28 March 2007

Driffieldian Orbs

Last week a strange ball of light floated noiselessly over All Saints Church in Driffield. An old woman saw it, and was disturbed. And no one cares but Paul Sinclair, because it’s Driffield, and Driffield is boring.

Let us speak no more of the mysteries of Driffield.

27 March 2007

长毛石

The dogmatic hostility of the American scientific establishment and a lack of government funding has resulted in most of the best work on the theory stones are living creatures being done by scientists in foreign countries, such as France’s Rheshar and Escollet, or by independent researchers with no academic affiliations, like my Grandfather.

Now a potentially major breakthrough has been made by the Chinese, who are displaying a specimen of living rock in Beijing which has hair growing out of it. The rock itself resembles a cobblestone; its hair resembles Andy Warhol’s. The Chinese have given the rock the clever name "hair-growing rock", and set its value at 10 million Yuan (approximately $1.3 million), which strikes many as a tremendous bargain.

Hair-growing rock, enjoying its 15 minutes.

20 March 2007

Biding its time

A pleasant family trip to Whitby became a horror for S. Bottomley of Wilken Crescent, Guisborough, after he was unable to find an open public toilet. Bottomley asks:
What kind of thinking is behind this situation where a town that relies on a large part of its income from tourists and visitors shuts up its public conveniences to save money but at the same time deters people from visiting again?
In all fairness, it’s difficult to think about tourist crappers with signs of impending anarchy everywhere - reports of youth gangs running amok and religious icons being desecrated have become routine.

Another ominous sign for Whitby: a huge vulture of undetermined species has appeared out of nowhere and taken up residence in a Whitby copse.

Perimbanayagam & Abdul Karim

After reading “Long wait for ordered books”, a whatever-the-exact-opposite-of-spine-tingling-is account of a Setapak Jaya man named Khairul who has suffered a long wait for some books he’s ordered, I concluded it was the most boring newspaper story I’d ever read. And it was, until I read "No help for paint peeling off gate", from the same distinguished publication the Malay Mail. Notice the peeling paint story required the work of two investigative reporters.

Nothing for days then this

The tainted pet food scare has my poor Granny in a panicked state, despite my reassurances the brand she eats isn’t one of the ones that’s been recalled. But then oldies never listen, do they?

14 March 2007

Curiousier curious encounters (an update)

In 1872, a flying haystack was observed in Banbury, England. Another flying haystack was seen over Harponville, France in 1954 (see Curiouser curious encounters, a selection (Part I) for details). Now, thanks to the new UFOCrawler search engine, I found another, relatively recent (1998) sighting of a flying haystack, arguably the most asinine shape of unidentified flying object ever to bother mankind:
"It was an object thats was floating in the distance but not too far. from the place we were standing it looked like a haystack but it must have been big for the size it looked to us. I am not sure about the date but it was around 1997 - 1998. I never heard anything about it, but there was no chance it was a plane because of the odd cube shape and yello color. we watched it untill it floated down below the trees."[NUFORC archives]

Related: Curiouser curious encounters, a selection (Part II).

13 March 2007

Eventually a portrait will be required in every home

King County, Washington is becoming more like North Korea, as:
"The portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — part of a proposed new King County logo — will soon be found on county stationery, vehicles and buildings throughout the area....

The new logo will first appear on new county park signs and corrections-department uniforms, according to Carolyn Duncan, a spokeswoman for the county. The King logo will replace the gold-crown logo on stationery as it runs out and on Metro buses when they are replaced." - Seattle Times. (See also Larry Auster.)
I imagine the next step will be to require the display of King’s portrait in every home. And after that - what? Will the delicious hamburger’s name be changed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Burger King Whopper jr.? And must King’s supporters insist on including the honorific ‘Doctor' each time they mention his name? It would be embarrassing even if he hadn’t plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation.

Big 'Brother' is Watching

Lines in the sand

Many libertarians (of the type I call Reasonite libertarians) claim borders are arbitrary (see this clichéd outburst where one describes the United States border as “a damned line in the sand”), therefore protecting borders is unjust, an infringement on the rights of non-citizens to live and work wherever they want.

