21 Apr 2014

And Then Some History….

With the horrific sinking of the South Korean ferry and the recent sinking of the Concordia, with such sad loss of life, I’m unfortunately of an age to remember a marine adventure that gripped this country and the US back in 1951-2. This is, for sure, the first thing I remember being absolutely riveted to on the wireless, along with the entire population, other than ‘Journey Into Space’ and ‘Life With The Lions’. It was, on reflection a ‘growing-up a little bit’ moment for me.

In truth, we shouldn’t compare the alleged actions of the Captains of the two recent disasters, as we don’t know the full stories, with the actions of a Master and Chief Mate during those far off 14 days of 1951-2 .

But……

Anyone out there remember the ‘Flying Enterprise’, her Captain
Henrik Kurt Carlsen and Chief Mate Kenneth Dancy of the tug, ‘Turmoil’?

                             Carlson   

Man, that was some adventure was it not?

It all kicked off about 400 KM from Falmouth with the ‘Flying Enterprise’ being hit by a hurricane force storm. An SOS was sent out and Captain Carlsen got his crew and passengers off as vessels arrived to lend assistance.

Captain Carlsen remained with his ship, even though it was  was listing heavily to port and showing signs of breaking-up, to await the arrival of tugs.

Apparently Captain Carlsen spent his time, apart from staying alive, maintaining the ships log and drawing up details of any salvage agreement that would be required before tugs arrived and attempted to get a line on his ship.

When the tug ‘Turmoil’ rolled up the weather was too bad to get a line attached but later the Mate of the ‘Turmoil’, Kenneth Dancy, got aboard and the two of them managed to get a tow-line secured and a slow tow to Falmouth got crawling along.

Sadly, with only some 40 KM to run, the weather became extreme again, the tow parted, the ship listed yet further and the two guys were finally persuaded to leave the doomed ship.
{I well remember the news reporting that the two guys were repeatedly begged to leave the vessel and the two guys repeatedly refused.}

To give you some idea of the state of the ship when they finally left her – she was flat-out and they were able to walk along the funnel and jump into the sea to be picked up.

So, even though we don’t know  the full details of the recent tragedies, what little we do know would seem to suggest that a Masters duty to his passengers, crew and vessel have ‘moved on’ somewhat from those old days.

Quote;  Stephen King.

“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

19 Apr 2014

And Then Another Ultimatum….

Tensions are running high along the boarder between the wet-side and the dry-side after what has been described as a ‘totally unprovoked attack’, by an inhabitant of the wet-side, on Prime Sinister David Cummerbund.

The Foreign Supplicant, Willy Vague has condemned the sting operation in the strongest finger wagging way possible, stating that it was totally uncalled for as all Mr Cummerbund wanted to do was have an informal chat with a fringe limpet movement to explore ways he could help them get a sucker on the leavers of power with a further promise of joyously joining that EU lookin’ deal.  
“I can’t start to tell you how cross I am at this stinging of poor David,” whined Willy, “so soon after he’d found religion an’ all, and I’m calling upon the wet-side dwellers to reconsider their position before I turn loose the dogs of economic sanctions.  Also, let’s be, like, totally clear here; David is a ‘stinger’ and not a ‘stingee’.”

In a statement from the wet-side, a sack o’ jelly, said, “Economic what now?  Look, we’ve always had a pretty good relationship with dry-side dwellers even though summers can be trying. The breaching of our boarders by paddling people can be tolerated but when they barrel in with kids nets, scoop us up, stuff us in little buckets and leave us baking in the sun just to unceremoniously dump us back in the wet- side at tea-time, well, tempers can run a tad high. 
Us wet-side dwellers also get along with each other very well. Well, limpets are kind o’ weird lookin’ but we coexist quite happily with them holding the rocks and the rest of us just aimlessly drifting about. Then, out of the dry, along comes this weird guy and starts splashing about trying to stir the limpets up with promises of a big baby blue starry flag. Really, is that guy nuts? 
Do we regret our retaliation now another weird guy is waving a finger at us? Not at all. What we do regret is not waiting ‘till the first weird guy was over our boarder, up to his chest in the wet-side then simultaneously attacked his dangly bits and bottom. That’d work!”

The BBC are reporting that war is inevitable  as there are unconfirmed rumours that several Portuguese Men o’ War are now lazily circling Lanzarote……

Quote;  John Evans.

