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Talk Porty ~ Portobello • View topic - Rathbone's Ramblin'

Rathbone's Ramblin'

General discussion - "gossip and tittle tattle"

Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 09 Sep 2012, 07:22

Five times yesterday. I’m beginning to fall in love with her voice and am in danger of slipping into a real relationship. Which would be a betrayal of my wife and family. I try hard to resist, but it is getting more difficult day by day. Once she starts saying :” Our records indicate that you may be entitled to claim for mis-sold payment protection insurance....” I feel myself start to slip and have to put the ‘phone down before I fall.

Sometimes I just have to hear her voice again and dial 1471. It give me her number: 08434103533. It takes real will power not to dial it. Instead I google it and it turns out that she’s a flighty bissom. There are hundreds of other saps out there who have fallen for her charms and are trying to track her down. I’m amazed that she has the time and energy to make so many ‘phone calls and it must be costing her a fortune.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried to stop her. The telephone preference service tries its best, but she always manages to slip round them. What makes it all the more intriguing is the fact that my number is ex-directory and I have never, ever, had PPI. She must be really keen to get to me. Unfortunately, the only way I can get to talk to her is to press the hash key and my mummy always told me never to press the hash key with strangers.

She used to have a pal on 08434101843, but he was a real person and not just a sexy recording. One day I was distracted and got right through to the bit where he was actually speaking to me in person. He said he was offering me help in getting my PPI back and said I could trust him because he was working with the Ministry of Justice. At first I thought he said Ministry of Sound and hoped that I was going to be sent a free mix-tape. After he had corrected me I just said "in that case I will ring the Ministry of Justice and find out - what is your claims number" and down went the phone. I haven’t heard from him since.


Actually last week was a bumper week for PPI calls. Between us Mrs. R. and I picked up the ‘phone to over thirty of them. Apart from the nuisance, it is worrying to think of where they got our number from, and what other data about us is floating around out there. (Last year my details were used illegally to open a mobile ‘phone account for which I got the bills, but not the ‘phone! It took nearly three months to convince Orange that it wasn’t me.)

On the other hand you can have some fun. The following was posted in the irrepressible Dadaist’s facebook page:

“Tonight's PPI call was a scream. Emily & James took part. I did it in the worst ecky-thump / trouble down t' mill accent. The poor guy after they put me on hold made the mistake of asking how I was this evening. "DEAD EXCITED MATE, KIDS ARE GOING T' SUMMER CAMP AREN'T YOU KIDS - CAMP WONKY DONKEY" (Emily & James gave the rehearsed response "HEE HAW") - I then told the guy he was on speakerphone and got him to say "CAMP WONKY DONKEY" for Emily & James to shout "HEE HAW". He got things back on script but asked me if I was taking this seriously. "OF COURSE MATE PPI ITS TANTAMOUNT TO A CRIME" (I was sounding like a cross between Sean Ryder and Compo by this point) - he asked who my mortgage was with and if I had the paperwork. I said yes and it was all in the safe. Only when i said "KIDS CAN YOU REMEMBER COMBINATION T' SAFE?" did he put the phone down.”

I do miss Dada on this Forum. He has been very quiet on here of late - last heard giving a little polite applause back in March. Come on Matt, come back and create a little mayhem.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 10 Sep 2012, 07:21

Without a hint of irony Mrs. R.’s consultant said that she should relax, not get stressed and make sure to turn up on time. Easier said than done. She is going in to hospital tomorrow for surgery to remove a tumour which has developed in her left sinus cavity. It’s not so much the prospect of the operation which is causing stress, it is the ‘rationalisation’ of the NHS which accompanies it.

Let’s start with the tumour. Tumours of the sinus are extremely rare and have the wonderful name of Esthesioneuroblastomas (one to remember for Scrabble). Their cause is unknown, but they tend to develop when you are in your 50s and 60s. Usually you don’t have any symptoms in the early stages and it is only picked up once it is starting to interfere with other things. In Mrs. R.’s case it was her dentist who noticed an abnormality in her cheek. If the tumour is small, it can often be removed using an endoscopic, minimally invasive approach. If the tumour has spread into the cheek, eye, brain, nerves or other key structures in the skull, then an open surgical approach is often required. Mrs. R’s tumour requires the second approach.

As I said, the tumour and its removal is not the stressful part. It’s the NHS surrounding it. As I have mentioned before in this blog our local hospital was closed down last year as part of NHS ‘rationalisation’ which, we were promised would result in more a co-ordinated and efficient patient experience. Our nearest hospital is now in the next town, which is 8 miles away .... not too far. Unfortunately, it is not a Trust hospital and so has limited facilities. It was to there that Mrs. R. was initially referred. The clinic there identified that it was possibly a tumour, but couldn’t be sure until she had a CT scan. They don’t have a CT scanner.

She was referred to the next nearest big hospital, which is a 30 miles round trip. The CT scan confirmed that there was a tumour, but they also wanted an MRI scan and the MRI scanner is in a hospital 30 miles in the opposite direction.

Once both scans had given them sufficient information it was decided that the tumour had to come out. Unfortunately there is not a consultant with that speciality in our county, so the operation is being carried out at a hospital 50 miles away in another county.

I won’t elaborate on how much time this has taken up and I shudder to think how people who have to rely on public transport manage to cope. (If we were to do it that way it would take three different buses and two trains to get there -- and the trains would involve going in to London and coming back out again. The whole journey would probably take about three hours.)

Which is where the ‘turn up on time’ bit becomes significant, because, notwithstanding the fact that they know where she lives, they want her there for 8:30 in the morning in order to settle in before afternoon surgery, which means we will have to leave at about 7:00 in the morning in order to negotiate country roads, the M25 and the M1 before finding the hospital in a town we’ve never been to before, in what, by then, will be the rush hour. We are both looking forward to that.

And then there is getting parked. The hospital’s web-site is very helpful. It costs an unrefundable £1 to get through the barrier into the hospital site, but for that you are allowed to drop someone off. If you are staying an hour it is £2:50, then up to 5 hours £10 and £20 for all day. As I don’t intend to just kick my mrs. out the car and drive off, I expect that I will be going for the £20 option. At least that will allow me to stay until I know the outcome of the operation.

She’ll be in for a few days after the op and then It’ll be a 100 mile round trip to pick her up. I haven’t made up my mind if I will pay the £2:50 or chance it with the £1 pick-up offer.

I am so glad that the rationalisation has improved our patient experience so much. Such co-ordination and efficiency must take quite a bit of planning.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 11 Sep 2012, 07:00

07.00, where are you?
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby SoupDragon » 11 Sep 2012, 08:12

ll the best to Mrs R for the op today

and dont kick the parking ticket machine, it doesnt help and gives you sore toes <voice of experience>
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Epykat » 11 Sep 2012, 08:29

If you feel you really have to splash out on the £10 pick up option, don't worry - we've discussed it as a family and are prepared to have a whip round - but we'll need a receipt.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 11 Sep 2012, 12:12

Thanks Soupy.
Sceptic, at 7:00 I was trying to get Mrs. R. out the door. Typically, she was running late.
And Epykat, your family's generosity knows no bounds, but a whip round will not be necessary. Again, in typical Mrs. R. fashion she did not want me hanging around "making her nervous", so it was a case of just dropping her off. I am now under strict instructions to get the shed fixed before she comes back. (Some of its timbers are badly warped after a summer of alternate soaking and baking.)

Anyway, back to the important stuff:

Little did I think when I was writing in June about the Mutoid Waste Company making a come-back that just a couple of months later their work would form such a prominent part of the Paralympic closing ceremony. Wasn’t that fish with the hub-cap scales something else?

And now the parade has passed by I’m already suffering from withdrawal symptoms. I have never seen so much great sport as I have over the last month and a half. And probably won’t again. (It’s unlikely that we’ll get the same in depth coverage next time round either.) I’m sure that everybody will have different high spots, but for me, in no particular order, it was:

Mo Farah, what more is there to say?

For the Rathbone family, the only event we (well, the eldest Rathbonette and her partner) were at was the Archery. The Mexicans who turned up in full national dress and had a fiesta were brilliant.

Ellie Simmonds winning the 400m freestyle with a world record. Over those last 50m she was like a little torpedo streaking away from the rest of the field. To use a very over-used word at these games, it was awesome.

