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Black activist cropped from Greta Thunberg Davos photoshoot

Vanessa Nakate,

If Greta Thunberg was black, would the world’s media prick up its ear when she spoke? It’s not what she says, but that the white, blonde from Sweden is saying it. Time to meet Vanessa Nakate, a 23-year-old climate activist from Uganda who like Greta has been at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

On Friday, Vanessa was at the Fridays for Future protest in the rarified Swiss town. Big media covered the event. And when the Associated Press portrait of the young activists hit the newswires, Vanessa was noticeable by her absence. The four white girls stayed in the picture, each looking a bit miserable and concerned. It might be modelling shoot for some mid-market brand. To the side, the smiling black girl, the young woman from lands the West presents as places to nurture, control and save, is gone.

Says Vanessa: “I cried because it was so sad not just that it was racist, I was sad because of the people from Africa. It showed how we are valued. It hurt me a lot. It is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.”

She’s right, isn’t she. Climate change activism looks a lot like colonialism. We know best. We must save them. Their job is to provide the noble cause. And if they’re really lucky, maybe a TV celebrity will come and adopt them and fly them to a place where the knowing really understand what’s going on …

Posted: 25th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


28 animals you can eat at China’s Wuhan Market

These are the 28 animals identified by the South China Morning Post for sale at the Huanan (Wuhan) market in China. Many animals do not feature. And the thinking is why not? If you can eat camel and donkey, why not llama or flamingo? And are Hoxton’s hipsters lagging, sticking to ostrich, emu and crocodile when those food-forward Chinese are dining on Asian badger, otter and scorpion? As the West weeps over footage of the burnt Australian wildlife, are Chinese sympathies fogged by the scent of roast koala?

bat soup
Best served accompanied by a young Robin with a Penguin chaser

Some science suggests the coronavirus spreading in China started in bats served at the aforementioned Wuhan market. Analysis shows the virus’s genetic makeup is 96% identical to that of a coronavirus found in bats. “I would be very surprised if this were a snake virus,” says Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina. Bats were also the ultimate source of SARS, scientists believe.

bat soup
Apple News

“evil! Chinese eat bat – movie exposure, ” says a headline to an Apple News story shared by the Daily Mail. The video features a woman eating bat soup. Why eating bat should be evil and, say, eating newborn lamb the stuff of daytime telly cooking shows and Easter treats is moot, moreover eating kangaroo testicles for slots of entertainment dished up between ads for insurance, holidays and mobile phones?

But war with the bats has begun. And you need to pick sides. (I’ll have a side of chicken wings and foie gras.)

Posted: 24th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Read Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks online

Read Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks online

Leonardo da Vinci’s unpublished manuscripts and notebooks – Codex Arundel – are now digitized and ready to read in the British Library. The Library tells us that after he died, one of his pupils, Francesco Melzi, “brought many of his manuscripts and drawings back to Italy. Melzi’s heirs, who had no idea of the importance of the manuscripts, gradually disposed of them.” But over 5,000 pages of notes “still exist in Leonardo’s ‘mirror writing’, from right to left.”

You can see da Vinci’s “visions of the aeroplane, the helicopter, the parachute, the submarine and the car. It was more than 300 years before many of his ideas were improved upon.”

As Josh Jones writes: “For an overwhelming amount of Leonardo, you can look through 570 digitized pages of Codex Arundel here. For a slightly more digestible, and readable, amount of Leonardo, see the British Library’s brief series on his life and work, including explanations of his diving apparatus, parachute, and glider.”

Spotter: OpenCulture, Flashbak

Posted: 16th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, The Consumer | Comment


God bless Victoria Agoglia : Charlene Downes is still missing

Victoria Agoglia

So now we know. The BBC puts it well: “Social workers investigating child sex exploitation in Manchester knew children were suffering ‘the most profound abuse… but did not protect them’.” Why not? And where is Charlene Downes, the teenager who vanished in Blackpool?

After a child’s death in 2003, police identified at least 97 “predominantly Asian” suspects, but “very few” faced justice, the independent review found. The police operation was “prematurely closed down” after senior officers decided to “remove resources”, it said.

We only know about this because the media got involved. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham commissioned the report after the BBC broadcast The Betrayed Girls in 2017. The show shone a light on Victoria Agoglia. The teenager was placed in the case of Manchester City Council after her mother died. Victoria died after being injected with heroin by an”older Asian man”. Before she died, over the course of 18 months Victoria told adults in positions of trust that she was being abused, raped and plied with drugs by paedophiles. In 2004, a 50-year-old man was cleared of her manslaughter. He admitted two offences of injecting her with heroin and was jailed.

