Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Do you want fries with that?

The following arrives in my inbox, sent to an internal Vertucon company alias:

“Does anyone know an expert in Excel for conplex formula's? I need someone well versed in the following formula types:
or another way to display the right data.

I really appreciate any leads to someone in that can help me.


Scott’s email signature proclaims that he has a Master’s Certificate in Project Management. Unfortunately, the acronym he has selected for this august qualification is McPM.

It’s barely literate Neanderthals like this who give project management a bad name, you know.

Project Managers, yesterday. They walk among us…

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Show me some more of this Earth thing called voting

Suddenly, everyone's talking about Al Gore again. Obviously a long, hard look at Hillary will induce any number of psychoses, but how can one explain this particular mental aberration? The Telegraph has a persuasive theory...

Nine months after the Roswell Incident, Al Gore was born. It might not be a coincidence.

Poor Al. A whole life spent in training for a single job, for which he is obviously unsuited. Maybe he and Prince Charles can get together and open an organic food store or something?

Al Gore yesterday – still getting the hang of the controls on these pesky human bodies, eh?

Monday, May 29, 2006

My parents went to Namibia, and all I got was this lousy passport.

Please join me in issuing a very warm welcome to the world for Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Little Shiloh was born on Saturday in the heavily-guarded Pitt compound on Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Sawkopmund municipality spokesman Freddi Kaukunga said: "We are proud that such a world-famous actress like Angelina Jolie chose to give birth to her first child in our area. We wish mother and daughter good health and a continued further stay here."

He added the child would now be considered a Namibian citizen.

Well, call me Mr Picky, but a Namibian passport would not have been my first choice of christening present. However, I dare say the shelves are pretty bare at the local tourist ministry gift shop, in a country where what most babies want on their birthday is a reasonable chance of seeing their next one. Anyway, it’s the thought that counts.

It just goes to show how much people like Brad and Ange take the incredible good fortune of American citizenship for granted. Of my three kids, only the youngest was born here, and I wouldn’t swap her little blue book for any other on God’s green Earth. But if your folks can buy a hotel and a private army of security in every port, I suppose you’re in your own country wherever you go. If not on your own planet.

Rumour has it that the first pics are up for sale for $3m, proceeds to go to UNICEF to finance more desperately needed child-sex-rings in sub-Saharan Africa. I think I’ll pass.

I only hope little Shiloh has avoided the horrible curse that overtook the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, or the French might have to pay for their own kiddy-diddling…

Rumer Willis, yesterday. All this, and a stupid celebrity name too. Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ivan’s Site of the Week

This week’s winner is Third - a site for “those whose interest in the Third Reich is purely historical.” Riiiiight. And we all read Playboy for the interviews.

I must say I’m tempted by the NSDAP Gold Party Badge Set. But then again, the SS Sepp Dietrich Gold Bullion Set looks so good, too. Oh, mercy me, I just can’t choose!

"What more can anyone possibly say about SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Sepp Dietrich? Not much. Sepp is one of my personal favorites right up there with Rommel, Rudel, Wittmann and Galland to name a few."

Uhhh - “to name a few”? This guy must be a blast at parties. But not Nazi parties, obviously. His interest is “purely historical”.

So, who’s your favourite Nazi?

Some sad Nazi tat, yesterday. Decisions, decisions…

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Glacé Cherries

Puzzling news from the UK, as Evangelical Christian groups in British universities find it necessary to run special classes for their members teaching them how to avoid sex.

Things have certainly changed since I was at University. In those days, as I recall, being a glassy-eyed evangelical was in itself a sure-fire prophylactic against any form of sexual contact, but now it seems that the slappers of Olde England are such omnivorous nymphomaniacs that they’ll take anything with a heartbeat.

If garlicky breath and a crucifix are no longer enough to keep the modern vamps at bay, I can warmly recommend shaggy hair, a beard and a selection of heavy metal t-shirts. That combination got me through my formative years pretty much untouched, worst luck.

