Anorak

Key Posts | Anorak - Part 5

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Victoria Wood remembered in hilarious statue

Victoria Wood statue

BBC Radio Manchester alerts us to the statue which Bury Council have approved to honour Victoria Wood (19 May 1953 – 20 April 2016). It will stand on Silver Street next to the Library Gardens in the comedian’s home town.

You’ll know it’s her by the plaque and sounds of laughter.

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


Unicorn robber captured

unicorn thief

Police in Spain have captured a unicorn who allegedly robbed several stores in Malaga. The unicorn is said to be a man dressed in a soft onsie with a unicorn-style horn on his head. Well, so they say. What price the real thief – the nefarious and prolific unicorn – prompted a desperate man into a copy-cat crime? If this poor soul needs a defence, call me. The truth is out there. I have books…

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Memorial Day: A Song For The End of The World

Holocaust

On Memorial Day we think of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. We think of the murdered, the deniers who make liars of the victims, the brave, the saviours, the survivors, the banality of evil, the complicit, the lost, the never-to-be-forgotten, the silence, and the enduring spirit of humanity, encapsulated in the wonderful Lydia Lova’s pompoms.

We should never forget. But we are. We do. One in 20 UK adults deny the Holocaust took place, a survey a survey of more than 2,000 people by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) found. One in 12 thinks its scale has been exaggerated. Around 64% either could not say how many Jews were murdered or “grossly” under-estimated the number. Jew haters never vanished. They were simply beaten down.

“A Song on the End of the World” by Czeslaw Milosz
Written in 1944.
Translated by Anthony Milosz:

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.
On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.
And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.
Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.
—Warsaw, 1944

Photo: This is a prisoner identity photo provided by the Auschwitz Museum, taken by Wilhelm Brasse while working in the photography department at Auschwitz, the Nazi-run death camp where some 1.5 million people, most of them Jewish, died during World War II. The Nazis sent Brasse to the camp as a Polish political prisoner in 1940, where he estimates that he took some 40,000 to 50,000 such identity pictures for the Nazis.

Posted: 27th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts | Comment


“Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights”

"Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights"

Friday December 11 1931 was the eighth and final night of Chanukkah, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, Doctor of Philosophy from Halle-Wittenberg University, struck a match and lit the Menorah. His home was across the way from the headquarters of the local Nazi Party. Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, took a photo of the view from her window. When the film had been processed and returned to her in early 1931, she wrote a few lines in German on the back.

“Juda verrecke, die Fahne spricht. Juda lebt ewig, erwidert das Licht”

“Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”

What came next was humanity at its more depraved. Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

More: Judea Lives Forever’: Candles Illuminate Nazis In Kiel, 1931

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


The Cheese Label Museum

Cheese Museum Flashbak vintage labels

“This is my father’s collection of cheese labels from the 1940s and 50s,” says Londoner Julian Tysoe, whose mini museum can be seen on Flashbak. Julian’s father, John Jeremy ‘Gus’ Tysoe (26 August 1938 – 25 September 2016) also wrote letters to the great English animator Oliver Postage (Ivor the Engine, Noggin’s the Nog and more). They discussed chess, Tolkien, accountants and more.

My Father’s Collection of Cheese Labels from the 1940s and 50s

Posted: 26th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, The Consumer | Comment


Amanda Knox: ‘Foxy Knoxy’ wins damages from Italian police

U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by an Italian penitentiary police officer at a hearing in Perugia's court, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Earlier this month, prosecutors requested life sentences for American student Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito accused of killing a young British woman in Italy. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini asked a jury in Perugia to convict Amanda Knox and Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence for their alleged role in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici)

How do you tell the story of Amanda Knox, the American embroiled in the investigation into the 2007 murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher? The media was attracted to the story of the blonde American and her Italian boyfriend accused of murdering a fellow student in a sex game. Very swiftly, Knox became ‘Foxy Knoxy’. Today the European Court of Human Rights found the Italian state guilty of violating Knox’s rights. Knox was convicted then acquitted over Kercher’s murder. She served four years of a 26-year tariff. Italy must pay Ms Knox €18,400 in damages.

