C, which was bearable with the fan, provided you didn't attempt to do anything more than sleep or knit, just! Today is forecast to be a tad cooler.  Bring.  It.  On.  I've opened the back door, the air is moving a little, hang the flies.

  Readers who knit their own socks, or who have someone who knits socks especially for them, will understand this one.  Yesterday a knitter named Britt was passing through Oklahoma City airport when she spotted a single hand knit sock on the floor.  Being a knitter she understood exactly what this meant - someone had lost half a pair of exclusive-to-them socks.  Being a public spirited knitter Britt somehow convinced the airport to make an announcement.  Either some person to whom she spoke was a) a knitter, b) had hand-knit socks themselves, or c) she just wouldn't shut up and go away so they made the darn announcement just to get rid of her.

  Except that they didn't.  Cos nobody turned up to claim the sock.  So she then persuaded someone to put the sock into Lost Property until such time as the sock loser might be coming through Oklahoma City airport again.

  Should you know of a knitter/wearer of handknit socks who travelled via Oklahoma City airport yesterday and who has just realised that they are minus one sock - tell them, please.  Otherwise pass on the message, please.  I'd give you a link to Britt's Ravelry post but I'm not a member and so can't get in.

  And remember, just cos it's too darn hot for woolly socks now, doesn't mean it won't be in the near future, or in some Other Places.

  And the killing goes disproportionately on.  Last night the totals ran at about 600+ Palestinians to fewer than forty Israelis, not to mention all the collateral damage.  A petition is being gotten up to ask Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to demand an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, preferably with a cessation of all attacks.  Should you be interested, Dear Reader, the petition is here.  I suppose you should be in the UK if you want to sign it.  If you aren't, perhaps there is a similar petition doing the rounds of your country.  If there isn't, maybe you could start one?

  I watched the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games last night.  Interesting.  71 different nations and territories - from all five inhabited continents!  Apparently the UK breaks down into seven countries and territories, being: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and Jersey.  The other countries are, mainly, members of what used to be the British Empire - from way back when countries had empires and Britain ruled not only the waves but a third of the globe, coloured pink on maps.

  Bearing in mind the disgusting way we treated many of these countries, particularly when they started asking for, then demanding, independence, I am amazed that shortly afterwards they all asked to be part of the loose union of equals which is the Commonwealth.  Some of the countries have their own heads of government, others, eg: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, have the Queen.  Either way the Queen is recognised as (figure)Head of the Commonwealth.  Bearing in mind some of the other leaders available - Goodluck Jonathan, Robert Mugabe anyone?  I can see why they still want Her Maj at the top.

  In fact the Commonwealth has been seen to be working so well that other countries, from other (ex)empires, have asked to join - witness Mozambique (Portugese at one point, Civil war for too long, now rebuilding)  There was a very colourful parade of member nations.  One nation, forget which, is fielding six athletes.  Others are fielding an amazingly large team considering a) their size, b) their economic status.  Good For Them!  Events started this morning.  Mo Farah has withdrawn, too soon after a recent injury, needs to rest up a bit more.  Shame, but there we are.  If you want to watch various events the BBC is running coverage.  If you don't, other channels are available, you just have to ignore all the commercial breaks!

  Oh look.  Connection Lost.  Your DSL is down.  I don't know what the heat is doing to this modem, but I don't like it!  Oh well, such is lif!

  My knitting progresses slowly.  I haven't finished the first sock, quite, but have started on the second because they're for Sis, who has long feet, and I'm not sure whether I have sufficient wool in the main colour.  Hmmm, frogging here we come?

  Meanwhile a very tanned milkman has knocked properly, actually flapped the letterbox in such a way that it obviously isn't the wind doing it, and has been paid.  Yes, we still get some milk delivered.  It saves having to haul it all home in the shopping trolley and we can afford it, which is nice.  It also comes in reusable bottles, rather than shop milk which comes in recyclable plastic containers which end up in bales awaiting transport to some recycling plant.

  'Sno good.  'Stoo hot here.  I shall sign off, try to find a connection so I can post this, then go sit with the fan and read/puzzle/knit.

  Y'all have a good day now, and remember, stay out of the sun 11am - 3pm and wear sunscreen!
Current Location:
as usual, with iced drinks and fan
Current Mood:
Too Darn Hot
Current Music:
Spanish Dance No 1 - Manuel Da Faella
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                  Thnx XKCD

  See Snake Fact no 2   What?  In all three countries at the same time?  That is one looong snake.
Snake Fact no 3   No kidding!  Though I think you'd be more likely to have a snake skeleton.

