May 29, 2010

How true


President Obama turned to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and made clear that he had to do more to ensure that his agency could manage the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a growing problem for an administration that prides itself on competence.

"You need to have people in the top jobs who can actually do them," Obama told Salazar

May 20, 2010

In which I barter photos for a special bottle of vin ordinaire

I was shooting balconies in Shad Thames yesterday morning, squatting low down among the fag ends, when a voice said  "Do you want to take our photo?"  It was 3 young french guys who work at Pont de la Tour Restaurant. So I took this shot:

Then I realised they were all hiding their cigarettes, which was why they'd been loitering outside, so I told them to show the cigarettes, which made them look frenchier esp the middle one:

The name of the one on the left is Nicolas Clerc and I took him a few prints today - he was happy.
The punchline is that Nicolas was 'Sommelier of the Year 2007'. See this story. In return he gave me a bottle of red which I'm enjoying now. It's not often one gets given a bottle of wine by the Sommelier of the Year and it's not really vin ordinaire !

And here's a cormorant shot from the same morning for good luck, Tower Bridge and St Paul's nicely bokehed behind:

The horror, the horror, the horror

2 years ago I wrote a post about the official logo for the 2012 London Olympics - "the horror, the horror". Now the official Olympic mascots have been unveiled and I can't improve on Stephen Bayley's verdict:
What is it about these Games which seems to drive the organisers into the embrace of this kind of patronising, cretinous infantilism? Why can’t we have something that makes us sing with pride, instead of these appalling computerised Smurfs for the iPhone generation?

May 18, 2010

A political masterclass

Professor Gingrich struts his stuff in a tutorial setting. I'm pleased that he recognizes Chris Christie as the most important governor in the United States for what he's attempting in New Jersey. What's so attractive about Gingrich is that he integrates the nitty gritty of politics with the ideas of politics and does so with the utmost fluency; a beautiful mind.

May 16, 2010

Trip to Iceland

Gallery is here.

Alain and I had a great trip! Keflavik airport was shut by the wind swinging round to bring volcanic ash that way, so we were both routed via Glasgow to Akureyri in the north. This was much worse for him coming from Montreal, but Akureyri is a fine alternative to start from.

The big takeaway is that end April/ early May is a fantastic time to visit Iceland. The only negative is that the interior roads are impassable, but Iceland is almost all wild anyway and in 10 days we only scratched the surface. The place is empty,empty, empty. Many of my shots were just stopping the SUV in the middle of the road, turning off the engine, and bracing a long lens against the window frame. There was almost no traffic. We had wonderful locations like the basalt column cliffs of the Snaefells peninsula all to ourselves for hours on end. The light was much more than ample with 16 hour days and long twilights. There's also a chance of A. Borealis in April as shot by someone over the volcanic eruption. We didn't need to book ahead and it was significantly cheaper than in the summer.

Anyway lovely trip. Driving was a pleasure...I guess we did about 1400 miles.

I should add that I'm thinking to go back end April/early May 2011 to concentrate on the North West, ie Snaefells and the NW fjords. For fellow Britons it's worth realizing that it's only a 6 hour flight and drive to these spectacular locations and not much more from North America

May 15, 2010

Bunhill Fields and beyond

Walking to play football near Old Street, London, I passed through Bunhill Fields, a small cemetery for 17th and 18th century Non-Conformists and Dissenters. I heard a little girl ask her father "Why do they bury people?", and he said "Well they have to put them somewhere."

I suppose it's a sign of age that I find cemeteries friendly and welcoming as I slip into something like the Hindu 3rd stage of life when "one gradually withdraws from the world, freely shares wisdom with others, and prepares for the complete renunciation of the final stage."

I prefer cemeteries which allow nature to feed off the graves, moss-eaten English country churchyards, rather than the tidy type I find in America. I also like cemeteries which offer sublime views to their guests as sometimes in France. I myself hope to end up ground to dust in a high glacier somewhere or as fishfood by a coral reef.
Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

At Bunhill Fields lies John Bunyan, author of the allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come.
The images Bunyan uses in Pilgrim's Progress are but reflections of images from his own world; the strait gate is a version of the wicket gate at Elstow church, the Slough of Despond is a reflection of Squitch Fen, a wet and mossy area near his cottage in Harrowden, the Delectable Mountains are an image of the Chiltern Hills surrounding Bedfordshire. Even his characters, like the Evangelist as influenced by John Gifford, are reflections of real people. This pilgrimage was not only real for Bunyan as he lived it, but his portrait evoked this reality for his readers. Rudyard Kipling once referred to Bunyan as “the father of the novel, salvation's first Defoe.”

