Saturday, February 28, 2009

In my Inbox today... heard the one about the Aussie Councillor?

In my Inbox today... you might have heard this one before as it's been going around for at least a couple of years... but it's worth retelling I think... though it's definitely not for the 'politically correct' brigade!

This is the one about this Councillor bloke from Oz... one thing about Aussies is that their hearts and humour are always (well nearly always) in the right place!

Apparently, T.B. Bechtel, who is a City Councillor from Newcastle, (that's the one in New South Wales, Australia), was asked on a local live radio talk show, just what he thought about the allegations of torture of suspected terrorists.

His reply prompted his ejection from the studio but... to thunderous applause from the audience!!

Here's his reply:

"If hooking up one raghead terrorist prisoner's testicles to a car battery to get the truth out of the lying little camelshagger will save just one Australian life, then I have only three things to say;

Red is positive... black is negative... oh and make sure his nuts are wet!!"

Hmmm.... and we (well some in the UK)... get upset about instances like the one with Carol Thatcher... and her Golliwog!

Now... I will add... just in case anyone wonders... I am NO racist... nor do I have anything against golliwogs (or camelshaggers for that matter... whatever they are) but I do have a sense of humour and like a good joke. Oh... and I also do not like people who try to impose their beliefs or views on others... by trying to kill or mame us!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Royal Marines to unveil monument and exercise their 'Freedom of the City of Gibraltar' tomorrow

The Royal Marines have a long history and association with Gibraltar.

In 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession with France and Spain, a combined fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir George Rooke, assisted by Field Marshal Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, captured Gibraltar. The force, comprising of 1,900 English (The Act of Union was not until 3 years later in 1707) and 400 Dutch marines prevented Spanish reinforcements reaching the fortress. Later, English ships bombarded the city while marines and seamen stormed the defences. The force later withstood nine months of siege.

Today the Royal Marines display only the battle honour 'Gibraltar' and their close relationship with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps continues. It is for this reason that the date of 24th July 1704 is one of the Corps’ ten most memorable dates.

In 1827, King George IV, faced with having to choose battle honours from an extensive list, decided that Royal Marines’ Colours would in future bear the symbol of the ‘Great Globe itself’ and that thereafter the only battle honour on Royal Marines’ Colours would be that of Gibraltar.

In 1996, the Corps was granted the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar. In 2006, the Gibraltar Heritage Trust suggested that a monument be erected to mark the long historical association between the Corps and the Rock.

Tomorrow, Saturday 28 February, it has been decided that the Royal Marines will exercise their Freedom of the City of Gibraltar and will unveil a monument which celebrates their long association with Gibraltar.


The Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Commandant General Royal Marines, Major General Garry Robison, will unveil and dedicate a monument at Ocean Village.

Freedom of the City

The unveiling of the monument will be followed by a parade in Casemates. The Royal Marines will then exercise their 'Freedom of of the City of Gibraltar' by marching through the city.

These events will involve 78 Marines from 40 Cdo RM, plus the Band of Royal Marines Scotland and members of the Royal Marines Association.

Band Concert

The weekend will end with a concert in St Michael’s Cave by the Band of Royal Marines Scotland on Sunday evening.

Tickets for the concert are available from the Gibraltar Bookshop, Sacarello’s Coffee Shop and from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Recruiting Office and Casemates.

Timings for Sat 28 Feb

1050 hrs: Parade leaves Waterport Coach Park
1100 hrs: Parade forms up at Ocean Village
1115 hrs: Unveiling and Dedication Service
About 1145 hrs: CGRM inspects parade in Casemates Square
About 1200 hrs Parade steps off to march up Main St, paying its compliments to the Mayor outside Parliament House
About 1230 hrs: Parade ends at the Convent

All I can add is... I wish I was there!

I shall try and do an update on these celebrations, including some pics, as soon as possible, following the events. Let's hope for a nice sunny day and no Levanter!

Update: This post has been updated to include images and a video. You can see the updated post of the weekend's commemorative events here.

Gibraltar territorial waters and sovereignty once more under threat from Spanish bullying

In an alarming move over Gibraltar territorial waters, the European Commission has apparently accepted a Spanish request to designate an area of Gibraltar waters as an EU environmentally-sensitive site under Spain’s responsibility.

Reports in the media say officials in Brussels did this even though much of the area included, historically, are British territorial waters and had already been listed by the UK as a European protected site nearly three years ago.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, which entered into force in 1995, set a new standard of 12 nautical miles. Most countries, including member states of the European Union, are signatories to the Convention. It applies to Gibraltar.

Spain added a comment regarding Gibraltar at the time of its adherence to the Convention which is of no legal effect in modifying the terms of the Convention. It does, however, record the view taken by Spain on this point, a view which no other signatory to the Convention accepts or accedes to.

Under the Convention, Gibraltar generates its own 'Territorial Sea' of 12 nautical miles, or out to median lines where other states' coastlines are under 24 nautical miles distant from Gibraltar.

The image, (top left - courtesy of, shows the current position to the North West and South of Gibraltar but not to the East/South East. This is because, although Spain and Morocco each have claimed the 12 nautical miles of the Convention (although Spain refuses to accept part of Morocco's calculation of the median line to the West), Gibraltar has not yet extended its legal jurisdiction from 3 to 12 miles, so part of the waters to the East/South East remain international waters, though it is open to Gibraltar to annex these waters to its jurisdiction in accordance with its rights under the UN Convention.

Now, the move by the EU officials, prompted by Spain, at the very least, is bound to create a messy legal overlap and threatens to spark yet another row over the jurisdiction of Gibraltar waters.

Both the British and Gibraltar Governments have yet to publicly react to the development, but the GSLP/Liberals Opposition last night insisted this could not go unchallenged. "This situation represents an escalation of the Spanish position in relation to Gibraltar’s territorial sea," the Opposition said.

"Madrid was initially content simply to restate their political opinion and to protest at the Eastside project or the exploration of the wreck of HMS Sussex.

This takes the dispute a step further and the UK cannot continue to look the other way at a time when Gibraltar’s sovereign rights are being challenged in such a blatant manner!"

The Spanish designation, known as Estrecho Oriental, (see image right) covers the waters off the east side of the Rock and south of Europa Point. This is precisely the area included in the EU list by the UK in 2006.

The Spanish move was also criticised yesterday by the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS ), which also urged the Gibraltar and British Governments to take swift action to clarify the matter.

In a statement, GONHS said it was "astonishing" that the UK had either failed to spot the Spanish designation, or chosen not to challenge it.

The Spanish designation in effect gives Spain legal obligations and responsibilities over Gibraltar waters in relation to nature protection. That includes responsibility to undertake assessments and monitor these areas for wildlife, threats, and other activities with environmental implications. For GONHS, this position is unacceptable.

Let me say... for this Gibraltarian, and I am sure I echo the sentiments of ALL Gibraltarians... this position is also unacceptable to me too!

This afternoon, Gibraltar's Progressive Democratic Party also issued a statement, saying that "the designation of Gibraltar waters by Spain, as if they belonged to it, is simply part of Spain’s continuing campaign against the rights of the people of Gibraltar".