  Today is setting up to be main warmer, again.  At present it's a bit overcast, but that can soon change.  Trouble is you have to close windows at night, security and all that, so when the place gets warm during the day it stays warm overnight.  So much for all the lagging/insulation/double glazing!  I've managed to open up most things and there's a bit of a breeze.  Still too warm to move very much though.  In fact in this, the coolest place in the house, it is rapidly approaching too warm to even sit still!  With this sort of weather one can condone the occasional packet of crisps as being 'medicinal' - in warm weather you need the extra salt!

  Somewhere even warmer, hot even, Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria, has met with the parents of girls abducted by Boko Haram.  Good grief man!  The girls were abducted back in April, it's nearly August now!  For all Goodluck Jonathan has been on TV, last week, stating he was 'extremely distraught' about the whole situation, even with all the international promises of help, about the only thing which seems to have happened was when a group of women escaped all by themselves a few weeks back.

  I realise that the girls were abducted in a very remote area of Nigeria.  I realise it is difficult to find anything there.  I realise it is HOT there, but . . .   All this inactivity then appearing on TV smacks of political posturing rather than actually doing anything.  After all, they're just girls.  It's not as if Boko Haram have captured anyone important, is it?  *Snark*

  Meanwhile, Nigeria being part of the Commonwealth, they'll be competing in the Commonwealth Games, which starts today.  I'll leave it to you to research the whole thing.  Suffice it to say that the Commonwealth covers 71 countries and territories and one third of the world's population.  It is a, somewhat loose, association of what used to be the countries of the British Empire.  The games started back in 1930 as the Empire Games - for all various nationalists in various nations back then were getting ansty and starting to argue, if not actually fight, for independence.

  The amazing thing is that, despite all the British did to various independence seeking people, and some of it was truly horrendous, the new nations have willingly joined the Commonwealth.  Just for a laugh you could do this test, Dear Reader, and discover which sport you are made for.  Turns out I might be good at Lawn bowls (though not with my hand-eye coordination), shooting (ditto, plus I don't do guns) and middle distance swimming.  Hmmm, well, I do quite enjoy doing a few (twenty or more) lengths of a pool.  Mind you, I'm not that good at it.  My breast stroke has a terrific screw kick, I prefer to swim back crawl as I can get on with swimming without having to worry about how to breath at the same time.  Only trouble is the uncomfortable tendency to swim into the ends of the pool!

  Mentioning Lawn Bowls - over here (UK) it is generally the preserve of the middle-aged to elderly, competitors wearing white clothes and sensible shoes.  In Australia it's becoming very popular with the younger crowd.  They wear colourful clothing and bare feet.  They're also keeping a lot of Australian Bowling clubs alive!

  There now, with at least 649 Palestinians and 31 Israelis killed in the past fifteen days of fighting, the UN is beginning to talk about things like 'War Crimes' in the same sentence as Israel.  About Time Too!  A Palestinian hospital was hit by Israeli fire the other day.  So much for 'careful targeting'.  For that matter, Israel claims that Hamas is hiding behind a human shield.  From what I've seen the Gaza strip is a fairly packed area, built up.  There don't seem to be many open areas where you could site rocket launchers without having civilians around.  Israel has a larger area to work from.  Whether anything comes from all this remains to be seen.  Perhaps it's time for the Ultra-Orthodox Jews to get up and start expounding exactly what "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" means.  Cos from where I sit it looks like it's guidelines for restraint.  Either way it looks as if the Palestinians might have the somewhat dubious right to inflict at least 618 more casualties without comeback!  Can you see the Israelis standing for that, Dear Reader?

  'K. 'stoo hot here.  Off to sit with a fan.  An electric one.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, with ice!
Current Mood:
Too Darn Hot
Current Music:
Theme music to "Lawrence of Arabia"
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Yesterday was definitely main warm.  Early evening the Gallileo thermometer in the front room dropped its last ball, temperature over 27°C.  The thermometer in my mobile reckoned it was 28°C, which was rendered bearable by the fan going full blast.  Provided you didn't move more than to knit a bit!  Today, tomorrow and Thursday are all forecast to be main warmer.  Garsp!  Break out the fans, ice cubes, ice cream etc.  If it gets much warmer I might need the fan here too!