Another long-term resident is Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, sometimes considered the first novel in English; also of Moll Flanders and Journal of the Plague Year.
In Defoe's early life he experienced first-hand some of the most unusual occurrences in English history: in 1665, 70,000 were killed by the Great Plague of London. On top of all these catastrophes, the Great Fire of London (1666) hit Defoe's neighborhood hard, leaving only his and two other homes standing in the area. In 1667, when Defoe was probably about seven years old, a Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway via the River Thames and attacked Chatham. All of this happened before Defoe was around seven years old, and by the time he was about thirteen years old, Defoe's mother had died.
Defoe's later life was also eventful:
“No man in England but Defoe ever stood in the pillory and later rose to eminence among his fellow men.”

And most modest in monument, but most splendid in works is William Blake, arguably both the greatest English lyric poet and the greatest English artist. Wordsworth said:
There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.
It is reported that on the day of his death
Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually...he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always. Blake died.

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun


Ancient of Days

Auguries of Innocence

Since we're on the subject of graves, let me add some images from my archive:

The grave of Oscar Wilde in Paris
Also in Pere Lachaise cemetery

Karl Marx is buried at Highgate Cemetery in London and the Communist Party of Great Britain erected this suitably colossal and revolting memorial

In Exeter, New Hampshire

Last a phrase in a cemetery in east London

May 14, 2010

The dead parrots are breeding

In Bloomberg:
“Investors had always regarded the euro as a de jure German mark,……It’s dawning on the world that it is becoming, de facto, a Greek drachma.”
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:
Club Med governments have built up €7 trillion sovereign debt under the cover of monetary union, which shut down the warning signals for borrowers and creditors alike.
and British government can ever put Europe on the back-burner and hope it goes away. It hits you in the face, again, and again, and again. This is why so many British ministers end up feeling a visceral hatred for the project.
In my view, the EU elites overstepped the line by ignoring the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters, then pushing it through under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty without a popular vote, except in Ireland, and when Ireland voted ‘No’, to ignore that too. The enterprise has become illegitimate – it is starting to exhibit the reflexes of tyranny.
The moment of definition is fast arriving from Britain. The measures now being demanded to save monetary union cannot and will not be accepted by this Government, Nick Clegg notwithstanding. The most eurosceptic people I have ever met are those who have actually worked for the European Commission, though it takes a while – and liberation from Brussels – for these views to ferment.
The outcome – une véritable gouvernement économique – will put Britain and the eurozone on such separate courses that it will amount to separation in all but name. The sooner we get the nastiness of divorce behind us, the better.
Frogs v schmucks
"Sarkozy ended up banging his fist on the table and threatening to leave the euro...This forced Angela Merkel to give in and reach an agreement."
The European Union and International Monetary Fund agreed a 110 billion euro rescue plan for Greece last week. But Germany, which must shoulder a good deal of the burden, had proven reluctant to commit itself to a plan.
Zapatero told his party members that France, Italy and Spain had formed a united front against Germany at the Brussels meeting and that Sarkozy had threatened to break up a traditional France-Germany "hold" on the rest of Europe

Meanwhile the dollar continues its secular decline against gold. The full faith and credit of the United States is less trustworthy than the dream metal of imaginary value.

The USA faces the same problems as Greece says the Bank of England:
...dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public sector balance sheets onto which the problems could be moved.
Once you move into the sphere of concerns about sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop. And it is very important therefore that we hit these problems on the head now, put in place credible solutions to prevent the problems becoming worse.
And I detected at the weekend, in the conversations that I spent hours listening to on the telephone, that this sense of the need to work together was there again….
It is absolutely vital, absolutely vital, for governments to get on top of this problem. We cannot afford to allow concerns about sovereign debt to spread into a wider crisis dealing with sovereign debt. Dealing with a banking crisis was bad enough. This would be worse.
Well, that's nice. What then must we do? Raise taxes? Make "the rich" or banks or "speculators" top up the ludicrous pay, pensions and benefits of the public sector client class…legalised theft. But that induces contrary outcomes anyway as tax on the tapped out gets avoided and enterprise shrivels in the face of state theft. There's only one answer - shrink the state big time.