Some provocatively posed Christians, yesterday. You just know he’s thinking “So, do blowjobs count?”

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Missing Link

The story of evolution just got a little more complicated, as science demonstrates that early men and chimps continued to interbreed for at least a million years after the initial split of the two species. Boffins theorise that these miscegenous contacts took place mostly on Saturday nights, around closing time, in the alleys next to paleolithic kebab shops.

If nothing else, this finding speaks volumes for the lengths to which the human male will go to achieve temporary satisfaction, no matter how unnatural or distasteful the means. For example, I knew a young man at university from whom no jar of honey or peanut butter was safe. Not even switching to crunchy peanut butter could slow him down – in fact I suspect that he preferred the texture. Eventually I had to start keeping mine locked in my room, the loose-lidded little minx.

Anyway, at least now we know where scousers come from…

Some scousers, yesterday, in their picturesque native costumes. You all saw that one coming, right?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Say it with flowers – give her a triffid

I mow the lawn.

Strangely, before owning a house I always dreaded this distasteful manual chore, but now I have a lawn of my own I find that I rather enjoy it. So it is with mixed emotions that I read about a variety of genetically modified grass that doesn’t grow past a pre-determined length.

I must say that I’m not sold on this by a long shot. It’s bad enough having to edge past the GM tomatoes in the supermarket, all bouncing up and down in their panniers and shrieking benefits at you. The last thing you need when you leave the house every morning is to have the grass trying to start a conversation, or maybe moaning loudly about your weeding skills whenever the neighbours are in earshot.

Anyway, pushing my lawnmower around is the only exercise I get at the weekend, and I always feel better for it. If I switch to this godless freak of gardening science, I’ll lose that pleasure forever. Not to mention that happy day when I hand it off to the boys to do as soon as they are old enough.

Now if it was smokeable, or dietetic, then that would be a different matter. While we’re on the subject, why don’t they find something to stop our waists growing instead of pissing around with the grass? But that’s scientists for you – such massive intellects, but harnessed to the practicality and common sense of a stunned blowfish…

A genetically modified plant, yesterday. He’s an old soppy really – just don’t show any fear. He can smell fear…

Friday, May 19, 2006

Back in time

Today’s excursion is Colonial Williamsburg, a large chunk of a modern town closed to traffic and carefully restored to its early eighteenth century grandeur, complete with Redcoats guarding the Governor’s Palace and lots of heaving bosoms spilling out of bodices amongst the wenches serving in the taverns. It’s quite well done on the whole, thanks to pots of Rockefeller cash donations starting in the 1920s. Thus do plutocrats celebrate American democracy.

I am particularly looking forward to popping into the early Episcopal Church on Duke of Gloucester Street, but I am shooed away by some blue-rinsed battleaxe as I approach the threshhold.

“We’re closed!” she informs me.
“This is a working church, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but we close at five.”
I look at my watch. It is quarter to five. This seems pertinent to the topic in hand, and I say so.
“It’s quarter to five.”
“Er, yes… but we need to start clearing the building early to close on time.”

I look at her, and she at me. Huge crowds of frustrated Church appreciators fail to emerge from the door behind her. We are quite obviously the only people within a hundred yards of the Church. She reddens slightly. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to lock up” she quavers, and scuttles back inside her sacred shell like a startled hermit crab.

Fortunately, long years of Episcopalianism have trained me to accept defeat gracefully, and I return to the wife and kids relatively unabashed. We wander down to Chowning’s Tavern instead for an early dinner. At the very next table is the blue-haired hag, already playing bridge with her friends. I raise an eyebrow at her, and she fixes her gaze on her cards. I stare at the back of her neck throughout our meal.

She’s not doing terribly well this evening, for some reason.

Serving the faithful since 1715. Except on bridge night, obviously. On bridge night, you can just go straight to hell...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lie back and think of England

We take the kids to Jamestown, site of the very first English colony in North America that didn't get wiped out within a month of stepping ashore.