The Wheel Chair rugby match between USA and Canada. Talk about a needle match. Enough to make the murder ball epithet stick.

Tom Daley jumping in the pool after his last dive. That was a smile of pure joy, beaten only by that of Sophie Christiansen’s after winning the gold at the paralympic dressage.

Alex Zanardi sitting laughing and legless on the racetrack, one arm punching the sky and the other holding up his racing bike.

Greg Rutherford’s long jump gold. As he had already won it, it meant Rutherford's final jump was effectively a leap of honour and he was roared down the runway by an emotional crowd. He did not make the jump, running through the pit. In a funny way it was more fitting than jumping and possibly coming short.

Which one of the wheelchair races to choose? 800 m, 1,500 m, 5,000m or marathon? They were all great races and David Weir won them all. Oh, go on then, the 800m final.

Richard Whitehead’s storming through the field from the back with that astonishingly ungainly style on his prosthetics to win the 200 M gold, just so that he could tell us: “I am living proof, that with enough desire and determination, any obstacle can be overcome,"


However, if I have to choose my top three they are:

Anthony Ogogo beating world number one Ievgen Khytrov - much more impressive than his bronze medal fight. The British boxer was under pressure from the start of the fight but he defended well and, after landing some good combinations on the No1 seed, he found himself 5-3 ahead at the end of the first round. In the second round, Khytrov came out strong and landed some heavy punches. Once again, Ogogo defended well but a late onslaught from Khytrov saw the Ukraine fighter win the second round 7-6. Ogogo still had the overall lead, however. The final round saw more of the same from Khytrov, who kept Ogogo close to the ropes for much of the three minutes.The final score was level on 18 points each and when the final scores of the five judges was added up, both boxers were level on 52 each. It really was a cliff hanger. When the five judges then pressed the button to decide who won and it was Ogogo, I actually punched the air. I haven’t done that for years.

If something epitomised the olympic and paralympic spirit, it was Houssein Omar Hassan completing the 1500m seven minutes after everyone else, to a standing ovation. Finishing in 11 minutes 23 seconds, Hassan may have recorded the slowest 1,500m run ever witnessed at a major championship and yet 80,000 people recognised his courage and were on their feet cheering him to the end. This was nothing to do with incompetence but everything to do with pride, courage and determination. To fight through the pain barrier just to complete the course as the only representative of his country, Djibouti, sums up what the Games are all about.

And David Rudisha’s 800 m race was probably the best race I have seen in my life and I have been watching and taking part in athletics for over fifty years. He destroyed that field. He challenged the rest of the runners so much that Andrew Osagie, who came in last, ran a time that would have won him the gold medal in Beijing. Rudisha’s kick on the back straight was nothing short of phenomenal. To be able to do that at the speed the pack was going is amazing and the fact that he just went faster and faster was more amazing still.

It was touching that afterwards he dedicated his race to Seb Coe, who held the 800 m world record for longer than any one else (16 years) and it is perhaps fitting that he became only the second man to run faster than Seb Coe at the games for which Coe was responsible.

At 23 Rudisha is still at the start of his career. I know the area of Kenya that he comes from quite well and have been running myself on the dirt tracks round Kilgoris. Who knows, perhaps one of the young lads who passed me on those morning jogs on the Mara seven years ago was Rudisha. I’d like to think so. I look forward to watching him run in Rio.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 12 Sep 2012, 07:18

Naughty boy of the week (allegedly) : Grant Shapps, the new Conservative Party Chairman.

I don’t know if anyone else picked up on this, but I thought it was a wonderful example of the openness and transparency which epitomises our national government.

It seems that someone has been fiddling about with the Wikipedia entry for the new Tory Chairman, removing the less flattering bits and beefing up the good ones, deleting information critical of him and adding laudatory quotes about his work with the homeless. It also seems that this someone was none other than Mr. Shapps himself, acting completely in contravention of the Wikipedia code of conduct.

Now, self-editing is forbidden in order to stop self-promotion and the reason he contravened the code was because he did all of this in secret and was only tracked down by the Wiki administrators through his I.P. address.

Some of the stuff he changed was fairly trivial, like increasing his number of 0-levels, but some of it was more sinister. Bear in mind that before last week’s re-shuffle he was the Housing Minister. He deleted the fact that he had received large donations to his private office from two on-line mortgage brokers, an estate agent, a commercial property developer, and a firm of solicitors specialising in conveyancing. Not much conflict of interest there then.

It also transpires that he has an alter-ego called Michael Green. Michael Green runs a web sales business called HowToCorp. The company specialises in selling online self-help packages, and can enable you to “Achieve the Swing in Golf”, “Find Happiness”, “Create and Make a Presentation”, or even “Bounce Back from The Recession”. It also sells a programme that boosts websites’ hits by “spinning and scraping content from other sites to attract advertising from Google.” As a result Google has blacklisted a network of websites run by Shapps’ family for breaching its rules on copyright infringement. A string of at least 19 sites run by the wife, sister and 75-year-old mother of Shapps have been banned from carrying Google’s adverts and been relegated to the bottom of its search results. According to Shapps he only set up these companies as the pseudonymous Michael Green in order to keep the business separate from his political work.

According to newspaper reports (The Times, Telegraph and Guardian) he also has a way with Twitter, allegedly artificially boosting his Twitter followers so that it seems as if he has tens of thousands more than his political rivals.

Sometimes he does come unstuck, though. The Times records that “in the Ealing Southall by-election, he appeared to have logged on to the Liberal Democrats’ local YouTube page and pretended to be one of them, commiserating on their impending defeat, and seemingly forgetting that he was logged in through his own YouTube account, under the login name “GrantShapps”. Following much ridicule, Conservative Central Office now insists that Shapps was innocent and his account was hacked.” I’m sure it was.

And I am also sure that there is always complete integrity in the highest offices of state.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 12 Sep 2012, 07:30

Glad to see you are up and about!
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 13 Sep 2012, 07:27

Sceptic : I am always up for it. What I am about is another matter.


This week’s obscenity is the Save The Children Fund. I mean, how can this so called charity justify asking for money to feed economically unproductive kids in this time of austerity when we all have to tighten our belts?

As Douglas Carswell M.P. said: “ Save The Children don’t know what really needs to be done about the welfare system.” His fellow Tory, Brian Bingley said that its fundraising was doing “awful damage” to the economy. (After all, giving money to charity stops people spending it and consequently is stopping growth.) Christian Guy, the director of the Centre For Social Justice has expressed the view that the poor are poor not because they have no money, but because of our culture of welfare dependency and that Save The Children should be targeting their efforts at resolving family breakdown rather than fund-raising and feeding the poor. After all, the poor could manage perfectly well if they did not waste their money on booze and drugs and stopped having children they could not afford to bring up.

Not that I’m a fan of wee Eck and his cronies, but in Scotland things have been relatively cushioned by the devolved parliament. In England the breakdown caused by the coalition’s cuts is becoming increasingly noticeable. Even in comparatively wealthy communities, such as the one I live in, there are visible pockets of real deprivation developing. Food banks are opening up faster than Sainsbury Locals.

One newspaper article said that in London there are now 13,000 children who are dependent on charitable food kitchens for a meal every day. Chris Mould of the Trussell Trust, the charity which is feeding them, has made the point that “Hunger is not relative. Hunger is the same the world over. A British child who hasn’t eaten for three days is no different from an african child who hasn’t eaten for three days. They are both starving.”

Which is why Save The Children collect money to alleviate that situation, and why it is obscene of the Telegraph to print statements like the following: “ .....saving the children has nothing to do with it. The explanation has more to do with the moral, financial and political corruption of our charity sector, in which employment grew by 19 per cent between 2001 and 2010, while employment in the private sector fell by 4 per cent. ..... British children are by far the fattest in Europe (three times as many of them as in France are truly obese), and even among the fattest in the world. A very high percentage of them never, or only very rarely, eat a meal at a table with other members of their family – or perhaps I should say household. Indeed, there is often no table at which they could eat such a meal if it ever occurred to anyone to provide them with one.”