“The Internet is like a giant jellyfish. You can't step on it. You can't go around it. You've got to get through it.”

16 Apr 2014

And Then Normal or Not….

Sorry, this is a smoking related post so may I humbly suggest any Timidadians should leave now before they get tainted. Thank you. Careful; mind the ‘Q’ key!! There you go; yes, over that way. Thank you.

Right, I’ve been pondering a couple of words oft used by the public health people in their quest to stop the whole wide world from smoking and those words would be, ‘normalizing’ and  ‘de-normalising. Thus may I present a pretend tale showing that those two words can be very confusing dependant on which way you’re looking at the time. Ready? Sitting comfy?

There’s a big city and in this big city is a jolly big pub close to a subway station. Lots of people, upon finishing work at 17:00, stop at this pub for a quick drink prior to catching the train at 22:00. Pardon? An earlier train you say? I’ll get to that.

Let’s pretend that, of the pubs total clientele, 100 like a smoke. Let’s further pretend that these 100 smokers are always outside on the pavement together.

A none smoking or drinking fellow has to pass by the pub on his way to the station to catch the earlier train at 17:30. Let’s call this person ‘Boring’. Boring reflects, every evening, how disgustingly normalising it was to see so many smokers, looks like a hundred of ‘em, outside the pub but he’s heard that the wahoos at the WHO are campaigning vigorously to  de-normalise smoking. Boring, being a non-smoker, is unaware that the WHO’s de-normalising intent was to drive smokers outside where it unintentionally became normal for Boring and passers-by of all ages to see large groups of de-normalised smokers innocently normalising smoking.

Of the 100 smoky drinkers 75 really want to quit so they could sit inside on rainy or windy or rainy and windy evenings so they glued nicotine patches to themselves. Of these folk, going on the documented poor success rate of these patches, three finally manage to quit thus leaving just 97 smokers in the wild.

Boring passes by and notices not a jot of difference and still longs for the WHO to do that de-normalised thingy quickly as he’s concerned to see so many children pass by the smokers and fears they’ll become normalised smokers.

Then, as if by magic, along comes a bit o’ kit that’s quite possibly the most successful aid yet in helping people wean away from tobacco - vaping appliances – herein after called e-cigs.

The 97 remaining smokers decide to give it a go and of these, and a reasonable figure to use for a success rate would appear to be 23%, a further 22, okay 22 and a little bit of one, are now inside with the added help of the pub owner, a reasonable chap with a good grasp of common sense and business, who’s re-designated the old, long unused Smoking Room as a No Children Allowed Vaping Area.

When Boring now passes by he’s delighted to see a dramatic depletion of smokers outside the pub and comments to his friends that it was fast approaching the point where crossing the road to avoid allegedly deadly second-hand smoke and that horrible nicotine saturated brickwork was becoming unnecessary and further remarks to his chums, “Wow!! That WHO de-normalising smokers seems like it’s really hitting home now then!! It looks like day by day there are fewer and fewer smokers normalisedly smoking in full public view and tempting kiddies to smoke. Well done ’ol de-normalising wahoos!”

A moderately happy outcome you’d assume, with the pub full, Boring and other passers-by, and let’s not forget the kids, only having their delicate senses assailed occasionally by a slack hand-full of hard-core smokers and the WHO fellows absolutely delighted at the prospect of the totally unexpected success of their primary reason for existence; improving health.

Sadly but unsurprisingly, the ‘health’ zealots, rather than being happy with the outcome, became apoplectic with rage as they saw the alarming trend of people thinking and acting outwith their strict control parameters and using those fancy, cheap e-cig lookin’ dealy-bobs and, horror of horrors, using ‘em indoors, enjoying themselves and ‘normalising’, as they say, smoking again. After tightening their titanium head-bands to prevent explosions, an emergency meeting of the Wahoos was convened to sort the situation out and to ensure they regained total control of everything. And quickly!!

After lots of hand wringing and further tightening of head-bands, several ideas where put forward such as demonizing second-hand vapour as it had worked so well with smoke. This was dropped after it was pointed out that vapour, unlike smoke, was just the act of exhaling made visible and everyone expels air occasionally. Visible or not. “Nobody’s going to fall for that one.” Said a soon to be fired doubter.
”You sure? You seen some of the crazy stuff we’ve made ‘em believe?”