The Pilgrims of Plymouth, Mass get all the attention, of course, but it’s worthy of commemoration that the Jamestown colony pre-dated Plymouth by a full thirteen years. And instead of bible-thumping pre-destinarian fanatics, Jamestown’s population was made up exclusively of drunks and hookers. However, this did not look so good on a stamp, and these unsung heroes of American history were condemned to obscurity.

We learn a great deal from the painstakingly exact recreation of the original settlement and the neighbouring Powhatan Indian village. For a start, we deduce the reason why this colony succeeded where Raleigh’s Roanoke colony had failed. If the costumed guides of the Village exhibit are anything to go by, the local Indians were all asthmatic hippies in bifocals, and so no match for the massed musketry and synchronized syphilis of the heroic English settlers.

104 people arrived in three ships, the smallest of which was barely larger than the Odyssey minivan we arrived in. And from that humble beginning sprang both the British Commonwealth and the United States. These guys really should be better known…

The Powhatan Village exhibit, yesterday. It breathes authenticity from every pore.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The British are coming

The Terribles are going on holiday.

I am once again up against the limit of saved vacation days according to Vertucon’s HR Dept (motto: “Oderint, dum metuant”) so it’s a case of use it or lose it. Having considered the matter from every angle, I elect to pursue the former strategy, even if it means going on a road trip with three small children and a heavily pregnant wife in order to “get away from it all for a few days”, as she puts it.

This just goes to show how little my wife understands the role of the office in the lifestyle of the modern man. The Victorians didn’t invent the office on a whim, you know. When you had eight kids and a consumptive wife waiting for you in some insanitary unheated garret, twelve hour days where someone else was paying for the fire didn’t look so bad. And, mutatis mutandis, so it remains today – just replace “fire” with “broadband” and we are quite up to date.

Nevertheless, principle forbids me to give up vacation days and so effectively hang around the office mooching high speed internet and break room coffee without pay. There’s no telling where that might end. Also, noisy and time-consuming though my kids are, I do retain a remarkably persistent affection for the annoying little wretches.

So I accept the inevitable with good grace. Today we drive to Williamsburg, Virginia, which is within stone’s throw of Jamestown, where Colonial America began in 1607, and Yorktown, where it ended in 1781. There are historical recreations aplenty, with lots of people dressed the part, so for once my teeth might not attract undue attention. There are also some theme parks, so the kids should get their jollies too.

What there might not be, however, is internet access, so this could be the last post until Monday. If not, do be brave about it and I’ll be back as soon as I can, OK? That’s the spirit – stiff upper lip, etc…

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Soothing the savage breast

Spotted in Chicago O'Hare airport during one of the interminable delays in which that dour abode of misery specialises...

Never heard of this guy before, but I feel he speaks for me. I resolve to repair to the terminal bar forthwith and get drunk, per his sage advice, tho' not so drunk that the somebody I become is the guy who's refused boarding when my hideously overdue flight finally limps in from St Louis.

Say what you like about Country and Western, at least they don't all ride around in stretch limos with posses of junky hookers, waving bling and shooting each other outside nightclubs, like those damned operatic tenors do. Even Johnny Cash never actually killed anyone. I think.

Whatever. I plan to give this sensitive soul a listen at my earliest opportunity, unless of course one of you lot write in and tell me he's crap, in which case I shan't bother...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ivan’s Celebrity Airhead of the Week

This week’s celebrity airhead is George Clooney. George takes his dear old Dad to Darfur, to interview poor starving refugees on how it feels to be a poor starving refugee who is being interviewed.

Remarkably, none of the emaciated wretches on hand crack them over the head with a ladle and boil them for soup, which I must admit would have been my first thought, hungry or not. Years of suffering have obviously taught these gentle souls superhuman restraint.

All very worthy, George, but couldn’t you have stayed at home and let Dad get on with it? Go make another film denouncing McCarthyism, why don’t you? Good to see an actor who’s not afraid to take a controversial position on a hot topic of the day…

George Clooney in Darfur, yesterday. “It’s a terrible humanitarian tragedy. Many of these people have no idea who I am.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Let them eat cake!

