Sunday, September 28, 2008

Odds and sods

My friends at the BBC report the following:

“The US Congress has recommended that a presidential pardon should be granted to the first black world heavyweight boxing champion.
Jack Johnson won the title in 1908 but was later convicted of transporting white women across US state lines for immoral purposes.
Johnson served nearly one year in prison for what is now seen as a racially motivated conviction.
Congress stated that Johnson's success motivated other black athletes.”

To clarify, I think that they meant to imply that Mr Johnson inspired black athletes to achieve success on the sports field, rather than to transport white women across state lines for immoral purposes.

I have to say, however, that I would rather be involved in transporting white (or any other colour) women across state lines for immoral purposes, than chucking a discus or getting seven shades of shit knocked out of me in a boxing ring. I’m funny like that.


I would also like to voice my appreciation about the return of “The News Quiz” and the radiant Ms Toksvig to Radio 4. Despite the presence of the remarkably unfunny Francis Wheen. Although, as this is a written medium, voicing it is probably not very effective.


The Torygraph, earlier this week, reported on finding a recipe book belonging to king Richard II. We should take this as good news, as it is an indication that we have finally run out of living TV chefs. Again, I have to put forward an alternative view. I think we should bury the current lot before we start digging up dead ones.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wordsworth? Amateur.

As one with universalist propensities, I thought it was time that we united the worlds of the arts and sciences by celebrating some of our leading physicists with some carefully crafted verse. Please feel free to add to this list. The form need not be the Clerihew, but it is preferred. There will be a prize. The winner will get to visit Dave's blog.

Peter Ware Higgs

Was thrown out of his digs
Bosonic conviction
Could not prevent his eviction.

Steven Weinberg of Berkeley
Was looked upon darkly
When his standard model
Turned out to be twaddle.

Abdus Salam
Wanted to create an alarm
But his electro-weak theory
Was nothing but dreary

Sheldon Lee Glashow
Is pronounced I know not how
Of leptons and quarks he would sing
But cared very little for the idea of superstring.

Robert J Van de Graaff
Thought it quite a laugh
To build a generator,
But thought better of it later.

Hendrik Antoon Lorentz
Was quite sure that light bends
The transformation equations he derived in Dutch
Will never really amount to much.

Sir John Bertram Adams KBE FRS
Was responsible for yet another mess
He designed the Super Proton Synchrotron
About which he went on and on.

Richard Q Twiss
Gave playing football a miss
Quantum interference gave him renown
Along with his mate Robert Hanbury-Brown

Robert Brout
Worked quite a lot out
He conjectured a field
A theory what Higgs later stealed.

Cecilia Jarlskog
Had a thought whilst on the bog
Her theories were unified and grand
But got completely out of hand.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Capital of Japan? Yokohama, isn’t it?

As the rather splendid series of “Who do you think you are” winds down, I would have bet a good 20p that they would not and could not have found anyone more irritating and stupid than Esther Rantzen to appear.

Well, in the words of Pope John 17th, “Bugger me”.

Tonight’s fascinating documentary featured a young lady called Jodie Kidd. I had not previously heard of her, (well I might have, a bit, but I couldn’t have told you who she is) and I am not sure of the spelling. I refuse to try to find the spelling, because I don’t want to visit any web pages that feature her, lest some of the vacuity rubs off.

I gather from the programme’s preamble that she is/was a fashion model. That’s right, she earns a living by wearing clothes - other people’s clothes at that. This is just as well, as she is evidently too fucking stupid to dress herself.

Seldom could the words “amazing” and “unbelievable” have been used so often to describe the mundane. I suppose that if you have the IQ of a knitting needle, then most things must seem unbelievable and amazing, and we should look upon someone with this degree of unworldliness as some sort of saint. I look upon her as a thick twat. I hold no grudges against thick twats, I just don’t want to spend my time with them. (Even if they’ve got big tits, Tom.) (I have already surrendered to the likelihood that I will be invaded by another set of perverts for the next 3 years, as Theodore and Evadne Google’s filing system juxtaposes the subject of this article with the phrase “big tits” or “twat”, so I don’t really care).