Noting Spain's current somewhat surprising belligerent mood, the PDP said:

"These instances are now becoming so common that the whole idea of a 'new' attitude prevailing in Spain (towards Gibraltar) has fallen badly into disrepute.

No-one in Gibraltar can surely believe the protestations that Spain has adopted a more modern attitude of respect to Gibraltar when the examples of Spain obstructing or attacking our rights are occurring on an almost daily basis."

The PDP make an emphatic call on the Gibraltar Government, to take this issue up in its talks with Britain and Spain. They said that the Government "needs to emphasise to Spain, in no uncertain terms, that this guerrilla warfare on all things
Gibraltarian, outside the Cordoba process, is unsustainable and will inevitably sour any prospect of an enduring climate of respect between our two communities".

In a note of sharp rebuke, the PDP ask:

"What is the point of the pretence of cooperation and respect, when outside the Cordoba talks Spain behaves in a completely different manner?"

The PDP say this latest act is "a purported assertion of Spanish sovereignty over our waters", adding that one of the issues of most concern is "that the information annexed to the particular Commission decision was 'based on data proposed, transmitted and validated by Spain and the United Kingdom' among other States". The PDP quite rightly ask:

"Why was this not spotted beforehand by the United Kingdom or Gibraltar Governments?"

Apart from making a political or diplomatic protest, the PDP are calling on the Gibraltar Government "to make representations at the highest level" to ensure that "the EU itself does not adopt the Spanish classification in its reference documents, as this, in effect, threatens our sovereignty".

The PDP statement concludes by saying that the Government should "take legal advice as to whether there are any legal routes open to it to remedy this matter".

To my mind, they should not lose any time in focussing on this. They certainly shouldn't wait for the UK to show any initiative... as I think, what with turning a blind eye to Spain's machinations in the EU in respect to Gibraltar, the falling apart of the economy and chasing banker wankers' pensions (another matter which they should not have allowed to occur in the first place!)... the Brit Government... is otherwise engaged!

When WILL Spain ever stop banging on about the sovereignty of Gibraltar?!!

The power of prayer... or of a picture

In my Inbox today... a beautiful picture of man's best and most faithful friend... or in this case, the little boy's!

The dog's intensity and concentration shows more sincerity than one might see in many people! Ya just gotta' love him!

Of all the stupid junk we receive every day over the Internet... occasionally, we get something like this... which just has to be shared... right? :)

Dr Giraldi Home allegations... When Will It All End?

Earlier this month I posted about the serious concerns raised in Spanish TV's Antena 3 programme 'Espejo Publico' which featured Gibraltar's home for the disabled, the Dr Giraldi Home, calling the home, rather alarmingly, 'Gibraltar's House Of Horrors'.

The title of the programme is, no doubt, typical of the worst kind of gutter journalism inherent on Spanish TV (especially when it concerns Gibraltar)!

Having said that, the fact remains that the programme highlighted some serious allegations... that to my mind, really need to be addressed properly.

Following the airing of the programme, the Gibraltar media was full of the usual slanging match, in a dialogue descending to calling each other liars, giving no credit to either side, neither the Government defending the indefensible (in not having instituted a proper independent inquiry on the issue) nor the Opposition, who made a very bad job of using the serious concerns, to score points off their counterparts, as per usual!

In a follow up post, I said that issue was not about a TV programme... the issue is about trust and confidence in the Social Services Agency... and the proper care offered in the Dr Giraldi Home... and the urgent need for an independent inquiry. This is still the case today... and nothing has moved on!

Last week, the Gibraltar Local Disability Movement made public a series of Witness Statements regarding the allegations of abuse at the Dr Giraldi Home. These statements were made by witnesses in support of Joanna Hernandez, the manager of the home at the time these allegations were first aired, at her Disciplinary Hearing which resulted in her dismissal. An industrial tribunal against her dismissal collapsed when the Government, having squandered tens of thousands of pounds of Gibraltar taxpayers' money in apparent attempts to silence these allegations, were unable to provide any further evidence against her to substantiate her dismissal.

In April 2008, following the tribunal, the Social Services Agency, in a Government statement said the Agency "again calls for anyone who alleges wrongdoing to report it to the management of the Agency, to the RGP or to the Government". The statement added that "a constant campaign of innuendo without reporting allegations to the police, is totally unfair on the staff of the Agency who are workers delivering a valuable public service".

Quite so... and here is the nub of this ongoing sore in the side of Gibraltar's disability community. Seems to me the trouble is when the allegations have been brought to the attention of the authorities, even made public, they have still not been properly cleared up, to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Once again today, the Gibraltar Local Disability Movement are asking... "when will it all end?".

They quote the TGWU spokesman on Health and Equality, Sukh Khaira, who earlier this week said:

"Unfortunately over the last few weeks we and the silent majority have observed certain elements intensifying their efforts to divide public opinion to the point where this tide of slander and innuendo can only sow doubt and disunity."

How much "doubt and disunity" does one need, before the authorities act once and for all? The Gibraltar Local Disability Movement, understandably, note that "having two employees speaking on behalf of the work force with strongly stated sentiments that the former manger conducted a witch-hunt, can only sow doubt and disunity". Their statement today adds:

"We may be able to fix any disunity but we are sure that any doubt to the allegations can only be fixed by holding a position that a public inquiry to the allegations of Dr Giraldi Home is undertaken, and that an independent assessor as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities be implemented."

The GLDM's feelings are that "Gibraltar is in a state of uncertainty and mistrust, and is full of uncertainties if anything has happened at Dr Giraldi Home".

"If we have a situation of uncertainties no percentage must be taken on who is right or wrong. Our concerns must be one hundred percent with no doubt that all is well, and not for public opinion but for all who lives at Dr Giraldi Home and families and those that work at the home."

The GLDM will be organising a collection of signatures this Saturday 28th February, in a petition calling on the Governor, Sir Robert Fulton, to set up a full enquiry.

It's a crying shame that this issue has been allowed, by the Government, to fester in this shameful way. It really is about time they stopped squabbling with 'The Walrus' and got their act together and sorted this out... by implementing an independent and credible inquiry into these allegations!

If the Government was embarassed and annoyed by the airing of the 'Gibraltar's House Of Horrors' Spanish TV programme, just think how much more embarassed... and 'put out' they're going to be, if and when the burly Marine has to have a word in their 'shell like' ear... to get this sorted... once and for all!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My 'Twat of the Week' award today goes to... Sir Fred Goodwin

As you may be aware... I've not been writing this blog for very long... but I thought it about time that I started an award for people I come across in life, who get right up my nose. I've decided to create my very own 'Twat of the Week' award!

Not that I would ever pretend to aspire to reaching the heady heights of my esteemed blogger colleague GrumpyOldTwat, who has perfected the art... but I do think every self respecting grumpy old blogging git should have a 'Twat of the Week'... so here goes!

Today, my 'Twat of the Week' has to unequivocally be Sir Fred Goodwin!