Austria, land of edelweiss and singing nuns and definitely not Nazis no sirree bob, has decided to celebrate Europe’s many nations and cultures through the theme of cake.

“To celebrate Europe Day” the BBC puffs inanely “the EU's Austrian presidency took over a cafe in each capital to illustrate the continent's culinary richness.”

Europe Day is of course May 9th - the day in 1950 that a European union was first proposed by a German diplomat and a French civil servant. Nul points if you imagined for a second that they were commemorating VE Day. That’s May 8th - a day passed over in embarrassed silence by the erstwhile killers and collaborators of old Europe, who are united in their implacable resentment of those anglophone meddlers who saved them from themselves.

The party starts with an open-air concert in Salzburg, where free Mozartkugel chocolates are handed out – to the invited audience of EU delegates, of course, not the hoi-polloi, who have to content themselves with the honour of paying for them all through their taxes.

Surely no better metaphor for the EU could be imagined that the sight of hundreds of tax-fattened parasites rolling around a palace hoovering up cake. By dinnertime, every one of Salzburg’s emergency wards is clogged with critical cases of severe butterfat poisoning.

Leave it to the BBC to defend the indefensible:
“Europe has been searching for years for something to inspire a new generation of citizens - a generation unimpressed by 60 years of peace and the ending of the continents' Cold War divisions”

…two things that had precisely nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with the US, the Marshall Plan and NATO.

As Austria's Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik put it: "The best way to awaken affections for Europe is to discover the emotional and cultural diversity for yourself."

Ms Plassnik’s most famous contribution to diversity is having served in the cabinet with Austria’s FPO neo-Nazis from 2000 thru 2004. No chocolate in her cake, then.

Austria’s pastry-oriented EU propaganda, yesterday. Seductive, yes, but alas very very bad for you indeed…

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Drive-by education

My kids have been drinking Snapple again.

With every Snapple comes a “Real Fact” inside the bottle cap, which the kids, bless their little cotton socks, save up to show me. As a long-time parent, I find the ability to feign interest an invaluable skill…

“In 1900, 1/3 of all automobiles in New York City were powered by electricity.” Which sounds impressive until you realise that there were only three automobiles in the whole city in 1900, and that the other two were powered by specially imported Italian midgets in gerbil wheels.

“The fastest recorded speed of a racehorse was over 43mph.” Not from any of the three-legged neddies I’ve had any money on.

“Antarctica is the driest, coldest, windiest and highest continent on Earth.” And the most boring.

Who actually researches these? Are they meant to be interesting? Surely they used all the fun ones years ago? If this threesome is anything to go by, whatever desperate drone they have walled up in the “Real Facts” Research Crypt of Snapple HQ has long since lost the will to live. Let’s just hope that when they finally snap(ple) there are no high-powered rifles or clock towers involved.

“Help help im trapped in the real facts dept at snapple they wont let me go oh god oh god kill me now” Coming soon to a bottle near you…

Snapple “Real Facts”, yesterday - now available as a board game. Oh. My. God.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

And with one bound he was free!

A man weaves all over the road and crashes his car into a security barrier outside the Capitol building in Washington, Thursday. A case for Homeland Security, perhaps? Or at least for some searching questions and a mandatory breath test?

But no, for this is no ordinary mortal staggering out of his crumpled car and swearing at security officers, but one of that breed of superheroes whose amazing powers of untouchability we humble citizens can only marvel at. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s another bloody Kennedy.

You see, what might look to the untutored eye like a spoilt half-wit driving drunk with supreme disregard for the law or public safety was in fact a dedicated public servant temporarily disorientated by an inadvertant combination of legal prescription drugs. We know this is true, because Patrick Kennedy, son of Senator Ted, told us so himself, several hours later, after he’d sobered up.

Did I say “sobered up”? I meant “recovered”.

