Category Archives: General

Charlie Hebdo”s vault into the Limelight.

A week ago, I suspect like most of the world’s population, I knew nothing whatsoever of Charlie Hebdo – a satirical magazine produced in Paris. The savage murder of 12 of its staff was indeed a deplorable action, the result of which was to bring people together in retaliation and defiance, and to blast the name Charlie Hebdo around the world.

If the intention of the attack was to avenge the Prophet for Charlie Hebdo’s satire of him, it failed miserably. It has in fact engendered defiance, it has welded the French nation together like nothing ever before, and drawn most of the world in support of France. And the magazine’s circulation has multiplied by a factor of about 15, apparently, if all 3 million of the new issue to be printed are sold.

There will, of course be repercussions. Already there is muttering in the UK of the “Snooper’s Charter” being brought in after the next election, which will be fought tooth and nail as being too restrictive for most Internet users, and a violation of their rights.

In general, not being a lover of satirical cartoons, I do not deliberately look for them. But one, however, did claim my attention completely. It says everything, even in death!

finger

The Finger!

It is probably also the right thing to send to Kraft, who have provoked the ire of the British public by interfering with the recipe and reducing the size of the Cadbury’s Cream Egg.
See The Cadbury’s Creme Egg scandal: how to stage a chocolate revolution.

My great Outlander Binge!

OutlanderI had downloaded the first part of the Outlander after first checking what it was all about, and looking for ratings. I always check first on Rotten Tomatoes, for I consider it a waste of time and money to download something that isn’t liked by other people that have seen it. I generally reject everything below 50%, so it was good to see that the viewer’s rating for Outlander was up at 96%.

Although the content wasn’t what I would usually go for, the time travel aspect was certainly of interest, so I looked forward to my first viewing with anticipation.

I wasn’t disappointed! In fact, I was completely hooked. I downloaded whatever was available on the Internet, which amounted to 8 issues of the first series, and then looked around for more!

There was nothing else in video available, but my need was great. What else was on offer?

A quick search under the author’s name revealed that there was a range of material in e-book form, which covered most of her output to-date.

That was for me!

I downloaded all of them, and set to it.

Of course it is more effort to read something than to just watch a video, and essentially slower. But the first 8 episodes had already set the scene, so there was little left to the imagination, and the reading went splendidly. However, the amount of material to get through meant that I would be busy for a week or so. No matter, it was just what I needed. The list reads as follows:-

Outlander
Dragonfly in Amber
Voyager
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone

I still have one to get “Written In My own Heart’s Blood”, but my hunger has been sated for a while, and it can wait a bit.

“Hats off” to Diana Gabaldon – a very accomplished and prolific author. And to think that The OUTLANDER series started by accident, when she decided to write a novel for practice!

If you have the time – highly recommended!

Snippets

1. Access to WordPress

It has been a frustrating week, with access to WordPress being intermittent, or non-existent – hence the lack of posts. I am hoping that with an update to my browser that at least some of the problems have been resolved. Its good to be back – I’ve missed you!

I did find other options to get to my blog, but I won’t detail those unless it becomes necessary.

2. Introducing a new friend.
Bitmeter2
I mentioned previously that I had to change to the latest version of Opera, which entailed the loss of an important facility – the Data Transfer Rate indication. Since then, I have managed to find an alternative – “Bitmeter2” – which does the job I need very nicely. It is a free program from Rob Dawson, a freelance software developer from Manchester in the UK, who has done an excellent job with this!

You want one too? Go here!

3. The Real Horrors of Gaza.

What you may see in the media is often bad enough, but usually will not depict the full brutality of the situation, as such pictures are too gruesome for general use.

If you want to see what is really happening to those poor people, it is superbly documented in both poetry and picture by http://palestinerose.wordpress.com/

Just be prepared for the reality!

4. Whichever way you turn – Fracked!

Despite all the protest and uproar, the government is intent on ignoring the wishes of the public, and doing what the hell it wants – again!

Half of Britain to be opened up to fracking

However, no damage has actually been done yet, so there is still time to work on the problem, and try to avert disaster.

Need options? Try the following:-
Frack Off – Extreme Energy Action Network
British Anti-Fracking Action Network
Sign now for a Frack-Free UK!

