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My work computer is a shared computer, so the only news browsing I do is on the ultra-orthodox news.bbc.co.uk. This morning, I left their auto-updated news roll on the Sydney siege running and was surprised to see the very first entry for #illridewithyou. No explanation, just that someone had created the hashtag. I assume it was accidentally dropped into the wrong thread.

Nope. Did you see this thing? A Sydney woman was on a train this morning, seated next to a woman in a hijab. At one point, the woman took off the hijab. Woman A runs after Woman B at the station, tells her to put the hijab back on and Woman A will escort her to her destination. Woman B gives her a long hug but declines.

Thousands have now signed off on this — it’s the second most trendingest hashtag on Twitter at the moment — offering to escort people in religious garb safely around Oz.

If a Muslim commits a crime in the name of his religion and your first thought is, “ZOMG, how can I protect innocent Muslims from my violent, racist fellow citizens?” you have officially signed off of the team. You have ticked the “not my tribe” box on the demographic form. You have identified your neighbors as a greater threat than the barbarians at the gate.

This backlash? It has never happened. Oh, some moron sucker-punched a Sikh and I think an idiot threw a piece of bacon at a Mosque once. Some reprisal.

Just another opportunity for the ruling class to preen in public and congratulate itself on how morally superior it is to the rest of us knuckle-dragging plebs.

p.s. isn’t it equally possible that Woman B — the hijab-wearing Muslim woman — took off her identifying garment because she was distressed and embarrassed by the Sydney siege itself?

December 15, 2014 — 9:26 pm
Comments: 15

Not me, yer Honor

In the thread below, commenter Brother Cavil kindly pointed to this item from Reddit. I took the liberty of transcribing it when it was bigger and more legible, because I’m pretty sure you won’t want to miss any of the details:

A PENSIONER pervert who kept a live STOAT for his “warped sexual gratification” has narrowly escaped jail.

Benjamin Wakeman, 86, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and two under the sexual Offences Act when he appeared before magistrates.

The court was told that his crimes were uncovered when he drunkenly boasted of his “stoat girlfriend” after boozing at a pub near the caravan where he lives in Peterlee, Co Durham.

An off-duty volunteer from a wildlife sanctuary overheard Wakeman’s boast and alerted the authorities, said Dennis Smith, prosecuting.

Nature chiefs launched surveillance at Wakeman’s home and after gathering conclusive evidence of stoat abuse they arrest the former forester.

As Wakeman pleaded guilty to the charge, full details of his stoat sex were not read out in court, though Sunday Sport understand the acts involved grease and his elderly arse.

Magistrate Dorothy Foster said “In 20 years on the bench I have never come across a case like this and, quite frankly, I hope I never do again.”

“You are a dirty old man who used an innocent stoat for your warped sexual gratification. In no small measure, your actions were motivated by loneliness and liquor, so I take that into consideration when sentencing.”

Wakeman was given a two-year suspended sentence, ordered to pay costs of £500 and a stuffed stoat — which he acquired legally — was ordered to be destroyed.

The stoat victim, which cannot be named for legal reasons, has since been released back into the wild.

Okay, okay…a bit of mickey-taking going on there. A lot of mickey-taking. Still, they can’t actually make shit up out of whole cloth.

By the way, I’m starting a band. We’re calling it Grease and His Elderly Arses.

Good weekend, all!

December 12, 2014 — 6:47 pm
Comments: 17

Gosh, it was a lot of trouble to get dressed in 1964

Got jammed up with a work thing tonight, so I’ll leave you this image to contemplate. Click the pic to embiggen. It’s from the Nashille, Tennessean newspaper of 1964: Christmas shoppers turning out shortly after Thanksgiving.

It’s from my FaceBook feed(!); a group about Nashville, my kinda sorta hometown. People frequently post pictures of downtown street scenes, and there’s something deeply unsettling about recognizing a shop or a restaurant that I hadn’t seen or thought about for forty years. I dunno why. Because these things are trivial — and were trivial then — but still leap vividly out of old gauzy braincells.

I don’t know why I found this picture so interesting. Because everything and everyone are jammed together so tightly? Because the people are all dressed up? Maybe it’s just because this seems like a whole ‘nother world.

December 11, 2014 — 11:03 pm
Comments: 22

A title to include the word “baa”

File this under d’oh — why didn’t I think of that? Important documents have been written on parchment for thousands of years, right? Some still are. Parchment is made from the skin of cows, goats and sheep, right? We’ve got millions and millions of ’em. In the case of many documents, with actual dates written on.

In other words, stuff that can be DNA sampled!

Eh? Eh? Millions of precisely dated DNA samples going back millenia. What an awesome reservoir of information! I mean, if you think the evolution of domestic animals is interesting (and who doesn’t?).

If you’re at all interested (and who isn’t?) have a look at the Royal Society’s longer explanation of some of the ongoing studies. Good stuff.

Some samples, for example, show the DNA of several species…meaning that a variety of different animal hides were being batch-processed. Thereby telling us a little bit about industrial production methods.

Selective breeding didn’t start until the 18th C in Britain and, apparently, the shift from somewhat random characteristics to breeding for specifics is showing up the in the record.

