Friday, September 29, 2006

When I'm feeling blue

Is life getting you down?
Are all things going wrong?
Wipe away that frown,
And listen to my song....

Raindrops on noses and whiskers all soggy,
Clothes ripped by roses on days dull and foggy
Soft wormy apples gone mouldy and bad
These are the things that make me sad.

Grumpy old beggars with snotty moustaches
Snowstorms that freeze up my hair and eyelashes
Brown paper envelopes, each with a bill
These are the things that make me ill.

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When the sailors curse
I simply remember that life is no good
And that makes me feel much worse.

Rickety wardrobes with pull-away handles
Slippery sand that seeps into my sandals
Motor-car engines that splutter and choke
These are the things that gie me the boak.

Clouds grey and sleeting on snip-snappy poodles
Pies with no meat in and green soggy noodles
School-dinner custard that's lumpy and thick
These are the things that make me sick.

When the toast falls
On the jam side
And the fat lady sings
I rattle my fist and I write out a list
Of my least favourite things.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The astrologers lament

With poor old Pluto out of the game, what's going to happen to all those horoscopes which rely on his influence? And what about all those Scorpios without a planet to rule them? And those astrology books which explain how Pluto, with its change of sign every generation, has been the underlying force of history for the past centuries, even though it was only discovered in 1930?
Oh dear, it's a sad time for astrologers everywhere. They had managed to incorporate the subtle guidance of Pluto into their comprehensive system, and now it's all been taken away from them - woe, woe, thrice woe!
Do you think part of the reason the IAU decided to demote Pluto was to seriously piss off the astrologers? Sadly, probably not, but it must feel oh so good even so. Astronomers probably loathe the trine and square brigade as much as I do iridologists.
I've not seen any astrologers on TV recently talking about this. Maybe they're hoping for it to be forgotten quickly, so that they can go back to bilking the public with one less planet to work with.
Fat chance! Do you want to know how to wind up an astrologer now?
Three words:




Sunday, September 24, 2006

Over on channel beep

I'm having an interesting discussion over on Beep beep it's me, on two threads. One about the Exodus, and another about the Resurrection. Why not get over there now, and join in before she moves onto another topic. The comments section for both is getting quite long, people seem to be posting screeds (myself included), as opposed to the normal short pithy paragraphs.

How I wish I could get a comment thread this long on this blog. I'm sure it'll happen one day. I've only been going four months. It takes time to build up a readership, and I know I have you, my band of regulars. Knowing that there is an audience, gives me the strength to persevere.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Heigh ho, heigh ho.

Well, my three week break is over and I'm now back at work. It's as if I've never been away. Next week I've got a four day week. This may not seem much, but the shifts I work are from 0730 until 2030. That's thirteen hours, but I don't get paid for my two half hour meal breaks. Normally I work three days a week. That makes 36 hours. A full time working week is thirty seven and a half hours. So what we do is add up those extra 1.5 hours to make an extra day every eight weeks. And I'm working it next week.
Still, can't complain, I prefer doing it this way. I'm used to the long days now. The hours after teatime are invaluable for getting loose ends tied up. And I love all those days off.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nukes for Iran

Why should Iran give up its nuclear ambitions? Its neighbours have nuclear weapons. An attack by the USA seems to be on the cards. For Iran to have nukes then is only sensible. Iran is a country with a democratically elected president and government. What right do other countries have to interfere in its internal affairs? How would Britons feel if we were told to dispose of our nuclear deterrent by the UN. Or how would Americans feel if they were ordered to close Guantanamo Bay... (Um...these are not terribly good examples are they?)
What about Britons being forced to spell things the American way? And Americans having to play rugby and cricket instead of football and baseball?
The purpose of nuclear weapons is to dissuade attack. If America tries to invade Iran, it would be a disaster of biblical proportions. What's needed is another Cold War in the Middle East, just to keep a lid on tensions until a new generation comes to power and diplomatic solutions have time to be worked towards.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hoddit and Doddit

