Saturday, March 31, 2007

So, you want to see Columbo's baby pictures, huh?

Yes, you do. You can't wait to see pictures of his great-grandmother, either, or to purchase some of his artwork, which is why you're going straight to his website to do just that.

Yes, you are.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Unintentionally funny comic book panels.

Does exactly what it says on the tin. And has excellent use of the word 'butt-stroke'.

Monday, March 19, 2007

This site is a wonderfully comprehensive look at the 'sexed-up' Iraq dossier. It tracks the document and its authors through time and space to show you what really happened. Sort of.

Still, I enjoyed poking around it...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ross McKibbin gives a wonderful analysis of the Blair years here, it's measured, well thought-through, and right. He correctly (in my view) identifies the most prominent characteristic of Blairism as being defeatism (and I would add a lack of faith in the British public). If you're interested in that sort of thing, I suggest you go and have a read.

If you're not, here's a picture of a dog. There.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

There are so many things wrong with this story about a 'Christian' doctor refusing to treat a child because her mother had tattoos that I'm really not sure where to begin.

Whether it's more disturbing that he believes a 'Christian atmosphere' involves turning away those in need of help because we do not like the way they look, or that the AMA representative believes that doctors are like any other businessmen, and should therefore be free to withhold service from anyone they do not want to treat, I am not sure.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Some things work so brilliantly, and so perfectly that you can spend an awful lot of time wondering why you didn't think of them first.

This is one of those thing. Dylan Hears A Who.

It's officially my favourite thing of the day.

In the absence of a proper new podcast for your Friday afternoon, the Dirty Blondes have provided this, from their friend Chris Martin...

powered by ODEO

Monday, March 05, 2007

We're rather proud of this...

powered by ODEO

The music is 'unghie/sporche' by Tagliogrezzo, released under a Creative Commons Licence, as is the podcast.

Find more here...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

London Air, Killed by – Old Parr

There is a corner of Westmister Abbey which holds the tombstone of Thomas Parr, buried there in November 1635, at the age of 152. Yes, 152. Thomas Parr, or Old Parr as he was better known, apparently lived from 1483 to 1635, when he was brought to London to meet Charles I. The experience killed him.

Old Parr ascribed his longevity to his vegetarian diet and strict morals. His strict morals didn't stop him having an affair at the age of 100. He was apparently bored with his wife, whom he had married at the age of 80. As penance for his affair he was made to stand in the parish church, draped in a white sheet.

He lived in Winnington, near Shrewsbury, on the estates of the Earl of Arundel. Westminster Abbey says: “A diet of green cheese, onions, coarse bread, buttermilk or mild ale (cider on special occasions) and no smoking kept Thomas healthy.” Considering that commercial tobacco production did not start in Virginia until 1609 he couldn't have taken up smoking until he was 126. If I'm still alive at 126, I'm going to smoke for all I'm worth. Sod the coarse bread and buttermilk.

Most of the information we have about Old Parr comes from John Taylor's 1635 pamphlet: The Old, Old, Very Old Man or the Age and Long Life of Thomas Parr. Which is a boring, boring, very boring read.

Not content with outliving one wife, Old Parr married again, when he was 122. He lived through the reigns of ten kings, from Edward IV to Charles I. He was born before Columbus sailed, and yet, when he died, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was already exiling people (who would go on to found Rhode Island).

The Earl of Arundel was told about him as he was on his estates in 1635. He decided that the best thing to do would be to take Old Parr to London, to show him off like the freak he was. So, he dragged the blind 152-year old (he'd already been married to his second wife for 30 years) up to Court to show him off, and generally hold him up to ridicule.

He met Charles I, who asked him witty questions like: "You have lived longer than other men. What have you done more than other men?" Old Parr refrained from answering “Shat.” but referred to his penance instead. He quickly became a favourite object to coo over and patronise at court, and had his portrait painted.

Unfortunately, the change in atmosphere and diet (and possibly having to meet Charles I) led to Old Parr's dropping dead within a few weeks of arriving in London. The post-mortem was carried by Dr William Harvey, who discovered the circulation of blood, but could find none circulating in Old Parr. Apparently, the fine wines and London air did for him.

Old Parr's advice for living a long life was: "Keep your head cool by temperance and your feet warm by exercise. Rise early, go soon to bed, and if you want to grow fat keep your eyes open and your mouth shut". This all sounds very boring, but probably an ideal way to get to 152.

If, however, you prefer carousing with courtiers into the small hours, life at Court, enormous meals and having your portrait painted all the time, you're just asking for it.

Poor old Old Parr. He was done for by not following his own advice, and being seduced by life at Charles I's Court, having lived to 152. Either that or his birth records got mixed up with his grandfather's.

(PS – This is one explanation of his great longevity, but it would still mean that Old Parr was over 100, no mean feat in the 17th century.)

More of these can be found over at How To Die.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Here's the latest posting from one of my other blogs: How To Die

Of Laughter, Watching a Donkey Eat Figs – Chrysippus

It's late in the afternoon. You've spent all day debating both sides of an argument and drinking to keep your strength up. You step out into the evening sun, which is a lot brighter and hotter than you remember it being. There's a tinny noise somewhere inside your ears you can't get rid of.

