Monday, 30 July 2007

Situation Vacant

The Association of Shithouse Rats announced today that they will not be inviting Prime Minister Gordon Brown to become their Patron.

"We really aren't that shifty," explained a spokesrat.


Not-A-Constitution latest... the EU Referendum site calls for the "constitutional concept... is abandoned" lie to debunked. Open Europe has the ammunition here [PDF link] comparing old and new: a long list of "exactly the same text", "same text", "same content", "same text with name change".


I am His Highness' blog at Kew;
Pray tell me Sir, whose blog are you?

A prize collection of achingly earnest weblogs here: votes cast for Iain Dale's Top Twenty political blogs.

One is above the vulgar scramble for recognition.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Before the Revolution

Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii invented a method of colour photography which involved taking three pictures in quick succession through different coloured filters.

The Library of Congress has put 2,600 of his pictures, mostly taken in Russia between 1905 and 1915, online here.

There is a subject index here.

Above: a hay-baling machine.

Below: Prokudin-Gorskii on the right.

And I can't resist adding a few more.

Trans-Siberian Railway bridge over the River Kama, near Perm:

Ryazan in 1912:

Deckhouse of the steamboat "Sheksna", 1909:

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Hyperion's Tailor

Horrors, is it, Sir?

Portioned to a giant nerve?

One moment, if you please --- the Thane of Glamis -

[off] Borrowed robes? Why, not at all, Sir.

[still off] No, Mr. Chertiozhnik, "fun bags" are not a form of broad-legged trouser.

Fireside Chat

Hey, pop-pickers, let's see what's really happening in th'Charts!

At #1 for the second week running, doggers want to be free to have sexual intercourse in a car park and take photographs of themselves having sexual intercourse in a car park for the second week running.

Nobody was ever out to stop you guys! But 68,721 votes to agree we weren't ever going to anyway!!! Wow?! That's Democracy! In action!!!

Straight in from nowhere, #8 for a family support centre in Grays Lane. Grays Lane... where? I don't know, nor do they!?! Another 23,918 voters don't have a clue either, but they still like it!!!

Up the Charts with a bullet! Out of nothing up to #9!!!!!!!!!!!! Ride horses two abreast, and think of a horse as a bicycle in a cycle lane? Last week, 0, this week 18,073 people are rooting for our two-wheeled friends! Look out, all you pedestrian bipeds! Opeeeen Seeeeason!!!!!!!!

At #11, weeks in the chart and not creepin' near th'Top Ten at all, a referendum about something. With 15,933 votes.

And at #13, Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister. 13,943 votes and a bullet.

A personal plea from your Disc Jockey:

I felt really bad about having to blapse my wife last time round, even though I was fucking Lida Baarova a bit. Okay, not only Lida. But, y'know, don't put me in that bad place this time. Feel my hurt. Maybe in my next post I will explain how I learned to deal with it all, how I had to be sensitive and brave at the same time.

And I had to total my kids as well.

Smoke a Cool Cigarette

Video: Penn and Teller demonstrate the Seven Basic Moves of magic.

Or, you can just lie and nobody will give a toss anyway.

The Eighth Basic Move, or Sleight, of magic.
Let's see that again in slow motion.


Update: comment here from Mr Oscar. Bombay Sapphire gin and a duck's-foot pistol. Wreck the joint.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Cows Week

Xoggoth links to this story about a cow with a cough which has been sentenced to death (what a commotion, and surely the worse for being conducted in Patagonian, a language recently revived in Wales for no good reason at all).

And in Darlington police marksmen have Terminated With Extreme Prejudice one... cow, and are tracking another. Cow.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: "We cannot stress too highly how dangerous this animal is.
It will attack anyone it sees and the public must not approach it in any circumstances."

What is this? What have they ever done to us?


Picture of The Last Cow pinched from Breadwig, and available as a T-shirt. Get one now, so you can show your grandchildren the kind of terrors we had to live with day to day in early twenty-first century Britain.


Half a million years ago Boxgrove Man (Homo heidelbergensis, howdy-doody) had to cope with elephants, hyaenas, rhinoceros... the poor bloke's leg bone got gnawed at both ends by a wolf. But where are the T-shirts?


The English Heritage site on Boxgrove has more spelling mistakes than I care to shake a stick at. Hominins? Rhinocerous?