The Guardian reported on her death:

Manchester city council is investigating how Victoria Agoglia, known to her family and friends as Vicky Byrne, managed to run away from her care home and take the drug. She moved to a house on the outskirts of Rochdale in April with a team of residential care workers who were supervising her 24 hours a day. She absconded in the middle of last week, before she took the drug, and became ill on Saturday morning… Shortly after she was admitted to hospital, a man of 50 and a woman of 29 were arrested. They were released on police bail.

And what did the police do? Well, they looked busy. The GMP launched Operation Augusta. It would tackle “the sexual exploitation throughout a wide area of a significant number of children in the care system by predominantly Asian men”. It spotted at least 57 children “as potential victims” and up to 97 “persons of interest” involved in the crimes against them. They identified eight men who had gone on to commit rapes against children. And then they shut the thing down. The BBC notes, “one suspect vehicle uncovered in the initial investigation was linked to a GMP officer, who was later dismissed from the force.”

And what of the council? The Manchester Evening News wrote in 2007:

Simon Crabtree, representing Manchester City Council, said: “In the context of guidance there was nothing further the local authority could have done to prevent Vicky’s untimely demise … Vicky clearly was a child who by conventional standards behaved in a way in which many children and young people would not behave, and in a way which parents would not, or at least should not approve. However that does not make her an unworthy individual, quite the contrary, she had many redeeming qualities. She was not ‘bad’ but misguided in her youth”

And:

Coroner Simon Nelson, giving a narrative verdict, said: “Vicky was a vulnerable young person who died of opiate intoxication following a lethal ingestion of heroin. The local authority should have properly anticipated Vicky Byrne’s propensity to abscond, abuse drugs and alcohol and mix with inappropriate people. However, no inference can be made that these events were foreseeable. Her death was not the result of a breach of the council’s protective duty.”

Police had received this note written by Victoria and “ignored” by police:

“I am only 13. I got the rest of my life ahead of me. I have slept with people older than me. Half of them I don’t even know there [sic] names.”

And get this from 2013:

Margaret Oliver, a former detective constable, quit the force in disgust over the way three separate inquiries into gangs of men having sex with underage girls were handled. In one instance, an aborted foetus from a 13-year-old abuse victim was kept in an evidence store after officers took it without the mother’s knowledge or consent. Officers established the identity of the father — a married Pakistani taxi driver in his thirties — through DNA evidence in February 2009 but did not charge him for almost two years. Oliver, who has been commended for her work during murder and gang crime inquiries and who worked on sex abuse investigations in 2004 and 2010, later broke the news to the 13-year-old and her mother that the foetus had been retained. She believes that hundreds of cases of alleged abuse were mishandled or ignored by Greater Manchester police (GMP).

This new report notes:

 “(Victoria’s) exposure to sexual exploitation by adult males was known to police and social services and, despite the risk of significant harm caused by the men who were sexually exploiting her, statutory child protection procedures, which should have been deployed to protect her, were not utilised and the strategies put in place to protect Victoria were wholly inadequate.”

Children are ignored. Poor children are seen as fair game and damned. We know some of what happened then. What’s happening now?

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


So Long Meghan and Prince Harry – can you take Andrew and the Yorkies with you?

beatrice eugenie

Royals are lining up to replace The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have announced they will step back as “senior” royals and work to become financially independent. It’s the moment the Yorks have been waiting for, surely.

Princess Eugenie cost us a few million in security when she married last year in a televised event. But Eugenie never gelled with the public. Prince Andrew honourably tried to promote his girls and keep the York torch burning by appearing on the BBC in a one-on-one interview. It had worked for Diana when she sat down to chat with Martin Bashir. But whereas Diana came across as likeable, abused and isolated, he came across as an entailed prig who’d been mates with a prolific paedophile.

Diana perished in a car crash. Andrew created a car crash of his own and tried to creep away unscathed.

Maybe Meghan Markle’s abdication from guest editing Vogue as a Royal to guest editing Vogue as a celebrity, becoming the kind of Hollywood star Liz Hurley pretends to be as Harry demures and self-deprecates at her side, can provide the distraction Andrew needs to get away and push his kids and brand to the fore?

The Mail has 17 pages on Harry and Meghan’s decision to do what those in the know call “not the done thing”. People who know what done things are include: anyone who says “gels”; anyone who can recognise a horse from a pony; anyone who knows which spoon is proper to scoop out a serving wench’s foetus. The rest of us wonder why any one of these minted toffs are on the public payroll and if the Sussex’s pile we paid a couple of million quid to do up will now provide shelter for the homeless?

Meanwhile, what of Princess Beatrice, the other Yorkie, notable until now for having once worn a hat modelled on a vampire quid’s entrails, eating a pizza and, well, anyone got anything else? But worry not because Beatrice’s story is to swell. She is to marry a property developer. Neither the BBC nor ITV plan to broadcast the wedding live. But in this busy media landscape they’re not all, and any one of Netflix, Amazon or Dave could step in and fill the void between reruns of Cash in the Attic.