Look over there! There's your donkey! Stupid, old donkey. He eats grass. You know what, you bet the donkey would like some wine, too. Yes, good donkey. The donkey's so stupid it can't even stand up properly now. Ha! You didn't want to stand up properly either.

Figs! That's what always goes well on a stomach full of wine. Figs! Fi-i-igs! Must. Find Figs. Aha! You've got loads of figs, figs galore. It's figs all round. Some for you, and some for...hey! The donkey's asleep now. Probably all that grass it ate. What it needs is a kick in the head and some figs. Figs!

Go on, eat the figs.

Stupid donkey can't even eat figs properly. Look! Look at the way he's eating those figs! That's not the way you eat figs! Only a moron could possibly eat figs like that, you dumb donkey! Dumb ass! Ha! Dumb ass! That's the dumbest way in the world to eat...

As far as we can tell these were the last thoughts of one of the ancient world's most talented philosophers. Chrysippus was a man so supremely confident in his abilities that he used to argue both sides of a debate for fun, and said when asked who should instruct a friend's son: “Me; for if I thought any philosopher excelled me, I would myself become his pupil."

After the death of Cleanthes in 252 BC he was the foremost of the stoics. The Stoics placed a great emphasis on not being led by their passions, but by their reason.

The first of the Stoics was Zeno of Citium (who strangled himself to death because he had stubbed his toe, thus earning himself a post on this blog of his own), and the Stoics got their name from the porch ('stoa poikile') on which he used to teach. And from which he used to shoot varmints and critters.

The Stoics were ahead of their time in believing that all of mankind were expressions of the same universal spirit, and they stressed brotherly love and helping each other. They emphasised the individual's spiritual well-being, and were harsh critics of superstition. The philosopher most important in shaping Stoicism, after Zeno, was Chrysippus (who got into it after some sort of land deal had fallen through in Tarsus, meaning that he had to get a job as a philosopher in Athens).

Chrysippus wrote an enormous amount, reportedly, over 500 lines a day. He is meant to have written more than 700 works, but all of them are lost to us now, except for excerpts that were quoted by other people. He was perhaps the most voluble and eloquent exponent of the virtues of self-control.

And yet he died drunk, laughing at the stupid way a donkey ate figs.

I like this. I like the fact that a man who devoted his life to demonstrating how passion should never be allowed to control reason, died laughing.

Most people on this site dies grotesque and hideous deaths, notable mainly for the way they shock us into conceiving of our own mortality. Not Chrysippus. He had his amphora of wine in his hands, and a funny-looking animal in front of him. He could never have coped with Youtube, or being emailed attachments of kittens in pint glasses.

Here's to Chrysippus, and may we all die laughing.

Yes - I'm getting old.

I find the most exciting thing about Web 2.0 is the way you can use it to make lists on paper. See to see what I mean. I have a stationery fetish at the best of times, this is the equivalent of internet pornography for me.

Don't even get me started on the paper-synch of Scrybe (watch the video - it's not available to play with yet).

It's like paper, but better...

Friday, March 02, 2007

I don't care about Jodie Marsh. in fact, I'm not even really sure that I know who she is.

This person, however, does. And has lovingly crafted many pages in which they take quotations from Jodie's blogs and use them to show exactly what's wrong with her, and the Britain that treats her as if she's worth listening to.

It is most amusing. I advise you to read it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

This is my hundredth post. It's taken five and a half years to get to it. I've only had 100 interesting things to say in over half a decade, and quite a lot of that was just filler. Ho hum.

Here's a new Marsipan bit for you.

I'm so rubbish...

Here's a link to all of the documentaries on Google Video.

You're welcome.

It occurs to me, when reading about the increasingly-bizarre case of Abdel Kareen
Nabil, whose father and brothers learned the whole Koran to show their devotion whilst abandoning their sibling, that one of the reasons many people around the world have less than total confidence in the War on Terror is its hugely selective imposition.

It is not a War on Terror. George Bush has no intention of invading the Basque region or Northern Ireland. It is a War on Certain Terrorists of a Religious Nature. However, the catch-all term does allow Vladimir Putin to gloss over the Chechnya problem, and his troops actions in Beslan as part of the War on Terror.

We claim that we support democracy in the Middle East, which is quite clearly an untruth. If you have the misfortune to be living in Saudi Arabia or Egypt, whose regimes provide us with lots of money and oil, our troops probably won't be riding in any time soon to secure your freedoms. Sorry. The same applies if you're living under military dictator Parvez Musharraf in Pakistan (who even got interviewed on the Daily Show, we like him so much). You're going to have to do it yourselves.

Also, our siding with Shia militants in Iraq, providing a base for Moqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army shows that we aren't even consistent in opposing violent religious fundamentalists. Not if they dislike the same people we dislike.

What Tony Blair and George Bush do not realise are that there are many people who opposed the war in Iraq who would support a general push for greater freedom for the peoples of the world. They just don't think their way is the best way of doing it.