I learned that Ms Kidd is descended from lord Beaverbrook. She regards this as a good thing. Bugger me again. This squalid purveyor of quasi-fascist propaganda should have been set to work in a mercury mine, and his bloody awful newspaper should never have been allowed to go unpulped. What a twat.

Putting lord Copper aside, Jodie went off in search of her maternal great grandfather, who was a Newcastle shipbuilder, eventually given a baronetcy for his endeavours. She thought this made him a great chap. Twat. Both of them. This atrocious capitalist pig got rich off of the backs of his labourers, and made his fortune from making ships during the first world war. He was such a twat that even George V didn’t like him, and Churchill thought he was a twat. Like so many of his sort however, Jodie’s granddad was an entrepreneur, and secured his honour by slipping Lloyd George a couple of quid. Twat. This was after a conviction for food hoarding during the war. Arsehole.

While all this discovery is going on, young Jodie is pictured looking unbelievably amazed at everything that is happening, which isn’t difficult really, as I reckon she understands about 3% of it.

You know that it is going to be a below average episode when much of the programme is spent showing the subject meeting each of the people who have done the actual research. There is not a great deal of entertainment to be gleaned from watching doors being knocked and people introducing themselves to each other, as if they haven’t just fucking rehearsed it 8 fucking times. Probably 48 times in the case of Jodie Kidd. Bastards. And I don’t fucking care if the deputy librarian at the Kidderminster Records Office is called Barbara.

Anyway, Jodie then pursued the Beaverbrook Canadian line, and chose a line that wiggled its way back through Eastern Canada to Massachusetts and finished up with some of the earliest settlers from England in North America. Yes, the bloody puritans. Not quite the Pilgrim Fathers, but the same sort of godbothering busybodies who everyone in their home town was glad to see the back of, and who went on to spawn the throwbacks who form the redneck tradition of the worst of middle America. Yes, we got shut of the gits, and then, four hundred years later, their offspring are here to get paid 6 xillion quid to walk up and down a fucking catwalk without falling over.

We should not be too harsh on Ms Kidd. It is not her fault that she is descended from such a menagerie of total tossers - I will try to remember this when the television licence fee appears on my bank statement next February.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How often do you and your wife manage it?

Regular readers (aMToNW), and by regular readers I mean those who read these missives on a frequent basis rather than those who have normal functioning sphincters, will remember my exchanges with my old friend Jerry Grysbok a few days ago.
It all finished up with my travelling to Geneva, and Jerry slipping the Higgs Boson that I had found in my attic surreptitiously into the collider thingy. I am beginning to very much regret the whole episode, and am starting to feel like one of the protagonists in a third rate sitcom.
I was a little concerned to read the news about the machine being switched off, and called Jerry this morning.
“What’s happening, old zucchini?” I enquired.
“All a bit embarrassing old mate”, he said, wearily, “there’s nothing wrong with the apparatus. It’s bloody l'√©lectricit√© du Sud-Est – they’ve cut us off for non-payment. Officious bastards! They sent a big bloke who looked like one of the guards at Colditz round with a screwdriver and nail-clippers and disconnected the supply. So damn silly. We had a bloody accountant whose only job was to ensure that the utility bills were paid, and then we find out that he has been spending his entire working week in a Star Trek chatroom. We’ve only managed to flush the bloody toilets by diverting Lake Geneva. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bloody thing emptied in the next fortnight. God knows what they’ll find at the bottom of that bastard. It’s where the Swiss dump all of their junk. – supposed to be clean and tidy – Bollocks! Probably thirteen undiscovered subatomic particles among that lot.”
I had to interrupt him, despite his being clearly shaken.
“What’s going to happen now?”
“Well, even when we get another shilling in the meter it’s going to take bloody ages to get the thing up to speed again. In the meantime they will probably send maintenance crews and cleaning staff down there to tidy up. There’s even been talk of a celebrity colliding programme on Sky 3, where we fire Ross Kemp or some other twat at Claire Rayner or some other twat and see if any fucker can find any redeeming features in the components when they break up.”
“Shit!” was all that I could think of to say.
“I sneaked in last night looking for that pissing boson that we put there,” he confided, “I thought that there would be a good chance of my smuggling it out before it was either discovered by an over inquisitive nipple adjuster or mopped up by some Amazonian Swiss lass in dungarees. Could I find it? Could I arse! Then I got tumbled by some over zealous security guard. You should have seen me, poncing about like Basil Fawlty ‘just checking the walls’ while Himmler’s nephew looked down his nose at me and wrote my name in his notepad.”
I was less than pleased to hear all of this.
The outcome, if I need to spell it out, is one of:
  • The greatest scientific discovery of the century will now be claimed by a Teutonic Nora Batty with a mop and a bottle of Domestos.
  • The only Higgs boson ever to be found will be lost – marched out of the collider in the turn-ups of a flange-thruster grade two, and laid to rest in a smelly pile of laundry for a couple of centuries.
  • We wait for the machine to be up and running (I’d give it about 40 years) in the misinformed hope that it does what it was intended to and explains to us the nature of matter.
You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Countdown to the royal divorce - part 20