......... As David Cameron continues to tell us, this is the face of ‘compassionate conservatism’.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 14 Sep 2012, 07:24

There are times when the internet can be a real pain. I was happily downloading stuff by Wardie Burns last night when things froze up. I checked. It wasn’t the machine. I could open up a new page and work on that with no problem, but if I went back to the download site, zilch. If I closed the site down and went back in to it everything was hunky dory. Then five minutes later the big freeze again. Poor Wardie was taking an age. Then, although I was logged in properly, it started to chuck me out.

By the time I gave up I was in the mood to dash out and deep fry a mars bar for some ethnic comfort. While it is a phenomenon which seemed to speak eloquently about poor diet and the ever-increasing lengths people like me will go to to get a hit of sugar and fat, you can’t disguise the attraction of the way the caramel squirts out when it is bitten. It is soft warm and sweet. Sickly sweet and fatty. What greater comfort eating can there be?

But if Mars have their way we might not be able to do that anymore. Mars have belatedly decided that deep fried bars aren’t doing their image any good and scottish chip shops have received a demand from Mars for a disclaimer on their menus to make it clear deep fat frying is “not authorised or endorsed by Mars Incorporated”. A Mars spokesman said: “Deep-frying our products would go against our commitment to promoting healthy active lifestyles.” Almost as much as a healthy dollop of chocolate and caramel helps you work rest and play, I assume.


Sticking Mars bars in batter and frying them was first created at the Haven Chippie in Stonehaven in the mid-1990s and has since become a world-famous Scottish "delicacy". The chippie, now called the Carron Fish Bar, sells between 100 and 150 deep-fried Mars bars every week. Lorraine, who dunks the delicacies in the batter at The Carron said :“I was amazed when I got the lawyer’s letter because I really feel they are giving me a slap on the wrist. I think it’s sad that it’s come to this but I am quite happy to put a disclaimer up because my intention was not to offend the Mars bar product.”

A quick straw poll of various chip shops in one short stretch of Glasgow’s east end brought mixed results:
Ahmed at Neptune refuses to fry chocolate bars because "it turns the oil black and oil is very expensive."
But Mustapha from Denis' Takeaway is happy to oblige. He takes a Mars bar from the shelf, unwraps it, dips it in the same batter he uses for the fish and throws it in the fryer. A couple of minutes later he presents a soggy chocolate bar covered in crispy batter.He says he will deep-fry anything. "That's my job", he says.
Quigley’s will do Snickers and Twixes as well, if you ask nicely: "It's a novelty though. You will try one once but you will not be back."

I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Downloading Wardie Burns took me two mars bars and a milky way.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 15 Sep 2012, 07:20

Well I thought the shed looked okay. It needed a bit of work just to actually get to it. My own fault of course.

For a start there was that whole stack of flower pots stuffed down the back between the shed and the wall. Who knew there were so many. These are the plastic ones that plants come in when you get them from the garden centre. There used to be a time when our local garden centre had a recycling bay where you could put the empty pots in and they would re-use them. Good recycling. Then they stopped doing that because it was cheaper for them just to buy more pots than it was to have somebody sift through the returned ones, clean them and get them ready for re-potting. Which left me with the dilemma of what to do with the pots. The council don’t take them away and if you put things in the wheelie bins that the scaffies think shouldn’t be there then they leave the whole of the rubbish to fester until you see sense. So behind the shed they went until a solution came along. They are still waiting.

Then there was the rosemary. It was almost as big as I am. Down to me again. I’ve been meaning to prune it back for the last two years. Once I had got it back down to a manageable size, it had revealed the next plant up (whose name I forget -- it’s got yellow leaves and nice little pink flowerheads in May and June. That had to be cut back as well.

It was at that point I came across the roll of chicken wire that I had been looking for to put round the compost heap last summer. Well, at least that’s something I can get on with over the winter.

Which finally revealed the shed in all its warped glory. It’s one of those garden sheds with a timber frame and overlapping horizontal strips of wood for sidings. Since April it has been alternately soaked and baked. It is surprising just how destructive that process can be. About a third of the strips had warped and sprung, their nails being pulled right out of the frame.
At first I tried to hammer them back into place, but all that did was to make other ones pop off instead. So it was off to B&Q to purchase new planks. Then I spent most of one day sawing them to size, carefully removing the old warped ones and fitting the new ones into place and screw fixing them to the frame. Then I had to tackle the door which didn’t fit into the frame properly anymore. That was really fiddly, getting it off its hinges, fixing the frame, changing the warped panels on the door and getting it back on to the hinges. That was another day gone.

Fortunately the third day was bright and sunny and I was able to paint the whole thing with wood preservative.

Mrs. R. came back from the Hospital. Did she say “Oh good, you’ve fixed the shed” ? No. She homed right in on the small blue splashes of preservative on the path. Then she noticed that the position of the padlock had been moved. It was now half an inch further over, which was inevitably going to inconvenience her because she could just possibly have to put one foot on the step in order to reach it now. And then she saw that the screws in new panels on the door were not in exact alignment. “I’ll have to send to to carpentry nightclasses”, she said before wondering why I didn’t do the bay tree at the same time as I was cutting back the rosemary.

I’m putting it down to the residual effects of the anaesthetic.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 15 Sep 2012, 19:59

Posting tonight just to reassure Sceptic that I haven't haven't done a bunk when she/he logs in tomorrow and discovers that I haven't posted.

I'm actually on a course up in London this weekend. The problem is that I have to be up there for 9:00 tomorrow morning and, typically, Network Rail are running no trains from here to there tomorrow because of engineering works. There is the ubiquitous "replacement bus service" which, if I get on the bus at 6:10 guarantees (or rather doesn't) to get me into Kings Cross by 8:45. Which still means I'll be late for the first session but is better than not getting there at all.

Assuming that I get back home before midnight, I'll be in touch with you all again on Monday.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 17 Sep 2012, 08:15

Though I was bemoaning the fact that my train into London yesterday had been replaced by a bus service, apart from the inconvenience of having to leave really early, it turned out to be a fascinating journey. All those stations that I usually whizz through without a second glance now had a whole town attached to them. In some instances it was a revelation. For example I have always envisaged New Southgate as a somewhat leafy middle class commuter suburb. It turns out to be a pretty run down, slightly schemie place. Then there was the childrens’ playground next to the station at Turnpike Lane which was full of young guys in hoods (maybe a dozen of them) at 8:00 on a Sunday morning? You could envisage a book full of possible scenarios.

Anyway, the course I was on over the weekend was on website development. One of the most interesting parts was a talk by a lawyer about the pitfalls of running a site and increasing litigation against web managers and individuals. As some of what he was saying is relevant to what goes on here I thought I’d better share it.

The first area is copyright infringement (and this is something I, and almost everyone I know on Facebook, am guilty of). The most common types of copyright infringement on the web are images being taken from other sites and posted on social networks. It doesn't matter if you copy the image to your web server or point to it on their web server. If you use an image or quote text that you didn't create, you must get permission from the owner. If you're not sure if an item is copyrighted, it probably is. Even if a document or image on the web does not have a copyright notice, it is still protected by copyright laws.

Increasingly people (particularly publishers) are tracking down infringements of their copyright and prosecuting. Because I usually post on here early in the morning I find that when I am logged in I am accompanied on the users list by a series of names in grey. You might have seen them as well. As I am writing this there are Bing, Bandwatch, Bot and Spider. These are programmes called "spiders" that search out images and text on web pages. If it matches the criteria are looking for they will flag that site for review and it will be reviewed for copyright infringement. These spiders are always surfing the net, and new companies are using them all the time. If they decide to prosecute, it is not just the person who posted they will go after, but the "secondary publishers" who make the information available to the public, such as website hosts or operators of website forums.

(I have already PM’d Wangi and asked him to take down the Poem Of The Week thread.)

The other issue which is a litigation growth area is on-line libel. As we have discussed on here before, there are people who seem to think that the internet somehow allows them to say what they like. The courts don’t hold that view. If you post something defamatory about another person which is likely to damage their reputation and which you cannot prove, that is libel and you can be sued. And, like copyright infringement, it’s not just you, but the website hosts who are liable.

Interestingly (and scarily) if the web site moderators vet and edit material before allowing it to be posted, the law now considers that by interfering in this way they are demonstrating that the site is doing more than merely "storing" information and therefore they more likely to be held legally responsible for any defamation occurring on the website than they are if they don't moderate it!