Then the craziest of the crazy people at the assemblage of craziness announced he had a cunningly crazy plan and recounted it roughly thus: “As these new toys could contain that stuff found in tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflowers and, fortunately for us, tobacco – nicotine – let’s get ‘em classified as tobacco products then we can jolly well get control back and carry on controlling any stuff we want to control!!”
This idea was greeted with wild excitement, the casting off of head-bands and a self congratulatory back-slapping bean and yogurt-fest planned, at the tax payers expense, at a  luxuriously appointed tropical resort.

However, while the WHO-are-you where enjoying their further de-normalising and wresting back of control ‘victory’, back in our dimension, that ol’ ‘not thinking it through’ thingy kicked in.

E-cigs became a tobacco product so vapers where back outside the pub with the remaining smokers. And the guys still struggling with patches? Also outside with the smokers and vapers as nicotine patches had to be called a ‘tobacco product’ or the classification wouldn’t hold water for e-cigs, right? This also entailed more work for the poor Landlord as he now had to ensure nobody entered his premises patched up and diners, who’ve ordered certain vegetables, discover they can only eat them outside.

Thus several unintended consequences' calamitously kicked in:
“You still vaping now they’re taxed into tomorrow?”
”Nah. You seen the price of ‘em now? Why pretend when the proper thing’s are a tad cheaper!”
”How about your pal? Still patched up?”
”Your kidding, right? He ditched the nicotine patches when that tobacco tax got slapped on ‘em in spades and a pack o’ smokes and a patch became prohibitively pricy!”

Our good friend Boring, upon passing by the pub now notes, with sadness, that the de-normalising stuff must’ve been rubbish ‘couse it seems to be back to normal as, for sure, there’s a hundred smoking fools outside the pub again in full, tempting, normalising smoky view of all the passers-by; both young and old alike………

Later in the week, during a brief visit from their own perfect dimension, and noting that all their wild ideas had resulted in nothing  more than  the completing of a really, really big circle, the boss of the WHO had to admit to his committed, sorry, committee,  “You know all that nasty stuff they’ve been saying about us? Well, you know what? It’s true. We really haven’t got a WHO-be-do.”

Quote;  Elizabeth Chandler.

“People fear anyone who differs from what is considered normal, and in a small town the idea of normal can be as narrow as the streets.”

14 Apr 2014

And Then Willy Gets Wound Up….

So the Ukraine  is still bubbling along, or as the BBC would have us believe about to kick-off and doom us all – unless global warming gets us first of course.

To go along with that, below is a graphic unashamedly lifted from Captain Ranty who has it on loan from elsewhere. Ooops!  There’ll be a slight delay as I now find I haven’t yet lifted it…… Okay, here it is!!

BBC

Wee Willy Vague is now like, totally loosing it with those pesky Russians innit, and has called for, "……a clear and united international response" with a new and even stronger wave of hard-hitting economic sanctions.

It seems the general consensus, which I discovered alone, all by myself and on my own, after a brief trip round the Web, is that any further and ‘tougher economic sanctions’ are likely to hurt many EU member countries rather than the Big Bear. As plans go, that one looks like a bit of a bummer eh Willy? 

Irrespective of those Ruskys involvement in any pot stirring or not, can you boys down in the COBRA hole hear that noise coming from way over there east the way? What? Tanks rolling? Nah – it’s uncontrollable laughter.

Say, Billy, you familiar with the old adage, engage brain before opening mouth? A tad late now Mr Vague, but worth noting for the future.

Then we have the news, via Dick Puddlecote, that the WHO….. the WHO? I could only think of an aging rock band but that didn’t jive with the article but dumb as I be I finally figured it to be the World Health Organisation. Actually, on a second read, the clue is in the first sentence.  Who be they then? Never mind, they’ve ‘decided’ that electric cigarettes will be classed as tobacco.  So there you go, governments the world over will be breathing a huge sigh of relief and calculating the max tax they can now glue on ‘em.

The health aspect? You’re kidding, right? What’s that got to do with money? Remember the old quote I’ve quoted before? The bottom’s full of wonderful people – only cream and assholes rise. How true.

Quote;  George Santayana.

"Words are weapons, and it is dangerous . . .  to borrow them from the arsenal of the enemy."