I'm grumpy because it is 06:16 and I'm still wide awake. Bloody seagulls. And pigeons.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Panem Et Circenses

A posy of rather spiffing blogs relating to the ancient world...

Bread and Circuses

With a link, amongst other things, to an article on why the Western Empire went down.

Memorabilia Antonina

"The gladiatorial games were not top of the bill when it came to Roman mass entertainment - that was chariot racing. I always tell my students that (depending on which figures you use) the Circus Maximus could hold between two and five times as many people as the Colosseum, that it was riots by chariot racing fans that nearly brought down an emperor (Justinian, in AD 532), and that there's a reason Juvenal (Satire 10.81) says panem et circenses, not panem et munera."


Regular features : This Day in Ancient History; Classical Words of the Day. How can you say no to "caducity", "dictatress", "hypnogogic" and "riposte"? Can you get them all into one sentence?


An article in New Scientist (I don't have a link) a while ago, on the perception and naming of colours, mentioned that Latin can have different words for gloss and matt colours, e.g. candidus and albus for white, niger and ater for black. As I remember it, anyway.

This is terribly interesting at 05:11 after a sleepless night. I hope you too are enthralled at whatever time of day you chance on this.

Terrible Beauty

Eight test warheads from an LGM-118A Peacekeeper MIRVed nuclear missile come down over Kwajalein Atoll, 2004.

I was set off on this trail by a blowhard post on a Russian blog, to the effect that a couple of Topol Ms dropped on our foggy isles would settle the Litvinenko business once for all.

That led me on to Dr Strangelove, and a slightly unnerving parallel between the fictional U.S. President Merkin Muffley and our own G. W. Bush. Look up 'merkin' if you don't get m'drift. History repeats itself, the first time starring Peter Sellers..? I hid in the kneehole of my desk for a minute while I thought about that one.

Here from another launch, warheads dropping through the clouds.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

It's That Referendum Again

The Referendum List started up today to canvass MPs to support a referendum on the Not-A-Constitution, and publish the replies online.

Meanwhile Open Europe has published

- a translation of the "treaty" [PDF link]

- a comparison of what British politicians claim it is, and what everybody else in Europe says it is [PDF link]

and lots of other good stuff.

The petition at the 10 Downing Street website has reached 15,623 signatures, up 1,279 on last week.

The petition to make Jeremy Clarkson the Prime Minister only has 13,846 signatures, up 369 on last week.


The preamble to the "treaty" has some touchy-feely stuff inserted...

"Inspired by Europe's cultural, religious and humanist heritage, from which have developed the universal values constituted by the inviolable and inalienable rights of the person, as well as liberty, democracy, equality and the rule of law"

If they mean the heritage of liars, bagmen, tinpot Machiavels, dictators, carpet knights, opportunists, place-seekers, surrender-merchants, careerists, arselickers, anti-democrats, more liars, et caetera usque ad nauseam, well, yes, there have been plenty of those, and the Europoliticians follow proudly in their tradition.

Poets Ahoy!

The greatest rhymesters' competition on the internet, Rhyme and Treason Redux Week Two, is up and going at Bart's.

Yaaaay! Get in there and crreate!

Unfortunately, this week the theme is "base ball", a small ball game far away about which I know little. Or, nothing.

Except for what I gleaned from Stephen Jay Gould's book "Full House", and his explanation of (amongst other things) the extinction of the .400 batting average.


Iron horse.
Jumps the last ditch.
Winning heritage stakes.

Witness of History.
Saved by the Ugly.

Reproduced without permission, courtesy, &c from a comment by O'Hara.

Picture: St Edmondsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds. Ripped off from here.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

I am the Hierophant

You are The Hierophant

Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.

All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.

The Hierophant's purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant's only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I've done the LOLCat and the Kitten Picture, so here's the Pointless Survey.

I always wanted to be an elephant. Different entirely.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Joy Wars : No Boo Faces

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style,
Ain't got no gal to make you smile,
But don't worry, be happy.

If you are still not happy, WickedRed has a fireman's hat, and a pony, and a Cheese Fairy, for ya.

Make it joyous, people. And, hey, let's be careful out there.

Sunday, 22 July 2007



Rarely see anyone climbing around it.

Intriguing rumba rhythm when the wind blows.

Has to be a point to it all.


Seagulls at night make a whistling sound like an old man with huge bushes of brown hair in his nostrils, dozing off.