Those of you perambulating around the web this morning may have been as startled, as was I, by one of the headlines in the Torygraph – ‘Prince Philip told Downing Street to "---- off" over Diana funeral’. In the text of the article, the word ‘----‘ is replaced by the word ‘fuck’. This reinforces the view that newspaper editors are not worried by the fact that some 3% of readers actually progress beyond the headlines. The article ends with the statement “No one from Buckingham Palace was available for comment (last night).” This is not true. A gentleman from the Torygraph telephoned, asked to speak to Phil, and was put through. He was then told to fuck off. At least, that is what he thinks happened. Allow me to elaborate.

Camilla gets bored very easily. I am sure you can understand this. This is particularly evident when she is required to be present at formal occasions. About 10 years ago she learned to hack into the telecommunications system in use in the royal households, and began to practice imitating the telephone voices of other members of the family. It was she who took the call from the Telegraph yesterday, and she is to be congratulated for here impersonation of Phil. I hope that this information, which, as with all things here are, is intended to inform rather than titillate, will, once and for all, dispel the myth that she is not some jumped-up, upper class, brain dead, vacuous tart with all the charm of the decomposing corpse of a hippo.

It would be indiscrete of me to mention all of the other telephonic adventures of our future consort of the head of state. Sometimes her calls have been taken seriously and it would be impolitic to disclose them now as it would be very difficult to unravel the consequences.

I can tell you, however, that she was the one who:

  • Purporting to be Harry, proposed to Ann Robinson.
  • Imitating Anne, asked if HMS “Dominatrix” could return to port, as Tim had forgotten his sandwiches.
  • Took part in a late night chat programme on BBC Reading, where, as Prince Andrew, she voiced the opinion that the feudal system had done a lot of good for the country.
  • Again as Anne, applied for back stage tickets for a Metallica concert in Stockholm.

I will draw a discrete veil over her interactions with the head of the BBC, other than to say that there is no way, ever, in which the queen would have considered delivering the 2004 christmas day message to the commonwealth in a swimsuit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shameless publicity seeking

If you are one of the eight dwellers on this planet who has not congratulated my dear friend Patroclus (what is all this nonsense with names derived from dead languages?) yet, then please feel obliged to do so.
The lengths to which some people will go to get some attention.
I will not be following suit.