The safest course of action for website operators facing what they think might be internet libel or copyright infringement is to take down all of the content immediately. If you delay or attempt to edit the material, then your risk of legal liability increases substantially.

I hope that doesn’t sound overly alarmist, but it confirmed concerns that I have had for some time and I suggest that we all need to give some thought to what we post before we post it.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 18 Sep 2012, 12:33

Double Copyright Whammy Shock!!!!

I’ve been at a meeting this morning with the prospective publisher of The Book and my editor. (I’m writing this on the train coming back.)

To my mild surprise, they considered that it can be pulled into a marketable form and, more importantly, that there is a market for it. So, you can expect it to appear on a kindle near you in the new year. The current strategy in publishing, apparently, is to push things out on the web as e-books and publish on demand and then, depending on the interest, to issue them as conventional hardcopy books.

The only real down side was when they said: “The title will have to go” and then all but one of the chapter headings. Copyright again! I was calling the book “Ain’t No Surf In Portobello - a subjective history of the Edinburgh music scene.” That, and the various chapter headings, were the titles of well known tracks by Edinburgh bands. Definitely a no no. The cost of buying the copyright permissions would probably be more than the initial return on the book. So I am now looking for a new title. (The chapter headings aren’t a problem, but if anyone has a suggestion for a book title which would clearly link the content with Edinburgh and with the music scene then I’d be grateful)

Another reason for the meeting was to go through the illustrations which I have done for each chapter. (And these are all my copyright for a change!) The attached is one of Robin Williamson.




Nicky, the editor, has been really brilliant, able to look at a page of text and say “Do this, do that, re-write that paragraph and drop this one and it’ll be much better.” And, of course, it is. I’m really enjoying the process of dragging the draft into something resembling a book.

I’d like to thank everybody who agreed to read the earlier drafts, both the people who post on this site and the lurkers who don’t but still managed to track me down and offered to help. It’s probably wrong to single out specific people, but Cocoa pointed me to an area I had overlooked and shouldn’t have. Thanks for that. Among the lurkers Lyall Sutherland drew my attention to the fact that I’d omitted Rough Mix, Clanjamfrie, the Stray Prawns, Wipeout and Safehouse, all bands he has been in. I’ve discussed their contribution with him and they are still out. His info on Blues ‘n’ Trouble was useful though. Jim Marshall of the Hipple People and Neil Highmore of The Maquis both send me lots of really useful information for which I am grateful.

Above all, however, I have to thank Brian Hogg. Brian is the author of “All That Every Mattered”, which is still the only comprehensive history of Scottish Rock and Pop. Those of you who read the earlier draft will recall that in a couple of places I take exception to some of the comments that he makes in his book. As a result of getting in touch we have had a really good exchange of views, found some common ground and agreed the wording. At the same time Brian has given me fascinating detail of the period in the seventies and eighties when he worked, first behind the counter at Bruce’s in Rose Street and then for Zoom records, managing Simple Minds among others.

All of you gave me frank criticism, which is what I was looking for and the text is much better for it. (In parts it is no longer anything like the rough draft you kindly slogged through!)

As for the Poem of the Week thread: sorry that some of you are suffering withdrawal symptoms already. All is not lost. Copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author, so all I need to do is find poets who popped their clogs before 1942 and we’re away again. The problem is finding the time to read them and make a selection.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 19 Sep 2012, 07:24

Talking about finding time for things, I’m so relieved that research has confirmed that middle age starts much later than previously thought. For a while there I thought I was suffering from some sort of retarded senility.

According to official national data, there are now more adults over 65 than there are under-16s and a survey of those over 65s shows that none of them consider themselves to be old. In fact most of them consider that old age doesn’t start until you are well into your 70s.

This contrasts with similar surveys in the 1950s when people thought that middle age began around 36 and you were into your old age by 60. (Just think of the ‘old age pension’.)

To an extent this is due to most of us now living longer and staying healthier longer, but it appears to have more to do with attitude. More than half the people interviewed said they had more confidence and experience than younger people and are less afraid of making mistakes. As a result they feel capable of doing things that their parents would have shied away from and that their grandparents would have been incapable of attempting.

Personally, it’s not that I don’t notice that I’m getting older. My eyes are now full of floaters, making reading and drawing a bit like watching a forest full of falling black leaves on an autumn night. The ears are much the same. I’m now at the stage where I only hear when I want to. When the conversation turns boring it's easiest simply to shake my head and claim I can't hear a word. Like most of my similarly aged mates I suffer from something we describe to each other as "Alzheimer's' lite", except we prefer to call it having CRAFT moments. Usually if someone comes up to me and says: "Hello, How are you? Long time no see!" I can't for the life of me recall having ever seen them before in my life. Selectively not remembering can make you more relaxed and happier.

Then there is the realisation that arthritis, blood pressure, warfarin, glucosamine sulphate, wobbly teeth, liver spots, acid reflux are all extremely interesting topics once you get to understand them.

Funny how it creeps up on you. Now that I’m older, I see all of life’s charms. I can walk for miles, letting the views leak in. I love the rain, the sun, the seasons. And gardening, a chore I used to regard as outdoor housework, is now a pleasure.

At the same time, I also endorse the attitude once expressed in The Oldie: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - strawberries in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming.”

So I’m going to join Hell’s Geriatrics and blow this year’s winter fuel allowance on something frivolous, like the electricity bill.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 20 Sep 2012, 07:20

That stuff about middle age arriving later was probably on my mind when I was reading the posts about shops selling booze to kids and the references to people being asked for ID. Maybe we're all just looking younger.

I have to admit that I can’t get too worked up about kids having a furtive drink or two, provided they’re not making a real nuisance of themselves (and in most instances they’re not. They are usually just socialising in the way they know best.) When I was about 14, I was particularly adept at nicking bottles of wine out of off-licences. It was one of my specialities which guaranteed my acceptance into the gang of lads I hung around with. (Usually it was a bottle of cheap sauternes and we would go off to the Joppa salt pans to drink it.) Nothing much changes.

If the Police want to they can go after the shops which are selling the booze. The offence of persistently selling alcohol is committed if, on two or more different occasions in a period of three consecutive months, alcohol is unlawfully sold on the same premises to a person aged under 18. The law even allows the Police to make a sting -- they can send someone under 18 into the shop to attempt to buy the alcohol. The maximum fine for the offence is currently £20,000. but ( and it’s a big but), the proprietor can claim mitigating factors . These may include situations where: a negligent staff member had not followed the premises stringent standard practice/age verification scheme despite good and established training schemes; the sale of alcohol forms a large part of the business and a closure period would cause financial hardship or threaten the survival of the business; and prosecution may not be required where the licensee could not be expected to know that the child was under age unless it can be proved it was obvious that the licensee must have known that the person was under-age.

Much more invidious is the increasing paranoia in the shops. A quick google throws up a plethora of stories about people being asked for ID, some of them amusing but most of them just plain silly.

There was the 72-year-old who was unable to buy two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon at Morrisons in Blackpool because he could not prove his age.

The 68 year old woman who is regularly asked her age at the local Spar shop despite shopping there every day for over 20 years.

The 60-year-old being asked for proof he was over 21 when buying glue in B&Q.

A mum who demanded an apology from Asda after staff refused to sell her alcohol for her son's christening party - despite her being 39.

Kay, who at 36 is twice the legal age to buy alcohol and who is asked for her ID every time she tries to buy wine in Tesco.

Then there were the two sisters aged 20 and 23 who went to their local Tesco to buy some wine: “On arrival at the checkout we took out our IDs which were our driving licences and showed the young boy. He looked at them and laughed and said that they were "fake". We asked to speak to the manager. After I said “ "surely you should phone the police if you think they are fake", he examined the licences and accepted they were real. We were happy with this result but as we took the alcohol back to the till, the manager came up and refused us saying that because we had already been refused, we had to be refused no matter what!

(You will have noted that these witnesses have been getting younger and younger. I’ve saved my favourite for last)
:
John D, Nottingham: “ I'm 15 and I've never been ID'd buying alcohol. Ever. What do you want?”

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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 21 Sep 2012, 14:40

I have tried six times this morning to post on Talk Porty, without success.