Dottle cooling. Sobranie flake.

Portrait, ancestor, wreathed with. Ensign, Sevastopol. Last. Of.

Burning of Atlanta. Film set. Clark.



Saturday, 21 July 2007


1 2 3...

And as this test post has attracted a Comment, what can I do but put in some Content?

First a thanks to David McMahon at Authorblog for organising his weekly Blog Awards which, amongst other things, brings together a collection of seventy-eight (at the moment) very different and interesting blogs which I endlessly browse around... idler, me? Why, not at all, erm...

Second, the sun has just put in an appearance, the sea is jade and turquoise, and here is Louis Armstrong in 1933 playing "Tiger Rag" - because it is a Happy Day today!

As well as putting on the fireworks, Armstrong is the most sensitive accompanist I can think of. Here he is with Billie Holiday in "Farewell to Storyville" (1947); his backing, as usual, gives me goosebumps.

Storyville was the red-light district of New Orleans, shut down in 1917. Several of the great jazzmen learned their trade in the bars and brothels there.

And - well, why not - here is a beautiful "West End Blues" from 1955.

Joie de vivre!


Mr. V. V. Putin, smooth [VChK] [GPU] [NKVD] [MVD] [KGB] FSB thug: not a clown.
Very much more intelligent than Mr. Blair; Mr. Brown.
(Red Army Choir with added Leningrad Cowboys, 1993)

Friday, 20 July 2007

For The Man Who Has Everything...

...except a wife, any more.

When the divorce proceedings are finally done, the lawyers paid, the proceeds divided, one can build a little shrine for the ring.

My ring is still in a velvet pouch in my desk drawer. I thought of flinging it into the Thames, but never quite found the heart to.

As for selling it, that's too cold entirely.

Glowing with Pride

Bart runs a weekly competition, Rhyme and Treason, here at Crazywhack Shiznit for your Brizzle.

He chooses a poem or lyric every week and leaves out the last line or two.

The aim in to complete the rhyme in a novel way.

Guess who won this week?

Yep, me. Wooo woo!

I hope you will all, gentle readers, join in the fun. The next competition opens on Monday or possibly Tuesday next week. See you there!

Thursday, 19 July 2007


Chewy's post on branches making a natural three-dimensional drawing reminded me of this picture I took - of the (more ordered) wall of a barn at the Pirogovo Folk Museum.

Here (because I just know you'll find this gripping) is the barn...

I started to learn to draw once, but an I.T. project came along and took over my life instead.

Worthy but dull, that's me.


A frustrated author submits the opening chapters of three Austen novels (characters' names changed to make it a bit difficult) to eighteen publishers and agents.

And gets seventeen rejection letters. Only one reader spotted the ruse.

An easy trick: Pierre Menard tried harder.

“My intent is no more than astonishing,” he wrote me the 30th of September, 1934, from Bayonne.
He did not want to compose another Quixote —which is easy— but the Quixote itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide—word for word and line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes.

Scene : Uxbridge


"Just over 9,000 years ago a group of a dozen people set up camp there and lit a fire. They needed the warmth as it was the depth of winter. The hunters sat in two arcs, on either side of the fire, side-on to the wind. Food was scarce in the forest, but they had with them a cache of red-deer bones from the legs of at least fifteen animals, probably collected over several weeks of hunting. The meat had previously been stripped from the carcasses, but the bones were kept so that the nutritious, protein-rich marrow was available at the toughest time of year, when hunter-gatherers frequently lost weight. As they sat on either side of the fire the little group split the bones to extract the marrow and threw the ends of the shafts behind them. It seems from the distribution of material that the members of the clan had their specialist jobs - wood, bone or leather working, with the flint-knappers at the ends of the arc to keep the sharp waste fragments away from the central area."

From David Miles, "The Tribes of Britain"

According to another Dramatic Reconstruction, there were five people camping out on the same spot 1,000 years before that.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


I am Mr. Chertiozhnik
Very author of this Bloggage.
What I know ain't worth the knowin'
What I don't know's known as Knowledge.


Your Petitions today... open (and recently closed) Petitions in descending order of numbers of signatures.

against building a "mega-Mosque" in Newham.
This seems to be pie-in-the-sky, there is no current planning permission application.

68,491 against restrictions on photography in public places.
HMG deny there are any such proposals.

