Wednesday, August 31, 2005

iPods Everywhere

Have you noticed how often iPods are mentioned these days, in one context or another? Both Gdog and Gsog have iPods, Wosog is not interested in one, and I'm saving up for mine: says a lot doesn't it!

The current generation of under-35s has been christened "The iPod Generation", not because they all have one: they do, but iPod is supposed to be an acronym for insecure, pressurised, over-taxed and debt-ridden. The think-tank Reform reckons the older generation should feel sorry for them, but Giles Hattersley in the Sunday Times at the weekend was not convinced. To summarise his entertaining article, he believes that if they simply exercised some self-denial and delayed gratification, the financial difficulties that they frequently bemoan would more or less disappear. He prefers to identify the iPod generation as an infantile posse of over-indulged drunks!

Elsewhere in the news we find the financial naiveness of the young expressed in the fact that more than one in ten of them think that an ISA is an accessory for an iPod!

Finally, there is the intriguing evidence that the iPod was, in fact, designed by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. Who would have thought it? Was there no limit to that man's scientific genius?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bright Guy, Our Albert!

Anybody who is interested in quotations will be aware of how many good ones there are from Albert Einstein. One of my favourite Einstein quotations is

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
Believe it or not, this statement has a lot of relevance to my job as a general practitioner.

As you might expect under a New Labour regime, the New GP Contract includes lots of targets and other hoops for practices to jump through. To the consternation of the Department of Health, GPs have proven rather good at meeting these targets, and incomes have risen, as a result, more than The Powers That Be had expected. Unfortunately stress levels within practices have undoubtedly increased as well. We are having the first of our QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework) Visits this week. This is presented as a "touchy feely" supportive exercise, but we are fully aware that it's aim is to make sure that we have not "cooked the books" in reaching almost maximum points.

Although I and my partners voted against the new contract, I have to admit that I think it clearly has improved the management of chronic diseases, especially diabetes, heart disease, stroke and hypertension in primary care. However, it has done very little to recognise or support what I see as the most important role of a GP IE to diagnose and manage the myriad of problems (by no means all strictly medical) that patients present to their family doctors. The difficulty for the bean counters with this is that it is not easily quantifiable, but for most GPs it is the reason they entered the profession, and hopefully what sustains them when the "Thought Police" (as Orwell would say) come to call.

Monday, August 29, 2005

People With Glass Desks....

It is well known that I am no great fan of Ikea, but my regular reader will know that I have just purchased quite a lot of stuff there to furnish the Glasgow flat. We don't have much fancy furniture at home, but we do have a stand for our hifi that is more or less made from glass. Seeing this picture from 8lettersuk on Flickr, I'm awfully glad our glass hifi stand wasn't made by Ikea! Having said that, as far as I know, none of our recent Ikea purchases have fallen apart, and we have just had quite a struggle breaking up a bed that we bought from the Slumbering Scandinavian Giant some time ago.

I guess the moral of the story is "People with glass desks shouldn't put anything on them!".

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sex Sells

My regular reader will remember these two photographs that were used to illustrate my comments on "The Teflon Folk" (1 and 2). To avoid using image space on the Blogger server, I decided to upload the images to Flickr. The pictures were uploaded to the site consecutively, and were posted to the same Flickr Groups.

To date, the picture with the Sogs in the foreground and the Teflon Girl in the background has been viewed 78 times. The one with the Teflon Girl in the centre has been viewed 150 times. Now isn't that interesting?

As a wee experiment, I'm tempted to add the tag "nude" to the second picture to see what effect that would have. What's a tiny bikini bottom between friends?

Friday, August 26, 2005


Can't remember* how I came across this amazing animation featuring the song "Creep" by Radiohead (broadband essential).

Beautifully done (down to the bubbles in the water cooler, and the flies around the bin at the end), but not too cheerful!

*I think it may have been from Antiblog: sorry!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fascinating But Pointless?

I previously posted about The Dialectizer: a site that can translate your website into various "comic dialects". I've now come across, via Gordon McLean's miniblog, Blippity Fling Flang, a site that can translate your site into total rubbish.

Anyone that mutters "Won't make much difference to your blog then", can just click off elsewhere!

Go on, get flangitising---before the Government makes a law against it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Stretching the Boundaries of Advertising

I've previously posted about unusual advertising techniques. First of all there was the man who sold advertising space on his forehead on eBay; then there was the lass from Greenock who used her cleavage for a similar purpose. Unfortunately the picture of the latter no longer resides on eBay's server (well guys, there's more money to be made!).

