Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ten Monkeys and a Beetle

Recently I saw a pavement board outside a cafe in a busy street in the city. The words chalked on it were:  Do you think it's air you're breathing?

It has come to light that 10 Javanese monkeys spent 4 hours each in a sealed container during which time exhaust fumes from a new VW Beetle Diesel and for comparison an old Ford Pickup were pumped into it for them to breathe.

The monkeys were reported to be "stressed".

The experiment was part of the infamous VW emissions scandal project.

Ain't life a gas!

A senior official from VW has now been given leave of absence.

VW's diabolical experiment was hushed up and the result hidden away because the results didn't fit the script.

By the way, does anybody know what happened to the monkeys?

For the record, the German newspaper Bild reports that the emissions from the new VW Beetle even with its doctored emissions software exceeded those of the old Ford pickup.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Beware the Freebie

Yesterday at a railway station kiosk  I bought a German running magazine for the simple reason that there was a freebie, a flashed booklet "containing details of more than 3,000 running events during 2018 in Germany and Europe" in the transparent bag together with the magazine.

Could I resist such an offer? The short answer is, I couldn't. I'm always looking for details of races in European countries. In 2017 I ran in a couple of very nice races, a half marathon in a spa resort in the Czech Republic and a race in the snow in the Italian Dolomites. And in 2016 I ran in an amazing race in Snowdonia.

So this fixture booklet would be just the job. My mouth was almost watering at the thought of this year's European races!

Imagine my reaction when I arrived home with my purchase and looked within the pages of the freebie. There were only 10 races in all Europe in it. One was in Belgium. One was in Lichtenstein. One was  in Italy. Four were in Switzerland and three in Austria. That was it. Ten in all.

All the other "more than 3,000" were of course in Germany.

Well, we all live and learn. The motto is: Beware the Freebie!  I certainly won't be buying any future editions of this particular German running magazine.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Who would you like to see cloned?

Two monkey clones have been created in China. They are about 8 weeks old and appear to be thriving.

We've come a long way since the days of Dolly the Sheep.

Next logical step can only be a human being.

Is there anyone famous, or even not so famous, that you'd wish to see cloned?


This post is a brief addendum to the post immediately below.

Here are this morning's  TOP 3  European Union

stories on the BBC's Website:





 Gutmenschen at the BBC what are you doing? 

A world is in ruins. 

This Morning's BBC News Headlines - Believe it or Not?

This morning's top 3 news headlines (in 4 categories) published on the BBC World App:


Save the Children Fund halts Afghan programmes

What it was like to face Larry Nassar

Elton John to make statement on future


Wozniacki beats Martens to reach final

Wolff predicts Vettel rumours

Grumpy cat wins $710,000 coffee lawsuit


Trump 'looking forward' to Russia probe

University head quits in gymnast abuse row

Schools shut amid Bollywood protest


Free water in England to cut plastic waste

Minister reprimanded over men-only gala

Edmund v Cilic for place in Australian final

Nothing new in the West*

A correct translation of Erich Remarque's book title
known in English as 'All Quiet on the Western Front'.


I decided to give the good old BBC a chance at redemption.

There are BBC  reporters scurrying about everywhere in our service. I've seen their many amazing adverts. Reporters braving smoke and fire to bring us the facts via all those red lines  from the whole globe pouring unceasingly the BBC News studio. Hot news constantly updated:

Obviously I'd been looking for the important news stories,  the BBC's Top 3 stories,  on the wrong pages.

Finally I clicked on a 5th category. This would be the one. A sort of catch all category. Picking up the big stories lesser news outlets may have missed.

And there they were the Top 3 Stories I'd been hankering after:


Cow runs off to live with Polish bison

Finland plans to rebury civil war dead

Maori win first indigenous football internationals

It couldn't get and worse, could it?

As it turns out it does.

They think Venezuela is in Europe.

It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic.  Pythonesque is the word for it.         

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Lost in Translation - Liliana Segre and 75190

We live in strange times.

Computers do strange things.

Often they seem to know what we want before we know what we want.

And other times, for reasons we may never fathom, they don't appear to have a clue.

This morning I was reminded of the behaviour of blogger-comments and the fact that I and others have had to click up to ten times, as someone has said.

I was reminded too of the several emails that friends and relatives have sent here that didn't arrive.

But now, my patience is being tried.

Yes, I'm sorry to say it only  gets worse.

"You know who's" translation button is now playing up.

This morning I saw a report on the TV news about a courageous and exemplary Italian lady - a senator no less - who was deservedly awarded a high honour in Italy for keeping children informed of the Holocaust.

Liliana Segre's story interested me, and I thought I could use it in connection with my Italian language studies.

I decided would translate some internet paragraphs into English using the famous translation button.

Today, no.

The sulks?

Today nothing moves.

The Italian version won't budge. It is frozen. That's it.

And so I went to Wales.  And there I found the gist of the story in yesterday's internet edition of the  'Rhyl Prestatyn and Abergele Journal'.

And I was reminded of my happy childhood in Wales before I was uprooted.

I remembered how a man showed a blue number on his forearm. And how he explained what it was.

Liliana Segre has a number on her arm.  She shows her tattooed arm to children in schools.

Hopefully the so-called translation button will soon be shamed into action and provide the service it is supposed to provide.

Friday, 12 January 2018


In the year 2001 we made the long journey by train from Vienna to Naples.

And went to the summit of Vesuvio and peered into the crater.  Today Vesuvio is quiet.   

We then went to the Parco Campi Flegrei which is where the above photo was taken.

In ancient times the Campi Flegrei was believed to be the entrance to Hell.

Today the Campi Flegrei is in the news. Something is stirring. Minimally perhaps, but enough to attract media attention.

Perhaps things will settle down in due course. Let us hope so.

Another simmering caldera is Newspeak.

In the novel 1984 the appendix is titled The Principles of Newspeak. 

Here reader may read the definitions of several Newspeak words: words like goodthink. 

The populous will be encouraged to be goodthinkful. 

The goodthinker does not use ungood words like honour, justice and democracy.  To do so would be crimethink.

The few left who were born in the time of Oldspeak are aware of the power of words.

The final year for the complete adoption of Newspeak is fixed.  It will be 2050 is Orwell's conclusion.

  "Orwell . . . is not a prophet of disaster . . . 1984 teaches us, the danger with which all men are confronted today, the danger of a society of automatons . . . it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as . . .  description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too."  -  Erich Fromm in his Afterword.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


It happens too often to be mere chance. A major story not reported or only reported belatedly.

It has been reported this morning that an Iranian tanker carrying $60 million of oil is on fire and leaking oil off South Korea. It appears that the tanker's crew is missing following a collision with a Chinese vessel carrying grain from the US to China.

The report is on the front page of some internet news outlets. It's hardly worth a mention on others.

Over the past year I've been following the veracity of news outlets. Things are not improving, I can tell you that.

'What News?'  is also a kind of  'Fake News'.

Propaganda, Spin, Deception. Newspeak.   Call it what you like.

          It's an  old story.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Haiku 1/2018

Fireworks in the park

Broken sticks fall on the ground

And stars fade out of sight