Dead parrot Euro socialist v one pissed-off hedge fund manager:

Confrontational, huh?

Chris Christie confronts the New Jersey press:

May 13, 2010

Soccer is a contact sport

3 weeks ago I had a clash of heads playing soccer. I was cut but cleaned myself up, walked away, applied ice at home and flew to Iceland a few hours later with a proud battle wound up top. The other player was concussed, but came to and had the presence of mind to demand photos. The guy had been lying on the hard floor for 15 minutes waiting for an ambulance in a widening pool of blood, but still smiled for a mug-shot. You've got to admire Australians. Here's what he looked like + my comment.

May 10, 2010

We take your money for the good of the world

Today Obama nominates the morally repulsive Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. She is his "moderate" choice. This post is simply to record extracts from Powerline's terrific blog entry "A Note On Elena Kagan" :
As Dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan had to deal with the issue of compliance with the Solomon Amendment. Under the Solomon Amendment, universities receiving federal funding are required to allow the armed services to recruit on campus like other employers. It is a law that shouldn't be necessary.

Harvard Law School was one of many prominent law schools that chose to violate the Solomon Amendment, citing the military's don't ask/don't tell policy. The don't ask/don't tell policy is not just a whim of the armed forces. It is also the law of the land, but don't tell law school deans about it. They have to worry about matters closer to home, like their own schools' so-called nondiscrimination policies against hosting recruiters for employers that don't toe the line on homosexual rights.

When the Department of Defense sent Harvard a notice that it intended to enforce the Solomon Amendment, Kagan announced that she would adhere to what I call the Yale Doctrine, in honor of the statement made by then-Yale Law Dean Anthony Kronman at the time:

We would never put at risk the overwhelmingly large financial interests of the University in federal funding. We have a point of principle to defend, but we will not defend this--at the expense of programs vital to the University and the world at large.

Dean Kronman paid a backhanded tribute to the "money talks" impetus behind the Solomon Amendment. Thus the Yale Doctrine: We take your money for the good of the world.

Kagan's side decisively lost the FAIR case in the Supreme Court [9-0]. I wrote while the case was pending in the Supreme Court that some lawsuits deserve a fate worse than failure. While decent military recruiters suffered the rudeness of their purported betters at Yale Law School and elsewhere in silence, the armed services of the United States were (and are) actively defending the freedom of those schools from peril. The rank ingratitude of those who should know better is a disgrace that deserves to be widely recognized as such.
Kagan doesn't have the guts to stand by her position that the military shouldn't be allowed to recruit because of "don't ask, don't tell", which of course was Clinton's compromise and is Obama's tho he mewls and pukes about it. And she doesn't have the guts to admit the highly relevant fact that she's homosexual.

To paraphrase Powerline: Some nominees deserve a fate worse than failure and so do some Presidents. Has any President ever nominated such a gang of intellectual cowards, tax evaders, hacks, placemen, student revolutionaries and enemies of The West? Nope. The Manchurian President indeed.

May 06, 2010

The soul of soccer

Tonight we'll know which swinish liberal opportunist will be running Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the next few years. At least if it's the faux-conservative Cameron there'll be a smattering of younger Thatcherites in the ranks as well as the PR spivs and parachuted victim groupies. And there'll be an outside chance of genocidally scaled-up throat-cutting in the public sector to slate my immediate bloodlust.

As we await the result, there's a spot on comparison here between Gordon Brown and Rafa Benitez, manager of Liverpool Football Club, the direly underperforming quondam rulers of the world in club soccer.

Brown: terse, prickly, combative; inspires great loyalty in a few (though not many Englishmen) and blanks those he feels have let him down
Benitez: terse, prickly, combative; inspires great loyalty in a few (though not many Englishmen) and blanks those he feels have let him down.
UK plc: needs astonishingly dynamic leadership to restore it to its traditional place in the world order
Liverpool FC: needs astonishing sums of money and managerial skill to restore it to its rightful place in the league.
UK plc: should have invested in infrastructure long ago (nuclear power, high speed rail, roads) if the economy is to thrive
Liverpool FC: should have invested in a new stadium without which gate receipts are £2m-£3m less than Man Utd and Arsenal’s every week.