Farewell, then, Meghan and Harry. Your leaving is a new beginning for the Royal Family. And if you can take the rest of the hanger-ones and freeloaders with you, perhaps as part of a US trade deal with the post-Brexit UK, we’ll consider the chlorinated chicken a fair exchange for Princess Michael of Kent.

Posted: 9th, January 2020 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


A girl’s 1940s ledger of her Cat’s Whiskers

cat whiskers 1941

These pictures show us a handmade book by Janet Gnosspelius. The book contains her cats’ whiskers. Janet collected the whiskers she found in her home from 1940 to 1942. She then wove each and every whisker into the pages of her book and catalogued them, noting when, where and how they were found.

Janet Gnosspelius had artistic pedigree. Her mother was Barbara Collingwood, granddaughter of W.G. Collingwood, John Ruskin’s secretary. She was one of the first women to attend the Liverpool School of Architecture. Archivists say the meticulous nature Gnosspelius exhibited in creating her book remained throughout her life as she worked in “local history and building conservation, regularly posting samples of masonry to Liverpool City Planning Office, neatly labelled with their provenance and date, demanding their restoration.”

Gnosspelius continued her love of cats. At age 40 she wrote a diary. “The diary is no ordinary one,” says her archivists. “It is written from the perspective of her beloved ginger cat Butterball, recording the dates of his fights, illnesses, and stays with friends: ‘9 March 1965: wrapped my mouse in the mat outside kitchen door.’”

cat whiskers 1941
cat whiskers 1941

Spotter: Colossal, Flashbak, The Collingwood Archive of the Cardiff University Special Collections 

Posted: 7th, January 2020 | In: Books, Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


Cass Elliot and Keith Moon died in the same bed at Harry Nilsson’s London pad

Keith Moon Annette Walter-Lax
Keith Moon, the eccentric drummer of The Who, at Heathrow Airport with his girlfriend Annette Walker-Lax, on return from the United States. PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Cass Elliot died choking on a ham sandwich; everybody knows that. Except that she didn’t. The myth began because the first doctor who examined her after her death, Dr Anthony Greenburg, in a late-night press conference, said, ‘She was lying in bed eating and drinking a Coca-Cola while watching television. She was half propped up by pillows and it seems that she choked on her sandwich and inhaled her own vomit.’ Dr Greenburg added, ‘She had been dead for some considerable time before her body was found.’

Dr Greenburg, Elliot’s own physician, had overlooked the relatively important fact that the ham sandwich was by the side of her bed and untouched, but by then it was too late. The press reported his initial comments and the doctor unwittingly gave rise to the sandwich myth. A few days later at the inquest Gavin Thurston, the Westminster coroner, recorded a verdict of death from natural causes. ‘There was left-sided heart failure,’ wrote pathologist Professor Keith Simpson. ‘She had a heart attack which developed rapidly.’ Cass Elliott had been going on crash diets for years which in the end fatally weakened her heart. She was just thirty- two when she died.

Cass Elliot eating a typically healthy meal interspersed with cigarettes at a party at Crockford’s casino in London, circa 1974. (Photo by Joe Bangay/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Keith Moon (1946 – 1978), the drummer for The Who, with his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax, circa 1975. (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images/Getty Images)

Four years after the death of Cass Elliot at Harry Nilsson’s flat, Keith Moon, after fitting in enough partying and convivial nights in his short life for a small town, died of an overdose of Heminevrin tablets in the very same bed. Keith and his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, had been to a party held by Paul McCartney at the trendy chrome and neon-lit cocktail-bar restaurant called Peppermint Park on St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden. By many accounts Keith was unusually quiet and sober and shared a booth with the McCartneys, David Frost, John Hurt and, Kenny Jones – Moon’s eventual replacement, ironically. At midnight, everyone went to the Odeon, Leicester Square, for the late-night première of the Buddy Holly Story that starred Gary Busey. Before the end of the film Keith and Annette caught a taxi back to Curzon Place. Keith started watching the film The Abominable Dr Phibes but fell asleep after taking several Heminevrin sedatives that had been prescribed to aid alcohol withdrawal. At about 7.30 a.m. he ordered Annette to cook him steak for breakfast. She complained but Keith retorted with, ‘If you don’t like it, you can fuck off.’ They were to be his last words.

Taken from: The Death of Cass Elliot and Keith Moon at Harry Nilsson’s Macabre Mayfair Flat

Posted: 5th, January 2020 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts | Comment


All Good Things : buy Stephen Ellcock prints

Stephen Ellcock prints All Good Things Flashbak

The new shop at Flashbak features prints curated by Stephen Ellcock. Curated is an overused word – up there on the list of hackneyed tosh with ‘holistic’, a word used to describe anything from a therapy suite’s range of revolving-door services to finger painting at primary school, and ‘edited’, which is a bit like curated but can be used to describe the starters in restaurant menus. But curating is what Stephen does. His new book, All Good Things, is a delight. And many of the prints in that lovely bestseller are available to buy in the Flashbak Shop.