Up his own arse forever

It is very gratifying to learn that on a day when many cynics were thinking that the financial markets were in irreversible collapse, and the wise men running our banks had been shown up to be morons that sanity still prevails. Someone has just paid £9.6 million for a shark in formaldehyde. There are obviously still people out there who recognise good value and show shrewd economic acumen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Something for the weekend

I was enquiring from Theodore and Evadne about where my visitor had come from who put the phrase "list of twats" into their web page.
I was a little alarmed to find that I was number one. I found some comfort later in realising that they were using the content of my pages to compile their rankings, and not giving my name as the world's leading twat. Don’t get me wrong. I would be honoured to be in the top 50, and have my twattishness recognised, but I can’t really compete with some of the twats out there. I am just an amateur in comparison.
Anyway, at number 2 was this little sketch from Mr Iannucci. I suspect that he is not as well known outside the UK as he deserves.
I am providing a link to his radio programme for you. I expect it will expire soon, so hurry while twats last.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In which the secret of the creation of the universe and the secrets of our true nature are revealed.

Well! It has been quite an eventful couple of days. After my conversation with Jerry on Saturday, he telephoned me on Sunday, and after long and protracted negotiations I agreed to meet him in Switzerland yesterday.

Under the pretext of showing me round the installation, he took me into a small room and said “Stand there – I don’t want the CCTV to catch this”. I watched while he opened a small manhole cover (is it a manhole if it is too small for a man to fit through?) and dropped the Higgs Boson that I had handed over to him down a deep shaft.
“I thought this was all meant to be sealed off already”, I said.
“I know where the bodies are buried!” he said, mysteriously.
We heard the particle bouncing off the walls on the way down, and then trickle along the tube.
“I hope we haven’t split it”, I said, “it is the only one that’s ever been found, isn’t it?”
He looked at me in an old-fashioned way and suggested that we go for a meal. “As long as they find it at some stage, who gives a shit? We’ve spent more on this project than Sarah Palin has spent on cosmetics, so we have to tilt the balance in favour of finding something.”

This morning I was back at the control room for the opening ceremony - a very low key affair indeed. I spent time listening to some chap who, judging by his uniform, I took to be the mayor of Geneva, but, it transpired, was the assistant janitor. I can usually follow someone in French, but this chap had a thick Swiss-French accent, hence the confusion. I was later told that he had been telling me how arduous his job was, cleaning a 27 kilometre tube, having to track back 3 miles to get a new bottle of Flash, and then trying to remember where he had got up to.

In accordance with the gravity of the project, the ribbon was cut by a German comedian called Willi Schlossenheimer, who told an appalling joke about his mother-in-law, a large hadron collider and a tube of fennel toothpaste. Then a youth called Elvis, who was on sort of work experience scheme from Zug hit the “enter” key.

We stood around getting bored until some nerdy looking woman announced that the first particle had traversed the circuit. “It’s a bloody circular tube” I pointed out to Jerry, “it’s not as if the fucker could get lost”. “Shut up, you twat”, he whispered in a not altogether friendly way, and went off to announce to the representatives of the media that everything was in working order. He gave them all a carrier bag full of pictures of magnets and big machines (“Most of them are vending machines” he confided to me, “but these assholes don’t know any different”), and they all tootled off to their next assignment – interviewing Rio Ferdinand about the chances of a conclusion to Kurdish displacement or some such.

He came back into the control room beaming. “Right, now we can get on with it!” and Elvis hit a series of keys on his keyboard. “What’s going on?” I asked. “We’re going to try for the first collision”, he replied, excitedly. “I thought that wasn’t planned for a while yet” I suggested. “Yes, that’s what we’ve told them, but this way we get a chance to put some spin on the results if they turn out to be unexpected”.

There was some tension in the room, everyone waiting urgently for some sign of something happening. (Apart from one chap who sat in the corner muttering about spilling some pesto on his jumper).

After only a few minutes it became clear that something had happened. “What’s that fucking smell? Open a fucking window, someone!” and similar exclamations filled the room, in a variety of languages. In a manner that surprised me by its efficiency the team quickly observed and collated the results and had drawn some remarkable conclusions.

A couple of protons had collided, and produced the echos of sounds or murmurs that appeared in the first moments of this universe.

I will attempt to summarise the results in a non-scientific and simple way, and hope that the implications are obvious to everyone.

