Archive for July 12th, 2006

Human condition: daft?

TigerI have done over 12 hours work today and my mind can take no more. I decided that I would relax, pre-yardarm, by seeing how many examples of ‘daftness’ I could find in the Press. It did not take long. Fark is always a good source.

First up – we have the case of a 19 year old girl having her arm chewed by a rare tiger at Dublin Zoo. Apparently, she crossed two fences, waded through some vegetation and put her arm through a 20 foot high fence. She had been drinking according to the report. The tiger found her arm very attractive. The tiger will not be destroyed.

Then we have The Sun reporting that ‘chart sensation’ Lily Allen says she will celebrate a No 1 by taking ‘Gak’ (Cocaine) – no doubt, her producer from the record company will be absolutely delighted that she has chosen to reveal this to The Sun and her customers, who are probably fairly impressionable young people. But, not content with this, Lily reveals that she started on drugs when she 13, took the view “Not that drugs are good but if you do them in moderation then they’re fine.” and then, just to make sure her record company took note, she slagged off Kylie Minogue – who is managed by the same record company. She’ll go far.

And finally..when I didn’t think it could get that much more inane…we have Chain Saw Man (again, from The Sun – don’t they have normal stories in The Sun ?)

“A MAN who tried to burst into a bar with a revving chainsaw has been banned from every pub in Britain. “

Right…quite enough of that… it is time to shower and consider which Red I shall drink of tonight. I shall return to more mundane and more serious matters – but, possibly, not tonight.

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Shock Doctorror

I have this day been awarded a Ph.D by the University of Winnebago, USA, for my experience of life (the universe and everything?) and the cap fits well, if somewhat bizarrely. As it happens, the red mortar board is quite hot, but I can tell you, when I swanned into The Swan in ‘North Chiswick’ last night wearing it, I was greeted with reverence – which is not usually the case.

No…of course I did not realise that the Institution is a sham, nor, when I bunged them $3000, that I was the victim of a cruel scam.

Difficult to avoid – but there is an interesting libel case going on in the High Court with hypnotist, Paul McKenna (Who has a legit Ph.d) suing over a ‘bogus’ Ph.d claim. The Guardian report tells the story well, so it need not be rehearsed here – and it is lunch time and I have little time for elaboration.

Briefly: Victor Lewis-Smith wrote in The Mirror (2003) that McKenna’s first Ph.d was a sham – “It’s a load of doc and bull”. The Guardian reports: “In fact, La Salle university was not as it seemed: in late 1996 the former president, Thomas Kirk, admitted to the FBI that it was not officially accredited; the following year he was jailed for five years for fraud. “

It will be interesting to see what the High Court decides about the alleged libel. I shall now strip myself of my unearned Ph.D (but keep the cap for occasional nights out) and leave the Ph.d earning to those who have to work extremely hard to get them – and then wander what they are going to do with them.

EDIT: 28 JULY  McKenna wins libel case  Here is my brief observation on that

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ID card fiasco in the best British tradition

Having to carry another bit of plastic about does not trouble me unduly – what troubles me is what that bit of plastic can do. Yes, it is unlikely that I will have anything to worry about because I don’t tend to get involved in terrorism, drug running, bank robbery or any other conduct likely to bring terror to the streets of Great britain. Would ID cards have prevented 7/7? The general view, seems not. Can we be absolutely sure that ID cards cannot be forged? The jury is undecided. If fraudulent estate agents can get fake passports for £750 quid, and ‘villains’ seem to be quote adept with modern technology, it is more than probable that ID cards can be forged, iris lenses will be developed and fingerprints faked – enough, at least to defeat computer technology. Who knows.

We are on more certain ground with the proposition that there are civil servants ‘holding their heads in their hands’ explaining that they explained that the computer systems simply won’t work. The government, of course, has an impeccable record rolling out computerised systems on time, on budget and which work. However… it seems that the government is softening up the British public for the disappointment that we will not have ID cards on time, or at all. See: Independent article

However.. I shall not be disappointed if the ID card plan is buried. Gordon Brown is rumoured to be not keen on the idea and, as for the Tories, who knows what they will think if and when they get into power – because their views at the moment are, at best, unformed – pre-election posturing is easy.

I have no desire for the government to be able to track my movements to various pubs, bars, parts of the country and sundry other places when my card is swiped.

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One way ticket to an orange jumpsuit?

Tomorrow the Natwest Three will fly to the US guarded by US Marshalls and will be detained, for some time in a Texaxs penitentiary pending trial, unless they reach agreement with the Houston authorities on bail. The House of Lords declined to hear their appeal.

The US authorities want $1million each and the deeds to houses as security, prompting Mark Spragg, lawyer for the three me, to say “The US authorities are starving them of the money to pay their lawyers.”

Both Houses of Parliament expressed opposition last night to the future extradition of British nationals until the US ratify the UK-US extradition treaty. Baroness Scotland is being sent to the US to urge the Senate to ratify.

The Telegraph reports Maurice Mendelson, QC, the emeritus professor of law at London University, as saying: “My chief concern about the case of the NatWest Three is the lack of reciprocity in the operation of the extradition treaty. On the whole, extradition law is based on each state accepting the same obligations.”

Sir Digby Jones, the former CBI director general, warned: “It is going to take a long, long time for the business community to forgive the Government for this.”

Meanwhile Blair, who pledged to ‘do everything he can’ to ensure the Natwest Three get bail, has not succeeded. Another example of our special relationship?

PS…  Apparently the Three will not be wearing orange jumpsuits for their court appearance.  They will be green – but they will be in chains. Why the chains?   Are they likely to bolt?  Are they likely to headbutt the judge?

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