  Meanwhile the pro-Russian Ukrainians, pro-Independence Ukrainians and Russians all keep trying to deny that they were the ones who pushed the button which brought down the Malaysian airways plane over Crimea.  What the plane was doing flying in that airspace has yet to be revealed.  All other airlines have long since taken to flying round the conflict zone.  Perhaps M A thought that at 30,000ft they'd be safe.  Hah!

  Of course, it could be that the M A plane developed a fault which caused it to fall from the sky, or it even had a bomb on board.  We may find out, we may not.  All other airlines are, hopefully, learning from this disaster and are keeping even further away from airspace anywhere near the conflict zone.

  Here we go again "Not Connected.  Your DSL connection is down."  The modem is trying to rectify the situation all off it's own tiny bat.  What was it they said the other day?  The average modern car has more computer power than the Apollo 11 space mission?!  Right, all lights on, Ethernet a tad doubtful, try again.

  Drat!  I opened the back door in an attempt to get the air moving in here.  Unfortunately it also let a fly in.  I suppose having it buzzing around is moving the air somewhat, but that's nowhere near enough.  Darn flies!

  BTW - I watched Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World last night (having read the whole series of Aubrey/Maturin books some time back).  Have you seen it, Dear Reader?  More to the point, do you know what the last piece of music Aubrey and Maturin play together is?  You know, the one where they both strum their instruments like guitars, which is quite a feat done with a cello.  Yes, I've also asked the film buff at Classic fM, whether or not I get an answer remains to be seen.

  Ahhh, there now, Prince George is one year old today, and he's walking.  Happy Birthday HRH!  Bet Prince William and Princess Kate are glad they have Nanny, et al, to help keep track of him.  Imagine trying to keep up with an active toddler in a palace!  All those rooms to investigate, all those grand staircases.  At least at home here there were only the three rooms the children could have been in when downstairs.  Mind you, here the Outside is a lot nearer.  Fortunately (or by intention) we had locking front and back doors which required keys to open them (still have).  Even the most intelligent one-year-old can't work out keys, and that's assuming they can reach!

  I don't suppose the young prince will be getting Lego for his birthday yet, Duplo maybe.  Apparently a container of Lego went down off the coast of Cornwall in 1997.  Bits are still washing up on the beaches, some are considered collectors' items.  Which is all good fun.  What isn't nearly so funny is that, after 17 years in a pretty corrosive environment, the pieces look as good as new.  There may be biodegradable forms of plastic, but Lego isn't made of any of them.  The Lego is likely to continue washing up on the Cornish beaches for many decades to come.  In fact they're likelier to run out of Lego from the submerged container before the Lego itself starts to degrade.

  Meanwhile it litters the beaches and forms a real hazard to wildlife.  I mean, fill up on Lego, however small the bits, and you could have a permanently full gut, though things may pass through.  Here's hoping the sharp bits aren't sharp enough to pierce the intestines of any wildlife which eats it!  Come to think of it, treading on bits of Lego on a floor can be pretty painful.  What's it like treading on them on a beach?  Or would one merely tread them into the sand?  Hmmm.

  Did you watch any of Wimbledon, Dear Reader?  No, of course I didn't!  Good grief!  Mind you, at least one knitter did, from centre court.  She, being a productive kind of woman, took along her knitting so that she could keep her hands busy while watching the match.  Andy Murray was playing, the knitting probably saved her nails - pity it doesn't with mine! It even got commented on.

  Ah well, the Commonwealth Games start tomorrow, for a eleven days.  I reckon the opening and closing ceremonies may be worth watching.  Meanwhile I'm video-ing selected films.

  And Finally - if you have children, particularly small ones, DO NOT leave them shut in your car.  Or pets for that matter.  In this weather cars can soon become little ovens and children, particularly small ones (and pets) can cook. Apparently it's all to easily done.  I realise, Dear Reader, that in this hot weather thinking is harder than ever but consider the alternatives . . .  For all they hardly bear thinking about, perhaps, if you have a car, and small children, Dear Reader (particularly Dear American Reader), thinking about it might be worth while?

