Friday, 28 September 2007

An Iranian in New York

Not Sting's orginal, or even Shinehead's ragga adaptation - A Jamaican in New York - this time we have a real snake in the city, as one US congressman described this guy.

It's been a busy week for me and my scribbling hand, hence the lack of updates here. A couple of things have caught my eye in the news in the last couple of days, though, that I wanted to allude to, or comment on, or rip the piss out of, or whatever it is I do.

First up is an old favourite of mine, the guy into whose mouth the CIA put "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah" in Wikipedia. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in the US this week and, needless to say, his visit didn't pass by surreptitiously.

Speaking in front of Ivy league students at New York's Columbia University Ahmadinejad began well enough, asserting that Israel persecutes Palestinians. No arguments from me there.

It was only later he came out with a line that had his audience howling with laughter. After being asked about why Iran had recently executed two gay men, Ahmadinejad said: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon,I do not know who has told you we have it."

This really is laughable. It also reminds me of some copy I was editing at work this week which said that one of the negative effects of tourism was that it "increases social vices such as prostitution, crime rate, lesbian and gay practices." Neither of these two will win any diversity awards in the near future!

Apparently lots of people thought it was a bad idea to have the Iranian president speak at Columbia. I personally don't see the problem. It's a free country - insn't it? - and this guy seems to be capable of shooting himself in the foot every time he opens his mouth, if you'll spare the almost mixed metaphor.

Case in point is what he went on to say after his gay denial (not to be confused with his holocaust denial, of course).

He tried to crack a joke, but I think it was a case of you had to be there. Either that or his interpreter was the one taking the piss.

"Let me tell a joke here," Ahmadinejad said. "I think the politicians who are after atomic bombs, or testing them, making them, politically they are backward, retarded."

Thinking about it, maybe the "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah" reference in Wikipedia wasn't too far wide of the mark.

Full story on Reuters

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Big exit

Not only does PJ Harvey sound like Patti Smith on this track, she even looks a bit like her, I think. Awesome opening track from the Mercury Award winning Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I will run after you

If you went away
Called it all a day
Say that it was through

'Cause a new man
Or an old friend
Or a guru

'Cause you got a bit tired of me now
That I could believe
Yeah but if you do

If you leave

Wouldn’t even cry
Wouldn’t even try
Wouldn’t even stew

Wouldn’t look for another love, no
Listen if you leave
Tell you what I do

If you leave
I will run after you

Celtic tigers

The British may take the piss out of the Irish a lot but The Economist has just named their country the best place to live in the world - for its "quality of life".

Factors such as health, freedom, unemployment, family life, climate, political stability and security, gender equality and family and community life were all taken into account in order to come up with the list, which covers 111 countries.

Ireland supposedly combines new with old very well and despite having a crap football team came out on top of the pile, though researchers admit that not everyone will agree with the findings - except in Ireland no doubt.

One thing I'll say on their behalf - the Guiness is good!

And the worst place to live?

Zimbabwe, where according to The Economist "things have gone from bad to worse under Robert Mugabe." No shit.

My country of residence came out in 10th, a good 19 places above my place of birth. It's strange that Europe's major industrial powers - France, Germany and the UK - are all in the twenties (25th, 26th, 29th). Despite high incomes in these countries there are a number of quite serious social problems.

So no more Irish jokes then?

Well, maybe a couple of old groans....

Did you hear about the Irish shoplifter? He was found dead under Woolworth's....


Did you hear about the Irish woodworm? He was found dead in a brick....


Friday, 21 September 2007

The seven year itch

Gabiele Pauli, arguably Bavaria's most glamorous politician, has shocked the Catholic state in Germany by suggesting that marriage should last just 7 years.

She says: "The basic approach is wrong... many marriages last just because people believe they are safe. My suggestion is that marriages expire after seven years."

After that time, couples should either agree to extend their marriage or it should be automatically dissolved.

There's something really fucked up about this story.

Maybe it's the fact that the woman proposing these measures is a Christian Democrat. Surely she should be talking about the sanctity of marriage and all that, no?

And what do her party colleagues say about it? "She is diametrically contradicting our Christian, ethical values," says Ingo Freidrich (Christian Social Union party and European lawmaker).