Someone once said that the UK and the USA are "two nations separated by a common language". This explains my confusion when I came across the website My mind was boggling at the large acreage of advertising space that certain posteriors would provide, although I thought the natal cleft might "divide the message" somewhat. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the site involved the use of vagrants in circulating the advertiser's message!

I really feel that my version would attract more attention!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Intelligent Falling?

Is there no law of nature that can’t be subject to criticism by religious fanatics in the USA? I see from my friends at The Onion that, having rubbished evolution, the fundamentalists are now putting gravity “under the microscope”!

It seems that objects don’t reach the ground because of the force of gravity; they do so as a result of “intelligent falling”. Evangelical scientists in Kansas propose that God pushes these objects downwards.

In the light of my previous post, isn’t it equally possible that objects are forced down by the application of the “noodly appendage” of the omnipresent Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Our children do, indeed, deserve a more balanced approach to this subject!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Rise of Pastafarianism

A while ago I briefly posted about the Cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ("Evolution is Bunkum!"). I attached a picture of the monster from another site, but I recently noticed that the image had been replaced by one of a rather unattractive human backside with a somewhat unsual large scar across it (I suspect this may have had something to do with copyright violation)! Lest the latter should offend younger readers browsing my archives, I decided to delete it.

Anyway, to return to the Cult, which has become known as Pastafarianism, I was interested to note, via Boing Boing, that the controversy continues (See here and here). The Monster even has his own entry on Wikipedia.

Who knows, if Church attendances continue to fall and Pastafarianism continues to rise the latter could end up the official state religion!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Fame At Last!

Wouldn't it be nice to be the best at something? Not just to have magazine articles featuring your work, but whole issues devoted to your genius? Photography is a hobby that I enjoyed years ago that I have rediscovered, largely due to the emergence of digital photography and the inspiration provided by the website Flickr. I'm nowhere near good enough to make a living at photography, far less be one of the "photographic greats", but a man can dream can't he?

Flickr now has more than 20 million pictures, and a million members, providing a huge database of images. There are several tools on the web that have been designed by Flickr members and use images from the site. The magazine cover shown uses one of my photos as a backdrop, and was designed using this tool.

Don't those articles look fascinating?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Almost Gone....

As my regular reader will know, we have bought a little palace for Gdog to inhabit while she is at University in The Big City. I have stated in the past that little Gdog is not the tidiest of creatures, so I've decided to post this picture of the flat just now. Please note the absence of clutter: we'll see how long it lasts!

We may, in fact, have found a solution to the problem anyway by renting the second bedroom for a year or two to Gdog's friend Fogdog. We have been led to believe that Fogdog is a very neat and tidy individual, and she certainly seems like a really nice girl. We're hoping that Fogdog's habits will rub off on Gdog, and not vice versa!

The two girls are starting to flat share at the weekend, but Gdog is already spending a lot of time in Glasgow. Since Gsog is often away for large parts of the day anyway, the house here is really starting to feel awfully quiet. I was bemoaning the fact that our children were leaving us the other day to Wosog. "Yes," she said, "Great, isn't it?" Has that woman got no maternal feelings at all?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Good News?

Further to my post of some time ago, Gsog got his exam results just over a week ago. He did really pretty well, which makes you wonder what he could do if he really tried! I won't give the details here, but suffice to say he should have good enough grades to get into a university place. He's going to do a sixth year at school, so that might mean we have another 5 years or so of having to badger him to work!

Now isn't that good news?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Entrances to Hell

They say "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.". That statement would tend to suggest that Hell has only one entrance, but apparently this aint so. In the UK alone, it seems, there are several entrances if this site is to be believed. As well as pictures of the various portals, the site provides helpful safety rules. You can even buy a t-shirt to commemorate your visit.

Who would have guessed it, but the mighty Flickr also has a group devoted to Entrances to Hell. The picture I've shown is one of the 541 currently listed (I wonder if they'll stop when they get to 666?). This entrance is in Prague, I understand, and is taken by a Czech guy with the provocative Flickr name Fuxoft.

It's a sad reflection of our times that while several entrances to Hell have been discovered nobody, as far as I know, has found a single entrance to Heaven! Or maybe you know different....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Occasional Non-Groucho Quote

"I cannot rest from travel; I will drink Life to the lees."
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92).
Me too; as soon as I find what the lees are!