12 Apr 2014

And Then, Just Help Yourself….

With the news last week that your friend and mine, the tax man, will be able to pop into our bank accounts, rummage around and remove what he feels we owe him, and the further news today that it’s going to become sick bird {illegal} to ‘hide’ money in far, far away places, you have to wonder how many folk have been beavering away, for how long and at what cost to formulate these cunning plans.

George, can I call you George? Trust me, it’s better than the alternative. George, this has to be right on the line between acceptable behaviour and thievery.

Never mind the ethics involved, you see one monumental mistake you’ve made here young man? No? there’s a phrase we use on our world when someone comes up with a cunning plan, that phrase is ‘let’s think this through.’ You and your team obviously didn’t do that bit so it comes as no surprise at all that you missed your mistake which is - you’ve just broadcast your intent. Is that dumb or wot?  Now think it through George. I know, I know, but give it a try. No? Wot’s below may help you then.

I’m willing to wager that before your boys an’ girls at HMRC have conducted their first ham-fisted account ‘raid’, and trust me, it’ll be ham-fisted, the Web will be awash with tax advisors and accountants falling over themselves to offer loophole solutions. The legal profession? I’m betting they can’t stop giggling at the prospect of PPI type services relating to, ‘If you believe HMRC have wrongly taken money…….’? Oh boy.

And the bad boys? George, by ‘bad boys’ I mean the professional bad boys, not you governmental amateurs, they must be rolling around and gagging with excitement. All that time wasting identity theft? All that password cracking? All that hacking into one account at a time? All of a sudden the government is offering ‘open access’ to the lot via their system!! Backdoor Trojans?  Hay, it’s a government IT system, the front-door’ll be wide open! Oh boy.

Why, oh why didn’t you just tell those tax IT fellows, on the hush-hush and in total secrecy, to occasionally bob into every bank account in the land and lift a bit of extra cash as required? Fifty pence from every account of every type as needs dictate. Simple!! Who’s going to notice fifty pence in the grand scheme of their own debit column? You’re right, people with only fifty pence would notice. Your guys need to add an **algorithm that would exclude accounts with a balance below, say, a ten or twenty pounds. Overdrafts? Just reverse that.

See? Huge amounts of spare kelly with everyone out here in blissful ignorance. If someone spots and questions a missing fifty pence, it’s obviously a clerical error and it’ll be refunded. Over time of course. Just remember to hit ‘em for a quid next time!

It wouldn’t work? Why not? It’s only a slight re-work of the ‘open’ system that’s proving so popular in Greece.

With all this in mind, and writing of bad people, you may be aware of this site but if not it’s worth a visit to see how your system stacks up. Click Proceed then All Service Ports. My Windows 8 laptop had two venerable ports open after updating to 8.1. They took a bit of shutting but shut they be.  Worth a look.

{Note; I have no idea what an **algorithm is but it fits well and gives the allusion I’m smart. An allusion I’ve just destroyed by admitting I have no idea what an algorithm is. Mr Osborne; you’re not totally alone in dumb land.}

Quote;  Paula Poundstone.

“The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it's just sort of a tired feeling.”

11 Apr 2014

And Then A Tune….

Play this, sorry, not this; ‘play this’ refers to the bit in blue wot comes later, or further down, whichever description you prefer. Play it  and I’m sure it’ll kick any ‘downer’ you may be experiencing right now way into touch.

Try to get past wot looks like the two folk ‘playing’ those blowie sticks appear not to be actually blowing through or over their respective sticks. Nor do the bow girls look to be stroking their strings with the bows. Hay, is that Godfrey Bloom on keyboards and mixing cocktails? How cool is that then?

On the other hand, and not for the first time, I may well be missing something completely. All I can say is, whoever is making the noise from wherever they are, it be good noise.

Pardon? Yea, I know the title features the word ‘polka’ again. Just one more thing to get past, okay? Get past all that and you have a sound that’ll break the chains on your brains, pick you up, shake you all about and get your weekend off to a jolly fine start. Man, this’d get a corps clapping along!  See? It’s even got you tapping your feet! Waaaaiiit a minute!! They’re my feet…….

It’s what? Eight o’clock and you’ve all gone out already? Oh.

Quote;  Thomas Beecham.

“It is quite untrue that British people don't appreciate music. They may not understand it but they absolutely love the noise it makes.”