I can log on okay, but whenever I try to post I get the following:

On my mac (via Safari):
“ Not acceptable. An appropriate representation of the requested resource/posting.php could not be found on this server. Additionally a 404 Not Found Error was encountered while trying to use an error document to handle the request.”

Using a PC at the local cyber-cafe (via Internet Explorer):

“ Internet Explorer cannot read this webpage format. This error (HTTP 406 NOT ACCEPTABLE) means that Internet Explorer was able to receive information from the website you visited, but the information was not in a format that Internet Explorer can display.”

As I am getting this error on both mac and PC and they are not networked, I assume the problem is not at this end.

Other people I've e-mailed are having the same problem, but have said try just using quick reply, so I am.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 21 Sep 2012, 14:41

And that appears to be working, so this is what I was trying to post:

I also think that Commander 114’s suggestion for building over the railway is probably a non-starter, but .......

In 1784 the Town Council of Edinburgh decided that it wanted to build a new University, but where to put it? The only available site was a field half way up the hill on the other side of the valley between the High Street and the Cowgate. Totally impractical, people said. People would never walk all the way down the hill and up the other side. It was too steep. Besides, how was it to be paid for?

It turned out there was an enterprising solution. Why not build a wide bridge over the valley, with shops and tenements actually built on the bridge, with a road between them. The money from the sale of the tenements could then pay for the cost of building the bridge and the university. Sheer fantasy, people scoffed, it could never be done. Others objected to the line from the Tron church and suggested a whole host of other potential sites.

The Council ploughed on with feasibility studies, using money from the rates, at which the people of Leith loudly protested. In May 1875 a special act of parliament (The South Bridge Act) was passed, which allowed the Council to appropriate the necessary land.

The new bridge was started on 1 August 1785. It was a very substantial piece of engineering, over 1,000 ft in length, almost 100 ft high and consisting of nineteen arches. The piers stood on piles which went 22 ft into the ground. It was opened to traffic in July 1788.

The total construction cost was £6,446. The Council then sold the building plots along either side of the bridge for a total of £30,000, thereby making a clear profit of £23,554, or nearly 365%. In addition they took 2% of the annual rents of all properties on the bridge as a ‘royalty’ and that went towards the running costs of the new university.

(Robert Adam, incidentally, ended up suing the Council because the only paid him half of the £1,228 7s they had promised him for his idea.)
So successful was the South Bridge that attention turned to the other side of the Royal Mile, something called The Mound. Sheer fantasy, people scoffed, it could never be done.

But, nevertheless an Act of 1816 authorised the Council to erect buildings on the Mound. The expenditure would be £152,000, but after allowing for profits from feuing the properties, the actual cost would be £24,000. Building started in 1822.

As for the suggestion in 1844 of building over the line of the railway from Waverley to Haymarket ..... people scoffed.

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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 22 Sep 2012, 07:35

Seems using the Post Reply button is still unacceptable, so this is a quick reply.

Funny how much trivia comes spilling out when you least expect it, like when you’re watching Pointless.

Last night they had a question about Hanna Barbera characters. As usual with Pointless there were all the obvious ones with the high scores, like Yogi Bear, The Flintstones and Scooby Doo, but I would have won it with Quick Draw McGraw. What was more interesting were the ones that were missing from the possible answers: Pixie and Dixie with Mr. Jinx; The Banana Splits; Wacky Races; Hong Kong Phooey. I was expecting some of of the obscurer ones to be in their for that elusive pointless answer, but there was no Ruff and Reddy, no Snagglepuss, no Squiddly Diddly.

If you don’t remember them, Squiddly Diddly was an octopus who lived in an aquatic theme park called ‘Bubbleland’. Snagglepus was really The Pink Panther without the wit and Ruff and Reddy were a dog and cat combo who went around solving mysteries on a green scooter.

How many brain cells are used up remembering the names of the less well known characters?

Pixie and Dixie with Mr. Jinx; Judo Jack, Jiggers and Little Bird-Mouse

The Banana Splits; Fleegle, Drooper, Bingo and Snorky

Wacky Races; Red Max, Rufus Ruffcut, Big Gruesome and Little Gruesome and Blubber Bear.

Hong Kong Phooey:- Penry, Sergeant Flint, Rosemary and Spot.

And don’t get me started on Top Cat.
It really is disturbing the amount of my internal hard-drive which is loaded with this stuff, and once it starts down-loading you can’t turn it off ....

...and now here they are!!!! The most daredevil group of daffy drivers to ever whirl their wheels in the WACKY RACES. Competing for the title of worlds wackiest racer. The cars are approaching the starting line. First, is the Turbo Terrific driven by Peter Perfect. Next is Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth in the Buzzwagon. Maneuvering for position is the Army Surplus Special. Right behind is the Ant Hill Mob in their Bullet Proof Bomb. Then there's ingenious inventor Pat Pending in his Convert-A-Car. Oh! Here's the lovely Penelope Pitstop, the glamour gal of the gas pedal. Next we have the Bouldermobile with the Slag Brothers, Rock & Gravel. Lurching along is the Creepy Coupe with the Gruesome Twosome, and right on their tail is the Red Max. And there's the Arkansas Chug-A-Bug with Luke & Blubber Bear, Sneaking along last is that Mean Machine with those double dealing do-badders Dick Dastardly and his sidekick, Muttley............................
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 23 Sep 2012, 07:36

I hadn’t originally intended to write what I’m about to write. I was actually going to do something on Walter Kirn, the american novelist, when something he wrote resonated with me: “Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it's someone else's witch being hunted.”

Why that made me think of the School saga, I can’t fathom.

I don’t often post over on Porty Matters, mainly because I think it’s a bit presumptuous of me to comment on community issues that I’m not directly involved in, as I don’t actually live in Portobello any more. Most of the time I’m content just to sit back and watch them slug it out.

I am fascinated by the way that everyone is so sanctimonious and adopt the position that “if you are not with me then you must be against me.” Personally I believe that PPAG were quite wrong in the approach they adopted in resisting the school on the park for what appears to be self-serving reasons, but I am equally appalled by the hypocrisy of people who crowed about the sanctity of the law and then run around trying to change that law when it doesn’t produce the result they want. I suspect that because I have now posted that there is merit in exploring other options, such as refurbishing the school, that will be considered to be a distraction to their cause and I will be in danger of being branded a PPAG supporter.

Recently it has all been reminiscent of Kathy Akers Blood And Guts In High School. The wiki review of that says: “At times, it’s hard to follow the narration of the story, since readers are interrupted with pornographic drawings, letters, and dream maps.”

In this case the pornographic drawings appear to be a couple of sketches of a possible idea which were useful in illustrating that idea, but rubbished because they were not fully developed architectural blueprints. The letters are the, frankly boring, personal dialogues between people only intent on slagging each other off, and the dream maps are the self deluding positions which have been adopted on both sides.

As a result of the polarisation, honest discussion and an objective debate into the pros and cons of the options for going forward is increasingly being drowned out by the gainsaying, name calling, hypocrisy and arrogance, to the extent that posts have been taken down by the moderators because of the bitching.

One tactic being adopted a lot is to belittle anything that is posted which does not fit into the preferred scenario. The intent is to effectively remove the credibility of the person posting from the debate. There was a 14th century nun, Christine De Pizan who pointed out that: “Those who plead their cause in the absence of an opponent can invent to their heart's content, can pontificate without taking into account the opposite point of view and keep the best arguments for themselves, for aggressors are always quick to attack those who have no means of defence.”...... so first get rid of your opponent.

The attitude is a bit like that of one of Warren Ellis’ characters in the Ultimate Galacticus trilogy: “He'd always liked women who'd talk back to him just a little bit. "Girls with balls" were good. Women with an actual mind of their own who could prove him wrong were, of course, castrating bitches who should be drowned in bottomless wells.” which brings me back to witch hunts, I suppose.

Things are a bit more balanced on the New Porty High School In The Park Facebook page, so why not here? (Obviously the same comment doesn’t apply to Porty Greenkeepers, which is entirely one sided.)

Just to keep up the pertinent quotes, Francis Bacon observed that “ Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” and Wittgenstein developed that with: “ Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”

I am perfectly aware that some people reading this will turn it back on me. Yes, I know my tone is sanctimonious, yes I know that it is hypocritical and yes I am aware of La Rochefoucald’s maxim that : “The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others.”