Fox became ‘Foxy’ in a tale of sex

Knox has issued a statement: “I was interrogated for 53 hours over five days, without a lawyer, in a language I understood maybe as well as a ten-year-old.”

The Times says Knox “claimed she was pressured during interrogation into admitting she was at the scene and pinning the murder on the local Congolese barman Patrick Lumumba, an accusation she then dropped.” Do we mention Mr Lumamaba, the innocent black man? “They were determined to break me,” says Knox in a statement. “They threatened me with 30 years in prison if I didn’t remember what they wanted me to remember. Finally, in the delirium they put me through, I didn’t know what to believe. I thought, for a brief moment, maybe they were right.”

The Times adds: “A three-year sentence for Ms Knox for falsely accusing Mr Lumumba was never dropped, although her four years in jail covered the sentence.”

The New York Post presents the award as a defeat: “Italy to pay just $21K in damages to Amanda Knox after she sought millions.” She wanted $3 million. Does the amount matter? Knox’s lawyer, who’s not quoted in the paper, said: “It is impossible to compensate Amanda for four years in prison for a mistake. There will be no amount. We are not looking for compensation of damages. We are doing this on principal.” The Post does note: “Ms. Knox had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20, at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian,” the European Court of Human Rights noted. The paper then says: “She falsely accused an innocent Congolese barman of being involved in the murder.”

The British press took a position

Buzzfeed looks at why she pointed the finger. It leads: “Knox was convicted of making false statements during the investigation into the murder of her British roommate. A court ruled these had been made in an atmosphere of ‘intense psychological pressure’.” Adding: “They awarded her €10,400 for damages and an additional €8,000 for costs ($20,400 altogether).”

US Press took a position

AP reports: “The human rights court, however, said there was not enough evidence to conclude Knox had “sustained the inhuman or degrading treatment” she claimed. Knox said she had been slapped twice on the side of the head by police, while also being subjected to pressure, threats of imprisonment and shouting.”

Is it different for women?

And what of Kercher? The Telegraph notes:

The panel of seven judges added, however, that they had found no evidence that Knox was subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment during her questioning … Knox’s lawyer in Italy, Carlo Della Vedova, said her conviction for murder and sexual assault amounted to “the biggest judicial error by the Italian justice system in the last 50 years.

“This young woman was sent to prison at the age of 20 and came out at the age of 24 – four years of wrongful imprisonment. Strasbourg has confirmed the violation of her fundamental rights.”

But Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the Kerchers, said the family felt “dissatisfaction” with the Strasbourg court’s ruling, along with the outcome of the judicial process in Italy, which had led to the acquittal of Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend.


The paper adds that “The only person to have been convicted for the murder of Kercher is Rudy Guede”. “Only”. How many were needed? He is serving a 16-year sentence.

Image: “U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by an Italian penitentiary police officer at a hearing in Perugia’s court, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Earlier this month, prosecutors requested life sentences for American student Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito accused of killing a young British woman in Italy. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini asked a jury in Perugia to convict Amanda Knox and Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence for their alleged role in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici)”

Posted: 24th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


The court calls Mr Farrelly of Muff Crescent, Nobber

Ireland’s Ardee District Court calls Mr Conor Farrelly, 22, who stands accused of driving a 2011 BMW car into a wall in Ardee, fleeing the scene and heading into a pub. Mr Farrelly of Muff Crescent, Nobber… Pardon me? No giggling in court. You there! I’ll have you removed.

Mr Farrelly offered guilty pleas to dangerous driving and not being insured. Judge Coughlan banned Mr Farrelly from driving for two years. He also sought a probation report in respect of the defendant doing 240 hours community service in lieu of five months in jail.

The matter will return to court on May 13 when final sentencing will be passed. In the meantime, Mr Farrelly will reside at the property in Muff Crescent in Nobber… Enough! Dismissed!!!

Spotter: Dundalk Democrat

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


James Bulger: And the Oscar for bad taste goes to…

James Bulger is back in the news. The child murdered by children is on the Mirror’s front page. “BULGERS RAGE AT OSCARS INSULTS,” says the headline. The story is yet another painful episode in which the child’s parents, Denise Ferguson and Ralph Bulger, are invited to share her pain for our gratification.