  Y'all have a good, and not too hot (I hope) day now!
Current Location:
as usual, with fan and iced drinks
Current Mood:
Too Darn Hot
Current Music:
Happy Birthday, Prince George
* * *
At last!  I would have blogged sooner but either the computer was in use, by H, or I just couldn't get DSL, or Ethernet.  In fact it took quite a few tries this morning, having pushed all plugs in and connectors together, then given everything a rest, twice, to get any connection at all.  Such is lif!

  It has been main warm here the meanwhile.  Friday achieved the highest temperatures so far this summer (simmer, anyone?), even with sea breezes it was main warm here.  Oh, all the heat led up to some very loud thunder around midnight last Thurs/Friday but the much promised thunderstorms of Saturday turned up elsewhere.  Here it was a lovely sunny day with refreshing breezes.  If it wasn't for the thunder forecast we'd have pegged the washing out a whole lot earlier, and it would have dried!

  Thursday evening it reached 27°C in the front room.  Too Darn Hot.  I gave up and plugged in the small fan.  Instant relief!  Yes, I know that, technically,  switching on a fan merely serves to raise the room temperature a little - movement = energy = heat - but moving air which is cooler than body temperature over you does help cool you.  More HEAT, ok, WARMTH, is forecast for this week.  This place, at the computer, is the coolest in the house, and it's getting to be too warm.  Cue ice-cream.   Such is lif!

  Also quite a few things have happened which may or may not have been comment worthy.  We'll see.  The Assisted Dying Bill got its reading in the House of Lords last Friday.  It won't get anywhere, yet.  It's going to be a gradual process, this was a 'softening up' exercise.  As such it appears to be succeeding.  According to one survey 80% of the public are in favour or some sort of legislation like this - it's the whole emotional 'Relief of Suffering' thing.

  I caught part of the BBC Newsnight debate on the whole subject late Friday night.  There was Michael Portillo, Dame Tammi Grey Thompson (who is wheelchair-bound) and an MP whose name I didn't catch.  They were all against the proposed bill, on grounds that no matter how bad things may seem, some may well be 'enjoying' life - Michael Portillo cited the case of a friend who was so disabled he could only communicate via a special computer.  The friend wrote an article for a newspaper where he spoke of the joys of his life.  Suffering/Joy - who's going to be the ultimate judge?  Something about 'special cases making for bad legislation'.  I really feel for people with 'Locked in' Syndrome, but don't think they should bring about legislation for all.  For others there is always the possibility of getting DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) written on their medical notes.  Whatever happened to treating people as people?

  They all mentioned the pressure disabled people would feel themselves under if legislation was passed.  Pressure to opt for the choice to end their lives rather than the choice to continue living, although many, if not most, people would prefer to choose life.  Not to mention the economic pressures from apparently cash-strapped governments.  And they mentioned the example of the 1967(?) Abortion Act and how that came with great 'safeguards' and look at the situation now where abortion is considered, by many, to be the norm.  What's to stop any 'Assisted Dying' legislation, however carefully written originally, going the same way, they said?  It's nice to know some are thinking.  Such is lif!

  In Israel/Gaza Strip the fighting continues.  More than one hundred Palestinians have been killed, many more have been injured.  The Israelis say that they warn the people of Gaza before they launch a rocket.  'We warn them to move out', they say.  'We give them ten minutes' notice,' they say.  The Palestinians do move out, though where they're supposed to go . . .  Apparently fewer than twenty Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets.  This is too many for Israel - who don't care, apparently, how many Palestinians die or are injured.  Whatever happened to 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'?  Cease fires have been suggested, one was even agreed, but fighting continues.  There was a brief respite so wounded could be collected, but firing went on.

  Yesterday, Sunday, Israeli troops invaded the Gaza Strip.  An Israeli soldier has been captured.  Like this is going to bring about a cease fire, let alone any kind of peace.  We know that there are many in Israel who want 'peace', meaning 'because there are no Palestinians'.  Finding Israelis who actually want a negotiated peace settlement and are prepared to genuinely negotiate is a lot harder, but there we are.  The fighting continues, the death toll rises.  Such is lif!

 And Finally - I've finished another three or four pairs of socks for family members and have started another pair.  Think I'll be able to knit one more pair then it'll either be (unmatched) Joseph's Coat pairs or order some more yarn.   Hmmm, such is lif!