67,870 to have student loan interest repayments deducted monthly.
HMG point out that the deductions are made monthly.

60,508 to continue funding for the Red Arrows.
Tony says there are no plans to do otherwise.

40,619 to repeal the Hunting Act 2004.
The first petition on the list, it seems, which refers to reality.

[ more omitted]

14,344 for a Referendum on the EU Constitution.

13,477 to make Jeremy Clarkson the Prime Minister.

And among the closed Petitions, there is the one against a road pricing policy which got 1,811,345 signatures.


I know we're nice, but not this nice...

The English never say "over there" or "down that street" when asked directions; no, they lead you until they feel comfortable that you're really on the right path. With their help, I bused, and walked, and taxied, and even took my first ever underground (subway) ride, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. without stopping, covering at least six "must see" London sights.

This from a weird piece about Tea at Harrods.

Faced with this kind of offtheplanetcy, what can one do, except post an engraving of the dentition of a hedgehog (see picture)?

Interview (thank you Imigrante) with K. Stockhausen, in which it seems to me that the interviewer is not one who could find his ass with both hands.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

We Want Information

Here is how to write "Gore Vidal" in Chinese.

With a totally gratuitous Kitten Picture just because I can.

Too Much, Already

The first and non-partisan Petition for a Referendum on the EU Constitution on the 10 Downing Street site now has 13,967 signatures.

UKIP had their own Petition going, which they scrapped. They then added a second one to the 10 Downing Street site.

And now it seems a Conservative MEP has added a third.


Whether another Petition to only have the original Petition would confuse the issue even more, I don't know.

Meanwhile Brown has again stated that there will be no Referendum.

What force or guile could ne'er subdue
Through many warlike ages

Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitors' wages

after three hundred years, revenge, Mr. Brown?

Ethnic Origin

The Romans first with Julius Cæsar came,
Including all the nations of that name,
Gauls, Greeks, and Lombards, and, by computation,
Auxiliaries or slaves of every nation.
With Hengist, Saxons; Danes with Sueno came,
In search of plunder, not in search of fame.
Scots, Picts, and Irish from the Hibernian shore,
And conquering William brought the Normans o'er.
All these their barbarous offspring left behind,
The dregs of armies, they of all mankind;
Blended with Britons, who before were here,
Of whom the Welsh ha' blessed the character.
From this amphibious ill-born mob began
That vain ill-natured thing, an Englishman.
The customs, surnames, languages, and manners
Of all these nations are their own explainers:
Whose relics are so lasting and so strong,
They ha' left a shibboleth upon our tongue,
By which with easy search you may distinguish
Your Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norman English.
These are the heroes that despise the Dutch,
And rail at new-come foreigners so much,
Forgetting that themselves are all derived
From the most scoundrel race that ever lived;
A horrid crowd of rambling thieves and drones,
Who ransacked kingdoms and dispeopled towns,
The Pict and painted Briton, treacherous Scot,
By hunger, theft, and rapine hither brought;
Norwegian pirates, buccaneering Danes,
Whose red-haired offspring everywhere remains,
Who, joined with Norman-French, compound the breed
From whence your true-born Englishmen proceed.
For Englishmen to boast of generation
Cancels their knowledge and lampoons the nation.
A true-born Englishman's a contradiction,
In speech an irony, in fact a fiction.


Excerpts from Daniel Defoe, "The True Born Englishman", 1701

Scene: Herculaneum

At dusk, in front of his shop Floccus puts out a board with "Nacked Ladys" painted on it in painfully exact handwriting. He stands at the doorway, shouting his pitch, with a toga slung over his tunic. The folds and shadows do not hide the dirtiness of the cloth, which the fullers never made very white in the first place.

Inside, his wife takes money and pours wine. Be careful of the second cup, you will be sick if you down it too fast. Put it back gingerly and the third and fourth will stay down as well.

Her girls are both slaves. They will do what you want if you pay them a penny. They will dance: misery or sorrow, you can have either for a coin.

The back yard is more dangerous than the wine. Perhaps you will stumble on the rubble or cut open your foot on a broken jar.

It is the worst place in the world. I spend my nights here and my days regretting my life and fortune.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Festung Europa

New look for 10 Downing Street...

...but the trees will have to go, obviously.

Valentine Tanks

An Australian mathematician has come up with an Optimal Lurve Procedure, aka the "12 Bonk Rule".