What I hope comes over is how profoundly sad I am that I have lost respect for people whose contributions to this site I used to value and that what used to be an inclusive forum where people managed to disagree with each other without being offensive (well, at least not much) has turned into a bear pit where people are afraid to post in case they are savaged.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 23 Sep 2012, 10:07

Rathbone, I like your style. Thanks for appreciating that I do have concerns from my experience of school refurbishment. Being labelled a "traitor" because I would not sign their little petition was probably the last straw. Anticipating a diatribe of opposition to almost every development in downtown Portobello is commonplace. Yes, everything from a family wanting to alter their home for disabilities to a tearoom wanting to expand, it attracts opposition. Probably when they painted a picture of convoys of trucks choking up Harry Lauder Road started it. Transport Managers do not allow their assets to stand still, as they are not earning. Logic has nothing to do with it. It all seems to be scare stories and treachery.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 24 Sep 2012, 07:23

Thanks Sceptic, and I’m sure that you recognise that the scare stories and accusations of treachery have been emanating from both sides. Most of the things I was referring to have been lavishly displayed on the PPAG Win Legal Appeal thread over the past 24 hours. Intemperate language (people being told they know f**k all). Sweeping statements based on no information. Repeated references to ‘experts’ without ever saying who these ‘experts’ are or what they actually had to say. And a lot of pots calling kettles black. Collective myopia springs to mind.

Anyway, I was going to write about Walter Kirn. At long last I have managed to get round to reading ‘Thumbsucker’. It’s been on my ‘must get round to reading’ list for years.

It went on there in the first place because of the fuss generated by Tom Wolfe’s review of it. The one where he denounced the book as narcissistic, trivial and “summing up most of what is bad about American fiction today.” The trouble was Wolfe hadn’t even read the book, but based his entire review on a plot summary which had been circulated by Kirn’s publisher. He was just out to get revenge for a less than favourable review that Kirn had given one of his books a few months earlier.

Now that I’ve read Thumbsucker, I agree a bit with Wolfe’s pre-judgement that it is trivial, but having said that, it is very funny. It’s the sort of thing I’d have recommended as book of the month if we were still running the book of the month club on here. (Is it really seven years since we used to do that?)

The basic plot is about a kid called Justin who is growing up in a dysfunctional family and becomes a thumbsucker. His parents try everything to cure him of the habit and end up sending him to a hypnotist. The hypnosis cures the thumb sucking, but only by turning him into a compulsive addict in compensation. He turns to drugs, sex and religion to combat his problems. Eventually deciding that he's had enough of this excessive life style, he returns to the hypnotist who reminds him that we all have flaws, the goal is not to try to fix them, but to live with them. With this message in mind, Justin goes off to be a mormon missionary, and winds up sucking his thumb again.

If Thumsubcker was all I’d read by Kirn then I’d probably dismiss him as light weight, but it’s not and he isn’t.

He started writing when he was at Oxford where he noted that: “Professors and students ran around discussing the work of critics and philosophers that I doubt they'd read or understood. It was Wittgenstein this, Derrida that, and I was as bad as anyone. I started writing fiction almost by accident, when I interviewed the Knopf editor Gordon Lish for a BBC radio programme. He asked me as he left if I was a writer. I said "yes," and then I ran home and composed a short story, which I sent to him. He asked for another, then another, and soon I had a book.”

But it’s his reviews and essays which I think will ultimately be more important. Take this on social networking:

“ We live in the land of manic attention-getters, which is what the world's become in the age of nonstop self-revelation on the Web. Consider the wild growth of MySpace, a service that grants all who use it at least the hope of obtaining an audience for their biographies. The personal secrets that people broadcast on this and other websites far outstrip, in intrusive depth and detail, anything the government is capable of gathering. Users cough up, without ever being asked, and for the benefit of perfect strangers, every last sexual quirk, obsessive thought and grandiose fantasy that they can render in words. And then they add pictures. Sometimes naked pictures. They spill their souls onto the Web as though trying to purge themselves of loneliness through exhibitionism.”

Ring any bells?
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 24 Sep 2012, 07:27

All of them alarms!

What was that about everyone having 5 minutes of fame?
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 25 Sep 2012, 07:21

Yesterday was a return visit to the hospital. If it had been Saturday it would have been a pleasant journey. Bright and sunny it was. Even Sunday was not too bad, just a bit overcast. Yesterday we had torrential rain and gale force winds. Looking at the Met Office warning we went through three separate orange warnings and one flood alert. On the positive side everything in Mrs. R.’s head now seems to be in working order.

She had the easy bit, of course. There were things to keep her occupied what with poking, prodding and blood samples. I on the other hand was left waiting for hours in a corridor with nothing to do but read medical journals and old copies of The People’s Friend.

Actually some of it was quite interesting, particularly an article on regenerative medicine. You might recall that a couple of years ago Swedish scientists successfully reconstructed a windpipe for a cancer patient by growing his own cells around a plastic implant. About a dozen people have now had their windpipes replaced in this way and seem to be surviving.

The windpipe was fairly straight forward, but now they have moved on to more complex things. Replacement human bladders have now been made using the same technology and in the lab they have successfully grown rat hearts and lungs.

The really exciting point, though, is that it appears that after a while the body accepts these implants and starts to treat them as its own.

All tissue cells eventually die off. The concern of the scientists in charge of the first windpipe operation was that when the cells they had implanted died the implant would start to degenerate. That didn’t happen. When normal cells die they release chemicals which signal the brain to release more stem cells from the bone marrow to replace them. That was precisely what happened with the artificial windpipe. Then they discovered something even more amazing. The patient’s body seemed to have started building a blood vessel network within the plastic framework. To be certain they purposely cut into it and it bled.

What this means is that harnessed the right way the body’s repair mechanism can remake a damaged organ.

Now what was that Arnold Schwarzenegger film?
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 26 Sep 2012, 07:19

The Andrew Mitchell Plebs row rumbles on. He says he didn’t say it. The full contemporaneous Police records published in yesterday’s Telegraph say he did. He now admits that he did swear, but still insists that he didn’t use the word ‘plebs’.

The report describes Mr Mitchell speaking to a female officer and "demanding exit through the main vehicle gate into Whitehall". He was told that it was "policy" for cyclists to use the pedestrian gate. "Mr Mitchell refused, stating he was the chief whip and he always used the main gates," the report goes on. "I explained to Mr Mitchell that the policy was to use the side pedestrian gates and that I was happy to open those for him, but that no officer present would be opening the main gates as this was the policy we were directed to follow. Mr Mitchell refused. Repeatedly reiterating he was the chief whip. After several refusals Mr Mitchell got off his bike and walked to the pedestrian gate with me after I again offered to open that for him. There were several members of public present as is the norm opposite the pedestrian gate and as we neared it, Mr Mitchell said: 'Best you learn your ******* place...you don't run this ******* government...You're ******* plebs.' The members of public looked visibly shocked and I was somewhat taken aback by the language used and the view expressed by a senior government official. I can not say if this statement was aimed at me individually, or the officers present or the police service as a whole."

The log states that the officer warned Mr Mitchell that he could be arrested for swearing.”I warned Mr Mitchell that he should not swear, and if he continued to do so I would have no option but to arrest him under the Public Order Act, saying 'Please don't swear at me Sir. If you continue to I will have no option but to arrest you under the public order act'," Mr Mitchell was then silent and left saying 'you haven't heard the last of this' as he cycled off."

One of this issues here is that Mitchell was not arrested. But was that because of who Mitchell was? What he did was a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act which makes it an offense to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour…within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”

Go back to last year’s riots. One guy in Manchester was jailed for 4 months for swearing. Another got 10 weeks. Someone in Hackney was fined £50. In the latter case the swearing wasn’t even directed against the police. When the guy was arrested they searched him for drugs and he said: “Told you, you won’t find fuck all”. I’m not sure that the average policeman would find that caused him alarm or distress.

Over the course of 2011 2,124 cases are recorded of people being arrested for swearing at police. So why not Mitchell?