The prints are on gorgeous, archival paper. And worldwide shipping is free. Buy your gorgeous prints here.

Posted: 23rd, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


White academic says ‘geek’ should be a hate crime on par with racism

When you hear that an academic has said calling someone a “brainbox” or “geek” should be classed as a hate crime, do you think they’re anything but white? Dr Sonja Falck, of the University of East London, says: “Insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently. Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we realise how wrong we were. The same can be said about anti-IQ words like nerd, brainbox, geek, egg-head, smart-arse and dweeb.”

Got that? Anti-semitic slurs – race hatred against the Jews; a grim story backed by hundreds of years of persecution (the Inquisition; pogroms; the Holocaust) – were “until recently” “harmless banter” on a par with calling someone “brainy”. Calling a black woman a n***** – a word constructed on enduring racist policies that sought to cast blacks as sub-humans, offering a State-endorsed acceptable excuse when they were raped, tortured and murdered by their colonisers and owners; the systematic horror of slavery that lasted for centuries; institutional racism in the police force – is on a par with calling the bloke who did well at maths a “geek”. Verbally abusing a disabled person – the ugly, murderous mistreatment of the disabled is a scar on humanity – is no worse than calling you a “dweeb”, or the “D-word”, as we should call it.

Dr Falck is billed as a “Harley Street psychotherapist”. Her new book is called Extreme Intelligence. It is “a study of discrimination against those with very high IQs”.

Do we now talk about what IQ tests are, if they’re worth a dime and how they impact on thoughts around eugenics and race?

The only way a comment on intelligence can ever be prejudicial is when people look at the demise of Jeremy Corbyn’s racist Labour Party and tell you those “clever Jews” were behind it. Anything else is idiotic.

Posted: 18th, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


‘Harbinger Customers’ back failed politicians and buy bad products – identifying the postcode losers

harbinger customers

Is it peer pressure, rebellion, a herd mentality or something else? The Dace Mirror introduces us to “harbinger customers” who live in “harbinger zip codes”. They buy unpopular products and back losers in elections. They do this often enough to suggest a pattern of behaviour.

First, the findings document the existence of “harbinger zip codes.” If households in these zip codes adopt a new product, this is a signal that the new product will fail. Second, a series of comparisons reveal that households in harbinger zip codes make other decisions that differ from other households. The first comparison identifies harbinger zip codes using purchases from one retailer and then evaluates purchases at a different retailer. Households in harbinger zip codes purchase products from the second retailer that other households are less likely to purchase. The analysis next compares donations to congressional election candidates; households in harbinger zip codes donate to different candidates than households in neighboring zip codes, and they donate to candidates who are less likely to win. House prices in harbinger zip codes also increase at slower rates than in neighboring zip codes.history

Are these people the outsiders, societal outliers? Are they the ones who think outside the box?

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the harbinger customer effect is that the signal extends across CPG categories. Customers who purchase new oral care products that flop also tend to purchase new haircare products that flop. Anderson et al. (2015) interpret their findings as evidence that customers who have unusual preferences in one product category also tend to have unusual preferences in other categories. In other words, the customers who liked Diet Crystal Pepsi also tended to like Colgate Kitchen Entrees (which also flopped).

Fortune does not always favour the brave.

Spotter: bb

Posted: 12th, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Hero fought terrorist on London Bridge with huge Narwhal tusk

Narwhal tusk

Two people were murdered today in another attack on London. The killer was brought to a standstill and taken to the ground by passers-by on London Bridge.

Amy Coop was there. She tweets: “A guy who was with us at Fishmongers Hall took a 5’ narwhale [sic] tusk from the wall and went out to confront the attacker.”

Tour guide Stevie Hurst helped restrain the attacker. He spoke to BBC radio. “We saw a guy being accosted to the floor,” he said, adding that people were “screaming” the attacker had “stabbed a couple of women”.

“Everyone was just on top of him trying to bundle him to the ground,” he added.

“We saw that the knife was still in his hand… I just put a foot in to try and kick him in the head.We were trying to do as much as we could to try and dislodge the knife from his hand so he wouldn’t harm anyone else.

“The guys that were there were absolutely amazing. Heroes beyond belief.”

The suspect was shot dead by police.