President Ahmadinejad of Iran is currently visiting President Chavez of Venezuela. They're doing the usual diplomatic stuff, signing treaties and stuff. It really is a bizarre combination. Now Venezuela and Cuba I can understand, they're both Latin American countries with an antipathy towards the USA. But Venezuela and Iran? Apart from being major oil producers, and opposed to US imperialism, what do they have in common? *
The political set-ups of the new millennium are evolving. The Country as a unit of administration is slowly moving towards the Continental Region as a political/economic structure. China is the oldest by far, followed by Russia, India and the USA. Europe is coalescing fast. Pan-Islamiyya - the uniting of all the countries of the crescent - is as yet a far off dream, but is feasible, given the common languages and religion. A unified Latin America is even more feasible, given the dominance of Spanish (except in Brazil**)
Which brings us back to these two leaders. Imagine the strength of a Pan-Islamiyya/Pan-Latina alliance compared to the present Europe/USA alliance. Serious competition I think.
Anyway, in the wake of the Pope's verbal gaffe, these two leaders at least, are showing that it is possible for Muslims and Catholics to overcome the religious divide and work together. This can only be a good thing, right?

*We may have the beginnings of a Monty Python sketch here.
**But Portuguese is easily translated. Just change all the -cion suffixes to -cao***
***I haven't worked out how to put a squiggle**** over the o. Just pretend it's there.
****The squiggle probably has a name. I can't think of it at the moment.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hit or myth?

In the aftermath of Star Wars, back in the late seventies, there was a slew of sword and sorcery films such as Hawk the Slayer, Lord of the Rings - the original animated version, Dragonslayer, and, according to a friend of mine who says it's the best film ever - Krull! A bit later, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a couple of outings as Conan, and George Lucas had an attempt with Willow.
There are a lot of fine fantasy novels, but we had to wait for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, before we had a truly epic fantasy film. It wasn't the special effects that were the problem - they were good for the era - the actual plots were all a bit weak.
(Warning - plot spoilers ahead)
In Dragonslayer, Ralph Richardson plays a wizard who dies in the first act, returns to life in the final act only to do a suicide bombing on the dragon. In Willow, it is prophesied that the baby will bring about the destruction of the villianess, in fact it's Willow that does it. The baby is irrelevant. In fantasy fiction, prophesies should be iron-clad. They may not unfold as the characters expect, but the prophecy must be fulfilled to the letter. George Lucas has redeemed himself by incorporating the best example of a fictional prophecy - Anakin Skywalker bringing balance to the Force - in the Star Wars epic.
Which of these films is your favourite? My vote goes to Dragonslayer.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Vale Xena, Ave Eris

Just in case you've missed it, dwarf planet 2003UB313 has now been officially named Eris, after the greek goddess of discord. Its moon is Dysnomia, after the goddess of lawlessness. They were nicknamed after their discovery Xena and Gabrielle, after a well known television show. Xena was played by Lucy Lawless, and though the moon's name is an obvious pun, it was not intentional, but when it was pointed out, they decided to go with it anyway. So it is a sort of tribute.
The only thing is, these two worlds have been Xena and Gabrielle for three years, and names have a habit of sticking. Who's to say that a planet can't have a proper name and a nickname? People do, objects do, why not worlds. There is a precedent: Arrakis and Dune!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Belt up!

On Monday it becomes law. Children under 1.65 metres will have to sit in a booster chair in the car. As an adult and a nurse, I approve of this safety measure, but it's going to cause a great deal of pain and misery. The smallest children in the class have enough problems. Now they're going to be discriminated against purely because of their stature. While other classmates do the school run as usual next week, they will be forced back into baby seats, with all the teasing and bullying that implies. I know I would be mortified. I was the youngest in my class, and the second smallest. If this law had come in back in the seventies, I would have been in a baby seat until I was nine or ten. The Tourette's was bad enough, imagine this on top!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does Gordon Brown have Tourette's? Or some form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? I'm wondering because I watched him give a speech yesterday on TV, and as he was speaking, he kept touching the top corner of his notes with his left hand every few seconds. To the layman, it might have looked as if he was straightening his notes, but to those of us in the know, it screamed tic. He also does that thing with the muscles in his lower jaw when he completes a sentence. He's in his fifties now, and the severity of any Tourette's will be much reduced, but it would be interesting to ask anyone who knew him when he was younger whether he had more noticable tics.
Not that it makes any difference to his Prime Ministerial ambitions. Barring any cock-ups of biblical proportions between now and when Mr Blair finally goes, Mr Brown will be our next Prime Minister. Whether he can win a fourth term for Labour is another matter entirely.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And the answer is...?