But best are the comments:
Liverpool, best known for being the only city in Europe where it’s easy to park. Just don’t expect your car to be there when you return.
Just like Labour, the thieving gits.
I dont remember Rafa B selling off all our gold at the lowest price he could get OR inviting a couple of million ne’er-do-wells to suck merrily at the teat of british tax payer largesse.
It used to be so easy supporting Fulham. Every saturday we’d get beaten by the footballing equivalent of the Dagenham Girl’s School Choir 7-0 and that would be fine, well… not exactly fine but we came to accept the world as it was and life was easy, no stress, no hassle.
Now we have started winning things, like football matches and it’s all a bit much.

As Bill Shankly, the immortal former manager of Liverpool, said:
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.”
And for good measure:
“Me having no education. I had to use my brains.”
“Aim for the sky and you'll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor.”

May 05, 2010

Homeland Security

Some things I've learnt about the failed NYC bombing

1. There's a VIN on a car's engine as well as the dashboard. I knew that, but the bomber didn't. The next bomber will.

2. A young, male, recently naturalised, Pakistani who has just spent 5 months in Pakistan, isn't on a watch list.

3. Altho he'd been ID'd and was being sought, he was able to board a plane to Dubai at the main airport, JFK, of the very city he'd tried to bomb.

4. Army planes intercepted his cell phone number
He was hauled off a plane in the nick of time as it was about to fly to the Middle East. CBS 2 obtained air traffic control recording intended to stop the pilots from taking off. The controller alerts pilots to "immediately" return to the gate.

In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Update - this page is now removed. Maybe the Administration reads this blog.

5. Mayor Bloomberg's initial suggestion was that the terrorist might be someone disaffected by Obamacare. The rest of the liberal nomenklatura were probably rooting for the same wish-fulfillment.

6. Mayor Bloomberg warns against threats against Muslims in the face of threats from nobody.

7. President Obama says he will not rest to defend America against terrorism. Barack Obama's political career was launched at the home of his friend Bill Ayers, the notorious unrepentent terrorist co-founder of the Weathermen. The Weathermen are not affiliated with the tea-party movement. What's the phrase? Oh, yes, Obama was "palling around with terrorists". You might even call them a "death panel". Now this guy is President of America, defending my children.

8. More comedy here:
Senior administration officials say that Faisal Shahzad was put on the no fly list on Monday at 12:30 pm ET.

So how was he able to board the Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai?

“It takes a few hours for the airlines system to catch up,” a senior administration official tells ABC news.

Another senior administration official adds that Emirates refreshes their system to update with US intelligence information periodically – but not frequently.

Hold on, pardner. Even were it true that the proper function of the bureaucracy is to deflect responsibility for catching terrorists to airlines, there's no way to get on an international flight at JFK without showing your passport and boarding pass to the Department of Homeland Security.


this self-congratulatory Administration will "keep it's foot on the throat of BP". It's like dealing with whiny children when the house is on fire. It may be noteworthy that the Obamans are demonizing BP = British Petroleum, but low-profile or silent about Transocean, the rig operator, and Cameron, which made the blow-out preventer which critically failed. Still it could have been worse. BP might have been jewish-ish like Goldman Sachs.

The Dept of "The Buck Stops Here" - Not is busy right now what with blaming Emirates Airline for the NYC terrorist's near escape. Where does a hyperpower find adult supervision when its electorate makes infantile choices?

An insufferable Brit

The BBC is rotten with smug assholes like this:


British politics for addicts

There's a General Election here tomorrow. For me the best outcome would be for UKIP, the UK Independence Party, to do well enough to get the faux-conservative, Cameron, sacked from the Conservative Party leadership. In fact Cameron will likely be Prime Minister 2 days from now, a true triumph of Cultural Marxism, when supposed conservatives take liberal ideology as a given. But I still voted Conservative, dammit:


Undulating up. Roll up! Roll up!

Garry Kennard
Art and Mind

Here's the group from 1984:

Garry, right; Gombu next to Garry; me 2nd left. One of Gombu's classic sayings to describe an excruciating path up a mountain is "undulating up".