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Days Not born on the 4th of July - DECEMBER14.NET

Days: it's a blog thing

Previous ramblings are stashed away under Replays.

Friday, November 30, 2001


Today is Saint Andrew’s Day, celebrated by Scots commemorating our patron saint. It’s also the day we learned of the death yesterday of George Harrison.

I’ve heard and read so much already this morning about his life, his contribution to music and his philosophy that I don’t think there’s an original thing I can add. It seems that those of us who grew up listening to The Beatles and their contemporaries have reached a time when, sadly, we can only expect to see more of those figures who touched our early lives begin to disappear. And we are reminded of our own mortality.
11:18 AM | permalink

Wednesday, November 28, 2001


I sure as hell don’t know. See yesterday.
4:50 PM | permalink

Tuesday, November 27, 2001


On this day in 1582, Shakespeare married the woman to whom he famously left his second-best bed in his will: Ann Hathaway. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was on November 28. Actually there doesn’t seem to be much real evidence that he married her at all:

I was tickled by one of the alternative spellings of Shakespeare’s name: Shagspere. Well, it pays to advertise.
11:47 AM | permalink


The recent silence is explained by my having been in Sweden. I’m back, but only for a few days. Having singularly failed to squeeze a holiday into the schedule so far this year, I’ll be departing at the crack of dawn on Saturday for Portugal, there to spend the next several days zipping about between Lisbon and Oporto. Portugal in December might not be as good as Portugal in July, but it’s better than nowt.

Anyway, a blog silence (that’s like a radio silence, but not) will probably ensue.
11:34 AM | permalink

Thursday, November 22, 2001


It’s often said that everyone who was around at the time remembers where they were when JFK was shot on November 22, 1963. I do, and I was just a few weeks short of my seventh birthday.

Since September 11, 2001, the old “Where were you?” question has a new slant.
1:17 PM | permalink

Wednesday, November 21, 2001


I remember pop producer Jonathan King being charged, but then of course everything went quiet for a long time until his case came to trial. Apparently he was convicted in September, but reporting restrictions were only lifted today so now we hear that he has been sentenced to seven years on four charges of indecent assault, one of buggery and one of attempted buggery.

The means by which he lured these young boys was particularly sneaky and clever. From Shenai Raif, of PA News:

The predatory paedophile had at least 10 travel bags containing photos of a naked teenage girl holding a placard reading: “Let's do it.”

The prosecution said that over the years, King used copies of this same picture to deceive youngsters into thinking they would be provided with girls for sex.

He had his seduction kits ready because he did not know when he would need them.

Suggest to a young teenage male that you will help him procure his first sexual experience with a girl, and it will be relatively easy to make him go with you. Especially if you’re famous.

Prosecuting counsel David Jeremy said, “What he was really doing was perhaps exploiting his celebrity. That is what this case, in a funny way, is about — not so much for sexual exploitation, but the exploitation of the young by the use of celebrity.”
12:35 PM | permalink


Well, according to The Naughty or Nice Test, in which (somewhat to my surprise) I scored 80:

You’ve been bad, very, very bad… and you love it! If your naughty streak hasn’t already gotten you involved in some risqué situations, you’re definitely on your way to a life of debauchery… especially when it comes to sexual escapades. You appear to have difficulty resisting temptation, and jump at the chance to have some naughty fun regardless of the potential consequences. While these little adventures may be harmless in some situations, they could also seriously backfire. Next time you’re presented with an opportunity to exercise your wayward ways, take a minute to consider the damage you could be doing — either to other people or yourself. Is it always worth it?

Just as well it’s only for fun and comes with a disclaimer, because it makes me sound like some kind of «casting round for male equivalent of slut» with no personal boudaries! By the way, changing your answer to just a single question can make a pretty significant difference to the result.
12:09 PM | permalink

Tuesday, November 20, 2001


Legion of Blogging Extraterrestrials ID card

You may wonder wtf Rustine Chianti Merriwether Morrison is all about. Perhaps one day I’ll tell you.
4:26 PM | permalink


November 20 seems to have been a busy day in the lives of our Royal Family (not Caroline Aherne’s crew, I mean this lot):

Note for the Diana fans: I never liked the woman, and it would be hypocritical of me to pretend otherwise just because she is no longer with us. But I never wished her dead, much less the way in which she died.
4:04 PM | permalink


Just been making some travel arrangements, as it’s time to go back to Sweden this weekend.
4:03 PM | permalink

Monday, November 19, 2001


is through his stomach. And Natalie sounds like a girl after my own heart.

Now if I could just find a place that would serve me Dim Sum, followed by North Indian Chilli Garlic Chicken, with baklava to finish…
1:00 PM | permalink


From the New York Times, unlikely bedmates: Cleopatra and Osama.

"I agree that a kind of religion motivates the Taliban, but the religion in question, I'd say, is not Islam," Robert McElvaine, a history professor, wrote in The Washington Post. It is "insecure masculinity. These men are terrified of women."

