Archive for April, 2010

Robert Dee Was the Worst Tennis Pro in the World


So, there you go.  Although, Orlando Figes is not the worst historian in the world.

Do Women Cause Earthquakes?


An Iranian cleric has suggested that scantily-clad women cause earthquakes.

“Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes,” he explained.

I never have heard of that.  Causing volcanic eruptions, yes.

So I Blogged With an Axe-Murderer


… whoops, sorry. Axe-manslaughterer.

In 2005, the then LibDem leader, Charles Kennedy confirimed his Party would give the vote to serving prisoners such as murderers and rapists and paedophiles. This had followed a case brought to the ECHR by John Hirst who had been sentenced in 1980 to 15 years for manslaughter [of his landlady, Bronia Burton whom he hacked to death with an axe] and subsequently emerged as a savant legal representative in gaol.

I learned to love the LibDems because of my MP, classical Liberal and formerly Lord Lucan lookalike, the Lord Thurso. Did you know his grand^6-father, Sir John Sinclair introduced the word “statistics” to the English language, and grand^4-father, Sir Tollemache Sinclair is the oldest individual to have had his voice recorded on gramophone? His grand-father, the first Lord Thurso, was second-in-command to Winston Churchill at Ploegsteert Wood in the Great War, and later as leader of the Liberal Party.

I will vote LibDem on 6 May. Yet, here is the worst ever blog-post on the LibDem Voice blog in which a man who hacked a woman to death with an axe and then built up a track record of demanding more and more privileges for other prisoners who had shown their contempt for society in that and other more horrific ways.

John Hirst, of course, who considers it a source of pride that he was convicted ‘only’ of manslaughter and not murder (for hacking a woman to death with an axe).

I have made my case in that thread, both for removing the franchize from high-level serving prisoners and for my personal disgust at giving this narcissistic, self-centred yawning-expanse of ego airtime.

I have been called a “pathetic Tory troll” by someone who hacked a woman to death with an axe.

Is that the sound of an axe being sharpened I can hear? Thank goodness I live in the middle of nowhere!

Icelandic Airports Closed Due to Volcanic Ash


Mr. Eugenides had some choice words for the evident delight from the Icelandic Airport Authority that, whilst Europe was being thrown into a Stygian-gloom undreamt of even by Cormac McCarthy, Icelandic airspace remained upwind of Eyjafjallajökull’s fart.

Not any more. With changing wind direction, all major airports in Iceland have been closed.


Repotted Tulips


After the discomboulating experience of agreeing with the Alan Partridge of human rights advocacy, Craig Murray on vacuous celebrities endorsing brutal autocrats in Central Asia, my eyes traveled east to Kyrgyzstan.

Despite the impression the The West Wing may have given, allowing academics or intellectuals to hold Executive power has a poor track-record: be it Gabriele D’Annunzio’s attempts to establish a Republic of Poetry, or Lithuania and Estonia’s inter-war experiences under Augustinas Voldemort Voldemaras and Konstantin Päts respectively.

High hopes were held for Kyrgyzstan after George Galloway’s saddest day in 1991 when physics professor, Askar Akayev turned-down offers from Moscow to serve as a loyal Vice President of the Kirghiz SSR. Fortunately for proper noun Scrabble-enthusiasts, he stood for and was elected as President of the renamed Kyrgyz Republic.

With pledged support for private property and the economics of Adam Smith rather than Karl Marx, Akayev proceeded to win two subsequent elections, albeit with allegations of electoral fraud. Yet, Krygyzstan chuntered along as a down-at-heel country but with the trappings of functioning democracy and minus the demonic nastiness of many of its adjacent countries. Some much needed income came from the leasing of airbases to both the USAAF and Russian Air Force, at Manas and Kant respectively.


Poland in Shock


Beyond a Desperate Housewives’ style crash at Chopin’s birthplace in Żelazowa Wola, it is difficult to imagine just how much further off the scale the Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash outside Smolensk-North airport today could have gone. In addition to the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski and his wife, the dozens of death also included Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last Polish President in exile during the Communist period; as well as military chiefs, and senior economic and cultural advizors.