  Right, it is just too warm here, off to sit with the fan and, paper having arrived, read it and do the puzzle page.  Y'all have a good, i f somewhat overheated, afternoon now!
Current Location:
In front of the fan, garsp!
Current Mood:
Too Darn Hot
Current Music:
Laudamus Te - Carl Jenkins
* * *
They're at it again.  Nibbling away at the Sanctity of Life.  Tomorrow the House of Lords will be debating an Assisted Dying Bill proposing to allow people who are suffering to commit suicide, with help if necessary, with no comeback against the assister.  Currently assisting suicide carries a penalty of up to fourteen years in prison, though I've yet to hear of anyone even being prosecuted.

  So what's so wrong about wanting to let those who are suffering end their sufferings?  What is so wrong about letting caring friends help them achieve what they might otherwise be unable to do for themselves?

  Let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time abortion was illegal in the UK.  Then it was allowed "in cases of extreme trauma to mother or child".  Women wishing to terminate their pregnancies had to have two doctors signatures, and to have been assessed to ensure that the woman knew what she was actually doing.  It had to be done before four months was up.  That was in the mid-Sixties.

  Things have been loosened up a lot since.  Now a woman can demand an abortion almost up to term - which leads to the situation where one ward in a hospital can be aborting foetuses at, say, eight months*, while another ward can be desperately trying to encourage the survival of a baby born prematurely at the same age of gestation.  One might almost say that there are more babies being aborted than are being born, and birth stats run at around one per minute in the UK.

  Yes, the woman still needs the signatures of two doctors and, we hope, gets counselling to ensure she knows what's going to happen, perhaps even so she knows what might happen afterwards, but that's still a heck of a lot of babies - and all that contraceptive provision and advice available too . . .

  So what has this to do with allowing the suffering 'Choice'?  Um, isn't much of the abortion debate about 'Choice'?  The Right of Women to Have Control Over Their Own Bodies?  Who's going to dare to speak up for the Right of the Unborn to actually Have a Life?

  Because that's the whole point.  The first Abortion Act turned out to be but the thin end of the wedge.  Today child abuse figures are higher than ever - do we value our children less because we have already 'disposed of' so many of their potential companions?

  Elder abuse is a growing occurrence, and concern.  As is the care, and abuse, of the disabled.  They are already de-valued - no income-generating potential and all that, for all we were so devoutly honouring a select group of eighty and ninety-year olds at the beginning of last month.  They are already shunted off into 'Care Homes' - which may or may not fulfill their name.

  Are the disabled now to be pointed emphatically at their own 'exits'?  OK, so Steven Hawking has said he is in favour of 'assisted dying', not that he wants to avail himself of it, yet.  And there's an example of why not to shuffle off people's mortal coils too soon.  He can only move a few muscles, but, at 72, he is still working, lecturing in Cosmology at Cambridge University, and a very popular lecturer - with his students and the public.  He argues for the Freedom of the Individual and the 'Right to Choose', with, of course, very particular guidelines.

  Other similarly disabled people do not back the idea of Assisted Dying.  They say they are interested in life and want to continue living.  Then there is the worry that if 'Choice' is given they will be constantly having to justify choosing 'no'!  Not to mention the (mostly) unspoken pressure from society to do away with themselves as 'drains on national resources'.

  Rather than encouraging people to do away with themselves, the pro-Life supporters say, resources should be directed into helping people live as well as they can.  A lot would then want to go on living even more.  Which would cost more, perhaps.  Hmmm, this is beginning to look Political.  The real 'Choice' being not of people wanting to live or die but of Government departments wanting to save money.  With murderers being given 'life sentences' only just into double figures one wonders quite how much actual value the government (and the rest of us) puts on individual lives?

  Current proposals are that people should be given 'Choice' if they are within six months of death (see various 'death sentence' statistics and how many people outlive them) and have a form signed by two doctors to show that the patient has been advised on all possibilities.  Which sounds quite reasonable, I suppose.  It also sounds like conditions enforced by the Sixties Abortion Act, and look where that's gone.

  One final thing - those brave Few we were all so assiduously honouring back at the start of last month.  They're in their late eighties and early nineties.  Some of them are disabled.  They all represent a 'drain' on national resources.  Those who fought, those who died, those who survived, they didn't fight a regime which slaughtered on racial and 'usefulness' criteria just to become subject to similar criteria in their own old ages.  Speak up now, Dear Readers,  from self-interest if nothing else.  It'll be our turn all too soon.  What might 'Assisted Dying' become in forty or fifty years' time?

  'Care' - what does that really mean?

  Y'all have a good, and thoughtful, day now!




