Friday, November 26, 2004

Of sheep and men

Griff is a 4 year old prize ram that weighs 20 stone and measures 6ft from nose to tail. He is probably the biggest sheep in the world. Home is Beverley, East Yorkshire and he is very popular with visiting children and generates enough income for the family Richardson who have kept sheep since the 19th century. His fleece is exported to Japan where it is used to stuff futon mattresses and he sires 80 lambs a year.

But that's not all to the life of sheep. Two ornamental sheep were stolen from a Norfolk garden.The owner resigned herself to never seeing them again. Three years later the wooly cut-outs appeared along with photos documenting their travels. The album, Larry and Sean's Holiday Photos included snaps of the pair sipping cocktails on a beach in Goa, socialising with camels in Pushkar and gazing at the Taj Mahal. The overjoyed owner thought the whole endeavour was fantastic.

Larry and Sean's Holiday Photos

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Morbid Serendipity

Found this week that Natasha was actually half Iraqi and spent her childhood in Baghdad. Further discussions revealed we actually barely knew particular details about her life, just this great kind spirit. Not even an enemy was spared from her help. But the little known of her is so precious to us and will be treasured for long afterwards. Her bereft husband now decides what to do with their new home in that great expansive flatland which will be doubly cold and exposed in winter.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Teenage Kicks of the Undertones

The legendary BBC Radio One guru John Peel played the 1978 indie single "Teenage Kicks" ot The Undertones until the grooves wore flat. Recently he said that he rated songs from albums with stars - three stars for may play, four stars for must play ,up to a maximum of five stars for definitely must play. For this, his favourite song, he gave 28 stars.
One of the band framed and presented the original lyrics, with corrections crossed all over, to him on his 60th birthday. John had to disappear for 15 minutes to have a good cry. John was a one-off radio presenter. There never will be another like him , no apprentice waiting in the wings to take over.

What better tribute to the late John Peel than to play his song.
Teenage Kicks of the Undertones

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Indian legacy

The world owes so much to the tribal Indians of America.

Nearly half the world's leading food crops can be traced to plants first domesticated by American Indians. The cornucopia of nutritous plants include potatoes, peanuts, manioc (tapioca) , beans, tomatoes, sunflowers and yams. Maize was far the most significant, now grown on every continent except Antartica.
Their strains of domesticated corn and potatoes helped reduce hunger and disease in Europe. Indians also introduced the cultivation and use of tobacco.

With the UK planning to introduce gambling soon, if it's modelled after the most successful Indian casinos the Mashantucket Pequot Foxwoods complex in Conneticut, which boasts the world's biggest casino, there's no worries.
377 casinos support 400,000 jobs and generate 15 billion dollars annually compared to all Nevada's casinos combined 9.5 billion dollars. In 1988 Congress passed a bill allowing tribes to offer gambling under certain conditions.

Revenue from the Miccosukkee's bingo , video , gambling and lotto operation near the Everglades pays for tribal members' health care, education and housing. It also helps finance the tribe's legal push for a government funded restoration of the wetlands. The controversial multi-billion dollar project is designed to return natural water flow and reduce pollution over the next 30 years.

Off to buy a lottery ticket.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Guess where the Baghdad Blogger went

went to mow a meadow

I posted this at the JavaRanch ( slightly diluted) but as usual the thread was deleted. And I was so hoping that it would stay showing we can at least learn to be mature (and meaningless? ). After all I've got them to thank (particularly Mapraputa Is and Thomas Paul and a few others which would take too long to mention) for giving the world more than a passing glance. Poverty comes in all forms.

The highlight of the news was that Salam Pax was sent to Washington by the Guardian.
At the airport he was screened twice. On his second screening he was asked,"Are you religious?" by someone wearing a tiny cross. He wanted to reply honestly "No, I dropped that hot potato a long time ago" but then felt like replying "It's really none of your business". He feels ashamed that what he actually says is "No sir, I am not religious and I don't know how to prove it to you".

Then waiting to board the plane he gets asked to spread his legs and lift his arms while they pat him down. He feels homesick. It's just like entering the green zone in Baghdad except everyone is so friendly here.

Salam discovered a weblog last August written by Sean Turningtables an American
soldier. He wrote " I hope we uncover all the banned weapons that we said were here," it said. "Then all of this will have served a glorious purpose that no one can argue with. I need to know that I helped unplug a dangerous beast before it struck. I want all of this to go down in history as "the right thing to do".

Salam thought Turningtables blog written when the soldier was in Baghdad was funny, had a distinctive voice and somehow did not fit in with The Terminator image of US soldiers in Baghdad. The soldier now lives and works in DC after finishing a six-year enlistment. They meet up for dinner. Turningtables has blogged about the event.
They laugh over how badly sounds popping affect them. 4th of July fireworks makes the soldier very jumpy. Salam tells of how he ducked when a car back-fired in London. They talk of going to some good clubs to "get down and get crazy".
When it's time to go home they shake hands and hug. Salam tells him he really doesn't understand what he was doing in Baghdad.
" I was there because I was ordered to be there. My personal feelings mean nothing.I'm cool with that. I don't work in a democracy- I work for one."turningtables

That colour scheme must have been designed specifically for military blogs.

From that blog e-rocky-confidential:

There’s really an abundance of Iraqi blogs, and it can be difficult to keep up. The original rising star, whose name may or may not be Salam Pax, seems to have laid his site to rest, but he was just the beginning (not that his was the first Iraqi blog, necessarily— I have no idea— but it was certainly one of the best, and he’s the one with a book now published in umpteen different languages). The author’s erstwhile co-blogger Raed is posting his own (apparently less optimistic) blog these days, and Salam has been out there collecting data on the casualties of war.

My current favorite is written by Zeyad, an Iraqi dentist with a stunning command of the region’s history and an enthusiasm for English-language satire. He’s got a run-down of the newest crop of young bloggers (which I’ve yet to investigate) at his site, Healing Iraq.

It's nice to catch up with these guys.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Bright spirit never still
There's service to be done
Dear ones or perfect strangers
People just acquainted, befriended
Long before painful direness chances by
Bright spirit rushes laughingly to press upon
Gifts of kind words or small deeds

So tragically a life snuffed
To eternal rest bright spirit summoned
As angels and archangels rejoice to trumpets and fanfare

Natasha, thank you for living your life with such perfect example.

Natasha is a family friend, half Iranian half Parisien who, while driving on her way home this evening, was tragically killed. My sister got a call at 19:30. She commuted 130 km each way daily from Leicester to London, whence she and her husband decided to relocate to a quieter part of the country, promising to give this commuting up soon. She leaves behind a very devoted and beloved husband and two sons just married. Natasha day-dreamed longingly of the days when she'd become a grandmother.