Saturday, January 28, 2006


Went with Gdog to see Steven Spielberg's film "Munich" about the Black September attack on the Israeli Olympic Team in 1972, and its aftermath. I was 16 years old at that time, and I do remember the news footage of the masked figures on the concrete balconies of the Olympic Village. A few days before, I had seen a television documentary about the operation organised by Mossad to kill the individuals responsible and, assuming that the documentary was more historically accurate, the film took some quite significant liberties for dramatic effect!

One of the most important of these was the suggestion that the team responsible had previously had no experience of killing people. The documentary stated that the team were crack Mossad operatives recruited from organisations equivalent to our SAS. Certainly the impression that these guys were total rookies created a lot of dramatic tension in the film, and gave a reason why the Eric Bana character should be so angst-ridden, especially towards the end. This feature aside, I think the first part of the film is reasonably accurate, but as far as I can see the second half was much more loosely "based on a true story".

Overall, I though the film was excellent and even though it was quite long the time didn't seem to drag. The message that violent revenge is a futile exercise is certainly no less true today than it was then!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Snow what?

Drifting aimlessly through cyberspace yesterday I came across this list of innuit words for snow. I wasn't totally convinced of its veracity, however.

I think things look reasonable enough until you get to the word for "fried snow" then "deep fried snow" (surely a Scottish delicacy). "Snow burgers" called MacTla has a definite hint of "sampling the yellow snow".

One of my favourites is Ertla ( the mind boggles), and another is huantla (anything is possible with teenagers). I also love the idea of selling snow to tourists: this part of the list could well be genuine, for all I know.

All in all, this is the most entertaining thing I've read about snow in a while--perhaps ever!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dangerous Liaisons?

I see that having sex before stressful events reduces the stress experienced (at least as measured by the blood pressure response). You have to have full sex though---what we doctors call penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI)---for it to work. "Do-it-yourself jobs" and other forms of furtive fumbling don't have the same effect.

We've got another Practice visit to do with our quality targets, and I've got my annual appraisal coming up in March. I wonder if Wosog can fit me in (to coin a phrase) before then?

Monday, January 23, 2006

No stone left unturned...

According to the Sunday Times, William Shatner has sold his kidney stone to an online casino for $25,000 (£14,000). The stone was responsible for an episode of severe renal colic that Shatner experienced last autumn. In fact, Mr Shatner's website states that he was given $75,000 for the fascinating object.

The casino will apparently add it to its collection of unsual items that includes a toasted cheese sandwich with an image of the Virgin Mary. Shatner is planning to give the money to charity.

This definitely proves, beyond doubt, that our current World is far weirder than any planet Bill visited as Captain of the USS Enterprise!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

He's a lumberjack, and he's OK?

I was interested to read in the Sunday Times today about Croatian lumberjack Stjepan Lizacic. It seems that Mr Lizacic is not entirely happy with the results of the transplant of a female kidney that he has received, and he is planning to sue his local health authority.

Since the transplant he claims to have "developed a strong passion for ironing, sewing, washing dishes, sorting clothes in wardrobes, and even knitting." He has also given up his heavy drinking sessions, and his wife is said to be delighted.

I believe Wosog has already made enquires about how my name can be added to the Transplant List....

Saturday, January 21, 2006

More Thoughts On Ikea

Regular readers will know that Ikea is not my favourite shop. Some time ago I had to visit there a lot, but recently I've managed to avoid it. However, the other day I came across the startling statistic that "1 in 10 Europeans is allegedly conceived in an Ikea bed"!

Last year 33 million people visited one of their stores, of which there are 179 in 23 countries. Ikea is the MacDonalds of the furniture world. It's like a virulent cancer metastasising around Europe. However, as you can see from this BBC article, some people have been brainwashed into believing that they actually enjoy shopping there!

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Best Laid Schemes....

One of the things I really hate about being a grown-up is having to plan for the future. The other day I finally got round to having a meeting with a financial advisor to discuss various anxiety-provoking subjects like “If you were to die would Wosog, Gdog and Gsog have enough to live on?”; “If you were to be permanently unable to work would Wosog, Gdog, Gsog and (oh yes) you have enough to live on?”; “Are you putting enough into your pension?” etc., etc. I was a nervous wreck at the end of it.

The future is a serious subject that has generated a lot of humorous quotations over the years. These include: “The future, according to some scientists, will be exactly like the past, only far more expensive.” (John Sladek); “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” (Neils Bohr); and “The future will be better tomorrow. (Dan Quayle). Apparently there is an old Jewish proverb that goes something like “There is nothing that God finds funnier than listening to humans make plans for the future.” Personally, especially with Burns Night approaching, I think the Bard put it best: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!”.

One of the things I really hate about being the parent of teenagers is having to plan for their future too: since they seem to find doing it themselves “too much of an effort”. But that, as the say, is another story!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Obscure Facts 1

Today Canon celebrates the production of its 30 millionth EF lens. It is less than 20 years since the launch of the EOS System, and it is a mark of the increasing popularity of SLR photography that 10 million of these lenses have been produced in the last 5 years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hell Hath No Fury....

Any husband will tell you that it is always a bad idea to let a woman down, but I think this story (via Bifurcated Rivets) really takes the biscuit!

It seems that a depressed woman asked a friend to hire a hitman to murder her for £20,000. He eventually offered to do the job himself, and when he failed to kill her she successsfully filed a complaint for breach of contract!

You just can't get the staff these days can you?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Short History....

Unlike Wosog, I think I have only read one of Bill Bryson's books before: "Notes from a Small Island", as I recall. At Christmas I was given, by my niece Nosog and her partner Michael, the illustrated version of "A Short History of Nearly Everything". This is a weighty tome with 624 pages, and it is beautifully illustrated. I instantly liked the look of the book, but I thought it would end up being what some would call, a "coffee table book" from which I'd read little snatches from time to time. However, it's so well written that I've started reading it from cover to cover. I've reached page 140 so far.

There have been a few famous scientists who have been good at communicating science to "the masses": the book that springs to mind is Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time", which has sold 9 million copies since 2002. As a reader with a fair scientific background, I wasn't sure what Mr Bryson could teach me much on the subject, but I was wrong: Bill explains scientific concepts very well. What is most interesting about the book, however, is how interesting he makes the scientists!

How else would I have found out, for example, that Isaac Newton once stuck a needle into his eye socket just to see what would happen? Where else would I have discovered that Henry Cavendish was so painfully shy that even his housekeeper communicated with him by letter! My latest discoveries are (a) that, despite her 2 Nobel Prizes, Marie Curie was never elected to the Academy of Sciences because she had a scandalous affair with a married physicist, and (b) that Mme Curie's papers from the 1890s are still too radioactive to be handled safely without protective clothing!

Stranger than fiction indeed: you must read this book!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Political Animals

Hasn't it been fascinating watching the squirming machinations of the Liberal Democrat Party in the run-up to the resignation of Charles Kennedy from their leadership. I, and many others, had always thought of the Lib-Dems as "The Nice Party" full of lovely, reasonable people with sensible, inoffensive policies that seemed so attractive in opposition, but which many felt would prove totally unworkable in the unlikely event that they ever became the party in power. One thing was sure, we thought, these pleasant people would never "kick a guy when he was down" in the manner that the Tories savaged Margaret Thatcher (the first politician I cared enough about to despise).

Well we were wrong: the Lib-Dems can be just as nasty as any of the rest, but wasn't it funny watching them try to retain the "moral high ground"? I see from the Wikipedia article that Charles, who graduated from the University of Glasgow the same year as I did, intends to stay in the party, and that there is already press speculation that he may return to the leadership of the Lib-Dems at some stage!

Really, who would want to lead this bunch of hypocritical non-entities?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Overcoming Disability

On the television news this evening there was a piece about a girl who had been a very talented motocross rider until an accident fractured her spine and paralysed her. She has continued to participate in motocross training new riders, but it looked as if her participation in sport was over. Against all the odds she has now started riding off-road in a specially adapted quad bike. If the authorities agree that she is able to take part in races, she will be fully "back in the saddle again". Personally, I think she is totally crazy, but you really can't help admiring her success in overcoming her disability.

I can't remember where I came across this video clip about this guy from India who was born not only with no arms, but unable to hear or speak. Despite these disabilities, he has learned how to do practically everything with his feet and hopes to take up a career in IT championing the needs of others with disabilities. He's also an impressive dancer!

The success of folk like this really should make able-bodied people ashamed of themselves when they whinge about this "problem" or that. It is truly amazing what human beings can achieve with sufficient determination.

Monday, January 02, 2006

King Kong

Went with Gdog to see King Kong. Neither Wosog nor Gsog wanted to go, and Gdog had work that day so we ended up going to the 8.00 pm showing of the film. Since it famously lasts 3 hours, we didn't get out of the cinema until 11.30 pm, but it was well worth it.

The special effects are simply amazing, and were the main reason that I wanted to see the movie in the cinema initially rather than on DVD. The story was fairly basic, but I thought the acting performances were good with Naomi Watts a great choice for the heroine, Ann Darrow. King Kong himself is fabulous---producing a sympathetic character without stooping to too much anthropomorphism.

I presume Peter Jackson and co will be in line for some more Oscars here? It seems like another film I'll eventually add to my DVD collection.