The on-line version of The Guardian has been full of good quotes including this from a senior police officer: “No-one should be arrested merely because there is a power to do so; the arrest needs to be necessary, appropriate and proportionate. If I had been the Custody Officer and he had been brought in to me on those grounds I would have bailed him pronto and handed out bollockings all round. No doubt he has committed an offence, but there is more than one way to skin a cat and arrest was not the way to deal with this set of circumstances. Just because someone is a pompous shit (which the Honourable Member clearly is), that doesn't automatically give the Police the right to deprive him of his liberty.” The Guardian doesn’t comment on whether ‘pompous shit’ constitutes swearing or not.

Most of the press interest seems to be on his use of the word pleb. The Telegraph defined it as a member of a despised social class, a commoner, a member of the plebs of ancient Rome. Also low-born, undistinguished, vulgar. The Sun, perhaps more usefully, defined it for their readers as Scrut, Townie, Kappa-Slapper, Rude-Boi, Scum, Greb, Scav. (What? No Schemie?)

The BBC probably got closest to the real issue on their web page: “In public school parlance, a pleb was a pupil who was not a member of the landed classes. As these public schoolboys left school to run the British Empire, it seems they took the word with them to describe the lower orders.”

Or to describe the people who have to hold the gate open for you as you ride away from the centre of power.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 26 Sep 2012, 20:30

Do you think if the Right Honourable Gentleman was in possesion of "curly hair and thick lips" ( a quote from "Not The Nine O' Clock News") he would have been frogmarched to the nearest cell? Is this another case of inequal application of the law? If he were a Liverpool Football Supporter in London, would he have received the same response?

Somehow, I don't think so.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 27 Sep 2012, 07:18

Strange goings on started in a north London hotel yesterday. It’s the annual conference of the British UFO Research Association.

Every year dozens of UFO watchers gather to exchange sightings and listen to eminent speakers explain the political, cultural and social influences of UFOs. At the bookstall they can pick up titles like ‘The Occult Significance Of UFOs’, ‘Reflections Of A UFO Investigator’ and ‘The Real Men In Black’.

These people consider themselves to be scientists and their science as Ufology. They have their own specialist fields of study too - abductions, government cover-ups - alien races. Their publicity says that their approach is "scientifically factual", distancing itself from the more esoteric and mystical wings of the movement, such as the Raelians, who believe the Earth was created by an alien race. Instead they devote their efforts to fact-checking unexplained sightings. Apparently 95% of the 500-plus sightings reported to their National Investigations Committee each year can be explained rationally.

The speakers stress the importance of maintaining an evidence-based approach and not letting one's beliefs colour judgements. But the questions from the floor tend to concern whether they think a spacecraft landed at Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk in 1980 or if they believe the American government is covering something up at Area 51 in Nevada or do they agree that the major possibilities for explaining strange things in the sky include parallel universes, extra-terrestrial life and psychic phenomena.

Judging from the photographs, most of the members are older men. One of them is the writer and film-maker Mark Pilkington whose book about UFO watchers, ‘Mirage Men’, has fond memories of his early days in the UFO community. "If you get into it and take it seriously, you have to learn about physics, chemistry, meteorology and so on. It can give you a really good grounding in reality, ironically."

A bit like this forum, really.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 28 Sep 2012, 07:17

Sometimes things happen which can’t be rationally explained, and I’m not talking UFO’s here.

I went into HMV yesterday and bought the latest Bob Dylan cd ‘Tempest’. It came fully shrink wrapped and sealed.
I got it home, stripped off the wrapping and popped it on the machine and was blown away. “Hey”, I thought, “old Zimmy’s really getting into a groove here. Not what I was expecting at all.” After about a minute it was clear that it really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I ejected the disc.It turned out that it was a cd called The Last Resort by someone or some group called Trentemoller that I have never heard of.

I had been enjoying it so I put it back in the machine and listened to it all the way through. What a really good album. It turned out to be basically electronica coupled with the sort of out of time sampled ambient quality which Boards of Canada specialise in. When it had finished I put it on again.

A quick google identified Trentemoller as a danish ambient artist. The Last Resort was released in 2006 and reached no. 5 on the danish album charts. Wikipedia describes it as “

The Last Resort by Trentemoller a danish electronica album It was released on October 9, 2006. The album debuted as #5 on the danish charts. Wikipedia says “You can hear Trentemøller working out the equation between fantastical affect and floor-friendly functionalism at every step; obviously as influenced by film music and prog excess as he is the throbbing throng, he's married Balearic eclecticism to Scandinavian melancholy in a way that's often impressive and occasionally breathtaking. At the very least, it's consistently beautiful-- or at least pretty-- even when it fails to be properly engrossing"
I’d go along with that.

Anyway, I took it back to HMV. The guy behind the counter simply shrugged. As he said, how did he know how it got inside a Bob Dylan jewelbox. In fact, as he said, how did he know it was even there in the first place and I wasn’t just trying to blag a second copy of the Dylan album? I decided not to argue. I was quite happy to keep the Trentemoller album, so I bought another copy of the Dylan and opened it in the shop just to make sure it was what it said it was.

Turns out the Dylan is very good as well, but he doesn’t build his way through baselines and textural themes until the music breaks down into acoustic drumming with a march beat steadily building as layers are added behind the mix, lifting the volume until a blistering drop is unleashed. I like this so much that I’m going to have to search out more stuff by Mr. Trentemoller.

But for a once in a million cock-up at the packaging plant he might never have come my way.
Now, if anyone’s got a spare copy of “Gardyloo - an anthology of Edinburgh Detritus” on the Beatville label, I’ve been trying to get my hands on one for ages.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 29 Sep 2012, 07:32

As I was walking in to the town centre yesterday afternoon I passed a guy wearing a t-shirt that said: “No, I don’t have Tourettes, you are a c**t.” It was like one of Frankie Boyle’s jokes.

When I’d finished my shopping I popped in to Magda’s for a cup of coffee. Dave was there with his daughter, Sky,who’s delightful. She’s just coming up for three, in to everything and has an amazing cheeky smile. She also has Down syndrome.

I mentioned Frankie and his sense of humour and Dave reminded me of the case back in 2010 when a couple tried to stop him from reeling out a series of jokes mocking people with Down syndrome. As parents of a daughter with Down syndrome they unfortunately became the centre of a media storm, with their, and worse their daughter’s, privacy being invaded. In Dave’s view it isn’t worth it.

Though it’s probably too late, he would like to see society come up with another name for Sky’s condition. The reason for that is because Down syndrome is named after the victorian doctor John Down whose specialisation was the study “idiocy”. Down thought he had identified the racial characteristics of "morons and idiots" and likened the facial characteristics of those with Down syndrome to the "natives of Mongolia". He concluded that the syndrome must therefore be the result of racial degeneration, and dubbed people with it as ‘Mongols’. It is a stigma which has stuck.

It is now understood that Down syndrome is a genetic condition where there is an extra chromosome 21, meaning those with Down syndrome have 23 pairs plus one extra chromosome. By bad luck this leads to neurological malfunction.

Whether we like it or not, the stigma of Down syndrome is deep. There was the case of John Pearson, who was born with Down syndrome with no significant complications back in 1980. After being rejected by his parents, rather than being put up for adoption, the baby was given only water and painkillers until he died three days later. Following a court case it was concluded that it was "ethical to put a rejected child upon a course of management that would end in its death".

As recently as the week before last there was an article on the BBC website about a man with Down syndrome who is suing an NHS trust over their decision to issue a ‘do-not-resuscitate order’ giving his disability as one of the reasons. His family hd not been consulted and remained unaware of the ‘do not resusictate’ decision until he had returned from hospital to his care home. He was admitted to hospital for a fortnight with pneumonia. When he was discharged, one of the carers at his home was unpacking his bag and found the Do Not Resusicate form, to their horror. The reasons given on the order not to resuscitate him were: “Down’s syndrome, unable to swallow, bed bound, learning difficulties”. This is someone whom the article says has a really hectic social life, loves parties, discos and going to church. The assumption, however, appears to have been that his life was not worth preserving.

Sometimes the stigma comes through in indirect ways. Currently in England the education secretary Michael Gove is trying to change the law to remove what he calls "the bias towards inclusion" of children with Down syndrome in mainstream schools, effectively he wants increased segregation of children with special educational needs.