Perhaps moreso in Saudi Arabia, guilty of "treating women like chattel."
10:45 AM | permalink

Sunday, November 18, 2001


With reports appearing that the Taliban is ready to strike a deal for the surrender of Kunduz, British and American special forces are confident that they are close to catching up with Osama bin Laden. I’m still confident that when they capture people who are in the know, either the fear of imminent death or the prospect of great wads of cash will clinch his betrayal.

When they do catch up with him, I rather hope he resists arrest, for that will be a good reason to shoot him dead on the spot. Capture followed by an argument over where he should be tried so that he should get a fair trial, then a long legal process with an inevitable result and an equally inevitable appeal, would only prolong the agony for the families of the victims of September 11. I don’t generally go along with the dispensation of summary justice, but there are occasions…

There was a time in Britain when someone guilty of unspeakable crimes would be hanged, drawn and quartered and their head put up on a spike on London Bridge as an example for all to see. I would forego the hanging, drawing and quartering bit, but perhaps putting his head on a post on Brooklyn Bridge wouldn’t be a bad idea. And we could air-drop thousands of pictures of it over all the countries that harbour sympathisers with his cause.

Now some would say that by executing him we will only make him a martyr to his followers — but I don’t think so. Some kind of example has to be made. And this so-called holy warrior, who does not publicly admit to his crimes, then goes into hiding and has to be hunted down like the cowardly mongrel he is, hardly merits martyrdom. Even his own twisted al Qaeda cronies must see that.
7:52 PM | permalink


On this day in 1477, Caxton completed printing of the first dated book issued in England, The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers.
1:57 PM | permalink

Saturday, November 17, 2001


A little late in picking this one up, but better late than never: Security hole in IE reveals data in cookies. As bad as creating the security weakness is, even worse is Microsoft's admission to Online Solutions (the company that did the decent thing and informed Microsoft of the problem) that it could take weeks to come up with a patch. Online Solutions did exactly the right thing by making the situation public after Microsoft had failed to come up with any useful response a week later. .Net. Passport. Swiss cheese. Hmmm...

While you are in the mood, take a look at this: European Parliament to vote on browser cookie ban. I'm not sure how I feel about this; I applaud the sentiment of defending individual privacy, but cookies have as many good applications as evil ones. And they are not difficult to disable if you really will not tolerate them. I'd much rather the European Parliament took stronger action against spam, instead of cheerfully allowing it in the interests of commerce, as seems to be the case.

A final bit of Microsoft-bashing. Some people think this picture is a result of some Photoshop trickery, but apparently it's entirely genuine. Good old cut and paste (and abseiling).
4:15 PM | permalink

Friday, November 16, 2001


Davezilla has a new tip in his “Manly Tips for Bachelor Living” series. I know them all so well. Favourite: “Car parts on the kitchen table. As God intended it.” Well, you have to be comfortable when taking apart your starter motor.
1:20 PM | permalink

Thursday, November 15, 2001


Born as king on this day in 1316, Jean I of France lived and reigned for only four or five days — not even long enough for a coronation!
1:52 PM | permalink


I reckon so. First, from the BBC:

Eight Western aid workers freed in Afghanistan after being held for three months by the Taleban have been telling of their ordeal.

Next, from Yahoo News:

A young Afghan woman shows her face in public for the first time after 5 years of Taliban law in Kabul November 14, 2001. The hard-line Islamic rule of Afghanistan’s Taliban unraveled, as world leaders focused on a blueprint to restore peace and stability to a weary nation bloodied by two decades of civil war.

Most of us never think of how good it is to feel fresh air on our cheeks.
12:50 PM | permalink

Tuesday, November 13, 2001


It’s a bit more than 24 hours since I heard about the American Airlines plane dropping out of the sky above Rockaway Beach, Queens, NYC. At the time, like most people I guess, my first thoughts were that bin Laden’s lunatics had struck again.

I resisted the temptation to leap straight to the keyboard, however, and I’m glad I did. Before the night was out, it seemed pretty clear that this was an “ordinary” air accident. Not that that makes it any less painful for the families of those who died, and though most of the passengers were Dominicans, it’s hard not to feel especially sorry for the citizens of New York for having to endure another tragedy on their doorstep so soon after September 11.

But every event these days seems to breed its conspiracy theorists, and all over the place I’m hearing people (Americans especially) voice their suspicions that we aren’t being told the truth by the authorities, that this was a terrorist attack but they won’t admit to it. (Why not? To spare us from feeling bad? Like we could feel any worse about recent events...)

I can’t see the sense in this point of view. With support for the “war on terror” weakening in some quarters, and never having been very strong in others, surely if this really had been a terrorist act then Dubya would have wanted everybody to know about it, providing greater justification for us to go and get the bastards.
6:15 PM | permalink


Well, the tax lady, actually — but the Eugene O’Neill reference is shaky enough already. Yesterday, an officer of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise carried out an inspection on the accounts I maintain not for my own company, but for a trade association for which I have the dubious honour of being Treasurer. The purpose? To ensure that we are not fiddling Her Majesty’s Government out of any Value Added Tax.