Denise Fergus is “disgusted” that Detainment, a film about the crime, is being considered for an Oscar. “To have a child re-enact the final hours of James’s life before he was brutally murdered means we have to relive the all this again,” she says.

THREE OF THE BOYS WHO FOUND THE BODY OF TWO YEAR-OLD JAMES BULGER. L-R, STEPHEN GUNNIAN, JAMES RILEY AND HIS BROTHER TERENCE. Date: 15/02/1993

But reliving the horror as entertainment was ever so. The comments attributed to the murder of a two-year-old by two ten-year-olds read like billboard splashes to come see the show. An act of “unparalleled evil” – Trial Judge. “In almost any city, town or village more minor versions of the same events are becoming an almost everyday part of our lives” – Tony Blair. “FREAKS OF NATURE” – Daily Mirror.

Daily Mirror Bulger freaks
Via
A POLICE POSTER SEEKING INFORMATION ON THE MURDER OF TWO-YEAR OLD JAMES BULGER IS PLACED OUTSIDE MARSH LANE POLICE STATION IN LIVERPOOL.    Date: 15/02/1993
A POLICE POSTER SEEKING INFORMATION ON THE MURDER OF TWO-YEAR OLD JAMES BULGER IS PLACED OUTSIDE MARSH LANE POLICE STATION IN LIVERPOOL. Date: 15/02/1993

The Mirror uses its editorial to slam the “Bulger shame”. We hear that Denise Fergus’s “disgust and upset is understandable”. Of course it is. We know that. It is “about showing compassion… and respect for a woman who has suffered enough”. Why, then, is her pain front-page news? The Mirror says it is “not too late” for “Irish director [why is his nationality important?] to go cap in hand to apologise in person” to the Bulgers.

In which case he can join the queue behind the politicians, judges and tabloid Press…

Posted: 23rd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


After Covington: the cult of the kid is dead

Kathy Griffith wanted “these fuckers” “named” and “shamed” in public. “NAMES,” she demanded. Daily Mirror columnist Stan Collymore called them “the bastard children of Trump.” Adding: “Like all vermin, they run in numbers , seldom happy to fight alone.” These inhuman beasts were the children of a US Catholic high school. After years of pandering to children’s needs – seeing life in terms of risks to them and their need to be protected from Brexit, sugar, sex, drugs, smartphones and adults – here was a sudden change: the enlightened were going after the kids and inviting all right-minded adults of join in the hunt.

The Covington’s boys’ crime against humanity was to have allegedly menaced a Native American veteran after the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. The confrontation was videoed, uploaded to the web and – bang! – everyone wanted a piece of the “vermin”. The Twitter mob was in full cry. Being the fourth wall is a lot of fun, but we don’t always see the full picture. And so after the initial video went viral we got to see around two hours more.

We saw that the boys had been targeted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI), self-styled descendants of the ancient Israelites. As the BHI regaled the Covington lads with such niceties as “White people, go back to Europe” and ‘Your president is a homosexual”, calling them “faggots”, the products of incest and paedophiles, the lads make no comment. The BHI tell one black lad that his friends will steal his organs after killing him. There they are stood pretty still, a gaggle of predominately white teens dressed in red MAGA hats.

Cue Nathan Phillips. The Native American was in town for a peace protest. He saw the two groups and stepped in between them. He went right up to the teens. Now the teens did react. One stood and stared. Others danced as if mocking Philips. Teens, eh. Such twats. Although one later said:

“We are an all-male school that loves to get hyped up. And as we have done for years prior, we decided to do some cheers to pass time. In the midst of our cheers, we were approached by a group of adults led by Nathan Phillips, with Phillips beating his drum. They forced their way to the center of our group. We initially thought this was a cultural display since he was beating along to our cheers and so we clapped to the beat.”

But this were different. Prejudice was to the fore. Those Trump hats. Those pale skin tones. These teens had been churned out by a “hate factory“. Watch the whole thing  here. Philips might care to. He told The Detroit Free Press that the teens “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals”. Phillips dehumanises the kids:

“There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips said. “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”

For now the last word is with Nick Sandmann, the Covington student whose face has been splashed all over the web:

I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.

I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.

After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.

The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.

I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.

The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the busses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the busses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.

I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.

I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name. My parents were not on the trip, and I strive to represent my family in a respectful way in all public settings.