Sir Fred Goodwin, as I'm sure you all know by now, is the former (and highly discredited) boss of RBS (yes... arguably the king of the banker wankers!). He is in the news today under fire for the generosity of his £650,000-a-year pension, four months after leaving the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Sir Fred, who stepped down after RBS had to be bailed out by the government, revelled in his nickname of 'Fred the Shred' for cutting costs and jobs.

Commonly described as the most charismatic and also the most abrasive of the banking bosses, Sir Fred's position became untenable as the bank was propped up with £20bn of public money - now bolstered by another £13bn cash injection.

Sir Fred was in charge at RBS for nine years and steered it from being a bit-part player to global icon as one of the world's top five banks.

He built up the bank with acquisition after acquisition - NatWest, Coutts, Adam & Co, Direct Line, Ulster Bank, Churchill and Citizens Bank in the US - and then ruthlessly cut costs through staff reductions to generate bigger profits.

But the wheels started to come off with the acquisition of ABN Amro as part of a consortium at the height of the boom in 2007.

Even before his departure, Sir Fred was under fire because of heavy losses and a £12bn rights issue to raise more money for RBS.

It has been disclosed today, that Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, sent a junior Treasury minister to have a word with Sir Fred Goodwin yesterday, after it emerged that the 50-year-old banker was already benefitting from a £16 million pension pot... grotesque, especially in the light of his massive mismanagement of RBS.

RBS has posted a pre-tax loss for last year of £24.1 billion, both from trading losses and write-downs. RBS is also to receive a further capital injection of £25 billion in public money and have also announced that they will inject £325 billion in toxic assets into the Government's insurance programme.

Mr Darling has apparently asked Sir Fred to give up his pension.

The new chairman of RBS Sir Philip Hampton has also spoken to Sir Fred and asked him to voluntarily reduce his pension.

Today, I am awarding Sir Fred my 'Twat of the Week' award... not only for his part in getting us all in this heap of shit... but especially for his reply to Darling and anyone else suggesting he should, quite reasonably, make a voluntary reduction in his grotesque pension. Sir Fred, who is apparently 'furious' with the leak of his pension arrangement (oh dear... we so sympathise... NOT) said earlier today that he would think about it. However, BBC News is just reporting as I write... that apparently this greaseball has now stated categorically... that he will not give back a single penny! What a twat!

Sir Fred, in a letter to the Treasury, has now rejected all requests to give any of his pension back. In his letter, he also suggests ministers agreed to the deal.

Earlier today on Radio 4, Darling said that the Government had thought the deal was legally binding when it was agreed in October, but that they now realise they could have blocked it!

Of course, many of you will undoubtedly argue, that perhaps the award should more rightly be going to Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling... or whoever negotiated the bail out with RBS on behalf of the Government... or indeed the whole of this, daily more ludicrously mismanaging, Labour Government. I would not be able to argue strongly against this!

As for Labour MPs... not many have come out today to criticise or comment. It could be because they are all getting ready to go partying with Banker Wankers tonight!

Blogger makes following blogs easier with Google Friend Connect

If you’re using the 'Follow' feature of Google Blogger, which was introduced a few months ago, you will I'm sure, have enjoyed how easy it is for your readers to follow your blog posts and updates.

According to Blogger Buzz, nearly 3 million communities are using this feature!

Readers can find my 'Follow' feature near the bottom of my right sidebar.

However, I have found many readers are reluctant to 'Follow' using Blogger's feature, simply because they feel... since they are not bloggers on Blogspot (or any other blogging platform) themselves, this feature is not for them. In fact this feature can be used by anyone! A non-blogspot user can simply open a account and 'follow' even if he/she does not have a blogspot blog... or any blog for that matter!

Anyhow... now, you may be pleased to hear, your readers do not have to be restricted by this!

Yesterday, Blogger Buzz announced, that they have adopted 'Google Friend Connect' into their functionality.

This means that your readers, including many who may have wished to follow you, even if they don’t have a Blogger account, can now easily follow your blog using their Google Friend Connect account. So, whether they have tied up their Friend Connect to their Yahoo, AOL, WordPress, Typepad (or any other platform), or not... they can easily join your 'Follow Community' by using Google Friend Connect.

Likewise if you have other blogs in other blogging platform, your users can easily also follow your updates on those, using Google Friend Connect.

Implementing Google Friend Connect will certainly give our blogs more exposure since, if readers of our blogs follow our blogs, our blogs will appear on their Google Friend Connect profiles, which in turn can be seen by our follower’s followers... if you follow me! :)

To make it easier, for all of us who have implemented the 'Follow' feature on our respective Blogger blogs, to implement Google Friend Connect, Blogger has already included the feature on our Blogger Profile (which if you wish can be disabled by editing your Blogger Profile). All we need to do is to set it on (by default, it is ON) to start using the Google Friend Connect (open your Blogger Profile to check).

To learn how to follow a blog using Google Friend Connect, here’s a short video prepared by the Blogger team to guide you:

As I said earlier... if you wish to follow this blog, you can find my 'Follow' feature near the bottom of my right sidebar... just scroll down... hint hint!! :)

For more information, visit Google Friend Connect.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I take my hat off to... Geoff Dornan

Today I take my hat off to... Geoff Dornan!

Geoff Dornan is a 71 year old resident of Ormskirk in Lancashire.

Yesterday, Geoff was, sadly, found guilty on two counts... of dangerous skating!!!

At North Sefton Magistrates yesterday, the court was shown CCTV footage of Geoff rollerblading down the main street of Southport in Merseyside.

An earlier hearing this month had been adjourned awaiting further CCTV evidence but unfortunately yesterday, the court was shown the CCTV pictures of the sprightly septuagenerian skating through Chapel Street, the main shopping centre of Southport and he was convicted. He was found guilty on two counts of breaching a by-law but has since lodged an appeal.

Reporting on the case, the Mail Online (yes I know... I do read it sometimes!) said that whilst most active pensioners prefer a brisk walk in the open air as a way of taking some exercise, Geoff prefers to travel a little faster, which is the reason why he can regulary be seen tearing around on a pair of roller blades! He said he likes to rollerblade to keep fit.

Unfortunately for him... not everyone agreed and his life in the fast lane landed the 71-year-old daredevil in trouble with the law and he was hauled before the courts after Sefton Council said his rollerblading was a nuisance and a danger to the public.

Yesterday the retired youth worker was dismayed after magistrates found him guilty of endangering pedestrians by rollerblading in a busy town centre and handed a fine of £300 and court costs of almost £1,800.

Last night the father-of-three vowed to take the case to appeal. Outside court, he said:

"Because I am on skates I'm more manoeuvrable than somebody in shoes.

The last time I was bumped into by somebody else I was in shoes. I'm not saying things can't go wrong. I don't accept this premise that skating is inherently dangerous.

I'm deeply disappointed but I accept the verdicts. Having said that, I intend to appeal. In seven-and-a-half years I have not harmed anyone at all!"

Geoff told the court he was always very careful to avoid pedestrians and only rollerbladed to keep up his general level of fitness.

Following his conviction yesterday, Geoff told reporters his health had suffered since his skates were confiscated.

You can see more reaction from Geoff here.

I take my hat off to Geoff Dornan... would that we all had his spirit and fitness at his age!

Anyone who wants to support Geoff Dornan (1,400 of you already do... yaay!) can do so on this Facebook group: Support Geoff Dornan

Good on yer mate! Sefton Council (and all who found cause for complaint) must be a sad bunch!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In my Inbox today... a video of an amazing music machine!

In my Inbox today... the amazing video of an incredible music machine which was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa.

Watch this:

Absolutely remarkable right? Amazingly, 97% of the machine's components apparently came from John Deere Industries, who make tractors and farm machinery and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft Iowa. Yes... farm equipment! (presumbably except for the bongos!)

The email says it took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment, calibration and tuning before filming this video but as you can see it was WELL worth the effort.

It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.

Ahhh... but wait just a second....

Hoax Slayer, famous for "debunking email hoaxes and exposing Internet scams since 2003"... in fact... perhaps sadly, two years ago, exposed this "incredible Music Machine from the University of Iowa"... excellent and remarkable as it is... as a prank... yet another of the many internet hoaxes that go (and come) around daily!!!

In December 2006, Hoax Slayer said the video itself is certainly an incredible and inspiring piece of work. However, far from being a remarkable work of engineering, it is in fact a very clever piece of computer animation and does not depict a real machine made of farm equipment at all!!

The video features a piece of music called Pipe Dream, (if you liked the video you'll love this link) that was created by Wayne Lytle and Dave Crognale and their team at Animusic, a content creation company located in Austin, Texas in the USA.

The company has created a number of quite amazing 3D computer graphics music animation videos that are available via the company website. According to information on the Animusic website:

"Both the graphics and the music are entirely digitally synthesized. Virtual instruments are invented by building computer graphics models of objects that would appear to create the sound of the corresponding music synthesizer track. Graphical instruments range from being reminiscent of existing instruments to arbitrarily abstract."

Some unknown prankster saw fit to create this email and fanciful tale to go along with the unusual video. No names no packdrill... but one can't help giving a sideways look at John Deere Industries and Bancroft of Iowa... a nice bit of advertising for them! :)

Even the university departments named in the message appear to be fictitious. There is no record of the 'Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory' or the 'Sharon Wick School of Engineering' at the University of Iowa... or anywhere else for that matter!

According to an article about the prank email, on Iowa's KCRG:

"The machine is supposedly a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering but if you search the campus high and low you’ll never find either of those buildings. They don’t exist."

Hoax Slayer rightfully concludes "there is no need to malign this fantastic animation by tacking on a foolish and totally fictitious cover story".

"Such clever work speaks for itself and needs no embellishment. Moreover, the real creators of the animation deserve credit for their genius."

If a friend forwards this email to you, now you can let them know the reality... and true origin of the remarkable 'farm machine music' video!! :)

Feedback... would be welcome!

Earlier this month, I revamped this old blog, that had lain dormant for about four years... and re-directed it to a more personal blog.

Calling it 'A Gibo's Tale', I describe it, somewhat 'tongue in cheek', as the "Observations, comments, thoughts and at times maybe irreverent musings of a Gibraltarian abroad... some might even say... from a grumpy old Gibo"!

I've now published 30 items to date this month. You can see the posts listed (linked) on the right sidebar. I'm not sure I shall keep this rate of verbiage up... but one never knows! lol

However, at the risk of sounding a touch churlish, (it wouldn't be the first time for this grumpy git), I'm a little disappointed at the very little feedback I've received to date, either on Facebook (one or two of you have and I'm grateful for those... ), or here on the blog itself, where there are two opportunities to leave feedback.

Perhaps you think the blog is all crap... (in which case... fair enough). On the other hand, maybe it's because you are not aware of the ways one CAN leave feedback... or even, that much of the point of blogging (as with social networking on Facebook or elsewhere), is to have some fun interreacting with each other.... maybe even debating issues raised.

So... to leave Feedback here, you can do so in two ways. Firstly, you can simply 'tick' on the 'Reactions' found at the bottom of each posting... categorising the post as 'funny', 'interesting' or even... 'cool'!

You can also leave a comment, on the posts I've published, via the easy and practical 'Comment' tool provided at the bottom of all posts. You can do this either as a Blogger user, or simply by name (with the option to also leave a URL to your website)... or even as 'anonimous', though I must admit, I'm not too keen on anonimous comments... but they are there if you prefer to comment this way.

Vote on my poll.. and let me know what you think:

Do you enjoy what you read on my blog?
Yes... very interesting!
The posts are funny or amusing
Room for improvement
The blog is shite!
You'd like to kill me
Some of the above... positive
Some of the above... negative
free polls

Anyhow... I think I've made my point. Some feedback... especially comments on the blog and/or a vote on the poll would be great... and much appreciated... thanks in advance!

Saludos! )

I take my hat off to... John Suchet

Today... I take my hat off to John Suchet.

John Suchet was 'the face' of ITN's Early Evening News during the mid 90's. He has reported on momentous events such as the revolution in Iran, and he's won awards as a newsreader. He has anchored or contributed to countless special event programmes, including royal occasions (he was one of the main commentators on ITN's coverage of Princess Diana's funeral), the Budget and ITN's election coverage.

John's younger brother is David Suchet, a famous British actor, best known for his role as Agatha Christie's great detective Hercule Poirot in the long-running British TV dramatic series Poirot.

Earlier this month, John Suchet spoke publicly for the first time, about one of the toughest events in his life. Dementia is slowly robbing him of his wife of more than 20 years, Bonnie.

In a number of appearances and interviews across various news channels, John spoke touchingly of how Bonnie began to develop symptoms of the devastating brain disease in her early 60s, (she is now aged 67). In a very moving interview on BBC News he said:

"I've gone from being a lover to a carer."

His wife was diagnosed with dementia three years ago, after sporadic instances of forgetfulness and confusion.

Doctors think Bonnie Suchet has Alzheimer's disease. Her husband prefers to call it 'the A word'.

Whilst it is distressing to see how John Suchet has been pushed to the brink, in the face of the problems that are challenging him and his beloved wife and in his efforts to deliver the best care for her, I think he is very brave and has done something extremely positive in highlighting this issue... and inspired the debate that has followed, on the issues of Aging, Dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

It is for this reason, for his courage and to support him, that I take my hat off to John Suchet today!

You can read more about John Suchet on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Like John, many carers need more support. Dementia is not just a natural part of aging; it is a physical condition of the brain that robs people of their lives.

Commenting on John Suchet speaking publicly about his wife's dementia, Neil Hunt the Chief Executive of the Alzheimer's Society said:

"Sadly, John and Bonnie are not alone. As the population ages, it is estimated that over a million of us will be diagnosed with dementia in the next ten years. We urgently need to invest more to care for people today and find a cure tomorrow."

More information on these issues can be found here:

BBC - Headroom - Wellbeing guide - Alzheimer's Disease

For Dementia > "Every dementia carer should have an Admiral Nurse"

Carers Direct

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Llanito in Space!

I bumped into my old friend John Borda today. John is a freelance web designer these days, based not too far from me in the Newmarket area. In conversation, as we caught up with each other, he mused about how close it came for a Llanito to be 'in space'!

He told me how he had been reading through the news the other day, about the European Space Agency's (ESA) busy programme for the coming year when he came across the image of a familiar-looking satellite. John said, "it’s not as if it looks like any other satellite. It’s actually quite unusual; a very compact 'arrow-like' shape, with small fins on it".

It turns out, that over ten years ago, John was working for a scientific research firm, Oxford Instruments, testing superconducting materials, on a contract for ESA.

"While I can’t claim to be the 'brains' behind them", John said, "I was testing these materials, to see if they could be made into more sensitive devices, more reliably".

One of these devices is known as a 'SQUID' (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device). Marvelling at this wonderful piece of engineering science, he excitedly explained that this is apparently, "the most sensitive magnetic field detector known to man"!

To illustrate, he recalled how they could sense a bunch of keys being jangled at the other end of their lab and were impossible to test during rush-hour because of all the 'noise' of the 'metal' cars moving outside!. (It appears that the lab later moved as far away from a major road as it could!).

To return to the 'Llanito in Space' possibility, he told me these are the very detectors at the heart of the GOCE satellite which is due to be launched on 16th March 2009.

Strategically placed around a 'jumping-jack' shaped piece of niobium, they can detect tiny movements in all three dimensions as the satellite passes low over the Earth. These will allow the satellite to map tiny variations in the gravity field over the planet and provide highly detailed data about the Earth, including sea levels, potential mineral deposits and the like.

John remembers putting together an annual series of proposals about this satellite, including ground test rigs and other aspects of its design.

However, he said, "my main contribution was to speed up the ability to change the many drafts it went through".

"As for the first version I was using a scalpel and several rolls of Scotch tape to 'cut and paste' the proposal and it’s many complex diagrams together... literally. No Photoshop back then!"

The next version was entirely electronic, apparently, with the exception of the front cover, an artist’s impression of the satellite, which he didn’t have in electronic form.

"We didn’t have a scanner in the office, but we did have a fax, so I faxed it to my computer modem, and was thus able to use the image!"

Sadly, said John, the nature of the ESA contract changed to "something beyond my skills", so he was out of a job. But that image stayed with him.

"It was, and still is, an unusual shape for a satellite. This is because it orbits so low it 'grazes' the atmosphere, so it needs to be streamlined, and to minimise any vibrations that might be caused by the usual solar panel 'wings', which would interfere with the sensitive gravity detector."

In a wistful tone, John concluded:

"I would have been one of a 'cast of thousands' involved in getting this satellite launched later this year, all being well. But, still, over a decade later, it will be good to see it fly!"

ESA's GOCE Mission

ESA's GOCE mission is dedicated to measuring the Earth's gravity field and modelling the 'geoid' with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution.

GOCE is the first in a series of research missions known as Earth Explorers. Driven by the needs of the scientific community, Earth Explorers will provide the data to help understand critical Earth system variables and put Europe in pole position on Earth observation in the coming years.

This video gives an excellent explanation of what the GOCE mission is all about:

GOCE is due for launch in March 2009 on a Russian 'Rockot' vehicle, a converted SS-19 Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

All the data collected by GOCE will go towards creating a global gravity-field map with a level of accuracy never before available.

ESA has developed an internet interface that will make these data easily and quickly available to scientists and researchers.

Missing Madoff Money Found in Gibraltar Bank

In a Daily Beast exclusive, Lucinda Franks reports that at least $50 million in Madoff funds has been discovered in a Gibraltar bank.

Now, the fight begins over who actually gets it.

More than $50 million in missing Bernard Madoff funds has been found in the Gibraltar branch of the International Safra Bank and is likely to become the subject of litigation there. The bank, seeing Madoff’s name on transfer documents, froze the money and notified police.

According to a Franks' source close to the investigation, the Gibraltar case is just one of many instances in which banks in Europe and the Caribbean have identified and stopped any monies with a link to Madoff’s investment funds since December, when he confessed to running a massive Ponzi scheme.

Millions of dollars linked to Madoff have been tagged and frozen in offshore banking havens in Europe and the Caribbean.

The Gibraltar funds were deposited at Safra just a few weeks before Madoff was exposed, according to a source close to the Gibraltar police. This money may have been placed with Madoff through a feeder fund operated by Safra, which asked Madoff to redeem a portion, but not all, of its investment—somewhere between $50 million and $75 million. The returned funds were still being held in the Safra branch when the scandal broke.

After the bank put a stop on the funds, local police informed authorities in the US and are now cooperating with the New York investigation.

Gibraltar, like some other offshore havens, has been making great efforts in recent years to police illegal activity. On Friday, there was a proceeding in chambers at the Gibraltar court. The outcome of this hearing is not yet known.

In general the behavior of the international banking community in the Madoff case demonstrates an unprecedented level of cooperation with American prosecutors—far more, certainly, than investigators received in earlier cases such as the BCCI scandal.

There was a possibility, of course, that any overseas transfers in this time frame could be part of a scheme by Madoff to hide assets. But the Gibraltar transfers could also reflect legitimate withdrawals from his investment funds, made without any connection to the Ponzi scheme. Those investors will probably sue to have the funds released, while the New York-based trustees are equally determined to claim the money for victims’ compensation.

Even investors who cashed out of Madoff’s scheme before it collapsed may not be entirely protected from losses. In a legal procedure known as a “clawback,” trustees overseeing fraud cases can force investors to return funds they withdrew earlier from the phony operation in order to distribute it evenly among those affected. Unlike in, say, a stock crash, clawbacks mean that there is no such thing as "getting out at the right time."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who's business is it when the Princess Royal visits Gibraltar

Princess Anne takes the Royal Salute on arrival in Gbraltar for the 300th anniversary celebrations of the British capture of the Rock - June 2004 (Photo :  JOSE LUIS ROCA/AFP/Getty Images)
Last Friday, the Times Online reported that Spain has complained officially to Britain over the forthcoming visit of Princess Anne to Gibraltar, labelling it as 'inopportune'.

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, is due to visit the Rock to open a medical centre named after her next month.

She last visited Gibraltar in June 2004, (seen here on the left, taking the Royal Salute on her arrival), on the ocassion of the 300th anniversary celebrations of British Sovereignty and the capture of the Rock by Admiral Rooke in 1704.

Last week, following the announcement of Princess Anne's forthcoming visit, Angel Lossada, the Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, telephoned Denise Holt, the British Ambassador in Spain, to express Spain’s 'annoyance' at the two-day visit.

A Spanish Foreign Office spokesman said:

"The Secretary of State told the ambassador the visit was inopportune with regard to the sensibilities of the Spanish people."

Other Spanish politicians have apparently also been infuriated by the Royal visit.

Jose Ignacio Landaluce, a deputy who sits on the Spanish parliament’s foreign affairs commission, said:

"The visit of a member of the British Royal Family to Gibraltar shows their total support for the sovereignty of this British colony.

This is something to which we are totally against. It is an affront to Spain."

Mr Landaluce, from the conservative Popular Party, said the visit was unfortunate at a time when relations between Spain, Britain and Gibraltar had improved in recent years.

Many other Spanish politicians... also jumped on the "let's bang on about Gibraltar sovereignty" bandwagon, as per usual!

Now... let me ask you... what the hell business is it of theirs anyway??

Since, as Landaluce says, relations between Spain, Britain and Gibraltar have indeed improved over recent years... why go stirring things up again... just because the Princess Royal is coming to Gibraltar to open a new medical centre... which after all IS named after her?

Back in 2004, not long after the 300th anniversary celebrations of Gibraltar's British sovereignty, Gibraltar's Chief Minister Peter Caruana joined in yet another war of words between the UK and Spain over proposed visits to Gibraltar.

At that time, Caruana accused Spain of trying to make a live issue of Gibraltar's sovereignty, which, he said, was "a settled issue".

The row was the third time in three months that Anglo-Spanish relations had been strained over Gibraltar.

In June 2004 there were protests over a visit by Princess Anne and in July a port call by the British submarine HMS Tireless drew criticism. This time, Spanish MPs were once again in uproar over a proposed visit by the then defence secretary Geoff Hoon. This was labelled by the Spanish as an "offensive action" to Spaniards!!

Caruana's reply, was as relevant then as it is now. He said Spain had "no geographical case" to interfere.

"For the Spaniards... to lecture us on how we should commemorate that which is none of their business is somewhat impertinent!"

All I can say is... Mr Caruana was being too soft... too kind!!

If the Princess Royal wants to visit Gibraltar... it's NONE of Spain's business!!

For as many times as the Spaniards want to whinge and complain... and whinge and complain... it's worth saying it again...and again. One day they may get the message!! (and pigs may fly!)

Gibraltar belongs to the People of Gibraltar. It is neither Spain's to claim nor Britain's to give away!

It's about time Spain grew up... and got over it!

Baaaah... they really are tiresome and exasperating! Where's Drake when you need him!!

"So please your Majesty, to singe the King of Spain's beard; it has grown somewhat too long."

Llanito or Yanito discussed on Gibraltar Discussion Forums

My post yesterday, about the fact that Gibberish may derive from Llanito, prompted Garrett Gibbons to offer us a link to an article he wrote entitled Did 'gibberish' originally describe the speech in Gibraltar (Yanito)? > An Alternative Etymology for Gibberish.

I am much obliged to Garrett for providing us with the link to this very interesting and well argued etymological article on the origins of 'gibberish'. I am also grateful for his interest in Gibraltar generally. Garrett is currently blogging about a Gibraltar Documentary Film project he is in the process of putting together. I very much look forward to viewing it, when it's finished!

Anyhow, this all led me to think some of you may be interested in the following links to discussions on Gibraltar Forums, where our rather unusual, maybe even odd and quirky (for some) Gibraltarian language, Llanito or Yanito, is discussed.

Here are three topics from Gibraltar News Online Discussion Board

Are we 'Llanitos' or 'Yanitos'??


Gibraltarian Bilingualism explained

Panorama Forum

This one may be a bit of a non story. There used to be a very good discussion on the Panorama Forum, on a topic entitled Giannito/Llanito, Dialect, Patois, Gibberish?. Sadly, this link was not working at the time of writing this post.

According to, the net domain registrars, the domain, which hosted the Panorama Gibraltar Discussion Forum, has not been renewed and is currenly offline!

A note on Panorama's, (one of Gibraltar's daily newspapers with an online presence), discussion page says:

To all users of our Discussion forum

The server which hosts the Discussion forum for Panorama has gone down.

To date no explanation has been received by us from Xsorbit despite attempts to contact them.

We are sorry for the inconvenience caused but this situation is outside of our control, and we are attempting to find a solution as soon as possible.

This is very sad news, as there were many very interesting topics about Gibraltar on this discussion board. Not least the one I'm referring to here, which had, if I remember rightly... something approaching 20 pages on the subject of Llanito, with many llanito words offered and discussed... and much amusing comment! I really hope this topic (or databse) has not been lost forever! It would be a real shame.

I have found a couple of pages on Google Cache, which are snapshots of how these appeared on 19 Jan 2009 19:44:24 GMT

Google Cache > Giannito/Llanito, Dialect, Patois, Gibberish? > Page 1

Google Cache > Giannito/Llanito, Dialect, Patois, Gibberish? > Page 3

I'm not sure how long Google keeps their cached pages... but they are there for now. Let's hope that Panorama can get those pages back up or somehow, in the hope it's not lost forever, recover that database of some great topics concerning Gibraltar!

In the meantime, I hope anyone interested in the subject of Llanito... can enjoy some of it, as discussed on these links.

For those of you who have no idea what Llanito is... Llanito (pronounced [jɑˈnito] or Yanito is an Andalusian Spanish based vernacular spoken in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Gibraltarians call ourselves Llanitos.

Llanito consists of an eclectic mix of Andalusian Spanish and British English, marked by a great deal of code switching and loan-words from many other Mediterranean languages. You can read more about Llanito and the Gibraltarian culture on Wikipedia

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gibberish may derive from Llanito

Perhaps it comes as no surprise to many... but did you know that the term 'Gibberish' may have derived from the Llanito spoken in Gibraltar?

Well... Wikipedia thinks so!

Gibberish is a generic term in English. It means talking that sounds like speech, but has no actual meaning. This meaning has also been extended to meaningless text or gobbledygook. The common theme in gibberish statements is a lack of literal sense, which can also be described as a presence of nonsense.

A further definition of gibberish in Wiktionary, the free dictionary, says it is speech or writing that is unintelligible, incoherent or meaningless. (can often be seen here!)

A family of language games in English are sometimes referred to as "Gibberish". Comedian Sid Caesar was noted for what he called "double-talk", an ability to speak varieties of nonsense syllables that sounded as if he was speaking various foreign languages.

Origin of the term

According to Wikipedia, the term is first seen in English in the early 16th century. A common theory is that the word comes from the name of the famous 8th-century Islamic alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, whose name was Latinized as "Geber", thus the term "gibberish" arose as a reference to the incomprehensible technical jargon often used by Jabir and other alchemists who followed.

A second explanation, says Wikipedia, is from the British (sic) 'colony' (now of course, a British Overseas Territory) Gibraltar (from Arabic Gabal-Tariq, [Gibel Tarik] meaning Mountain of Tariq), whose residents frequently speak in Spanish and English during their conversations. Gibraltarians will often start a sentence in Spanish and switch to English halfway through, making it difficult for non-locals to follow.

Very true... we do!! :)

UPDATE: 21st February 2009 - 22:34

I have been contacted by Garrett Wesley Gibbons of Brigham Young University in the USA, who is currently blogging about a Gibraltar Documentary Film project he is in the process of putting together. Garrett has kindly informed me of a paper he wrote, entitled Did 'gibberish' originally describe the speech in Gibraltar (Yanito)? > An Alternative Etymology for Gibberish.