And no-one will gainsay his version, because the attending policemen were hustled away from the paralytic parasite by senior officers, who arrived at breakneck speed and carried Mr Kennedy off to the warm embrace of his lawyers and spin doctors.

Some people have asked why Mr Kennedy – who has a history of addiction - wasn’t breathalysed. No-one seriously expects those in the know to answer. The man himself says he did not ask for special treatment. I tend to doubt this, because, as Daddy showed at Chappaquiddick, the Kennedies are nothing if not snivelling cowards, but the sad fact is that he probably didn’t need to. The mention of that magic name is enough.

“I need to stay in the fight” says the great man to assembled journalists, dismissing suggestions that, as a hopeless addict, maybe Congress is not the best place for him. Sadly, Mr Kennedy omits to specify which fight, or on whose side he’s fighting. I do hope he’s not doing it for me.

Mr Kennedy currently sits as a member of the lower house of Congress, the House of Representatives, for Rhode Island. He hopes to graduate to the upper house in due course, but has yet to prove his Senatorial quality by drowning an intern or getting dragged through the courts for rape. Maybe in 2008 then.

Patrick Kennedy, yesterday. As a filthy-rich junky with a permanent get-out-of-gaol-free card and a hereditary seat in Congress, he’s a fine addition to the Kennedy brand.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Heart of Darkness

After nine years of struggle – and achievement, of course, mustn’t forget all the achievements – we are happy to report that Tony Blair has finally secured his legacy. Britain is at long-last truly “at the heart of Europe”!

Of course, long gone are the days when British pensions groaned under the weight of their unnecessary surpluses, the private sector cried out for lack of swaddling regulation, and a mere 37% of GDP was spent by the wise and kindly State. Gordon soon took care of those problems with the efficiency and focus for which he is justly famed. There’s nothing that can’t be solved by an extra 800,000 civil servants and a tax rate higher than Germany’s.

But despite these terrific advances towards European norms, Britain continued to lag on the purely political front – lacking truly corrupt, self-serving politicos and the sort of network of patronage and mutual protection that the French and the Italians do so well. Above all, we didn’t have that sine qua non of the modern, healthy EU-standard political system, a lively mainstream Nazi party.

But no more. The long wait is over, and the keystone on Tony’s Arc de Triomphe finally lowered into place. A mere nine years of New Labour have turned Britain from a dynamic economy of free individuals into an overtaxed, overregulated, dirigiste ethnic swamp where formerly decent people vote for scum like the British National Party out of sheer anger and frustration. Just like in France, Belgium, Germany, Holland…

Thanks, Tony. Thanks a lot. A fine legacy to leave your children. Tell you what – they can have my kids’ share too. Can’t say fairer than that.

Now that, like an aging superhero, his work here is done, perhaps he’ll finally finally fuck off and leave us to start clearing up the mess.

The new face of British politics, yesterday. The inheritance tax bill on that one is sure to sting…

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often

By my reckoning, the people of Britain have exactly five hours left to express their deep and abiding love of Tony Blair and his noble New Labour Knights. Paragons all. Don't you wish you could spend all day voting for them? Sadly, only Sinn Fein supporters and ethnic "community leaders" from the Midlands with suitcases full of fraudulent postal votes are allowed to vote more than once, and what with one thing and another neither group are natural Labour voters right now.

We mere mortals will have to take up the slack. If you haven't voted yet, look into the eyes of the Blairs, here - so loveable and trustworthy - and do the right thing. Remember all the good times. Wonder idly how much her hair cost this time. Laugh a little over the antics of that loveable rascal Two Shags, and the hospital that doesn't have any patients 'cos the PFI contract took up all the budget and they can't afford any staff.

Concentrate on the nine years of achievements instead of the nine days of headlines. Yes, the achievements. You know the ones he means. Yes, those ones.

Now off you go and vote.

Tony, yesterday. Tony is our friend...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Top of the Pops

Joy and tears in equal measure as the US-based Fund for Peace releases its 2006 “failed states” hit parade.