Oh, and the Dead Sea scrolls were written on ibex and goat skin.

By the way, if you hit the Society link and are fascinated (as I was) by the thumbnail in the sidebar, the cover of the January 2015 Philosophical Transactions, I am sorry to tell you that is a photo of a pile of bones, not the skull of a single fabulous monster. Boo.

December 10, 2014 — 7:59 pm
Comments: 6

Could we, maybe, talk about this sometime?

December 6 is Finnish Independence Day and, apparently, it’s not uncommon for marches and demonstrations to happen alongside the celebrations. This year’s fun and games, though, did €100,000 worth of damage to businesses.

Here’s the thing, though: the article above goes into great detail about what was damaged and where and how the shopkeepers will get it back together for Christmas shoppers. It says absolutely jack about who the protesters were and what they’re agitating for.

Beyond labeling them as “left wing anarchists”. And this picture, which appears to say FUCK CAPITA. I seriously doubt Finnish anarchists are unhappy about the British personnel firm Capita. It seems unlikely our scholar will have room to spray FUCK CAPITALISM in the space provided. But, really, FUCK CAPITAL doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Whatevs.

Who are these people? We’ve had protests in the UK and the US and all over Europe, with millions in damages. The last ten years? Twenty? They were the core of the Occupy protests and the London riots. There are always signs from the Socialist Workers Party and similar socialist orgs. Lots of Anarchist symbols. We know they are turning up in Ferguson (and muddying up their nice race riots). And, really, wherever there’s trouble in the streets.

It’s bizarre that nobody seems to give a shit who they are or what they want (which makes what they’re doing utterly ineffective, other than to throw a pinch of sand under the wheels of the mighty juggernaut of Western Commerce).

Is it a homogeneous group? Is it just stupid local kids attracted to violence? Or is somebody bankrolling this stuff, and to what purpose?

I know lefty journalists (which is most of them) are blinded by their allegiances, but even they seem completely uninterested in digging into this phenomenon. And we do have a few righty journalists.

C’mon, guys — this shit is creepy and it’s costing us money.

December 9, 2014 — 10:26 pm
Comments: 16

Why there were no cats in the manger

It’s a nativity scene made up entirely of Henrys.

Henry. It’s a vacuum cleaner. He’s a British institution. I’ve written about him before.

Oh, well. Excuse lameness. My doctor was over an hour late for my appointment today, and it turns out those rough patches on my legs are psoriasis. I’m feeling sorry for myself.

If you’re an American of a certain age, your brain automatically corrected that to the heartbreak of psoriasis.

December 8, 2014 — 10:42 pm
Comments: 25

Good weekend, folks!

Geez, sorry you guys. We went to the movies tonight and I didn’t queue up a post beforehand because I didn’t realize how long the movie was going to be.

We went to see Interstellar. It was only three hours long, but we aged a hundred and fifty years.


That was Uncle Badger’s joke.

Blame him.

December 5, 2014 — 11:58 pm
Comments: 23


Believe it or not, this is not a ferocious set of brass knuckles. It is a pony skin handbag. It’s an Alexander McQueen — if that means anything to you, it’ll mean something to you — and it was one of the things taken in a recent London house robbery.

Brief article, short on details, but here’s guessing one of the robbers was a relative. Who else would know she had this pile of ugly crap that was worth a shit-ton of money?

How weak is the connection between money and taste.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t watched the video linked off Drudge yet, do it. The one with the Hillary song. When cynical manipulation goes wrong, it goes hilariously, toe-curlingly wrong.

Hillary is like the anti-Slick Willy.

December 4, 2014 — 11:05 pm
Comments: 17

Have videogames gone too far?

So, Steam informs me I can get early access to this today. Um, yay?

If you watch the videos, it’s not all that far outside the bounds for a video game: slice of bread and its desperate quest to become toast. You oonch your way along one corner at a time trying to find ways to immolate yourself.

For six quid, I…no. Not really my thing. Not enough blood.

December 3, 2014 — 8:31 pm
Comments: 16

A flock of three

Checked the chickens on this miserable drizzly December night and found Maggie dead in her nest box.

She’s the black and white one in the front. If you recall, she had an accident when she was about six months old (we think she panicked at the sight of a fox and banged he spine on the edge of the chicken house) and her legs were paralyzed. I didn’t expect her to live long after that, but I kept her fed and clean and occupied and damn if she didn’t live another fifteen months. Reasonably happy, as far as I could tell.

Unlike her sister, the pretty little black hen in the picture, who grew to be a beautiful big fat bird and dropped dead for no apparent reason at less than a year old.

Chickens. They’re a bit like that.

Funny thing, though — we’ve had six bantams now, and every one was a unique entity. They have separate personalities and different tastes in food. I can tell their voices apart. When chickens are added or die, the weight of their personalities changes the behavior of the whole flock. They have chickeny souls, dammit.

And I’m having chicken for dinner again. I can’t process this. I think I shall drink instead.

Join me in a glass in honor of Magpie, won’t you? A nice little bird who never got a chance at the life she deserved.

December 2, 2014 — 10:47 pm
Comments: 26