As Chris Roach observes, “Wouldn't many people who violate property rights--including these stalwart immigrants who trespass upon ranches in South Texas while in transit--also merely be "crossing a damned line in the sand"?"

Private property aside, if national borders are arbitrary, similar borders within nations must also be arbitrary: the ‘borders’ of national and local parks, for example. If it’s wrong to prevent illegal aliens from entering the nation to live and work, it’s similarly wrong to draw a line in the sand to prevent illegal aliens, once here, from entering, living, even working, in parks. One might argue since parks exist for the benefit of the public, they can’t be put to other uses, but by being oblivious to the fact the nation exists for the benefit of citizens, and indifferent to the burden illegal aliens place on public schools and hospitals, libertarians are in no position to do so. By their logic, prohibiting illegal aliens from opening a taco stand in the middle of your local park’s softball field, setting up a logging operation in Yellowstone, or building squatter’s shacks at the base of the Washington monument, would be arbitrary and unjust.

Which is, of course, absurd but then Reasonite libertarians aren’t the least bit reasonable.

11 March 2007

Fear the cow

From rural India comes the disgusting news of a cow caught killing and eating chickens. Eyewitness Gour Ghosh recounts:

“[W]e watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal, sneak to the coop and grab the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat.”

Local veterinarians downplayed Lal the cow’s abnormal behavior, saying it’s likely because of a mineral deficiency. Unmentioned is the disturbing possibility that bovine serial killers, like human serial killers, start out abusing small animals before progressing to murdering people.

Japan used to despise money, just like English gentlemen

"The model of liberal democracy that Japan inherited is flawed, Fujiwara says. As well as putting faith in unreliable masses – he prefers a cool-headed elite – it overemphasises rationality. “You really need something more. You might say that Christianity is one such thing. But for us Japanese, we don’t have a religion such as Christianity or Islam, so we need to have something else: deep emotion.”

The waiter brings a large plate of assorted salmon in varied hues of succulent pink, giving us a description of each. When he has gone, Fujiwara continues. “I am against market fundamentalism. It might be a very fair contest. But being fair is just a logical concept. It doesn’t mean much. It means being against weaker people, against less talented people. This gets on my nerves,” he concludes, the final flourish presumably emotional rejection rather than logical refutation."
- from Lunch with the FT: Masahiko Fujiwara. Fujiwara is the author of The Dignity of a State, currently a bestseller in Japan.

02 March 2007

We all wasted our chance with her

I fear Whitby may soon collapse into anarchy. Each day seems to bring some new example of the once lovely town’s decline. Now Whitby Today reports attacks on ambulance staff are routine, and, shockingly:
It has been revealed that one member of NHS staff was attacked every seven minutes on average by drink and drug-fuelled patients last year.
Assuming the poor staffer works a 10 hour shift, this means he or she was attacked on average 86 times each workday. I’m amazed the staffer hasn’t quit, though I have to wonder if this person isn’t provoking the patients in some way.

For provocateurs and victims a nice way to relax after a long day of being attacked is by enjoying live rock music performed by under 18’s. Sadly, in Whitby this rarely is an option, urban decay has left young musicians desperate for venues they can perform in:
A group of four Whitby musicians are aiming to follow in the footsteps of the Arctic Monkeys – if they can find somewhere to play that is.

Wasting Charlie are a four-piece guitar band made up of 14-year-old students from Whitby Community College.

They have just been booked as a support act for the upcoming West Cliff Rocks Concert at Whitby Rifle Club in the hope in the hope it will encourage more promoters to give them the chance to play…

Wasting Charlie consist of Tom Pyman on drums, Richard Truman on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Joe Smithson on lead guitar and vocals and Guy Taylor on bass and backing vocals.

“The name comes from a girl we all know and liked at different times,” said Joe, “but we all wasted our chance with her so that’s how we got our name.”

And that’s how stories usually end in Whitby.