I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.

I love my school, my teachers and my classmates. I work hard to achieve good grades and to participate in several extracurricular activities. I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen – that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.

I cannot speak for everyone, only for myself. But I can tell you my experience with Covington Catholic is that students are respectful of all races and cultures. We also support everyone’s right to free speech. I am not going to comment on the words or account of Mr. Phillips, as I don’t know him and would not presume to know what is in his heart or mind. Nor am I going to comment further on the other protestors, as I don’t know their hearts or minds, either.

I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.

I can only speak for myself and what I observed and felt at the time. But I would caution everyone passing judgement based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the internet, as they show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.

I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.

The kids are alright-ish.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Class War: Royal family pheasant killer ‘attacked’ local ‘peasant’

sun pheasant peasant

The Sun leads with Patrick Panks, 43, who claims he was hit in the head and called a “peasant” by a gamekeeper on the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate. Mr Panks say a shoot was blocking the road. He complained (‘I say my good man, I’m in terrible dash. Will you be long?’, or words to the that effect). Mr Panks says the gamekeeper then hit him “several times”, causing lacerations to his head. Nasty stuff. But it’s only front-page news because Sandringham is newsworthy. We’re told the alleged incident occurred two days after Prince Philip’s prang, aka the “horror smash“. So there are two more pages of the plebs verses the ruling class.

Over pages 4 and 5, we hear the gamekeeper allegedly bellow: “Mind my dogs you fucking peasant.” The man then allegedly attacked Mr Panks, who responded: “I kept saying, ‘There’s no need for this.'” Mr Panks says the incident was an episode of “disgusting snobbery”. He was caught in the crosshairs of what he terms an “us and them culture”. Then the Sun’s bomb: “Prince Andrew is said to have been shooting on the day of the bust-up.”

The Royal Family aren’t all commemorative china cups, thimbles and faces on stamps. They’re a clique of guns, dead animals, lots of land, mastery of the handshake and more guns. It’s only in death that we get too glimpse the real them, and then only after the official biographies have doused the corpse’s remains in a gossamer weave of heroic deeds, terrific fashion nouse and hearts bursting with a purity of spirt that reaches the divine. So was it feckless Andy wielding the stick? Unlikely. The effort involved alone would rule him out. What about Phil? The Suns says he was “once the Royal Family’s keenest shot. But he is now only an observer during shoots.” He might not spot a nippy hatchback – but never misses a game bird.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Tabloids put up reward after statues to War heroes sprayed with paint

Daily Star paint states war
Daily Star

Who tossed white paint over four statues: one commemorating Bomber Command; another of Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt; a third to the Real Marines; and one to Canada’s fallen? All the damaged statues are in London. Paint was used – the Mirror identifies it as “white gloss”. Too early to blame East European labourers, pretty much the only people doing manual work in the capital?

The Daily Star, which once cheered for the EDL and might well have rounded up the usual suspects, is offering a £5,000 reward to “nail the vile yobs”. The Star want to “find the scum”. These “brainless scumbags”. These “idiots”. These “sick thugs”. If you know who did it – and your info leads to prosecutions and conditions – the Star will give your five grand. The Sun makes the same offer – £5,000 for a successful prosecution.

the sun war memorial paint
The Sun

The Express hears from Squadron Leader ‘Johnny’ Johnson, 97, the last man standing from the 1943 Dambusters raids. The Express says the attack must have been premeditated. It says a group of anarchists are the likely culprits. TV’s Carole Voderman, an ambassador for the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, is upset. “I am deeply upset,” she says.

EDL star

The paper reminds us that the Bomber Command Memorial has been targeted before. In 2013, someone wrote “Islam” on it in big red letters. A week after that, someone else, with access to more paint, wrote “EDL”, “Fuck the police” and “Lee Rigby’s killers should hang”. No mention of that in the Star.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, Tabloids | Comment


Police use pikes to stop knife crime

Rob Beschizza shares this video of police in Asia using pikes to cut down on knife crime. Meanwhile…in the UK:

Spotter: BB, Reddit

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


Emma Fairweather and me: Her Majesty The Queen extends ‘warmest thoughts’ at arms length to car crash victim

Emma Fairweather prince car

The Daily Mirror’s interview with Emma Fairweather, the woman injured in a collision with a car driven by Prince Philip, continues to make front-page headlines. Much to the tabloids’ disappointment, Fairweather doesn’t resemble Princess Diana in any way, other than her being female and a single mum. No word, then, from Mohamed Al-Fayed, just the relayed news that Her Majesty the Queen has sent “a message of concern” to 46-year-old Emma. The Duke of Edinburgh has not made contact, the paper says.