1. Sudan (3)*
2. DR Congo (2)*
3. Ivory Coast (1)*
4. Iraq (4)*
5. Zimbabwe (15)*
6. (Tie) Chad (7)* and Somalia (5)*
8. Haiti (10)*
9. Pakistan (34)*
10. Afghanistan (11)*
* Position in 2005 report

Congratulations, Sudan! A sterling effort in what was this year an extraordinarily crowded and competitive field. Finally, all those years of nurturing that “perfect storm” combination of militant Islam and sub-saharan Africa is paying off. With Iraq and Afghanistan on a five-point handicap to allow for all the help they’re getting from the US military, Sudan’s place at the top is secure for three or four years at least.

Despite their best efforts to utterly wreck the country and destroy its culture, pride, essential institutions and international credibility, Britain’s Labour Government had to make do with a disappointing twelfth place.

“We’re gutted!” declared Foreign Secretary Jack Straw yesterday. “We really thought we’d got the mixture right this year, based on the Fund for Peace’s own published criteria…”

Mr Straw proceeded to outline Britain’s qualifications to the assembled hacks:

mounting demographic pressures – uncontrolled immigration
massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples – ditto
legacy of group grievance-mongering – Muslim terrorists on the Tube and wannabe head-hackers demonstrating in the streets
chronic and sustained human flight – anyone who can leave Britain has probably already done so
uneven economic development along group lines – compare public and private sector pensions
sharp and/or severe economic decline – consider that box ticked
criminalisation and delegitimisation of the state – oh yeah
progressive deterioration of public services - yup
widespread violation of human rights – does the phrase “control orders” ring a bell?
security apparatus as "state within a state" – see above
rise of factionalised elites – Gordon and Tony
intervention of other states or external actors – if the Scots don’t count, there’s always Brussels…

“We spent decades spouting nonsense about how socialism could raise Third-World basket cases up to Western levels of peace and prosperity before we realized how much easier it would be to reduce Britain to their level instead” said a chastened Tony Blair, taking up the theme, “but alas, we obviously overestimated our powers of destruction. It seems Britain’s private sector is just not taking the hint about corruption and incompetence from our example.”

“Maybe some mail-order peerages, 30,000 extra labour-voting NHS management drones and a few more whoremongering retards in the cabinet will do the trick…”

A failed state, yesterday. How long must Tony dream?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Just what the doctor ordered


My old doctor was always laying a similar line on me to justify his rather unorthodox prescriptions, but now I come to read this I notice there’s no mention of ball-gags and twelve-inch studded strap-ons. I have a feeling he was taking advantage of my kindly and credulous nature…

Some sex, yesterday. Apparently it’s really really good.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is there life on Moors?

Exciting times for Islamic science, as the Muslim conquest of space is discussed at a conference in Malaysia.

More than 150 delegates attended a seminar to consider how to pray in space given the difficulties of locating Mecca and holding the prayer position in zero gravity; as well as other questions such as halal food and washing.

The International Space Station (ISS) moves at almost 17,000 mph, so the relative position of Mecca is constantly shifting. With 16 orbits a day, and the timing of five daily prayers determined in relation to sunrise and sunset, devout Muslim astronauts could find themselves intoning their chants 80 times in 24 hours.

Well, that would be terrible, obviously. And not at all funny.

Fortunately, the Islamic Astronomers' Association is on the case. Taking a break from calculating the most auspicious times to stone women to death, these top Muslim boffins have gathered near Kuala Lumpur to discuss how to get around what would normally be considered cast iron strictures.

And they’re already off to a flying start, if you’ll pardon the pun. With the keen sense of priorities for which Islamic jurisprudence is justly famed, delegates dealt with the difficulties of hanging rape victims in zero gravity in five minutes flat, by means of a brief reference to the potentialities offered by the presence of airlocks.

I’m sure we all wish them well in their noble struggle to bring obscurantist medieval theocracy to the stars.

Another aspiring astronaut prepares for blast-off, yesterday.