(PS. For the last one, you will have to enter a valid-looking phone number, they check!)

The Reluctant Commuter.

For most of my working life, commuting has been an unfortunate necessity. Although I started with the luxury of a couple of years in the Royal Air Force, where everything was in easy walking distance, the problems confronted me as soon as I left. My first commute was by bicycle, the only form of transport I had at the time, but it was rather too long for comfort. I was able to solve part of the problem at least by taking the bicycle with me on the train for part of the journey – complicated, but convenient.

Moving closer to work reduced the scale of the problem, and the train journey was no longer necessary, but to be out in all weathers, as one is on a bicycle, was not much fun at times – especially when there was snow or ice on the ground.

Although I admit to sometimes enjoying driving down leafy country lanes in Springtime, with the window down, and the fresh morning air in my face, I have never regarded commuting as a pleasurable pastime – more a painful necessity that has to be endured.

Whenever I contemplated taking a new job, the commute was always taken into consideration. So when I see a headline “London’s soaring house prices make a long commute a little more attractive“, I know exactly what people are up against.

The problem is that it is not only London that is affected. In any town or city with a reasonable chance of local employment, the price of housing will be higher than some can afford, and they will of necessity have to look further away if they wish to purchase a property.

It would be many years before I again achieved that optimum – to be able to walk to work. And I even went one better – go downstairs to work. This really is the ultimate, working from home, but there are usually other considerations that take some of the edge off the advantage. You will probably have to run your own company, for example, which means extra workload unless you pay someone to do it for you.

No, there really is only one answer to the problem – stop working!

Seriously! Find something that you enjoy doing, work at it as hard as you can while keeping your expenses down to a minimum. The idea is to save money to support yourself without working for a while. If you are not working, you don’t have to outlay the cost and the time invested in commuting – an extra bonus.

Then, find a way of earning money on the Internet, or simply

Retire early!

Guest Post – Vegan Vitality

by Lisa Webster

On Thursday 12th June I was staying overnight in London for the first time in a long while and the question arose, where on earth shall I eat dinner? London is such a vast place; I didn’t really know where to start. However, having a vegan friend kind of narrowed down the choice of restaurants somewhat and made it much quicker and simpler to choose a place to dine out.

So, my friend Ann booked the two of us a table at Vitao, just recently opened at their new location in Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court tube station. It’s very easy to get to, simply turn left out of the tube station, walk a few paces and you’re there!

I’m not vegan, nor am I vegetarian but I’m open to trying different foods – and this was delicious! Not only that, the service was excellent and the price extremely reasonable. We each had a drink, a main meal and a dessert for a total of £48, that’s just £24 each! And if you’re into presentation, well, just take a look at the pictures below of what we ordered….

I came out of there feeling satisfied, full, happy and pleasantly surprised and would love to have the opportunity to eat there again.

Here’s what we ordered:
Non-alcoholic cocktails
Non-alcoholic cocktails
Thai Dish
Thai Dish
Mexican Enchilada
Mexican Enchilada
Raspberry and Chocolate Torte
Raspberry and Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Ganache

Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday 12am to 11pm
Sunday 12am to 9pm

http://www.vitao.co.uk/index.html

Vitao Ground Floor 25-27 Oxford Street, London W1D 2DW tel: 0207 439 8237

Achieving the Impossible – Without Even Trying!

Occasionally I get an email from Paypal, which I usually ignore, but this one was a little different.

It said I sent a payment to Evolution RC Ltd. for 102.05 Canadian Dollars – would I like to cancel the transaction?
Payment
This is all very nice having time to think things over, and having the chance to change your mind if you have made a mistake, but there were some problems with it!

    1. I don’t have any Canadian Dollars
    2. I don’t know who Evolution RC Ltd. is.
    3. I don’t know what the payment was for.

If there is anybody out there that does, and wants to take over the action on this one, here is the Transaction ID: 281138078J760221L

In the meantime, I suggest that Paypal get its house in order and stop sending me emails that I don’t need.

Why don’t I need them?

I don’t have a Paypal account!

Why is he lying down there – Naked?

I confess, I don’t have an answer for the question in the title just yet, but I can give you an explanation of why it is there.