How nice and proper of the Queen to apologise for her husband’s prang. She always says the right thing, although most people come away from meeting with her unable to recall a word she uttered. She is the master of saying nothing. So what did she say this time? Nothing. The Mirror tells us: “The Queen has sent her warmest good wishes to Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the collision, via her trusted lady-in-waiting.”

To rephrase: Queen details flunky to apologise. How touching. How very normal and in touch with the common folk. So much for the collision now billed as “Prince Philip’s horror car smash”. And so much for Republicanism. We live in an age where the monarchy is accepted without question. Just cop a load of this utter tosh in the Mirror. Miss Mary Morrison, 81, the aforesaid lady-in-waiting “left her a voicemail message”. Yeah. She didn’t even call back when Emma was free. The message trills: “Hello, I’m ringing from Sandringham House. The Queen has asked me to telephone you to pass on her warmest good wishes following the accident and Her Majesty is very eager to know how you are and hope that everything is going as well as can be expected.”

Eager enough to pop over or leave contact details for Emma to reply at her own convenience. The message continues: “We’re all thinking of you very much at Sandringham and I’ll try you at a later date. Unfortunately I’ve got to go out quite shortly but I hope all is well as can be expected for you. Thank you very much indeed. Goodbye.”

Lest you think that such aloofness exacerbates the matter, a “senior palace source” arrives to opine: “It is of huge significance the Queen chose Mary Morrison to make the contact. Mary is a close friend of the Queen and Her Majesty values her counsel immensely.”

So there you have it. Next time you’re in a car accident, don’t bother leaving your details in person or exchanging insurance details. Just get one of your spouse’s chums, preferably one on the payroll and well-rewarded for her servitude, to speak on your behalf.

Such fun!

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Ant McPartlin: Britain’s Got Talent seeks new role model

Ant Mcpartlin

Having heard Ant McPartlin hook up with the sympathetic Sun to trail the new season of Britain’s Got Talent as part of the star’s rehab programme, more papers lead with the celebrity who in less PR-driven times could be termed a love rat, troubled and drink-drive maniac.

The Express, Sun and Metro all lead not with Ant’s new partner, the rock-like Anne–Marie, rather Dec, the second part of the presenter’s double act. Dec was “angry” when Ant as arrested for drink-driving (Sun). Dec is laughing now he’s back on the telly with Ant (Metro). Ant is terrified that Holly Willoughby, who stepped in to present I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! will replace him. She may even be more liked by the public, what with her being vivacious, witty, not shagging her partner’s now former PA, not driving drunk into a car carrying a couple and their young child, and not taking drugs. Willoughby was a stop up in evolutionary terms.

Ant’s rehabilitation is all well and good – and good for him for finding a blonde fossil on which to build an empire. But this is surely about Simon Cowell, without whom Britain would be virtually talent free. What should have happened is that this series was made all about the presenters, a talent show for who can partner Dec or replace him and Ant entirely. If you’ve a dying granny, are a single dad with hair on the list of UNESCO sites of special scientific interest and/ or once shagged the aforesaid Cowell and are looking for a return favour, get in touch. Criminal records and failed blood tests are no barrier. Cowell missed a trick.

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Prince Philip and me: what Duke did and didn’t say to car crash victim

Prince Philip car crash victim

Prince Philip should travel by horse and buggy, or make better use of the family’s gold coach. But he’s sticking with the 4×4, picking one for a jaunt days after being involved in an accident near his Sandringham home. The “victim” of the accident is “single mother” and “royal fan” Emma Fairweather. She’s speaking in public for the first time about her ordeal. And thanks to the People, Express and Mirror sharing one owner, all three Sunday tabloids lead with her words.