Monday, August 15, 2005

More On Moobs

My regular reader will have noticed my recent post bemoaning Gsog's references to my "man boobs" while we were both on holiday. According to an interesting article in The Sunday Times yesterday, the accepted term for these appendages is now "moobs" or occasionally "moobies" (The Sun is credited with the latter term). Perusal of The Urban Dictionary certainly suggests that the term moobs is becoming entrenched in our language. There is the potential for slight confusion, however, with the band of the same name, with whose music I am totally unfamiliar (they're said to be "a cross between Kelly Joe Phelps and Zero 7" if that means anything to you!).

The article in the paper ("Do my moobs look big in this?") discusses not just moobs, but the increasing attention being focussed on the male physique in general. This includes speculation on Tony Blair's reaction to press remarks on his "flabby" abdomen in his recent paparazzi-snapped holiday photos. It seems that it is no longer just "women's fate to be manipulated and rendered inadequate by the tyranny of perfection". Focussing more on male physique could have positive outcomes if it engenders enthusiasm for tackling major public health issues such as obesity and lack of exercise in men. However, in the younger males I wouldn't like to see excessive societal pressures possibly aggravating the increase in male anorexia nervosa that already seems to be occurring.

On a lighter note, later in the same paper we have "Less raunchy more paunchy" which describes how an ageing, rotund Mickey Rourke managed to leave a nightclub last week with a "doe-eyed Ukrainian moppet", much to the consternation of her handsome, much younger (and presumably more svelte) boyfriend. This gives a whole new twist to the phrase "taking the Mickey". Interestingly, I note from the Internet Movie Database that Mr Rourke is almost exactly my age!

To finally return to the subject of My Moobs, I've got a quiz for you: which ones are mine?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Crash Test Dummies

Went with Wosog to see the new film "Crash" yesterday. As I've said before, we often have difficulty finding films that we both want to see, but we'd heard so many good things about this picture that the choice was easy.

Crash explores various aspects of the subject of racism as experienced in Los Angeles in the early 21st Century. There are several characters, all of whom have stories with a racism theme, and in many cases the stories are interconnected. These interconnections require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief for the required coincidences to be accepted. I'm not sure exactly how long the period over which the events take place is supposed to be, but if present day America is anything like as full of racial conflict as this fim suggests, the Land of Opportunity is no longer a happy place to be!

There are several excellent performances in Crash. I thought Matt Dillon was very good as the aggressive policeman Sgt Ryan. Terence Dashon Howard is great as a black man who has "turned a blind eye" to racism over the years, but finally reacts to it in a dramatic way. Thandie Newton plays Howard's wife, on whom Matt Dillon performs some impromtu gynaecology. This may seem gratuitous sexual violence, but for fans of the TV show ER it's all she deserves for turning Dr Carter into an even more morose "puppy dog", and making him leave the series!

The reasons for the title Crash are more subtle than I thought, but one of them is mentioned at the start of the video clip. When we went into the cinema, Wosog was surprised to find herself sitting next to two boys who seemed too small to be older than the 15 that the certificate of the film required. As time went on it became obvious that they hadn't read the film synopsis, and were expecting an action-packed adventure full of car chases and, well, crashes! They stayed until the end, but Wosog's ability to follow the twists and turns of the plot was slightly marred by their intermittent mutterings of "This is rubbish!", and "When's the fucking crash?".

I suppose you can't please everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It's In The Bag!

One of my "Things" on 43 Things is the desire to "Watch less television". I'm essentially a really lazy, poorly disciplined individual, and I must have wasted numerous days out of my allotted lifespan vegetating in front of a television screen.

I've only had two comments so far on my one entry on the subject. A guy with the moniker WanderingPhilosopher stated "I lived 2 years totally without tv. It was my most productive time ever." Sounds a bit drastic, but possibly worth considering! My other commenter had the intriguing 43 Things Name GroovyGoddess. She kindly pointed me in the direction of the TVKozy website that I understand is run by her husband and herself. This seems the perfect halfway house between my current zombie-like state and the monk-like austerity of WanderingPhilosopher. I can just imagine my rather uggly Panasonic tv transformed by the rather natty TVKozy shown!

With the telly out of sight, I'll have even more time to stare google(TM)-eyed at the monitor of my pc churning out the drivel you're currently enjoying(?). I wonder if they make a Kozy for a Dell flat screen monitor? Guess what? They do!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Not More About Suicide Bombers!

Many thanks to Gordon McLean for pointing me in the direction of this article from The Onion. It's headed "Suicide Bomber Killed En Route By Car Bomb".