Posted: 29th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Jeremy Corbyn isolates British Jews

The Jeremy Corbyn and Jewdas Seder abridged
British Jews send a message to Jeremy Corbyn;’s Labour

Oy vez, Je-rem-meee Corrrrrr-bin. The Labour Party’s leader’s been hit with those allegations of anti-Semitism again and challenged over his commitment to deal with bigots in his party’s ranks. It turns out that parroting the line about his life-long fight for anti-racism and how much he loathes racism and how Jew hatred is wrong (who knew?) isn’t convincing everyone. Andrew Neil posed a few questions on the matter in a Q&A that gave Jews hope that their lot is not being ignored, boosted the Tories and assured Prince Andrew that he is not the worst person in interviews.

Watch the full Andrew Neil interview with Jeremy Corbyn

The full Andrew Neil interview with Jeremy Corbyn. You'll want to see this.

Posted by Conservatives on Tuesday, 26 November 2019

As Nick Cohen says of Corbyn’s unwillingness to apologise to Jews: “The best is to admit its guilt and reform. Labour cannot because Labour’s leader and his supporters are so contaminated by racial prejudice they lack the moral capacity to change, or even admit to themselves the need to change.”

The papers lead with the horror show:

Corbyn Jews

Only the Daily Star and Mirror don’t lead with Corbyn. The Star looks at two big Lottery winners. The Mirror goes for a story on the NHS, those Lottery winners, a recycling “disgrace”, and a chance to win a “giant Olaf toy”, as seen in the films Frozen and Frozen 2. No room for those pesky Jews:

daily mirror corbyn

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is one of the many upset by Labour’s inability to grasp the situation. His open letter is here in full:


The overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety. The question I am most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?


The Jewish community has… learned the hard way that speaking out means that we will be demonised… and accused of being partisan or acting in bad faith by those who still think of this as an orchestrated political smear. Yet, I ask myself: should the victims of racism be silenced by the fear of yet further vilification?


The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud. It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed.


It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party.


Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe this is the same party that they proudly called their political home for more than a century.


How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office? Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not. What we do know from history is that what starts with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.


It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I simply pose the following question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt – the very soul of our nation is at stake.


And Labour’s response? If you watched the video above, you will have heard Corbyn refuse to apologise. And worse still, as Cohen notes:

Reassurance comes there none. In its place, Labour released its race and faith manifesto this morning. Buried in it was a commitment to ‘enhance the powers and functions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, making it truly independent’.

It sounded a sweet aspiration until you remembered that Labour is the first party since the neo-Nazi British National Party to be the subject of a formal investigation into institutional racism by the commission. The commission’s lawyers have reportedly received thousands of documents, some from disgusted former Labour staffers detailing how complaints about the party were dismissed or ignored. We know the commission’s lawyers spent hours ‘forensically examining the depressingly mountainous evidence of anti-Semitism within the Labour party’ before deciding that there is ‘an arguable case that Jewish people are being unlawfully discriminated against by Her Majesty’s Official Opposition.’
And the response from Corbyn and his clique is to descend into conspiracy theory and question the commission’s independence.

There was no process in Labour to deal with anti-semitism before Corbyn was made leader, says Corbyn… Well, you know, needs must. Brendan O’Neill asks who sees Neil’s interview, looks at Corbyn’s record on Jews – that mural, the wreath, those ‘friends’, the lesson in ‘English irony’, the Jewish MP hounded out of the party – and still votes for him?

Why do so many decent people want to serve under him as an MP? Vote in Labour moderates to save the Party, say the likes of Tony Blair, a man who claims to be appalled by the racism rife in the party he once led. Egregious balderdash. Vote Labour and you get Corbyn, a man who heads a group lacking in the moral capacity to admit grievous error and move on.

Too often accusations of racism in his Labour are recast as ‘smears’, part of a conspiracy to do him and his down, say the fans. Who runs this conspiracy? Well, who runs all the conspiracies that lead to all your problems. You know who, that’s who. Nudge-nudge. Wink-wink.

But fear not, Jews, because Corbyn knows racism exists in other places and will make sure the synagogues, shops and streets where Jews meet are well defended. But if they breach the Jewish school’s gates, these enemies possessed by a hate Corbyn can neither fathom nor identity, Jews can flee to Israel perhaps – the country Corbyn targets as the epitome of all that’s wrong with the world.

First they protect us for our own good. Then they block our escape route. Not again. Never again.

A vote for Corbyn’s Labour is a vote for racism. Please don’t do it.

Posted: 27th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Photoshop nightmares: Cloned human beings spotted on Eurostar

Ian Martin has spotted something strange on the Eurostar.

The full render is more worrying. “Have you seen the fuller render,” asks @pistosophy. Here it is:

Eurostar photo
shop

Spotter: @IanMartin

Posted: 24th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


The True Blue Cookery Book – cookies with Tories

The Truth Blue Cookery Book is is “an assembly of recipes contributed by the Conservative Members of Parliament and their wives”. No husbands can cook, or at least no husbands are prepared to share their recipes.