“I still haven’t had any contact from the Royal household. Maybe he should prioritise that over test driving his new car,” says Emma. She feels “ignored and rejected” by the duke and the Queen after Thursday’s smash. Is Emma our Deuce of Hearts, suffering, as the Princess of Hearts did after a run-in with the Royals? The Windsors have a chequered history when it comes to cars and crashes. The Express, which has long been at the forefront of Royal car crash reporting, picks a side:

Emma will spend her 46th birthday today on painkillers with her arm in a cast after being left with a broken wrist when the Duke’s 4×4 ploughed into the Kia that Emma, her 28-year-old friend and her friend’s baby were travelling in, flipping his car just outside the Sandringham estate on Thursday afternoon.

Daily Express diana

Having heard a “friend” say someone could have died, Emma adds: “I feel like the impact of what has happened has been minimised because my injuries aren’t as minor as they are being made out to be.” Where there’s blame, there’s a claim. “She claims she was urged by a police officer not to speak publicly about the crash.” Consider that urge ignored.

Emma continues: “I was advised not to speak to anyone and told to expect a call from the Palace yesterday. I know the Queen is a busy lady but I was really excited at the idea she might phone me. Instead, I got a call from a police family liaison officer. The message he passed on didn’t even make sense. He said, ‘The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would like to be remembered to you.”

What a wonderfully snotty and arcane phrase. But at 97, the Prince’s time is valuable. How much he has left is measured in weeks and maybe months. He’s no time to waste on platitudes. Speak to the insurers. Although we were robbed, of course, of what could well have been a memorable exchange. The Prince is synonymous with “gaffes”, which nearly always are just his attempt to lighten the mood and put his audience at ease. What price the Prince saying, “I’ve not had an accident since Paris”, “Women drivers!” or “I thought you were a pheasant”?

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


How to appear trustworthy

blushing - (Gerard van Honthorst’s Smiling Girl, a Courtesan, Holding an Obscene Image, 1625, via Wikimedia Commons)

Do we trust others too much? Are we confident that the government is able to accomplish what it set out to accomplish, whatever that is (insert guess here and post it to Westminster). What about robots, do we trust them?In 2014, researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison investigated what makes a humanoid robot seem more “alive.” They found that a firm, steady gaze was unsettling. Bots programmed to occasionally glance away and look around appeared more thoughtful and thus more trustworthy.

Sathnam Sanghera writes in the Times onheart surgeon Samer Nashef:

People have an instinctive inclination to venerate medical professionals, literally handing over their lives to them without question, when these people are as capable of error as anyone else. As Nashef explains at length in his excellent book The Naked Surgeon, patients operated on the day before a surgeon goes on holiday are twice as likely to die as those operated on the first day the surgeon returns from holiday; one surgeon can appear, statistically, to be a better surgeon than another although they have killed more patients, owing to a strange phenomenon called “category shift”; and choosing a surgeon with the lowest patient mortality rate could be a mistake because they could just be taking on fewer risky patients.

Nashef writes how a heart surgeon “day after day walks into an operating theatre, nonchalantly cracks open the chest, puts the patient on an artificial heart-lung machine, stops the heart, opens it, fixes it, starts it again, disconnects the patient from the heart-lung machine and expects that the heart will handle supporting life again”. We trust them.

You don’t need to study medicine for years or work in high finance to gain trust. You can cheat. You can rouge your cheeks and sit beneath a hot light:

The Dutch psychologist Corine Dijk gave volunteers a series of photos of people, some blushing and some not, accompanied by tales of their recent mishaps, ranging from appearing overdressed at a party to farting in a lift. The blushers were judged more favorably, despite their indiscretion.

Other research has found that if you blush people are more likely to forgive you, and it can even avert a conflict. When you’re trying to work out who to trust, it makes sense to choose the people who would feel guilty if they did anything wrong. The ideal person is someone who would blush and give themselves away.

Image: Gerard van Honthorst’s Smiling Girl, a Courtesan, Holding an Obscene Image, 1625.

Posted: 18th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


The CIA emergency tool kit spies hid inside their rectums

Old spies never die- but they do pass interesting stools. Atlas Obscura shows us the emergency spy kit CIA operatives in the Cold War stored in their rectums:

This CIA-issued tool kit was issued to CIA officers during the height of the Cold War. It was a way for spies to get themselves out of sticky situations: to pick a lock, carve a tunnel, etc. Watch the video above to learn more about the tool kit from historian and curator of the International Spy Museum, Dr. Vince Houghton.