It just goes to show that bad luck can afflict even the most pious amongst us!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Learning the Lessons of History?

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The Independent on Friday did another of their striking front pages peppered with interesting statistics. As often is the case, the figures make depressing reading:

  • Under the headline "Never Again?" the article makes the point that the US alone is currently spending $27bn on nuclear weapons and related programmes.
  • Although Iran seems intent on entering the nuclear arms race, the point is made that while no Arab states are currently known to possess nuclear weapons, Israel has approximately 200.
  • There are estimated to be 11,000 active deliverable nuclear weapons in the World. The US has 6,390, Russia has 3,242 and the UK has 200.
  • Finally we are reminded that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 160,000 people at the time and 77,062 later.
"....and I think to myself, what a wonderful World" as Louis Armstrong would say.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Teflon Folk 2

Further to my recent post on this subject, and Wosog's comment on it, after an intensive search of our upstairs hall cupboard, My Good Lady has unearthed this picture which I really can't remember taking!

I somehow appear to have (accidentally) placed the Teflon Girl at the centre of this particular picture. Now how on Earth did that happen?

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Mind of the Terrorist

It was interesting to watch last night the first of two programmes on Channel 4 entitled "The Cult of the Suicide Bomber". I did not realise, for example, that the first suicide bomber used the weapon against a tank in the Iran-Iraq War. According to the programme, it was the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran who first used a sort of perversion of Islamic history to make suicide bombing seem like a good and honourable thing to do. The most frightening aspect of the piece was the clear impression of how revered these "martyrs" are in the communities from which they come. Even years after their death their "sacrifice" is celebrated not just by virtual worship of small photographs by their families, but also by display of huge posters in strategic locations. Terrorist organisations even use videos of suicide bombers in action to recruit new volunteers!

Until very recently suicide bombing was something that we could regard in this country as a frightening phenomenon that afflicted exotic foreign destinations. I think there is still some doubt as to whether the 7/7 Bombers knew that they would blow themselves up, but if they did I think I'm right in saying that these are the first examples in a Western country of home-grown suicide bombers. I very much fear that they will not be the last, and my immediate reaction to hearing the news was surprise that it hadn't happened before now.

One of my problems with outrages such as this is that we don't know for certain (a) what organisation was behind it, and (b) what exactly they want us to do in response. As far as I know Al Queda has been somewhat vague as to whether they were responsible. It's easy to assume that the perpetrators want British troops out of Iraq, and the establishment of a Palestinian homeland. However, even if we could pull both of these out of the hat, how do we know that doing so would appease these cowardly monsters? Abductions in the Middle East are abhorrent, but at least only one person is directly affected, and we generally know who is holding them and what their demands are.

One thing is certain: it is very difficult to defend yourself against an enemy who is prepared to blow himself up, who is absolutely convinced that his God is behind him, and who thinks that his death will guarantee him a place in Paradise. This is especially true if he knows that his family and the rest of his community will remember him as a hero.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Teflon Folk

Having been on several holidays now where at least some of the time has been spent relaxing on a beach, I have come to recognise a subspecies of Homo sapiens that I have christened Homo teflonsis. When the Sogs set out for the beach, being fair skinned Scots, they are coated in high factor sun blocker. When the children were small we even insisted on their wearing tee shirts while in swimming. Visits to the beach for us require sunglasses, hats, several beach towels, sun tan lotion for "topping up", books to read, a camera, a little bottle of water to avoid dehydration, and a CD player to avoid boredom. Optional extras include snorkels and masks. Wosog even has a natty little pair of clear plastic shoes to avoid damage to her sensitive feet when negociating a stony shoreline. Once we get to the beach we tend to spend most of the time adjusting the position of our expensive beds to gain the maximum shade from our umbrella.

The Teflon Folk tend to travel alone. There is not an inch of fat on their perfect bodies, and they have an immaculate all-over tan already. They bring no "beach equipment" with them, and require no shade or sun blocker. No matter how apparently uncomfortable the beach surface, including large pebbles or rocks, they can lie on it for hours if necessary in no apparent discomfort. Most characteristic of all, however, is the fact that no matter how long they lie on the beach the sand never sticks to them. This is probably because, unlike the ordinary mortals there, they never perspire.

The photograph is a very old one of Wosog, Gsog and Gdog in the foreground with a Teflon Girl in the background lying on a rock. For years Wosog has accused me of deliberately photographing this particular female, but I will maintain to my death bed that it was a completely accidental inclusion in the picture of my lovely family!