  *Which actually means physically giving birth, to a dead (we hope) child.  Which can be traumatic.  BTW - how many women who choose to terminate pregnancies go on to find themselves 'infertile' or have difficulty conceiving later on?

 
Current Location:
as usual. Nor there either!
Current Mood:
Very Concerned
Current Music:
'Hymn to the Fallen' from 'Saving Private Ryan'
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A (sub-)tropical heat-wave and the forecast for tomorrow is worse.  Yes, even here on the coast with sea breezes - pity those living inland.  In fact yesterday I was seriously beginning to consider going to the local supermarket to hang out in the chilled food aisles!  Apparently the temperatures are forecast to be higher here than in Barbados or Hawaii.  If we ever went abroad for a summer holiday then it'd have to be to Scandinavia.  Anywhere else would be just too hot!

  Actually, right here in the middle of the city there isn't that much room for the breezes to blow.  That and it's all tarmac, paving, brickwork and glass, the first three of which absorb heat then release it all afternoon and evening.  Glass just reflects the heat and dazzles you with reflected light if you get at the wrong angle to it.  Oh, and some downstairs windows open to be at head height for the incautious passer-by!  We were very careful that our windows wouldn't do so.  Imagine coming round the corner and then encountering a head height open window.

  Fortunately come Saturday the weather will have brought about it's own demise and we're forecast heavy thunderstorms, which should bring down the temperature at least.  It'll be interesting to see how much thunder we actually get.  The city is generally sheltered by the South Downs to the north and the Isle of Wight to the south.  Mind you, when a storm gets caught between the Downs and the Island it tends to roll around the area until it grumbles itself out.  Also, no matter how hot it's been, how hot it's going to be, the mud just hasn't been smelling.  I dunno, what's going on here?

  Another thing brought on by this weather is 'jumpers' - no, not the woolly kind.  Young, and sometimes not so young, men (generally) who think it a great idea to jump off the Pier (though that's currently closed) and various points and walls along the coast.  Of course, some of them get into serious trouble each year.  They're front page news in the local Paper.  Warning notices and banning notices are posted on likely jumping points.  There are police and other patrols in these areas, but still the idiots jump.

  Over the weekend a middle-aged man jumped off a pier further along the coast.  He has a prosthetic lower leg.  It got knocked off by impact with the water.  He then realised he was in difficulties.  Fortunately another man on the pier realised this, dived him and dragged him to safety - back to a ladder on the pier which, of course, the now one-legged man couldn't climb!  Local diving clubs, fishermen and others are still searching for the prosthetic limb, the, we hope, wiser guy is wearing his 'spare' leg - which is painful and much harder to walk with.  This probably constitutes a happy ending, other 'jumpers' have ended up paralysed.  Some have ended up dead.  Of course, the death rate still being 100%, we're all going to end up dead, but why ruin a lovely summer for yourself family and friends by doing so prematurely?

  Ooh this fridge-cold water is nice.  It's so cold there's condensation on the outside of the cup.  Humidity is so high that the condensation is dripping off the cup. Aujour d'hui c'est trop chaud.  Helas!  w00t! For the fan in the bedroom or we'd be sleeping a lot worse than we are.  I may have to seriously consider getting the fan out in the front room too.

  Right, too hot to type more.  Y'all have a good day now, and remember, stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm and WEAR SUNSCREEN!
Current Location:
as usual - none of the places they ever show!
Current Mood:
too hot
Current Music:
Too Darn Hot
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I bust one of my favourite knitting needles the other day.  A Symphonie Pro circular 2.25mm, while knitting a sock.  One needle end snapped off at the join between the wooden needle and the cable.  A quick inspection reveals the metal join to be unseamed so unlikely to be openable to remove the snapped off wooden bit and stick in the remaining point.  Pooh!  Yes, I do realise that in the grand scheme of things 'tis a mere prickle but . . .  Fortunately I have a set of Clover bamboo dpns 2.25mm, so am continuing to knit said sock on them.  Moral of the story?  Wooden sock-knitting needles are nice but somewhat fragile, bamboo bends but, provided you don't try straightening 'em to vigorously, tends to be stronger.  Metal needles?  They're heavier, slippery-er (so having a tendency to fall out of your knitting) and also have a tendency to bend (the really thin ones, I have a set of 2mm dpns).  They're even harder to straighten than bamboos!  Ah well.