But that's nothing. [Her ideas are like] "...the dirt under your fingernails," adds Peter Ramsauer (Head of CSU in Germany's parliament).

Indeed her ex-boss and former Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber says she does not even belong in the party. But then again neither does he, it seems, as Pauli helped bring him down by revealing how his office had launched a snooping campaign against her, trynig to obtain details about her lovers and alcohol consumption to use against her.

Then again, after deposing Stoiber, she is now running for leadership of the party. Hmmmmm, the plot thickens.

But hang on, apparently she's got no chance of winning that, so are her words just desperate measures?

According to Reuters Pauli is viewed as a party rebel - no shit sherlock! - and the leadership contest will be fought mainly between Bavarian state economy minister Erwin Huber and German Consumer Minister Horst Seehofer.

Like the good Christian he is, 58-year-old Seehofer - a married father of three - has also been having an affair with a younger woman who recently had his baby.

The dirt under the fingernails anyone?

For me all this is just typical politics.

In other words, bollocks.

At least Pauli has a bit of cool, posing on her website in motorbike leathers and appearing in magazines wearing long black latex gloves.

As an aside I'd just like to say that in many places in the world common law marriage starts after seven years.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Jah, Boy & Sinead

An unholy trinity if ever I saw one :-)

Friday, 7 September 2007

Stating the bleeding obvious

In a test North Wales Police chief constable Richard Brunstrom was zapped by Taser electronic stun gun, which delivers 50,000 volts to its victims. His no shit sherlock description of the experience?

"Not pleasant."

Well, duh!

What next? Man wins lottery and admits to "feeling happy"?

Full story on the BBC.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Divine intervention

No, not the Matthew Sweet song. This:

"I always ask God if it is his will, and if so then let it be. That's the message I got and that's why I'm here at Hull" - Nigerian footballer Jay-Jay Okocha confirms that God has a cruel sense of humour.

Post-punk in the modern world

"I don't give two fucks about your review!"

This is the modern world

You'd have thought flag carriers would know better, but not in Nepal where the state-run airline has sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection, following technical problems with one of its aircraft. The animals were slaughtered in front of a Boeing 757 at Kathmandu airport.

Apparently, after Sunday's ceremony the plane successfully completed a flight to Hong Kong. Nothing to do with the electrical fault that engineers had repaired then?

Amazing, isn't it? First the Vatican starts up a pilgrim airline - and I wonder who they'll blame when one of those goes down.

(The muslims, no doubt.)

(Or not enough - or too much - holy water in the fuel mix.)

And now this: Hindu god in divine aviaton intervention. I bet he's a whizz with the Boeing 757, can fix anything on it in two shakes of a goat's tail. Does he know anything about the Airbus though?

And what's next in animal sacrifices? British Rail kill a couple of cows to stop the London-Crewe Intercity being late again? Housewives start the wholesale slaughter of household pets to protect against their hoovers breaking down?

Take it further afield and away from animal cruelty: People believing St. Christopher will keep them out of trouble on their travels by wearing a little necklace with his image on it? Oh hang on....

Full story on the BBC.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

More pointless surveys

Ages ago - indeed on my Live Spaces blog - I posted some sarky comments on a study at Leeds University on how to make the perfect bacon sandwich.

This morning a couple more studies caught my attention.

First up we have this one:

A New York State University team quizzed over 1,000 students, finding women place a big emphasis on kissing. They use kissing as a way of assessing the recipient as a potential partner, and later to maintain intimacy and to check the status of a relationship. But men placed less importance on it, using it to increase the likelihood of sex.

is it just me or does that last sentence makes you want to go "No shit, Sherlock!"?

Second up we have an Indiana University team who looked at the behaviour of 46 people taking part in a speed-dating session. These boffins' results are even more eye catching.

Apparently men look for beauty, while women go for wealth when it comes to assessing future partners. And men want to date more women.

More taxpayers money well spent in the US then.

Enemies like this

Radio 4. Fantastic band from New York who I first saw at Benicassim 2005, They got their name from a P.I.L song and still have a quite distinctive post-punk sound, reminiscent of The Clash at times, with driving and often dub-influenced bass lines. This is the title track of the their latest album.

I'm wearing a Radio 4 t-shirt in the photo you can see of me on the right. I bought it at the band's 2006 Madrid concert in Sala Heineken.