Happily, the lady went away satisfied that we weren’t screwing the Exchequer. Sadly, in preparation for the inspection, I’d spent a good part of the weekend searching for a three-year-old file of purchase invoices that for some reason was not where it should have been. (Files to me are somewhat like socks you put in the washing machine: one always disappears inexplicably.) I finally found it just a couple of hours before the inspection. My mother would have me believe its miraculous reappearance was due to her praying to Saint Anthony; I know it was due to me routing out every possible hidey-hole in which it could be concealing itself. Different perspectives.

And just by chance, it was on this day in 1789 in a letter to M. Leroy that Benjamin Franklin made his famous remark that “in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” As if to underline the fact, the following year he died.
6:13 PM | permalink

Sunday, November 11, 2001


The lovely Elise (once a saucy tomato, more recently swallowing tacks) has launched her new site at Reset your bookmarks.

Does the hippy chick pic remind anyone else of Susan Dey (Laurie Partridge) from The Partridge Family?
11:54 AM | permalink


In a new video, Osama bin Laden finally admits what everyone knew but he didn't have the guts to admit before we started lobbing bombs in his direction: that he and al Qaeda were responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

The Telegraph reports that "the video will form the centrepiece of Britain and America's new evidence against bin Laden, to be released this Wednesday."

We're getting closer, Oh Bearded One. And I wouldn't be too confident that when the military picks up some of your sick little friends and starts waving wads of cash under their noses that they won't give you up. Human greed is stronger than religion, or even the promise of 72 black-eyed virgins waiting for you on the other side.
11:33 AM | permalink

Friday, November 09, 2001


Recently we've had Muslim fundamentalists flying planes into American buildings, Americans bombing Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan, and Israelis and Palestinians stoning, shooting and generally kicking the crap out of each other. Sixty-three years ago tonight, Nazis were fire-bombing and terrorising Jews across Germany. Yes, November 9 was Kristallnacht.
1:56 PM | permalink


Apparently so. Four days with no posts, not because I was away, not because nothing was happening or that there was nothing to say — just not enough time to say it. And then Firda puts up another quiz, Are You a Blogaholic?, on which I scored 36% compared with an average (at the time) of 48.4%. 970 people scored higher than me, 270 lower, and 93 the same grade. Firda's opinion:

You are a casual weblogger. You only blog when you have nothing better to do, which is not very often. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you'd post a little more often, you'd make your readers very happy.

I'd like to believe the last bit. Actually, I'd like to believe I have readers.
1:10 PM | permalink

Sunday, November 04, 2001


It was on this day in 1922 that Howard Carter discovered the first steps of the entrance to Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings:

At about 10am I discovered beneath almost the first hut attacked the first traces of the entrance of the tomb (Tut.ankh.Amen) This comprised the first step of the N.E. corner (of the sunken-staircase). Quite a short time sufficed to show that it was the beginning of a steep excavation cut in the bed rock, about four metres below the entrance of Ramses VI's tomb, and a similar depth below the present level of the valley. And, that it was of the nature of a sunken staircase entrance to a tomb of the type of the XVIIIth Dyn., but further than that nothing could be told until the heavy rubbish above was cleared away.

From Carter's personal diaries.
3:00 PM | permalink

Friday, November 02, 2001


During the course of World War I, the British government moved towards the view that a Jewish homeland should be established in Palestine. On this day in 1917, Arthur James Lord Balfour (former British Prime Minister but then Foreign Secretary) after discussions with the British Cabinet and Zionist leaders, wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild containing what came to be known as the Balfour Declaration:

“His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Of course, it was thirty years and another World War before it happened. But look at those words, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Something went wrong there, clearly.

Did none of the parties involved in the institution of the state of Israel foresee the obvious? That whatever the past history of the region, if you tell a people (the Palestinians) that they are going to have to share a land that in living memory they have always known as their own with another people (the Jews), and that you are going to give their land (Palestine) a new name (Israel), then they might be just a little upset?

And the Palestinians might be just a little bit more upset when the Jews, in less than a year from having been granted a new homeland, squeeze the Palestinians into two restrictive areas: the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And conceivably they might get even more upset when around twenty years later, they Jews try to kick them out of the West Bank and Gaza, along with the Jordanians and Egyptians who had taken control of those territories in the meantime.

Now, the response of the Palestinians down the years — the terrorist actions of the PLO — was certainly wrong. But the Jewish retaliation has been no more mature. Half a century on, and the situation in the region is as far from being resolved as it ever was. The two sides are like gangs of children engaged in a territorial dispute, except that they are armed with weapons more deadly than the sticks and stones of the playground.

Nothing can be done about the lack of foresight that helped precipitate the current position. But the Palestinians and the Jews (with assistance or pressure from certain other nations) can straighten things out if they just muster up the will.

Don't you just want to knock their heads together?
4:30 PM | permalink

Thursday, November 01, 2001


I dream only of having my hand again

'Nuff said.
3:09 PM | permalink

My momma told me there'd be days like this

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