Anyone else miss the Cold War?

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 17th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True, Technology | Comment


Brexit: Newspapers and Gove slaughter Corbyn, aka Mr Plan B

Brexit corbyn Express

One day after the Meaningful Vote and the newspapers are going for Jeremy Corbyn, aka Plan B:

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Leading Brexiteeer and Tory MP Michael Gove ticks off Corbyn’s faults – well some of them:

The cross party talks to reach a Brexit deal so far: Labour won’t talk to the Tories; the Tories will only listen to the DUP; the Lib Dems want to do it all over again with a 2nd referendum; and the SNP want the UK to stay in the Union so it can, er, best leave the Union. Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, January 2019 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Daily Telegraph subs confuse Jemima Khan with Jemima Lewis

Jemima Lewis is the Daily Telegraph’s radio critic and columnist. Jemima Khan isn’t. The Daily Telegraph is no longer sub-edited in house. Not that you’d notice…

Posted: 16th, January 2019 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


MPs lose Brexit: the newspaper front pages slam May

Brexit the sun May dodo

This is what happens when Parliament fails to embrace the result of the 2016 EU referendum. Last night, Remain-voting Prime Minister Theresa May had her Brexit deal voted down by a Remain-voting Parliament (around 75% of MPs want us to remain in the UE; 52% of voters don’t). Her plan was rolled in concrete and tossed into the canal: 432 against to 202 votes for her hotchpotch. No worries thought, right? The UK will leave the EU on March 29. Probably…

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a vote of no confidence in the government. MPs will vote on tonight. May is expected to win it. The 118 Toris who voted down her plan will pick her over Corbyn in a game of blind man’s bluff.

brexit star

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Away from the EU’s umbrella, our MPs are exposed and , boy, are they found wanting. Danny Baker nailed the mess:

Meanwhile the airwaves and TV studios are packed with nodding heads and over-trained politicos telling a supine media what’s what. As the Queen Mum was wont to say: ‘Such fun!’

Posted: 16th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Woman can only hear female voices and Michael Jackson

ear deaf

To China – I said, ‘To China!’ – where a woman says she can’t hear male voices. Either that or she has trouble detecting lower frequencies. LiveScience has more:

At the hospital, Chen was treated by Dr. Lin Xiaoqing — a woman — who noted that while Chen was able to hear Xiaoqing’s voice, she couldn’t hear the voice of a nearby male patient “at all,” according to Newsweek. Xiaoqing diagnosed Chen with reverse-slope hearing loss, a rare type of low-frequency hearing loss that likely impaired her ability to hear deep male voices….

Loss of hearing of lower-pitched sounds (which is what Chen experienced) is… less common because the bass-processing portion of the cochlea — a snail-shaped structure deep in the inner ear — is very well protected, said Jackie Clark, a clinical professor with the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, who also wasn’t involved with Chen’s case…

“Most studies have shown that if you catch it within 48 hours, you have the best chance for recovery,” (Clark) said.

What was that? ‘Pass the grapes… Pass. The. Grapes. ‘Eh?” says Chen popping the last one into her mouth.

Posted: 16th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Owen Jones v The Sun is the joke that keeps on giving

Guardian journalist and Jeremy Corbyn fan Owen Jones is so upset that he allowed the Sun to feature an extract from his book that he’s donated £500 to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. The Sun lied when 96 innocent people were killed at a football match in 1989. You can read more about it here. A mere 23 years after the lies, the Sun apologised.

Jones won’t forgive the paper. “I’ve made the argument that the British media is directly responsible for legitimising and fuelling the rise of the far right. The hatred directed, on a daily basis, against Muslims, migrants, refugees, LGBTQ people, and other minorities, has had already horrifying real world consequences: worse is to come,” he writes in a story headlined: “Why writing for The Sun is bad (and my own making amends).”