I woke up this morning with a bunch of things on my mind – one of them being the difficulty of maintaining an Internet connection worthy of the name, (ie. reasonable speed and availability), and hence of replying to comments, and of thanking people individually for signing up to follow this blog.

So …

I needed a way of doing this in a more general manner. To be effective, it had to attract as many people as possible to view it. To maximise the number of viewers, I needed a title that would GRAB ATTENTION.

I didn’t have to think long and hard about it at all, that was the strange thing about it. It just arrived!

I won’t go into the metaphysics of the thought process here, that would not be productive. Its enough to say that this happens to me from time to time – thoughts arrive as though they are independent beings – and I just accept them for what they are.

I have been taking part in the 101 and 201 challenges (more or less), and although I did not complete either of them, they have both been very instructive and helpful. I have seen the number of followers increase from a mere 5 to a current 24, which is really gratifying. I thank you all most sincerely. The number of “Likes” has also increased considerably – another indication that I am writing things that people are happy to read – which is very good to know.

I will continue to make individual contact wherever I can, but if you don’t hear from me directly, don’t think I have forgotten you!

To all you spammers out there, I repeat – Don’t Bother! You will only be deleted.

There is some good news too. A recent article I read on the BBC website was “Sense of purpose ‘adds years to life’“, and that is my feeling too. So I could be around for a whole lot longer to regale you with posts about this and that.

I won’t mention the beer fund at all. I will only say that the temperatures are uncomfortably high here, and I am still thirsty! Oh yes, and that other thing I heard somewhere “Don’t clap, just throw money!”

As for the title, it is intriguing isn’t it! I really need to think about that a little, and see if I can weave something together. I have a few ideas already. I’ll work on it.

Happy Blogging!

Courageous, Well-Meaning, but perhaps Naive?

I fully expect opinions to be polarised between the sexes on this matter, but it really is natural enough that they should be.

Why I posed naked and natural

Dr Victoria Bateman, economics fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, most certainly has courage in good measure. To write an article for a national newspaper which includes a painting of her own naked body is not something the average female would contemplate in a thousand years.

Her stated intention for doing this was to “raise questions about the depiction of women and to challenge the blinkered association between the body and sex; to show that the female figure is something that a woman walks around with every moment in her life – that it is not, therefore, purely sexual.”

My own experience indicates that the naked female body is not necessarily sexual – it depends very much on the way it is depicted. It can be posed to deliberately arouse a viewer, or it can be completely neutral.

I remember a camera club shoot with a naked model that left me with a whole bunch of very mixed emotions:-

    Embarrassment at sitting in front of a naked lady
    Gratitude that I was being given such a priviledge
    Admiration for the courage of the model involved
The one thing that was conspicuous by its absence was – Sexual Attraction!

No, I think we have to take a step back and think about the process of attraction between the sexes from a different viewpoint. After all, how often is it that you walk down the street and see a naked lady?

(It has actually happened to me once, but not in the UK. It was quite a shock, I can tell you!).

What is the most immediate source of information about any person, of either sex?

The Face.

When we walk down the street, we see faces. We assess them as we go along. We separate them into classifications –

    Those that we know (or not)
    Those that we would like to talk to (or not)
    Those that we find attractive (or not)
    Those that we would share a bed with (or not)

If we find a face that attracts us, we will turn around to try to see it again – the so-called “Double Take“. If the person of interest has done the same thing, as could well happen, it is a sure sign that we are also of interest to them. After that, it only takes a fleeting lock of glances to establish a rapport between them and us.

Love at first sight? Why yes – of course!

Lust at first sight? Most certainly!

The hard part is to differentiate between the two – love and lust. That requires much more than visual contact.

Then how does a painting or a photograph of a naked lady compare to the real thing?

It doesn’t, it can’t, it is totally inert.

Then why is there such a trade in pornography and pictures of naked ladies at all?

I suspect that such substitutes are used as focal points by people that need them while masturbating, but I am not well informed on this point. Any ideas?

So, while I thank Dr Bateman for her courageous article, and commend the artist on his excellent portrait, I maintain that the point of the matter has been missed entirely:-

Its all in the Eyes!