It happens with Tourettes sufferers as well. The Independent ran a story earlier this year about the experience of a woman with Tourettes who needed help on the London underground. When she asked a member of staff the best way to continue to her destination, she braced herself for the usual negative reaction to her tics. And he didn't disappoint, ignored her and turned his back on her. She decided to explain that her outbursts weren't meant for him, that she had Tourette Syndrome. His response shocked her. "I'm not giving you any fucking information," he said, without the slightest hint of irony.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 30 Sep 2012, 07:46

I watched Gary Cooper in High Noon last night. It must be at least forty years since I last saw that film. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to go back to it. Maybe it’s because the whole thing is based on suspense and once you know the ending then all of that goes. Maybe it’s because the concept subsequently became a cliché (all that cutting to the hands on the clock). Maybe it was Tex Ritter warbling “Do not forsake me” every couple of minutes.

Watching it again, though, it’s a beautifully crafted thing, from the opening moody shot of Lee Van Cleef to the choreographed gun fight at the end, which works because it’s mundane and ordinary, not because of slow motion gore and special effects pyrotechnics. Even that song is actually relevant to the plot and well integrated into the action (Which is more than can be said for ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

Basically the plot is: when the chips are down, your friends don’t want to know you. Or to put that another way, when you need help in a dangerous situation everyone has a really good reason for why they can’t help you.

There has been a lot of speculation on whether or not it was intended as an allegory of the experiences of Carl Foreman (who wrote it) and others when they went before the Un-American Activities Committee accused of being communists. Foreman never confirmed that either way, but Lloyd Bridges is on record to say that appearing in the film almost ruined his career.

Best to take it at face value. A straightforward story, simply told and all the better for it.
For a start the characters have no back story to clutter things up. We don’t know why the clearly aging Gary Cooper has married the clearly very young Grace Kelly. We don’t know why he is reluctant to go off and open a general store with her. Nor do we really know why, as a quaker against all violence, she makes the decision to shoot Robert Wilke in the back. None of it matters

I shudder to think what a modern remake would do with it. For a start it would introduce the blood, gore and slow motion violence which is so obviously missing. Then we would get the love/sex element. Instead of a modest peck on the cheek after their wedding Gary would have Grace up in room 3 of the Ramirez hotel giving her a good seeing to before going off to shoot the bad guys. Oh, and the music would be by 50Cents or Jay-Z. You know, something in keeping with the action, a bit like Raindrops.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 30 Sep 2012, 12:11

Have you noticed the number of reworked "classic" films, songs, TV Series being chugged out just now?
Even "Dallas" is back, perhaps it was dream in which we saw the last episode, next thing, ye Gods, it's back!

Is it just another example of no-one, or very few have an original thought?
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 01 Oct 2012, 07:20

Apart from being sent to the naughty step and told to sort it out between us, the highlight of my week has been receiving a leaflet from my local water company.

This proudly informed me that they were changing their name, with immediate effect, to “Affinity”. They have chosen that name because they ‘want to get closer to their customers and the community’.

Of course, what immediately came to mind was do their customers think so little of the service they are receiving that the existing name has become toxic for business? And if that is the case, how will changing that and not the service actually improve things?

If you go on to their website they proudly claim that they are supplying water services to millions of people all across the UK, so I’m glad that simply changing the name will enable them to get closer to all of those millions. As someone who has tried to contact them in the past and been told by a disembodied voice to press all of the buttons on the phone before I could get through to another disembodied voice telling me to press another combination of buttons before I could reach a human being who couldn’t actually resolve my problem, I am really looking forward to our new found affinity.

I’m not that stupid. There was obviously something more behind this name change. So I started with their website. Actually, you can’t find out why they have changed their name if you go on to their website, because it doesn't even mention it, but usefully Wikipedia already has an entry for Affinity. It turns out that on 28 June they were sold to a company called Rift Acquisitions for £1.2bn. A quick google establishes that Rift Acquisitions is a subsidiary of Infracapital Partners who in turn are a subsidiary of M&G Investments who in turn are owned by Morgan Stanley. I have a distinct affinity with all of those.

Why can’t they just be honest and say: “look, we’ve been bought out by this other company and they want to change the name” instead of trying to bullshit everybody with this getting closer to our customers rubbish.

Still, Affinity isn’t the silliest. Remember when Everything Everywhere was launched in 2010? You don’t? You mean that you still call it T-Mobile? Well, from today it’s changing its name again to EE. According to their publicity they are changing because EE is short and snappy and more in keeping with their image. Really it is a tacit admission that nobody picked up on Everything Everywhere and still said that they were with T-Mobile when asked about their ‘phone. Given that the new EE website says that :”It was also confirmed that Orange and T-Mobile shops would be rebranded under the EE name, but that mobile products would continue to be sold under those brands.” I think that confusion will still reign. How long before EE becomes something else? (oh, and by the way Wiki says that on 22 August 2012 a company called Hutchison 3G had acquired ‘a part’ of Everything Everywhere ...... not that that has anything to do with the name change, I'm sure)
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 02 Oct 2012, 08:02

I was interested in reading the results of Geoff Lynn’s poll of the consultation on the community council. Scathing is the word that comes to mind. Unfortunately the comments made are not unique to Portobello Community Council.

You may have caught an article in the Herald back in August. It was looking at Community Councils in general and concluded that most Community councils are too often hijacked by ambitious interest groups, local politicians (who ought to know better) or older, retired middle-class men who are seeking to go back to former glory days.

They also pointed out that democracy at this level is often notional. The artfully constructed membership list ensures elections aren't necessary. A lack of checks and balances means trouble-making members are unstoppable. Claiming to be 'elected' by the public, a disruptive community councillor cannot in law be sacked, removed from office, banned, or excluded. The result is that younger people, community activists, minority groups and others have deserted the Community Councils in droves.

This has been my own experience. I was a member of my Community Council, representing a network of environmental groups. For the first year or so everything was okay, but gradually a cabal started to develop, pushing a particular line(redevelopment of the town centre). Their ideas started to take precedence on the agendas of the meetings. People who opposed were marginalised. The CC was ‘streamlined’ to make business more efficient. What that meant was that a number of groups, such as mine, were stripped of voting rights and so couldn’t oppose anything and our interests were no longer considered. Despite substantial local opposition, every consultation for the redevelopment of the town centre was supported by the CC ‘on behalf of the community’. When it was suggested by the developers that the Community Centre was included in ‘Phase 1’ that was supported as well. The Community Centre was demolished just before the economic crisis in 2008. For the last four years we have been operating without one. There is an irony in the Community Council being instrumental in removing the centre from the community.

The other thing in my part of the world was that the District Council saw the Community Councils as little more than an obstacle made up of complainers, not to be taken seriously. I’m sure that most Community Councils appear parochial and prone to nimby-ism and ill-researched objections.

Obviously there must be Community Councils which work well, but the fact that The Association of Scottish Community Councils was closed down in April of this year, because it was not being given enough money by the Scottish Government to do an effective job, does not bode well.

Personally I think it’s time to get rid of the lot of them.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby Sceptic » 02 Oct 2012, 13:15

Unless they are actually performing some useful function, I agree.
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Re: Rathbone's Ramblin'

Postby rathbone » 03 Oct 2012, 07:42

Off gallivanting again so this will be the last post until this time next week.

It’s BIMBO time.

Once that used to stand for British & International Mindless Boozing Organisation. Now it means Borderline Incontinent & Much Balder Overall.

Every five years since 1967 those of us who were at art college together have met up somewhere over the first weekend in October for a festival of mutual back slapping and debauchery. Or at least that’s how it started out 45 years ago. Then it went through a stage of trying to outdo each other about how marvelously our careers were going. Then it was on to kids, who had to be dragged along to these affairs, significantly reducing the debauchery element. The kids eventually refused to be dragged any more and so we spent the time talking about them behind their backs. Then came the tittle tattle years of who was having extra-marital affairs and divorces. Latterly it has focussed on golf and the lucky bastards who have managed early retirement. Now we have reached the stage of saying goodbye to those who have shuffled off since the last time and discussing our various medication regimes and taking bets on whose turn it will be next. If nothing else BIMBO is a true microcosm of life.

Anyway, I’m off to Dunblane for a geriatrics weekend. It might give me something to write about when I get back.
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