Published in 1977 in association with the Ruislip-Northwood Conservative Association, the people and recipes are a blast from a different age. In the same series, titles include: “Right Way To Make James”; “Deep Freeze Secret”; “Easy Wine And Country Drinks”; and “Choose A Wine”. Any wine. They all get you there, dear boy:

The True Blue Cookery Book
The True Blue Cookery Book
The True Blue Cookery Book
The True Blue Cookery Book

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 22nd, November 2019 | In: Books, Key Posts, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment


The Shining In Gingerbread

Twin brother Aaron and Austin Keeling recreated scenes from The Shining with Gingerbread. They’re pretty tasty:

the shining in gingerbread
the shining in gingerbread
the shining in gingerbread
the shining in gingerbread
the shining gingerbread

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 21st, November 2019 | In: Film, Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


Prince Andrew on Jeffrey Epstein – as advised by Michael Spicer in ‘the room next door’

prince andrew epstein

Michael Spicer was listening in the next room when Prince Andrew was telling BBC viewers about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the now dead convicted peadophile.

Andrew refutes allegation he had sex with a then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts – now Virginia Giuffre.

Giuffre alleges Prince Andrew sweated profusely before the alleged sexual encounter she was “forced” into. But he says he wasn’t able to sweat at the time. The New York Post delivers a great headline:

Posted: 20th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Jeffrey Epstein: Prince Andrew dry humps for democracy

prince andrew central park epstein
Who got the jacket first?

Having issued the time-honoured non-denial denial, confronted with a televised Q&A into his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (now conveniently dead), innocent Prince Andrew duly gave us the sympathetic backstory.

He could not have been engaged in a sweaty dance with a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts at a London night club because he cannot sweat. Why not? Is he a lizard?

He didn’t respond to that rumour, but he did lick his eyeballs and tell the world via the BBC’s Newsnight show that he has a “peculiar media condition which is that I don’t sweat or didn’t sweat at the time.” Was he dancing the ‘dry hump’ at London’s Tramp disco with the young Virginia Roberts, as she was then known before changing into the more tongue-trying Virginia Giuffre? He didn’t sweat “at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War, when I was shot at, and I simply… it was almost impossible for me to sweat.”

C’est la guerre.

Perhaps that’s why he chose to conduct the interview in a room at Buckingham Palace vast enough to have its own postcode and an ambient temperature low enough to ensure that cold blue blood stays chilled.

Highlights are many. And Andrew explained his way though the more with the following:

Why had he stayed at the Epstein’s pad for four days?

Prince Andrew: “It was a convenient place to stay”

But why four days?

PA: “… at the time it felt like it was the honourable and right thing to do.”

What about that photo with his arm around Virginia’s waist?

PA: “I don’t believe it’s a picture of me”

Fake fingers?

PA: “I don’t believe it’s a picture of me in London because when I go out in London I wear a suit and a tie… Nobody can prove whether or not that photo has been doctored, but I don’t recollect the photo ever being taken.”

If Andrew were a politician or some other public figure we could eject, things would be interesting. But he speaks as a man who acts with impunity. One is just too honourable. It’s all pretty unpleasant. But the real shocker is that with an election looming, not one leading party thinks it a good idea of tells Andrew and the other aristo spares to, in the word of his mummy, “Naff orf!”

Posted: 17th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Jeffrey Epstein: Prince Andrew issues non-denial denial over sex with underage Virginia Roberts

prince andrew roberts

Prince Andrew says he cannot recall if he ever met Virginia Roberts – now Virginia Giuffre. He tells the BBC’s Newsnight he has “no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever”. He tells interviewer Emily Maitlis he has nothing to hide.

That’s Virginia Roberts with Andrew in the above photo.

Virginia Giuffre alleges she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew on Epstein’s private island off the coast of Florida when he she was 17 – making her underage and the sex a crime according to Florida law.

Virginia Giuffre claims she was “forced” to have sex with Prince Andrew three times between 1999 and 2002. He denies ever having had sex with her. That much he remembers.

The media tucks in to the man once dubbed ‘Randy Andy’ who hung out with Epstein, a convicted peadophile. Epstein took his own life while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. That we know because official sources tell us that’s what happened. That’s why Epstein’s dead and unable to act as Andrew’s character witness.

Newsnight Quote 1
Newsnight Quote 2

The papers tuck in:

Prince Andrew Epstein
Epstein andrew

And we’re left to wonder: why is Prince Andrew speaking now?

Posted: 16th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Jeffrey Epstein: Prince Andrew on the BBC’s Newsnight looks like PR drivel

prince andrew central park epstein

Prince Andrew has been talking to the BBC about his friendship with the not-in-the-least-bit-murdered-convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The Duke of York thought it right to tell the BBC Newsnight’s show about how he did absolutely nothing wrong.