I disagreed with pretty much all Kaczynski said (up to and including his usage of the word ‘the”), but this pales alongside the catastrophic significance of the crash. Not only does the death toll include figures involved with the anti-Communist, and even anti-Nazi forces but it was a Soviet-era aeroplane carrying the passengers to the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre.

Good grief.

Building Beijing


An opportunity has been lost with the selection of para-historian Tristram Hunt as Labour PPC for the revolting safe seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central. Now he will be unable to apply his academic area of expertise in urban history – as seen in his 2004 book, Building Jerusalem – to current events in China.

The Daily Telegraph reports on the latest phase in the ongoing mass urban development in Beijing achievable only in an authoritarian, One Party state (more here). After two decades of bulldozing individual hutongs (alleyways), plans have been announced to demolish Gulou or Old Beijing. Classified in 2002 as a Historical and Cultural Protected Area by the Beijing municipal government, this 13 hectare area is situated around the historic Drum and Bell Towers, and parts date back to the Yuan Era.

Just as Hunt’s Building Jerusalem opened with the Ivanhoe-like Eglington Tournament of 1839, the urban planners of Beijing intend to turn the district into a historical-themed tourist centre. Yet, Eglington was a monstrous folly, rained-out on the first day.

The inhabitants of Gulou should no more be required to sit in the pickle jar of ‘unspoiled’ tourist experience as they should be turfed out to re-create Walter Scottified ‘authentic’ tourist experience.  The cramping conditions of the hutongs, including communal toilets could be compared to the pre-1960s tenements of inner-city Glasgow, but the Soviet-style replacements have not necessarily brought civic pride to the area. Gulou appears to be a functioning community with that ‘lived-in feeling’, now lost in the nearby Qianmen Dajie thoroughfare which has been denounced as “killing business” even by the Beijing municipal government website.


The Luciferian Fall of Steven Purcell


This is an updating of a missive originally uploaded on 7 March when, like a cross between Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins and Clay Davis, Stephen Purcell has come to earth with a thump.

In what Shuggy calls the progression of the Chemical Generation – following (allegedly) George W. Bush and David Cameron and Barry Obama – the now former Labour chief of Glasgow City Council, Steven Purcell has been revealed to have had a cocaine habit and is undergoing treatment for unspecified mental health issues.

In May 2009, he had been interviewed by two officers from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency following his name appearing in one of their investigations into organized crime in West Scotland; and fears he may be open to blackmail.

Although it was decided not to continue with this investigation, SCDEA officers are not not Pc Murdoch, and shortly afterwards Purcell moved from his life-long home area in Yorker where it was feared he had too close an acquaintance with a known drugs-dealer. (more…)

Would Someone Please Give Alex Salmond a Lesson in Lewis Carroll?


Alex Salmond has been wont of late to describe Labour and the Conservatives as “the Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee” of British politics.

Just as irony does not mean simply an unfortunate coincidence or embarrassing paradox, this popular piece of Carrollean imagery does not simply mean “two people I disagree with”.  Originally inspired by the the futile disagreements between George Frideric Handel and Giovanni Battista Bononcini in the early 18th Century, the characters came to be thought of as fat and buffoonish twins following the publication of ‘Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There’ in 1871; so the Franco-Prussian war is another possible source of inspiration.

A more appropriate example in contemporary Scottish politics would be from Salmond himself, and Andy Kerr on the Labour front-bench at Holyrood. First the monstrous black crow of the Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson had to reprimand Tweedle-Dee Kerr for calling Salmond a “numpty” and then Tweedle-Dum Salmond for calling Labour leader, Iain Gray a “sap”.

And this display of childishness pales into insignificance when one considers the explanation which Salmond gave for having scrimped on the £10 millions allowance for Scottish Executive advertizing, before starting to spend £1 million a week from the beginning of March.

Informing the Scottish public about the weather? Aye right.

Comments Turned Off at Harry’s Place


There is nothing else I can say in public about the apparent cessation of comments at the Harry’s Place blog.

As it is now gone 1200 hrs, even by GMT, I doubt it was an April Fool’s joke.

UPDATE 6/4 – I thought it prudent to put this missive on ice until a resolution was found.  HP now is back, with confirmation that this was not lawfare but street-thuggery from a group connected to Lee John Barnes, the erroneously-titled “legal adviser” of the BNP.