But not all British media is to blame. The Guardian, for instance, which admitted that a cartoon”inevitably” echoed “past antisemitic usage of such imagery” is fine. As Julie Burchill put it as she left the Guardian for the Times, which like the Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch, she’d “finally been convinced that my evil populist philistinism has no place in a publication read by so many all-round, top-drawer plaster saints”. That’s the Guardian, in which one columnist opined: “I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.” Jones has also written for the New Statesman, the organ that produced this fair and reasoned cover:

anti-Semitic new statesman kosher conspiracy
The Labour Party supporting New Statesman had a question that might have been rhetorical.

Jones adds: “It is the proprietors and editors who bear the greatest responsibility for this media campaign of hatred. But the journalists who write such stories have to be held to account, too. The idea that building their own careers is more important than not helping to whip up bigotry and hatred against already vulnerable minorities is perverse. They may think it’s a price worth paying to “make it”, but the price is not paid by them — it’s paid by other people in the streets, in school yards, in workplaces and in communities.” Sun writers should look to themselves and consider their positions.

Jones says that his refusal to accept a fee from the Sun doesn’t make it right. He was “naive”. “Giving them any copy whatsoever just legitimises the paper.”

As Jones is invited to hand back any earnings from the Guardian and the New Statesman – if he keeps up his rate of a £500 donation per article, he might earn an OBE for charity work – Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman muses on twitter:

The “established MP” who earned money from the Iranian government-funded satellite channel Press TV, is Jeremy Corbyn. One writer says “Press TV is not just a home for those with exterminationist fantasies about wiping Israel off the map, but a platform for the full fascist conspiracy theory of supernatural Jewish power.” Iran backs Corbyn’s “friends” in Hamas, the group whose stated aim is to kill every Jew. Jones wants us to make Corbyn the country’s Prime Minister. Maybe Corbyn didn’t notice the racism. He might also have missed the fact that Iran hangs gay people, stones women to death and wants to annihilate the world’s only Jewish state.

But it’s the Sun that shames Jones. For pity!

Posted: 15th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Supermac beats Big Mac in stodge wars

Supermac McDonald's

In Ireland you can eat at one of Pat McDonagh’s Supermac fast-food eateries. McDonagh earned the nickname Supermac for his showing in a Gaelic football match in the late 1960s between his school Carmelite college of Moate, County Westmeath, and St Gerald’s.

A Supermac burger is not to be confused with a McDonald’s burger. The US fast-food giant sought to block the Supermac brand over intellectual property right matters. McDonald’s argued that Supermac would create confusion on the high street, causing punters looking for a cheap meaty sandwich to mistakenly buy a, er, cheap meaty sandwich.

Mega Mac
Huge Mac

Supermac won the day. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) cancelled McDonald’s use of the “Big Mac” trademark. Supermac is now free to sell its grub throughout the EU. “We said there’d be no confusion. Big Mac and Supermac are two different things,” said McDonagh, 65. Indeed they are: one is Big and one is Super. The race for the burger with the biggest superlative is on.

Posted: 15th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Publicly shaming the McDonald’s Brixton ranter

To the McDonald’s in Brixton, south London, where Alex Parvenu is filming a middle-aged man barking on about migrants and feminists.

He moans about “bloody immigrants” and – now to camera – “mangina feminists”. Parvenu wants to know who he is. Why? Well, in his tweeted video he tagged MPs, Lambeth Council and police. The assumption is that Parvenue wants the berk nicked in some official capacity. But surely his public shaming is enough?

By now others had noticed the ranter. Keen for a spot of the online action, someone filmed him again. This time the bellend’s in the street:

Lest you consider the ravings of a dickhead of negligible interest to the world at large, an incident that could be dealt with by on-the-spot ridicule, the Independent transcribes the man’s words. “The London McDonald’s racist somehow managed to get even more racist,” says the website’s headline. Well, yes. If you egg on an odious cretin shouting at the pigeons in the precinct, chances are that he’ll shout some more. But isn’t the better thing to call him a “****”. Why film it? We know what the man says about things and himself – none of it’s good. And maybe he’s mentally unwell, a little tired and emotional?

But there’s something else going on: what does filming it and demanding action say about us? Was anyone afraid by this man and this ravings? Do we no longer possess the agency to combat ugly words ourselves, preferring to cede retribution and justice to others? It’s all very now and all very odd.

Posted: 15th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment