Thursday, February 21, 2008

High Tech Noon

I'm not a great fan of cowboy movies, but this video is really clever!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Big Mac, Anyone?

I see from this article that the US Department of Agriculture is going to recall 143 million pounds of beef "processed" by a slaughterhouse accused of mistreating animals. That amounts to 2 hamburgers for every man, woman and child in the USA! When I read this, I was starting to get a bit giddy trying to get my head around how much meat this slaughterhouse must produce in a year, but it seems the recall dates back to February 2006. It appears that "the great majority" of the meat has probably been eaten already. It's unclear from the article whether all the meat was distributed within the USA

It seems that in January, the Humane Society of the United States accused Hallmark/Westland of abusing "downed" cattle, releasing video that showed workers kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter. Cattle that have lost the ability to walk are not supposed to enter the food chain unless they have been examined to rule out chronic illnesses.

All this reminded me of a post I wrote a long time ago about Kentucky Fried Chicken. I'm proud to say I haven't had a carry out from them since.

I'm not so proud to admit that I'm still a carnivore and telling myself that the animals "don't feel a thing".

Sunday, February 17, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Went with Wosog last night to see "There Will Be Blood". I had heard so much about the film and Daniel Day-Lewis's performance. I thought I knew what the story was about, but it took a rather different turn from the one I expected. Wosog and I both agreed that Day-Lewis's performance was impressive, but Wosog didn't think he was a believable character, and she didn't really enjoy the film. I suppose it comes down to whether you think someone could be as driven as this man undoubtedly was, and so ruthless in pursuing his ends. Personally, I thought the film was probably, in general, a pretty accurate account of the rush for oil in those days, and I'm sorry to say that I do think people as amoral as Daniel Plainview did (and do) exist.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Learning the Lessons of History

Thanks to The Huffington Post for pointing me in the direction of this video. Given the lack of evidence for overall benefit from the US-led military intervention in Iraq, it amazes me that right-wingers in America can even suggest a military strike against Iran.

The video reminds us that the UK and the USA have previously interfered with the government of Iran. Then it was supposed to have the aim of stemming the march of Communism, but it was really about oil and money. This time it's supposed to be about preventing the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (does that sound familiar to you?), but again it's really about oil and money.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

It Makes You Think 3

Three quotes on the subject of ageing:

"The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you'll grow out of it." Doris Day.

"I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there." Herb Caen.

"You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there." George Burns.

Which is your favourite?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

That Ole Devil Called Love

Wosog and I went to the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow to see Alison Moyet in concert last night. Gdog had given her mum the tickets for Christmas. It was a very enjoyable performance with a good mix of newer stuff (most of which I'd never heard before) and old favourites.

At one point, in the middle of the concert, a woman in the crowd shouted "Alison, please sing 'That Ole Devil Called Love.'" and the band instantly switched from their planned play list to the song requested: really quite impressive.

The concert seemed a little short, but I'd certainly go back and see Ms Moyet again.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Magic Boomerang Hits Grand Central

One of my favourite tv shows as a kid was an Australian programme called The Magic Boomerang. In this show the main character, Tom Thumbleton (I kid you not), had a boomerang that, when thrown, had the power to freeze time and allow our hero to foil the plans of any sinister baddie: of whom there appeared to be many in that part of Australia! For some reason, it appealed to my childish brain that someone could chose to freeze the people around them.

In a brilliantly executed exercise, an improvisation group recently decided to plant 207 people in Grand Central Station in New York and get them to suddenly stay still and remain so for 5 minutes. The reactions of those not "in" on the exercise is fascinating, including one guy who decides to prod one of the "living statues" and the little bloke in the electric cart who is unable to move and calls for assistance.

A list (with links) of Improv Anywhere's other pranks is given here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Snouts in the Trough

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) will know that I am not a great fan of politicians. Any of you living in the UK cannot have failed to be aware of the case of Tory MP Derek Conway who paid his student son £40,000 of taxpayers' money for, it seems, rather ill-defined work to do with his parliamentary duties. Conway has been suspended from the Commons for 10 days and ordered to return £13,161 of the money he paid his son. According to this article, he claims that he is "not a crook", and says that numerous other MPs are doing very similar things. Another wonderful quotation from the non-crook is "A lot of students do part-time work. He was working for his father rather than working in McDonald's.". I wonder how many student workers in McDonalds are paid £40,000 per year?

Gordon Brown must be quite enjoying Mr Conway's discomfiture, which has successfully diverted media attention from the various Labour scandals about undeclared campaign contributions, although I see the same article mentions the fact that former cabinet minister Peter Hain has been claiming that his 80 year old mother works for him as a part-time secretary and she was paid £5,400 last year. You really do wonder what other amazing revelations are going to crawl out now that the MPs' Expenses can of worms has been prised open!

Recently, we had the unedifying spectacle of MPs apparently agonising over whether or not to give themselves a sub-inflationary pay award this year---like the ones they were expecting other public sector workers to swallow. They finally seemed to accept that not to do so could have very serious consequences. If these are the sort of fiddles they get up to with their expenses, though, you can see why they could afford to be so magnanimous!

We are regularly told that politics in the UK is much less corrupt than in many other countries. I wonder if it's more the case that we are a bit more subtle about our corruption in Britain?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Shed of the Year 2008?

The New Shed 2
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
When we moved to our current house 15-16 years ago the shed in the garden was in an advanced state of decrepitude. We did store some stuff in it, but the roof started leaking and the whole thing just went from bad to worse.

I've wanted to get a new shed for a while, and the opportunity arose at the end of last year. I was hoping to avoid maintenance, so I looked at various metal sheds, some of which were very expensive. We had some work done in the garden at the same time and I asked the guy in charge if he and his men would be prepared to build a metal shed for me. He said that they had previously agreed to construct a metal shed for a lady in a nearby town, but it had turned out so complicated that his men were still mentally scarred as a result! They really didn't want to get involved in the process again. Hence, I ended up getting this lovely wooden shed supplied and constructed from an excellent firm in Kilmarnock.

Although I'm very pleased with my shed, I don't have the emotional attachment to it that some men seem to have. This, for example is a shed made to look like a Roman Temple, and owned by a guy called Tony. The bizarre structure won the title of Shed of the Year 2007. While my shed is new and shiny I was thinking of submitting it for the 2008 competition, but looking at the contenders, I don't think I'm in the same league as these guys.

To be honest, though, I don't think I want to be!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Every Car Should Have One

I'm not a great fan of gadgets in cars. To me things like electric sunroofs and heated seats are just more things to go wrong. It was one of my favourite blogs, Bifurcated Rivets, that made me aware of the Trunk Monkey.

Now I wouldn't go anywhere without my little furry friend.