  On the decorative arts, have a butcher's at these guitars, two influenced by the mystic East and one by LotR.  Gorgeous.  Wonder how they sound?

  Just come across the term Samizdat - a Russian idea, from Communist days, when unofficial books would be made and circulated clandestinely (cos you'd be in trouble so deep you'd need a life-raft if you were caught with one, let alone making one).  Apparently the word came to mean "I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish, distribute it, and get imprisoned for it."  Or so Vladimir Bukovsky said.  Readers who remember the USSR will understand a little of this.  Younger Readers will, perhaps, get an idea of how things were.  These days it's coming to mean self-publishing.  The kind of self-publishing where you decide on everything - words, cover design, layout, etc, etc, yourself, which is rather cheapening the term, IMHO.  But there you are, the fashion is to dumb down.

  Writing of dumbing down, or rather not, Shaun the Sheep has won a poll as favourite children's BBC TV character, beating off such rivals as Postman Pat, Paddington and The Wombles.  Such is the passage of time.  The Wombles and the Paddington Bear TV series were on when I was young.  Postman Pat came out when S and D were young.  Shaun is the modern hero, though he's been around since Wallace and Gromit's A Close Shave, but was given his own series, which, in the best children's TV tradition, is for all the family.  H and I really enjoy watching it.  I only remember back as far as Sooty and Sweep, Bob the Builder also passed us by as by then S and D were too old for such sillinesses.  Shaun the Sheep is well worth tracking down though, the series is made by Aardman Animations in Bristol (good things come from Bristol).  Apparently there will be a film, starring the Sheep (the whole flock, plus Bitzer, plus Farmer) due out next February.  I look forward to it.

  Goodness, Google are actually doing something sensible!  Having seen Sony's PlayStation 3, the Apple iPhone and their Chrome operating system hacked, they've gone ahead and hired the hacker, George Hotz.  Other firms have tried, some successfully, prosecuting hackers.  This is really counter-productive.  If they get a sufficient buzz from hacking, hackers are going to continue in said activity whether you prosecute them or not.  Far better to have them inside your organisation pissing out than outside pissing in, surely?  Far better to make a system and have one of your employees there specially to 'break into' it.  That way you can fix it before it goes out.  Of course, Microsoft wouldn't think this way.  Anyone who knows anything about the mighty M knows that they develop something, they market it.  Then they, or early users, discover bugs, for which M will sell patches.  Do they still do this?  I'm not sure how Bill Gates became a multi-millionaire with such a working polity, but he did.  Fortunately his ethics are better and he's now taken his multimillions and is trying to do some real good with them.

  And Finally - too many French restaurants are using pre-prepared food, bought in, industrially made, pastry, pate, even specially 'rough chopped' steak for Steak Tartare which looks 'hand-chopped'.  So the French have come up with a special sign to denote that a dish is actually made in the establishment.  Now I know there are too many places to eat in the UK where they merely re-heat pre-prepared stuff.  Some of it can be quite good, most merely mundane, but to try passing it off as 'home cooked' is just lying.  However to find that the French are getting in on the 'passing off industrial food as home-made' act is a bit of a surprise.  I thought the French valued their food.  Hmmm, I know at least one French person who values their McDonald's.  For that matter, the existence of such chains in France is, I doubt, solely supported by UK and US tourism.  I dunno, what are the French coming to, Dear Reader?

  Right, now seems to be a good time to stop.  Like before I write myself into trouble so deep I may require a life-raft!  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
too darn hot
Current Music:
Too Darn Hot
* * *
Water.  Clear, cool, even cold, potable water.  Straight from the tap.  Ok, so these days you have to run the tap a little to get to the really cold water.  Water that has been sitting in under-pavement-insulated pipes waiting for you to turn on your tap.  I quite like our local water.  H isn't keen and takes it with squash, cold, or tea or coffee, hot.

  It having been main warm several times recently, and likely to be main warmer this week, we've had the ice cube trays filled and productive in the freezer.  When it's main warm it's easy to get through sixteen ice cubes in a day.  Specially as the temperature rises when you've had to close the downstairs windows due to sun setting and dark.  So H suggested getting a large bottle, filling it with water, and keeping it, filled, in the fridge.  H is brilliant like that.  Rifle through recycling bin to find Friday night's Coke bottle plus lid.  Hmmm, shouldn't put lids for recycling, but w00t!