The official version of events has it that Epstein killed himself as he awaited sentencing for child-trafficking charges. Epstein, a minted pervert with friends in high places, could take it no more and ended it all. Some allege that he might have been helped along the way. But that, of course, is bunkum.

And if you want more myths, look also at Virginia Roberts (now Virginia Giuffre) who claims she was “forced to have sex with the duke three times between 1999 and 2002, in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.” Andrew says this is untrue. At the time Virginia was under-age according to Florida state’s law. Andrew says he not have sex with that woman.

Also making claims against Andrew is one Johanna Sjoberg, who alleges that the duke touched her breast while they were hanging out at Epstein’s Manhattan apartment in 2001. The duke says that too is untrue.

The BBC says its interview with the Prince at Buckingham Palace pulls no punches and leaves “no holds barred”. Really? You might suppose that if something new was revealed in the upcoming interview, the Beeb would have gone big with it. It hasn’t. The show is all. The content is meh. There is no news on the Newsnight scoop.

We might have some questions of our own. Did Andrew know the questions before sitting down with the Beeb’s journalist? Did the Palace’s PR machine not vet the interview for anything that could reflect badly on their precious client? Why the BBC and not another broadcaster? Why now? Why at the Palace and not in the studio?

But let us not be cynical. For those of you not au fait with the story, the BBC presents it thus:

In 2005, the parents of a 14-year-old girl told police in Florida that Epstein had molested their daughter at his Palm Beach home. Prosecutors forged a deal with Epstein in 2008, which saw him avoid federal charges. He instead received an 18-month prison sentence, during which he was able to go on “work release” to his office for 12 hours a day, six days a week. He was released on probation after 13 months.

In 2010, the duke was photographed walking with Epstein in New York’s central park – two years after the financier’s first conviction. Video footage, released by the Mail on Sunday, shows the duke inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion around the same time.

In a statement released by Buckingham Palace in August, the duke said he was “appalled” by the sex abuse claims surrounding his former friend.

The statement added: “His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”

Nothing to see here – well, apart form a Prince engaging in what could be mistaken for a televised PR stunt. Move on but only after you’ve given the late-night show’s audienec figures a boost…

Posted: 15th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Narwahl the dog has a tail on his head

tail max dog

Meet Narwahl, an 10-week-old abandoned puppy with a tail on the middle of his forehead. If he likes walking in the rain, Mac can wipe the water from his eyes as he goes.

Narwahl was abandoned in Missouri. Why? Your dog has a tail on his head! People have built Hollywood careers with less.

Posted: 14th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


Chelsea benefit from FA decision to ban Manchester City player for non-racist racist tweet

Congratulations to Chelsea on being the beneficiaries of the FA’s decision to ban Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva from playing when the club’s next meet on November 23. For a joke in tweet form aimed at teammate Benjamin Mendy, who found it funny, Silva will also give the FA £50,000 and attend a retraining course.

Silva compared Mendy, with whom he also played at Monaco, to the character on a packet of Conguitos – a chocolate brand available in Spain and Portugal. Silva removed the post within an hour of its publication before tweeting: “Can’t even joke with a friend these days.”

The FA was aghast. “Many persons would have taken offence to the content,” it ruled. “The player did not himself intend the post to be insulting or in any way racist. It is clear that the tweet was intended to be no more than a joke between close friends. However, this was not a private communication between two friends. The post was on a social media platform exposed to the 600,000 followers of a high-profile and well-respected professional footballer. Many persons viewing the imagery depicted in the tweet would have taken offence to the content as being insulting by reference to race, colour and ethnic origin in a way that unquestionably brings the game of football into disrepute.”

In this frenzied climate of offence seeking, context matter not a jot. In this frenzied climate of offence seeking, context matter not a jot. When did Silva become a role model for the rest of us and football get recast from a pleasant leisure activity into the sports wing of The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Bad Thoughts? Why do the great and good think we need re-educating?

PS: Number of black men on the FA management committee, managing clubs in the Premier League, hosting live matches on the telly, and editing sports pages for national newspapers: nil.

Posted: 14th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


How to buy drugs on the Dark Web

drugs

Jason Kottke directs us to an article on the London Review of Books by Misha Glenny (DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia) and Callum Lang called How to Buy Drugs. If you need to ask, right? It gets really interesting when they investigate customer service on the so-called Dark Web:

The internet has dramatically improved the experience of drug buyers. The market share of a dark web outlet depends almost entirely on its online reputation. Just as on Amazon or eBay, customer reviews will describe the quality of purchased products as well as reporting on shipping time and the responsiveness of vendors to queries or complaints. If drugs that a buyer has paid for don’t turn up — as once happened to Liam, the Manchester student — a savvy vendor will reship the items without asking for further payment, in the hope of securing the five-star customer reviews they depend on.

As a consequence, the drugs available to the informed buyer are of a higher quality than ever before. They are also safer. The administrators of DNStars.vip — a site on the open web which you don’t need Tor to visit — pose as ordinary users in order to buy samples of popular drugs from major vendors. They then have the drugs chemically tested to see whether they match the seller’s description.

Kottke points to how technology means cheaper and ‘better’ drugs for the buyers but a lot of unpleasantness making it happen that goes unseen. I;d argue that it depends what you’re buying: a bag of marijuana from a small, domestic grower or a pound of cocaine?

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Amanda Knox is a celebrity at the True Crime Fest ghoul show

What do people who were once caught the searchlights do when the media cycle rolls on? The Star tells us that Amanda Knox has become “pals with penis-chopper Lorena Bobbit”. Unlike knob feller Bobbit, Knox has no epithet, she is merely Amanda Knox, still recognisable as the tabloids’ ‘Foxy Knoxy’, the American who became embroiled in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in a flat they shared in a picturesque part of Italy. After years of claim and counter-claim, in 2015, Knox was acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation of Kercher’s murder.

And now for the weird bit. The pair met at an event called Death Becomes Us in Washington, DC. Think of something utterly tasteless and then scape its bottom before examining the mess for flecks of gold. Fox News calls it a “true crime festival”. A man was maimed. A woman is dead. Lives were ruined. But roll up, roll up, folks. come see the celebs.

“Lorena and I have a lot in common,” Knox told Fox 5 ahead of their panel. “I think the thing that resonates the most with me when we first spoke to each other over the phone is how this is, like, a historic moment in the history of shamed and vilified women. You don’t see shamed and vilified women coming forward supporting each other reclaiming narratives and calling into account all those forces that are turning us into characters that are morality plays, and exploiting our trauma for the sake of profit and entertainment.”

Eh?

“I think that people could be surprised in many forms because… our narratives, obviously thanks to documentaries, we have basically reclaimed our narratives and now people know our story, know the truth, know what happened about our stories. So I think it’s very important to get that message across” Bobbitt told Fox 5…

The women’s conversation at the “Death Becomes Us” festival will be featured on Knox’s podcast, “The Truth About True Crime.”

Good for them, right. But what about crime fest? To Forbes, Knox is one of the “who’s who in true crime celebrities”. It’s run by a company called Brightest Young Things, whose director told Forbes:

I think there’s something, I feel kind of gross saying this, but I think there’s something kind of delicious about it. I also think we shouldn’t ever discount the fact that people are at times a bit morbid. There’s a morbid curiosity to it. Some people think that listening to documentaries is a cautionary tale. I disagree. I just think it’s fascinating from a psychological and human standpoint. How is it that there are people in the world that are doing these things and why are they doing these things?

The Bright Young Things website calls the DC event “cool and special”.

Case closed, detective. Death Becomes Us – this country’s first true crime festival – took over the District for one full weekend of madness, mayhem and murder. We laughed with the boys from Last Podcast on the Left: Side Stories, we baked Homicide Hunter a cake, we got down to business with the Murder Squad and we got a little misty eyed with Amanda Knox and Lorena (Bobbitt) Gallo. Plus, everything in between

Do you get misty eyed when you think of the murder of Meredith Kercher? It’s all very odd. How do people deal with personal disaster and face civil society? Maybe best to leave this ghoul fest to ferment in its own juices, and recalls the words of Carlo Della Vedova, Amanda Knox’s lawyer: “In this case there is no winner. They have rectified a mistake. It was a terrible tragedy in the beginning. Meredith was a friend of Amanda’s, we have to remember that, we have to remember the family.”

But where’s the “delicious” fun in that?

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Ant McPartlin related to I’m a Celebrity co-star

Mr Wichetty Bug

I’m a Celebrity returns and with it come still more news on how fabulous Ant and Dec are. Dec has always been great, of course, but people might have read about Ant’s drink driving, drug taking and love life and thought him less than admirable. But in truth national treasure Ant is just like Dec because they both carry “the unique DNA marker, S660″.

News is that “both Ant and Dec can trace their bloodlines back the skeleton of a Viking, who was believed to have died in Dublin in 790AD. The pair are both descendants of the Viking, through their father’s bloodlines, which means they are distant cousins.”

How did they take the news? Like showbiz pals. The Chronicle notes:

“That’s brilliant,” gasped McPartlin. “Oh my God,” added Donnelly , leading McPartlin to jokingly ask whether he was disappointed.

Ant’s only human, of course, and we wish him well. And he’ll remain only human until the next press release when we discover that he’s related to another of his I’m A Celebrity co-stars, the perennial witchetty grub.

Posted: 12th, November 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts | Comment


Football mascots doing Remembrance Day : the big furry Poppy

Mascots Remembrance DAy
It’s what they would have wanted

Football mascots doing Remembrance Day delivers this gem:

Previously

Posted: 10th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment