I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

Has anyone ever spotted the eery resemblance between an aqua bubble icon with the japanese flag and the red sphere of the HAL 9000 of Space Oddysey fame?
Are they in some way related? I think we should be told.


Splinter movement

Got several splinters in my hand in the most awkward places today. Luckily a co-worker had a swiss army knife on the ready, complete with tweezers and a pin. The mill I was working in was built in 1662, but some bits of wood (oak) including these miniscule ones date back from a little before. The tree was approximately 30 years when cut down. So we're looking at some wood from at least 376 years old. That's what I'd nearly call archeology digging into a finger like that.


That Fox News Sidebar in full

Surprisingly education is in 3rd place. A little breather from what fox finds extremely interesting: war, crime, sports, more war, 9-11, homeland security and war. So I clicked on the education link. And look: sexual misconduct, schools cutting back, lawsuits,.. And this news item caught my eye:
Dad Upset Kid Banned From Wearing Pagan Symbol at Indiana School

"Pecenke said he was upset because the school district doesn't send students home for having ashes on their foreheads for Ash Wednesday. Livovich said that was different, however, because it is part of a person's faith." How so Mr L?

What, exactly does "distracting" mean here - were crowds of students getting out the scales, pointing at her and hurling ripe vegatables at the girl? May be they were too distracted by their praying in fear of the witch amongst them.
Can't the other kids go after school to church to have that ash put on their faces?

Religion is a person's private thing. Doesn't matter if you're catholic, muslim, jew, protestant, buddist, pegan or of the Church of the flying spaghetti monster. Keep it to yourself.

Collective memory

A dark day for science; on this day 22 years ago:

The Challenger space shuttle explodes during launch in 1986.

Interesting read and round up on the Federation of American Scientists site


The Skeleton Key

Kassel is no longer know for it's Documenta. Big news in Germany, none of it has really siphoned through to other European countries.
I think this is an interesting story. Not because of the body count, but it is amazing to see how many historians have different theories at this stage as to when, what and who. It will be the epitome of scientific and historic research to have just one or two theories standing after some initial digging (and yes you can interpret that in two ways, I have plenty of time to include more silly puns in this post). The scientific facts (dating of the bones, analyzing earth samples etc) cannot be disputed, but painting the historical picture will be an entirely different thing. First up: The C-14 dating on the bones will help historians narrow down the timeframe. It will be an extra puzzle if the second burial site turns out be from a different era.
But the article contradicts itself stating that everyone seems to agree that the bones are pre WW II and a bit further down it says that the most likely theory seems something to do with the War. And then again it quotes a local historian saying it can't possibly be connected with WW II. Germany is still facing up to its heritage. It has only been very recently a plethora of German historians have been investigating their past, we can see a considerable increase in historic publications on pre and post war Germany from within the country. But I can imagine the first logical assumption people make is a mass grave from WW II, because there were some recent finds in Menden (September 2006) and Stuttgart (September 2005).

So theories/unconfirmed facts so far:
-victims of an epidemic in 1814
-military hospital graveyard
-initial estimates >100 years
-good teeth, not old people
-until Tuesday assumed graveyard, bodies in neat rows
-second grave site: jumbled bodies, 4 skulls, one torso, badly battered.
-no rings, no jewelry, no buttons
-WW II slave laborers
-burial site for criminals, suicides and peopled not christened.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Updates will follow. When the dust settles after the media circus quits town, the interesting and correct facts will start to emerge.



I missed it on wednesday but the Swiss king of cacao has expired.

Stuck in my mind because of this:
'Spruengli hit the headlines in 1992 when he divorced Elisabeth, his wife of 45 years' standing, and announced his plans to marry his 44-year-old personnel adviser, Alexandra Gantenbein, who acknowledged being a member of an obscure American sect. The news was accompanied by a flurry of rumors that Gantenbein had a shady past and was only interested in the inheritance.
Spruengli called off the wedding at the last minute and hired an independent agency to establish whether the company had been infiltrated with sect followers. Gantenbein was subsequently cleared and the couple promptly married - to the amazement and fury of company director Ulrich Geissmann, who quit alongside other senior executives.'

Expatica Switserland has the full story.

Nothing compares to a good sceptic doing the research first before drawing the conclusions.


Drive the point home

I have a very strong opinion about some people not being able to drive a car in a manner acceptable to other users of the public roads. I have reached this conclusion after years of observation and well over ten years of driving experience as an active participant in daily traffic (driving trucks, vans and normal cars ranging from sports to 4x4s). Of course there are exceptions to the rules, aren't there just? On the other hand I haven't found many rules applicable to yours truly (but that could well be to turn out an entirely different post someday). I have distilled my suppositions and assumptions into 5 categories and the results are very significant. About 90% of the observations confirm my thesis (and that is really a very nice average by any standards). Dispensing with all political correctness, I don't indulge in that kind of thing anyway, here are the results:

"Hypothesis concerning the cataloguing of drivers of normal cars:

1) MONO VOLUMES: Men and women driving this kind of vehicle are always in a hurry, even when their entire bowl of fruit of loins is located on the back seat(s). Men driving a mono volume usually have mounted, metal coat hangers behind the head supports, so the children residing on the back seat, in case of a severe collision, suffer multiple severe facial injuries and end up with a horrendous mutilation and are thus scarred for the rest of their lives, if they survive the crash in the first place. Female drivers of mono volumes cut off the road very aggressively for other road users, have never heard of the concept of brake distance and never use their turn signal when slaloming from one lane to another. This usually happens with or without the company of shopping, kids or towering stacks of clutter piled up against the windows. They usually never stick to speed limits or park their cars in the therefore designated areas, especially around school areas. About these windows: In 9 out of 10 cases I have confirmed the presence of some kind of awning (with one small sucker in the middle) with the text "Skoebiedoe" on it issued by a christian health benefit organisation.

2) OLD NUMBERPLATES: New number plates being issued today by the Department for Transport are a 3 letter and number combination (e.g. HTZ455). Old number plates however do not resemble this combo. Usually they look like 2.L.035 or U.03.DL. These plates give the vehicle upon which they are fixed a set of special traits and distinguishing features. For instance, it prohibits the vehicle from exceeding a speed faster than 100 kmph. Number plates such as mentioned above are usually attached to Asian hatchbacks mentioned hereafter: Mitsubishi Charisma, Nissan Maxima, Hyundai Excel (and Elantra), Mazda 626, Suzuki Boleno,... Owners of these vehicles are an average of 70 years and over and imperel international road safety standards. Usually the cars are populated by a grey haired couple, the silver haired male driving, woman on the passenger seat. The drivers have usually never taken a driving exam in their lives and in the past could just go and collect their licenses at the town hall. Afore mentioned category of cars are usually only out on the roads after 10 am on extremely busy roads, preferable when people younger than the afore stipulated age group are in a hurry. Extra caution is heeded at motor way cloverleafs, these 70+ drivers usually change lanes at top speeds of no less than 60 to 70 kmph! These elements drive around 60 kmph on one lane roads where a maximum of 90 is tolerated and keep driving at 70 kmph even within city limits where only 50 is allowed. They do not notice cyclists on crossroads and never brake for pedestrians who are already halfway the zebra crossing. These licence plates are also hereditary. They will be re-used by the heirlooms concerned. Oddly enough these new drivers also assume the habits of the average old number plate owners. [Caution! Category 2 is not to be confused with the P number plates issued to MP's currently in office].

3) OLD PEOPLE: This is the category closely associated with category 2 and in most cases form a noticeable combination. Drivers' nasal instruments never exceed the hight of the steering wheel and usually wear a plaid cap. Sir chauffeurs, Madam is being chauffeured. If Madam does appear to be behind the steering wheel she will be found driving a Fiat Panda, Toyota Starlet or Nissan Micra. These persons almost never wear spectacles and look as if counting the squashed flies on their windscreens. From remarks on speed: see 'Old Numberplates'.

4) IMMIGRANTS: Individuals of this category haven't really mastered the the art of driving. Our objects of study usually drive on the middle lane, are always preoccupied with gesticulating frantically at fellow passengers and never reach an average of 100 kmph. North African drivers have secondhand Mercs (with a crocheted fringe dangling along the upper edge of the windscreen) or in vans with curtained windows. Persons of coloured distinction prefer hatchback models for their choice transport (these tend to be the second hand cars driven by persons of categories 2 & 3). Cars driven by immigrants usually consist of a minimum passenger load of 4 people. This is not difficult to spot, even without counting the persons inside, there is a considerable pressure on the back end axis, resulting in a better roadholding.

5) WOMEN: The urban myth that women are able to perform multiple tasks all at once does not stand up accordingly as simple research shows. Yabbering and driving do not complement each other in an enduring way. Women (usually in the company of other women) gesticulate, de- and accelerate at any given time and brake randomly. [This phenomenon is re-occurent in road behaviour displayed by young urban professionals in BMW's in shirt and tie (and gruesome tie/sock combination) with mobile/PDA in hand].
The vehicle driven by persons of category 5 will swerve across the motor way because of following parameters: rummaging around in handbag, trying to calm a child down on the back seat, trying to reach for something in the glove compartment. These types of women usually take to the roads in Fiat Panda's, Renault Twingo's (and for UK only: Rover Metro). These cars come with a standard issue obligatory variety of cuddly toys on the rear shelf tray or box of tissues on the dashboard."

So put my hypothesis to the test (unless you are part of the above categories and are deeply offended and will do absolutely nothing of the sort). If you recognise none of the things I have described here then you probably belong to a category I have yet to classify.

Just a reminder to get you safely through traffic: Beware of a combination of all five categories! Whomsoever ventures out on the roads after 10 am after heavy traffic congestions have passed into oblivian and sees an elderly coloured woman (accompanied by others or solitary) in a secondhand mono volume with old number plates; only one word to you: BEWARE! Hit the vertical peddle on the right or be slammed against the central concrete reservation.


Online beer

Sometimes I participate in online research. You fill in a questionnaire and that's it. There's no fee involved but you could win a small prize (gift voucher, city trip,...). Multinationals use it to target their ads, see if their campaigns have had the desired effect, newspapers use it for polls etc. I am not you average Jane Doe so I would probably distort any questionnaire I'd fill in. Just being helpful, not subversive in any way. The last one I wanted to fill in was about beer. It would take about twenty minutes to complete the questions online. I had some time to waste so I started to tick the relevant boxes. Gender and age were easy. And then the next screen popped up: "Thank you for your participation, but you are not part of the target group we intend to reach. Please leave your e-mailadress to have a chance at winning some of our give away prizes." Bleh. Alfa males are allowed to partake, with or without beer bellies. I tried to pretend I was Dr. Livingstone and enter his details, but the nice marketing people are very honest and their smart machines tell you you've already done the questionnaire. It probably recognises your IP number. The example above illustrates just one of these polls these research facilitator chappies do. The question shown is 'Who will be the next Belgian PM?' The vote I cast eventually was filed under the category 'Others'. I filled in Pol Pot just for a laugh.


My weatherpixie

What's up with the clothes my Weatherpixie is wearing? I've been surprised time and time again about the things she's been kitted out with. From dominatrix to geekoid extraordinaire. I've seen it all over the last 6 months since I've put it on the blog. The only thing that's spot on is Mouser.
The first two pixies: The purple fuck me shoes, the fishnet sleeves and the rainbow umbrella. And, oh, and is that tight outfit inducing some kind of virtual camel toe?
Pixies 3&4: red earmuffs and red striped pants. What's that all about? No one wears earmuffs above the age of 10. Unless you're a 40 year old virgin called Warren and still live with your parents.
Pixies 5 through 8: I'm okay with these ones. The Apple shirt is cool, the vintage G3 iBook is funny. Flower top, fur coat; nice. The schoolmistress look is a bit boring but acceptable. Maybe a little accessory whip could lift the mundaneness.


Find Your Way Round The Guilded Box Office

Yes, I am referring to The Golden Compass. Easily digestable, nicely made. A lot of lovable creatures. Bit dissapointed I'll have to sit through two other movies to get the whole story. I think I'll just get the books as prezzies for the Teens™ and read them first. Some teenagers seated in front of me thought it was a bore, they were rolling about on the little platform in front of the screen. I was going to say something but couldn't be bothered because I was well into my third Westmalle triple and the end credits started to roll. Yes, my theatre serves lovely 9,5% beer in the house. Really enjoyed the song by Kate Bush at the end. The movie site has a cool feature. You can let the site choose a dæmon for you after answering twenty questions. Pure fun and silliness. But we were all awaiting each others' result. Teen 2™'s dæmon turned out a snow panther called Diodium, Teen 3™'s a red fox called Skaeme, Dr Livingstone's a stoat. I'm quite happy to have a lovable, furry, irritating, garbage ransacking raccoon called Achaean.


Check Mate

So, toodle-oo then! Eventually he will be remembered by his only world title.
Bobby Fisher: The only man in the world with an arrest warrant on his head for playing chess.

A Bridge Too Far or The Italian Job?

Some strange news left over from last year I surfed across.
In a Russian town, Khabarovsh, a steel bridge was stolen. The thieves dismantled it at night when no one was around. The bridge was the only direct route to an energy factory located on the other side of where the crossing used to be. So a little detour might be necessary if the employees want to come in to work any time soon... According to a spokesperson from the energy factory the bridge was estimated at 400000 rubles (about 8000 €). It was probably meant to sell for scrap.
Just like some thieves stole a Henry Moore from a museum yard somewhere in Herts a year or three ago. Ironically (or bronzy in this case) it was worth far more as a piece of art. What struck me the most at the time was that the theft was captured on CCTV. The lorry was identified as a Merc flatbed with a crane. Nothing strange there. The daft thing about the second car involved was that it was an old style Mini Cooper. Was it just a joke by one of the robbers to pull of an Italian Job? If so we will never know. The sculpure is still on the Interpol site. If they nab the mastermind behind the theft I bet he'll say his name is Charly Croker.


Rice on Mideast Missions

I didn't know Mr Bush had specific dietary needs that make the news.

The worlds most popular coincidence

Imagine a chain letter or a written urban legend that has been going around the world for over four decades and is still doing the rounds. It has transferred from paper to the electronic era and has now landed in my mailbox. It involves two US presidents and was created way back in those swinging sixties. What am I referring to? Yep, that infamous Lincoln/Kennedy comparison. (If you're not familiar with the claims, direct your webwatching activities to the snopes site; click on the blog title). The latter was shot dead and within a couple of weeks the comp sprouted from someones imagination and has been plaguing mankind ever since. I received it in the form of a word document. According to the file property it was created about two years ago. I managed to track the author down via the web because he left his digital fingerprints all over it. I imagine this is someone who is nearing the end of his professional career (born in 1944) or is already enjoying his pension. He probably has way too much time on his hands and thought it would be a barrel of laughs to translate the comparison, create this file and send it to all his friends and relatives and then pretend he was the one who had stumbled across these 'hard facts'.
Bleh. Poo with nobs on to you!
My heart bleeds for sceptics tackling all kinds of scientific and religious woo. But this is far worse. Don't get me started on history factuality! Getting rid of historic factual mistakes engrained in people's minds and education is far more tedious than 'fighting' new gobbledygook. To give just a few simple examples: I bet a lot of schools are still teaching that the pyramids in Egypt were built by slaves, emperor Nero burnt Rome, Van Eyck invented the oil painting technique, people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat, windmills were introduced to Europe upon the return of the first crusaders,...
Need I go on? The list is endless. Misinformation, misconception and misrepresentation just out of sheer sloppiness or without trying to enhance some hidden agenda are deplorable (not that I encourage that sort of thing, of course). Getting the historical facts right is important. Checking facts that are being handed down to you as being correct even more so.


And the award goes to...

We all heard and read about there being no Golden Globes this year. Here's a better alternative: The Darwin Awards. Its caption being: "The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it.". What did their bereaved ones get post-humorously? A t-shirt saying 'I peed in the gene pool'?


Word combi



You can't reach that far!

Mrs B obviously hasn't been reading my blog entries. She's gone out and bought some more of the stuff.  And yes, that really is me hiding under the settee with that slightly worried look in my handsome yellow sparkling eyes. 
Baldrick: "Well, Mr Blackadder always says, when the going gets tough, the tough hide under the table." 
p.s. Those suggestions on the Yahoo groups are just soooo incredibly lame.





Wi-Fi Detector Shirt

I want one. Just because I am lagging behind for not having the complete geek look.


I didn't know

Well, who would have thought old Ratzi would be interested in that kind of thing? I bet that's a first edition, signed and dedicated. On the web I found a picture of him taken just as he was leaving the water closet. Apparently, according to some Vatican insiders, it's been on his bedside table for quite some time.


Go move a mountain

Well, it certainly beats screaming blue murder at the supermarket when denied those sweats.


Profile my worms

Right, as promised: You can profile yourself (or your owner) to see what kind of worms could be living inside you. Nothing wrong there. Prevention is better than anything. But it's the link up on the home page that bothers me beyond anything. If you sit the cursor on the cat with the mouse (and I don't take to the silly joke either, it's wearing a bit thin by now) there is a little yellow square with some text in it that becomes visible: DOG! Yes, it says bleedin' DOG! 
Okay, so these were my results (and I quote):"Profile: Likes the outdoor life/a hunter. Mouser is at risk from various types of worm. All of the small animals that are hunted by cats, e.g. mice, voles, shrews and rats can carry larvae of a type of tapeworm. In a similar way, mice & birds can be infected with roundworm (Toxocara cati or Toxoscaris leonina) larvae and these can be passed on to Mouser once eaten. With this level of risk, it is recommended that Mouser is wormed monthly." Monthly? Just like in the game. Pass the ammo.


StopWormsDead: The Game!

As a cat I feel I must speak out. I did a spot of surfing on the web. I am keen to find out more about these worms; Mrs B doesn't tell me anything. She's just trying to force food on me all the time. So I look at the Bayer site. The stop worms dead site popped up. Blimey! Never have I seen a site dedicated to improving animal health joking about such awefull things as worms! Maybe I should start believing that the only thing pharmaceutical companies are interested in are profits. But no, I won't go there. This is just too sick to imagine. For starters: There's a game where you can kill intestinal worms. StopWormsDead -the Game-. Hey, hey, this is no laughing matter we are dealing with here. "Aim your target at the head of these worms to gain points an earn more time. Once you have exhausted your Drontal, remember to reload to continue mass worm destruction" I am appalled to see how 'serious' Bayer is at trying to get rid of these parasites. I played the game, just out of curiosity (I am a cat you know) and I hope the pills work better than the Drontal they give as ammo to kill the worms. Fifteen minutes into the game and over 6000 points later (oh yeah, there's a 100 point bonus if you get the hookworms), still the number of worms hasn't decreased. Luckely the supply of Drontal is endless, because Bayer just keeps on handing them to you. But -oh the insult!- this is not the worst thing on there! More on the other thing I didn't like in another post.


Drontal Cat

Yes I am on the tablets (or that's what they think). Haha. I fooled them big time. Well, nearly. I had to eat this tuna paste and they'd concealed a quarter of a tablet at a time. Those foul tasting things. Two words for you Bayer chappies in the white coats: MICE FLAVOUR! (The freshly killed kind). Anyway, I managed to lick off the rest of the paste and leave the last quarter in the little tray. Yesterday I had to have the second dose. It came disguised as some other kind of fish paste yet again (the cheap kind). No way I was going to gobble that up! Funny thing was they tried to envelop it in some smoked Atlantic salmon left over from the New Year's party. Horrid yet again. They haven't changed the tray just yet, think I might go extremely hungry and go for it in the end. No way Jose! I'd sooner eat the mole that's been rearranging the garden than something else.


Likable Words

Champagne Supernova


Do not open this can

This is inside me! Toxocara cati. I do not like these electron microscope images. These spaghetti like things do not look very appetizing. Apparently our entire species is considered being contaminated. I'll be on medication soon. Still have to figure out how they'll administer it. Us cats really do not like those foul tasting nonsensical farma stuffs. Last time the little pills were passed off as some tuna spread. I soon saw through that. Ha! Licked all the tuna off it and left the little white dot to fend for itself. I probably shouldn't have done that now come to think of it. Walking around with these Toxo thingies is not very nice and I suspect there is no alternative. Probably got them from my luncheon appointment and late night dinner snacks.


Cat stroking competition

I think I look fat in this picture. Just came from the outdoors. The cold makes my fur puff up, a lot like human goose pimples but with extra isolation. Those silly Homo sapiens only have those silly looking hairs here and there. What's the bleedin' point of those? The only plus side I can find is the not coughing up hairballs part of the whole shebang. The picture was made by Mrs B yesterday. Dr. Livingstone was stroking me at the time, hence the dreamy glazed look. 

Captain Cook

Brains need food too. And lots of it.



Drat! Forgot all about the juvenile Apodemus sylvaticus I caught last night. Blasted thing had frozen solid by the time I remembered about it. Well I expect that crippled ginger feline will gobble it up, it always seems to clean up after me. Must be difficult chasing pray around the farmyard with a crooked paw like that.


Sign of the year

This will probably be the sign of the year. I'd like to use it more often in 2008. Especially when in the car. They don't get the two fingered salute in the country where I mostly take to the roads. So this could be a valuable asset to my car automotive nautical sign language.


Cheese und Crackers!

So? Can't please anyone these days anymore.
The last line of the article on the Reuters site is a real side splitter:
"Christmas crackers usually contain colored hats, small toys and jokes".
Usually they contain jokes. Well, no difference there then since putting a dead mouse in I consider a real screamer.
I'm not a fan of partially decomposed mice either, I like the ones I catch and eat instantly most gratifying.

Okay just another bit of proze critique:"...Lawrence told the newspaper, after finding a dead and partially decomposed mouse." I suspect partially decomposed mice are usually dead. Unless they're gangrenous. And that usually smell of almonds. Not too bad. Chessnuts roasting on an open fire. Very Chrismassy.