  Now we have instant access to 1.25l cold water (4-6°C), with the option of additional ice.  As the water is cooled in the fridge it is cheaper and less wasteful than letting the tap run and/or adding ice cubes from the freezer.  So it's w00t! all round!

  Now I realise that I am among the fortunate ones, Dear Reader.  I have a house of my own - actually we have a house of our own, finished paying off the mortgage some years back.  What is more, we have piped in water and that water is clean and safe to drink.  I know there are areas even in the UK where the quality of the tap water is somewhat more doubtful.  Hey, we even have three sets of 'taps' ('faucet', USA) in the house - two in the kitchen, two in the bathroom and one in the shower.  For all of which, the biggest user of water is the toilet flush.  Yes, we have a 'dual action' flush, but it still needs a lot of water.  And surely that doesn't need to be drinking water quality.

  But there you are, the house is well over 100 years old, nearing 150 years old.  It's had indoor plumbing, and indoor sanitation fitted over it's lifetime.  We still actually have the outside loo, though not the original.  I'm not sure whether it still works, but it was jolly useful when we had the back bedroom/bathroom rearranged.  I know some modern homes are built with 'grey water' collection tanks as well as piped in mains water.  Grey water is water from the guttering (rainwater - ours currently empties into a butt for watering the garden) and water from sinks, baths, washing machines and dishwashers.  This can all be collected in a suitably large tank which is then used to fill the toilet cistern, and anything else which requires water but doesn't mind the odd bit of soap.

  Of course, when it comes to watering some plants rainwater is the only thing.  Well, it is if you live around here.  Our water gets filtered by the chalk of the South Downs, thus it is considered 'hard'.  In this case 'hard' doesn't mean physically hard, though if you jump into it from a sufficient height and belly-flop it can seem like it.  Nor does it mean it's continually looking for a fight.  It just means that it's high in dissolved calcium - which is good for teeth, bones and growing children (and sweetened squash and fizzy drinks are not).  Whether it is 'permanently hard' or 'temporarily hard' is another matter.

  This largely depends on the kind of calcium bearing rock it has filtered through.  As our kettle 'furs up' I know that the water is at least partly 'temporarily hard'.  Some of the dissolved calcium salts are calcium bicarbonate, which decomposes on boiling to give calcium carbonate, aka limestone.  Or chalk.  Some chalk is calcium sulphate, which kinda dissolves, but doesn't 'fall out' on boiling.  This is 'permanent hardness'.  As I wrote, our tap water falls on the South Downs, chalk uplands, filters through and is collected, treated and rendered potable by the Portsmouth Water Company.  Which, incidentally, did it all for cheaper than Southern Water, which takes our 'used water' and used to pump it straight out to sea.  They have to treat it these days, which is a Good Thing and now means we can fly a blue flag over Southsea and Eastney beaches!

  Did you know, Dear Reader, that we could provide access to clean, safe water to everyone in the world for the price of a small portion of money spent on Defence (or even Defense)?  Of course, it would help if there was peace worldwide.  Digging wells and providing water storage facilities are all very well, but you don't want them blown up by passing 'conflicts'.  See, Dear Reader, it's really about politics.  Whether there is the political will to do something.

  The thing is, most of the people who do not have access to clean, safe water, even one tap between several families, are poor people.  Poor people, on the whole, do not vote.  Even if they do vote they just don't carry the same whack as rich people.  So it continues, the rich have, and the poor have not, and there are too many interests vested in maintaining the status quo.  Is it any wonder that so many people are seeking to migrate from their countries of origin to Europe, America, even Australia?  Gah!  Time to start 'leaning' on the politicians, methinks.

  So there we are, Dear Reader.  Did you miss me?  I tried turning the computer on yesterday morning as per usual, and got merely a black screen, though H said it was on when he got home.  I dunno, it's happened to me before.  I am not a Geek, never was, suspect I never will be, for all I may be becoming a Silver Surfer!

  And Finally - today is St Swithun's Day.  The day on which, it is said, the weather for the next forty days is fixed.  If wet today, 'twill be wet, if dry, dry.  Bearing in mind that once upon a time one's life depended upon successfully getting in the harvest - which would be done towards the end of the next six weeks, and a good harvest for preference, you can understand, Dear Reader, why people looked so anxiously to the skies.  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
hot hot
Current Music:
The Water Music - Handel
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