This involves making a checklist of desirable qualities, going through 12 lovers testing each one against the list, then getting serious from number 13 onwards.

Nothing like a properly tested Procedure.

"Darling, d'you think it's too early in our relationship to calibrate?"

At my age and given my recent scoring averages, I'll be in a Zimmer frame before I've got through the test batch. So I'll stick with the "1 Bonk Rule", the next gal to put out gets me for life.

The picture shows a division of Valentine tanks, because my love life is tanking. Geddit? GSOH essential, what what?

Own hair and teeth.

Cave Canem

I loved this picture -



from a photoset of Gorenka in the Ukraine, via Neeka's Backlog.

Her photoset of Kozyn includes a picture of a yellow Lada, which reminded me of this one I took in the village of Razdol'noe, near Donetsk.

I wish I could stop pining for the Ukraine. It is getting to be an obsession, as if it had always been my real homeland, and I recognised it for the first time when I went there in January.

Saturday, 14 July 2007


"It is a mistake to think that because they had no television or computers that they were one whit less intelligent than we who live where they lived."

They probably didn't live on the floodplains of major rivers.

And they probably didn't live in Britain.

They did?

The Goat Footed Balloon Man

He didn't touch the rrrrrrrrrrrapist.

Imagine if he had.


Then he couldn't be Prime Minister any more.


Update: now you've got the lurgies.


Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can


From W. B. Yeats "The Stolen Child" 1889


Scientists have found.

Honestly, readers, you're better off dead.

Readers: Sure?

Blogista: Yup.

Readers: Really sure?

Blogista: Hunnert poicent. Scients hav foun.

Readers: Boo hoo we don't want to die.


A SCIENTIFIC TEST, brought to you by BBC:

A businessman is riding (steady, Mr. X, innuendo has no place in this SCIENTIFIC test) the subway (fnurk).

After a hard (this is your last warning) day on the job (you want to push it all the way up to DEFCOM 9? Okay, push it, pal)

Where were we? Oh yes

Anyhowses, a young man axes th'businessman, call me a doctor, call me a doctor

And th'businessman axes why do I call you a doctor, an as because you are sick (you have to overlook the fact that they are in a subway, so he cannot call a doctor anyway)?

And the young man replies, no, I just graduated from medical school



If you are not laughing hard by now you are either a) old or b) dead.


Please do not reply to this Scientific Knowledge because you are either a) old or b) dead or c) not a Scientist. Okay?


Well Known Fact:

Words with a "K" in them are funny. Without a "K" they are not funny.

"Knackwurst" is funny.

"Sausage" is not funny.

"The authors say the finding should be taken seriously as laughing has been linked to health benefits such as boosting circulation."

Friday, 13 July 2007

A Few Inches More

"Some Eurosceptics of course hope that the challenge of informing citizens and engaging citizens about and in such a complex issue as a treaty can be turned into a weapon that can kill further European integration." (Margot Wallstrom to the EU Parliament)

Like it is complicated or something: should we surrender our democracy, Parliament and independence as a Nation, without a referendum?

My countrymen understood the proposition well enough to fight and die for it (referendum be damned) while Ms. Wallstrom's were selling Mr. Hitler the iron ore he needed to keep his Integration in existence.

"We are all obliged to inform, to engage, to debate, to discuss with citizens all over Europe"... while those calling for a referendum are of course only trying to muddy the waters.

"Remember that, less than a year ago, the Constitutional Treaty or the idea of having a new treaty was declared dead, on life support or in a coma. And now we are discussing a ratification procedure coming up very soon."

Ohhhh so the treaty of the moment isn't just a little tidying-up treaty after all, and a whole procession of Government Ministers have been lying to us. Gawrsh.

"I assume that Members of [the EU] Parliament do not consider parliamentary ratification less democratically legitimate than referenda."

One might equally consider a referendum no less democratically legitimate than parliamentary ratification. Only including a smaller admixture of barefaced liars.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Cunning Plan

Before y'all write in with advice...

I have a cunning plan.

Don't tell me you're not gripped.



This reminds me of those childhood games where you are, for example, trapped in a steel crate deep underwater with only a welding torch, a snorkel and a giant bathplug to help you out.

Something to do with the Beano and a Mr. I-Spy?

Update #2:

Cunning? Did I say cunning?

More cunning than (in the Blackadder vein) a Very Cunning Thing Indeed.