It's Mount Chimborazo of course, the highest mountain in Ecuador. It's only a degree away from the equator, which means, because the Earth is an oblate spheroid, the summit is the one point on the Earth's surface that is furthest from the centre. Go here for more information.
Congratulations to Sapient Fridge who was first with the answer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What is the highest mountain in the world?

If you said Mt Everest, you're going with the easy answer. It's the highest mountain above sea level, but it's not the answer I'm looking for.
If you said Mauna Kea, you're getting higher. Everest is 8.848km above sea level, but Mauna Kea is over 9km from sea floor to summit. But it's still not the answer I'm looking for.
There is, in fact a mountain, who's summit is 2.1km higher than Everest's. And that mountain is...?
Tune in tomorrow to find out.

(Man, I love cliffhangers)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mair mud

Apparently, the BBC showed an amended version. Berger doesn't slam the phone down, but just looks indecisively into the distance. Whatever. It still didn't happen. It looks like American Airlines might take legal action. No word yet from A, B & C (Allbright, Berger & Clinton). Early days yet.
I didn't watch it again tonight. Instead I finally caught LA Confidential. Cool movie.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More mud on the path

I've just switched off the Path to 9/11. I'm not going to waste five hours of valuable blogging time watching Bush's propaganda. If you're reading this, and you've actually watched it, remember that what you've seen was a fictional drama, based on a historic event. It has errors, that misrepresent what actually happened. The first scene - where Atta's name comes up on the airline computer as a warning - didn't happen.
The climactic scene at the end of the first part - where the NSA boss slams the phone down on his agent, ensuring that Bin Laden goes free - didn't happen. Bill Clinton being too distracted by Monica Lewinsky to hunt down Bin Laden - didn't happen.
The film is a deliberate attempt to smear the Clinton administration before the November elections, and the BBC are party to this. All I ask is that you spread the word.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The muddy path

The big news all over the Blogosphere just now is the scandalous Disney TV movie The Path to 9/11, which they have admitted publicly has been fictionalised to make it appear that the Clinton administration are to blame for allowing the tragedy to take place. The film cost $40 million to make, but there will be no advertising during the screening. This, in effect, is a donation by the Disney Corporation to the Republican party of a piece of prime time propaganda. One hopes that what they receive in return for this largesse will be worth the loss in good will from the American people. Already, panic measures are taking place, Scholastic have pulled out of producing a discussion guide to be given to schools concurrently with the airing of the show.
Guess what? We get to see the film before the Americans. It's being shown tonight (the 10th) on BBC 2, the day before they see it. I hope the BBC realise that they're opening themselves to some serious legal sanctions. The film is defamatory, and there are laws against that sort of thing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Resistance is futile

I've been through a week's backlog of mail, including my Nursing Standard. Reading through it, I see that 90,000 NHS staff have still to be assimilated to the Agenda for Change payscale. That includes me. I was hoping to see my letter of notification amongst that mail backlog, but it didn't happen. Until I receive that letter, I can't get my hands on the arrears that have been building up since October 2004. Rumour has it, that there's a couple of thousand (£) waiting for us. (Cha-ching!)
All I hope is, that this is the last time they restructure the NHS wage structure, until after I retire, anyway, and that's a couple of decades away. It's been a major hassle. I don't think anyone foresaw how complicated an operation it was going to be. I feel the problem is one of trust. We have none! We feel the Government is out to shaft us with weasel words. Unless we nail them down with cast-iron guarantees, they'll wriggle out of any commitment, and sell us down the river. (How many mixed metaphors in that?) Last year's heckling of the Health Secretary, what's-her-face, at the RCN conference was merely a public manifestation of our mood.
How good a deal is AfC, if the doctors and senior managers don't want to be involved, anyway?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What I did on my summer holiday.

I'm back! I've been on my summer holidays on a round trip of Britain, from my home here near Edinburgh to Cambridge, then on to the south coast in Hampshire, returning via the Lake District today. I've driven nearly one thousand miles over the last week, and I've only had to fill up twice. The weather has been hot. Going three hundred miles south really makes a difference to the climate. I've been in T-shirts the whole time, even at night!
We went to the Historic Docks at Portsmouth, and saw the Mary Rose, the Warrior and Victory. It was interesting seeing the development of naval warships from Tudor times to the Victorian era.
If you were in Cambridge last weekend and saw or heard fireworks, we were right there, celebrating a family birthday.
I am now returned, refreshed and respirited (12-year old malt whisky) and ready to blog!