It's an interesting read... and my thanks to Garrett for sharing it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Animated 'Gibo' on a tug in Gibraltar harbour

In a recent post, Defining the word or term 'Gibo', a term often used in reference to Gibraltarians, I wrote that being called a 'Gibo' can sometimes be perceived as offensive, by some, but that in my experience, the word is more often used in a friendly manner.

Trawling around YouTube today, I came across this amusing video which offers an example of what I meant by 'using the term in a friendly' manner.

As you can see, the video's uploader, I'm sure meant no offence, when he named this video 'Tug footage funny gibo'!

This young fella... is certainly excitable and quite amusing and seems a very typical jovial 'Gibo'... or Gibraltarian... or as we say, buena gente este llanito!

I have to admit though, I can hardly understand much of what he is saying. Not entirely his fault, even if his English is.... well a bit llanito, heh heh, but as you can hear (or not in this case), the quality of the audio is not very good and there is a lot of background noise... which I always find a little troublesome.

Anyhow... I thought it would be fun to share it with you here.

Oh... and if any of the participants, of the video happen to visit this page and would like to identify themselves here... I would of course be delighted! Just leave a comment using the 'Comment' feature below... thanks! :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Excellent advice for disciplining kids

Just arrived in my Inbox tonight... some excellent advice:

Tough Love vs. Spanking - Good Argument

Most people think it’s improper to spank children, so I have tried other methods to control my kids when they have one of 'those moments!

One that I found effective is for me to just take the child for a car ride and talk.

Some say it's the vibration from the car, others say it's the time away from any distractions such as TV, Video Games, Computer, IPod, etc.

Either way, my kids usually calm down and stop misbehaving after our car ride together. Eye to eye contact helps a lot too.

I've included a photo below of one of my sessions with my son, in case you would like to use the technique.

The heartwarming story of Chief Master Sgt John Gebhardt

In my Inbox today... the story of Chief Master Sgt John Gebhardt, superintendent of the 22nd Wing Medical Group normally based at the US's McConnell Air Force base, Kansas, who gained worldwide attention for a photo of him holding an injured Iraqi child.

This is the story of this photo, originally taken around October 2006, when Chief Gebhardt was deployed at Balad Air Base in Iraq. It has been published on many websites worldwide and has been circulating via emails during the last two and a half years. Today, it arrived in my Inbox!

The story is a heartwarming one... and in complete contrast to the stories, that unfortunately we are accustomed to, that we still see daily coming out of our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The young infant in Chief Gebhardt's arms, had received extensive gunshot injuries to her head (ghastly and clearly seen when zooming in on the image) when insurgents attacked her family killing both of her parents and many of her siblings.

Apparently, the 'chief' had a knack for comforting her and they often would catch a cat nap together in a chair.

The photograph generated a lot of attention when it first began circulating back in 2006. It is perhaps an indication of the photograph's simple but powerful symbolism that it continues to circulate more than two years later.

Chief Gebhardt is now back at home in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife, Mindy. They have a warm, hospitable home five minutes away from McConnell Air Force Base. His son Ryan, 25, and daughter Amber, 23, have long since outgrown being cradled and he said he thought about them constantly while he held the Iraqi child.

"I got as much enjoyment out of it as the baby did," he said.

"I reflected on my own family and life and thought about how lucky I have been."

His affection for children is no secret to his wife, Mindy. While dating John in high school, she watched how he bonded with the child of a coach of one of his athletic teams. That softer side of him is one of the reasons she married him.

"People see him as this tough guy," she said, "but I always see that other side of him that is full of compassion."

The chief, who grew up in Jordan, New York, is not at home in the spotlight. When asked to talk about himself, he always tries to switch the focus to the other military people who served with him at Balad.

While deployed to Iraq, the chief tried to help out any way he could. He figured holding a baby that needed comforting that would free up one more set of arms that could be providing care to more critical patients.

"If I have an opportunity to help out, I look for that opportunity," he said. "They had more than enough to do."

The chief was not alone in volunteering at the hospital. There were more than 800 different volunteers at the hospital during the time he was deployed to Iraq, he said. Some of them volunteered so much that he mistakenly thought they were assigned to the hospital.

When Mindy describes the best qualities of her husband, the first word out of her mouth is integrity. She said the photo of her husband and the Iraqi child truly represents him. She believes he has been so successful because he is such a straight-shooter and puts others' welfare ahead of his own.

"He never leads anyone astray," she said. "He will never do something for himself that would have a negative effect on someone else. He always tells it like it is."

But, the chief attributes his success to his family.

"Without their support I don't know where I would be," he said. "I definitely wouldn't be in the position I am."

And it is the chief's hope that families in Iraq will receive the same kind of support in the future. They are just like American families, Chief Gebhardt said.

"I pray for the best for the Iraqi children," he said.

"I can't tell the difference between their kids and our kids. The Iraqi parents have the same care and compassion for their children as any American."

Life is calmer for Chief Gebhardt now that he is back home, and even though his recent 'fame' has highlighted an eventful 27-year career, he said he wouldn't change a thing.

"If I had to do it over again, I would sign up and give it another ride," he said.

Dubious, strange and embarrassing bedfellows they keep

It's hardly a surprise that England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke is now coming under severe pressure to resign, following the revelations over the Sir Allen Stanford affair!

Billionaire Stanford has been charged with a $8bn (£5.6bn) investment fraud.

As ECB chairman, Clarke struck a deal with Stanford to play five $20m matches, with plans in place for new 20-20 tournaments in England as well.

Clarke's dubious leadership of the ECB in all this has now led to at least two county cricket clubs publicly asking him to resign.

Today, both Leicestershire and Hampshire cricket clubs are reported as saying that Clarke should go but he has been backed by Glamorgan, Durham and Middlesex.

Clarke was elected chairman of the ECB for a second term just a matter of days ago, having ran unopposed after Lord Marland withdrew in January.

But the chairmen of Leicestershire and Hampshire, who have been vocal critics of the ECB in the past, have firmly pointed the finger of blame at Clarke.

I find it amazing, that the rest of the county cricket clubs, that comprise the ECB, are not also joining in, in calling for his resignation!

I don't know about you, but right from the very start, when I first heard of Sir Allen Stanford, at the time when he first made his proposals to the ECB, I thought to myself... this guy sounds very dubious. Later on, following his antics during the Twenty 20 internationals between England and a West Indies all-star XI, which he funded with a total prize fund of £12.270m (US $20 million), my doubts about this character were heightened even further. I watched with fascination at all the bullshit and razzmatazz that surrounded Stanford, which he was largely responsible for creating.

The word 'charlatan' kept screaming out loud and clear... at least to me! Naturally, being a somewhat naive and trusting soul, I assumed that the ECB had conducted all 'due diligence' in checking this guy out... and thought, well they must know what they are doing. How naive can we be!

It's ok for me to be perhaps naive... but when the Chairman of an organisaton such as the ECB, is shown to have been so badly taken in, even if all decisions were made jointly by the board, then surely it is time for the Chairman to go... maybe the whole board too! What were they thinking about?

Dubious, strange and embarassing bedfellows

Speaking of keeping dubious, strange and embarrassing bedfellows... I just watched a press conference of Gordon Brown... our esteemed Prime Minister, being welcomed to Rome by the very dubious Signor Berlusconi... the Italian Prime Minister.

Am I being an idiot for feeling a touch of discomfort watching these two effusing about each other... and the good they are going to do when discussing the need to help poor countries during the global economic crisis? I mean... come on, this is a guy, the prime minister of a major European country, who has been indicted for paying bribes!

Perhaps this does not embarrass the Italians, but those scenes with Brown and Berlusconi... give me great discomfort!

On Tuesday, David Mills, the estranged husband of the UK's Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, was sentenced to four and a half years' jail by an Italian court after being found guilty of taking a $600,000 (£400,000) bribe as a reward for withholding court testimony to help Berlusconi!

It appears, that Berlusconi, who was indicted alongside Mills, his former legal adviser on offshore dealings, is no longer a defendant. His government passed a law last year giving the prime minister and some other top Italian officials immunity from prosecution. If that's not scandalous in itself, I really don't know what is!

While newspapers report that this is the first time in Italy that someone has been found guilty of taking a bribe without the giver of the money being identified, we all KNOW who it was!!

The fact that Berlusconi himself is still prime minister and not resigned in shame is bare faced cheek to an extreme. For our own prime minister, to be seen effusing jovially with this crook... gives me great discomfort and makes me wonder... what sort of dishonourable world are we living in... but hey, that's just me!

As we say in Llanito... valiente carra dura... the bare faced cheek of it all!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I take my hat off to... Jade Goody

Jade Goody, in happier times at the height of her celebrity, at Soccer Six Music Industry charity football event at Upton Park stadium in London - May 2007
Earlier this week, Max Clifford, Jade Goody's publicist, confirmed media reports that doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London had given Jade just months to live.

Last Saturday Mr Clifford said "she was informed yesterday that tragically, she's terminally ill. She was obviously devastated."

Mr Clifford went on to say that Jade had now begun drawing up a will and making plans for the future care of her two sons.

Jade has been keeping busy this week... making plans for her wedding. All things being well, she will marry her long time partner Jack Tweed this coming Sunday! Congratulations to both!

There has been much written throughout Jade Goody's life in the spotlight, as a celebrity.... often critical, now and then vitriolic. At times... some of her antics have made me uncomfortable. But... I really have to take my hat off to her right now.

Her decision to be so public with her illness is very brave and I applaud her desperate efforts to do whatever she can, while she is still alive, to raise as much cash as she can, to ensure the future of her children... in the hope that they may have the education... and better breaks than she ever had in her childhood!

A by product of the publicity Jade is attracting through her actions is to raise the awareness of cervical and other cancers... and not just amongst women. It is also enabling debate over the issue of death generally, which is a big taboo in Britain.

I think all this is very positive and I take my hat off to Jade Goody... a very gritty and ever the savvy exploiter of the media. Good for her and her family. I extend my very best wishes to her and her loved ones!

Anyone on Facebook... might also like to support Jade... by joining the Facebook Group: Jade Goody - Cancer Support

Cervical cancer screening prevents cervical cancer - more info at Cancer Research UK
Cervical cancer screening

Cervical cancer screening prevents cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is sometimes known as the 'smear test'. At screening the doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a spatula or a small brush. They examine these cells under a microscope to look for any unusual changes. Read more...

Help fight Cancer - Donate to Cancer Research UK

Profound picture of hell

In my Inbox today... I received a very 'profound' and brilliantly described picture of hell!

This 'profound' description of hell was in reply to a question posed to a student at the University of Washington in a Chemistry mid-term exam.... and as it turns out, it's very funny! Read on...

The answer by this student was viewed by his professor as so 'profound' that he shared it with his colleagues via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well!

Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some such variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving.

I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct.......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Relaxing advice... for stress just in

Just received in my Inbox... good advice for fighting stress!


I thought I might share this with all my 'nutty friends'... hope you have a fabulous STRESS FREE Day!

Apparently... everyone can appreciate and relate to 'Patches'.

'Patches' has a thought for today... he asks that you handle every stressful situation like a dog...

Piss on it and walk away!

Nuclear submarine collision in Gibraltar... what if?

As you may have heard on the news yesterday, both Britain and France admitted that two of their nuclear powered submarines, HMS Vanguard, armed with Trident nuclear ballistic missiles and Le Triomphant, also armed with strategic nuclear missiles, collided while submerged in the Atlantic earlier this month.

As I took in the news yesterday, I wondered how long it would be, before this event would be connected to the polemics of nuclear submarine visits to Gibraltar and transitting the Bay of Gibraltar area. Well, I didn't have long to wait.

Today, a couple of esteemed colleagues, British expats who write on matters that surround them, (and whatever else takes their fancy... ) in Southern Spain, Andalusia and Gibraltar, over at Tilting at Windmills and JimenaPulse, both made the connection to the issue in blog posts.

I suppose, understandably, they pose the question, "Nuclear submarine collision in Gibraltar - what if?"

While the usual suspects in the area, such as the 'greens', some PSOE politicians and no doubt one or two of the communities' mayors, will get all a'fluster, in their usual way... they just love any opportunity to stir this one up... there really is very little real cause for concern.

The collision, undoubtedly embarassing to both Navies, was from a point of view of nuclear threat, minimal. For starters, these submarines' hulls are designed and built to withstand extremes of pressures. Even a collision at speed would be unlikely to rupture the actual hull. The fact that these submarines enter and leave or transit the whole of the Bay of Gibraltar area at slow navigating speeds, often even being aided by tugs, (at slow speeds) makes the possibility of hull ruptures, never mind damage to reactors, through a collision, completely negligible if not farcical.

As for the nuclear weapons themselves.... the chances of one of these going BANG!... due to a collision, again is nigh on impossible. These weapons have to go through a myriad of sequential steps, before they are properly armed or able to be triggered and ready for launch.... never mind accidentally going off. It's just not physically possible for this to happen accidentally.

I know what you are thinking.... after all... they did also say the Titanic was 'unsinkable' right? But... I think we really need to get real here. Alarming the local communities about risk to life and limb... or their health is ludicrous in this particularly context, in my humble opinion.

There are much more real threats to health to all the communities in the Bay of Gibraltar. I am referring of course, to the very well documented issues of pollution in the Campo de Gibraltar area. Huge, uncontrolled and unacceptable pollution caused by the CEPSA Refinery, Acerinox and other industrial plants along with the endless and again, totally unacceptable levels of benzene, often because of bunkering activities in Gibraltar itself, that are constantly experienced throughout the area!

The Plataforma por el Estudio Epidemiologico (which includes the ESG and Bay Bucket Brigade) have been campaigning on these issues for a very long time. In November 2002, a complaint was lodged with the EU and is still awaiting a substantive response!

These groups have been seriously questioning the legality of pollution and especially benzene levels present in the Campo and Bay areas for decades.

This, to my mind, is far more worthy a cause to complain about... even to raise the alarm about... as a matter of urgency, for the better health of the people and communities of the Bay of Gibraltar and Campo de Gibraltar areas! It's long overdue. For some... it's actually too late... I suspect, yours truly included!