  • The clearest sounds were those of someone with an accent from either Rochdale or Burnley saying “I’d give it 10 minutes if I were you”.
  • The only possible interpretation is that the universe was not created by some mysterious big bang, but by a sentient being.
  • The Creator created the universe by accidentally passing gas. The mystery of the nature of matter can be explained by His “following through”, and populating the cosmos with divine excrement.
  • Amazing, God is English and comes from Lancashire. He has a high-pitched, almost camp voice – not a bit like the de Mille version. I had always assumed that were he to bear the characteristics of any particular region it would be Tibet or India. Anyone who has seen the way that things are organised in Delhi would see great parallels in the design of the cosmos. As it is, it is difficult to imagine that someone with the characteristics of the pragmatic folk of Rawtenstall being responsible for all of the chaos out there. So I guess there are still mysteries to be investigated.
I am not sure how this will be reported to the rest of the world by the boys at girls in PR and CERN, I, being somewhat cynical, expect that the scientists will quickly come up with some arcane explanation of what is a very simple event. You will be doing your friends and relations a real service if you tell them of the revelations here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

It could happen to anyone.

You’re going to think me such a fool. I should have realised. I can’t think of a decent excuse, so I will just have to tell the truth.
I was rummaging around in my loft this afternoon, looking for the bat with which Chris Tavare scored his memorable 5 not out in just over two days against the New South Wales Invitation Eleven, when I decided to sort through some of the odds and sods that were in a trunk that I last remembered opening in 1995. Amongst all the strange equipment were several jars containing sub-atomic particles. I have no recollection of why I had accumulated them. There was a Kilner jar full of assorted quarks, and some jam jars (previously used to store Mrs Pondicherry’s organic gooseberry conserve) which were labelled “Neutrinos”. When I moved these, I was surprised to find that one of them was significantly heavier than the rest, even though it was no fuller than any of the others. “Funny”, I thought.
I emptied the contents into a bowl, and on sorting through the particles (elusive little buggers, neutrinos), I found the culprit. “Funny”, I thought again. Yes, I had in my hand nothing other than a bloody Higgs Boson.
I must confess that, knowing what a fuss it would cause, I was tempted to put it back and try to forget all about it, but you will know that I am driven by my scruples (have you ever been driven by your scruples missus?), and felt compelled to call my old pal Jerry Grysbok, who is chief honcho at CERN.
After the initial pleasantries, where we recalled old times, with unnecessary emphasis on his part, I felt, on that incident in Budapest, I got to the point.
“I’ve found a Higgs boson, Jez”.
“You’re kidding!” he exclaimed.
“Alas no, God knows what else is lurking in the loft, I daren’t open any more boxes.”
“Well, that’s a bit of an embarrassment, isn’t it?” he enquired – I could detect the sound of a head being scratched at several thousand kilometres. “I mean we’re due to tee off next Wednesday teatime, and all these beardy types have been working their gonads off to make sure everything is ready. Now, if what you tell me is right, we’ve got no reason to go ahead.”
“Well, I wish I didn’t feel obliged to tell you, old carrot” I said. “Do you want me to put it back and forget about it?”
He paused – old Jerry was never one to rush into a decision. “No, that won’t work. Could you let our chaps have a look before you sell it to the Daily Express?”
“No worries, old boy, I’ll make sure it goes recorded delivery first thing Monday morning”.
“Thanks, pal. I must say you’ve left me in a bit of a pickle. All of this bloody equipment and now no need for it. Oh dear. We spent more than 38,000 euros on thumbtacks alone. I better see if anyone wants a Large Hadron Collider on ebay.”
“I would play down the ‘large’ aspect, if I were you”, I counselled, “you’d be better off if prospective purchasers didn’t know how big it was. I mean, there aren’t many gardens, even in north east Hampshire that could accommodate it”.
“Hmmm, I could let you have it for a few thousand – do you still need somewhere to exercise your whippets?”
“No, that wasn’t me, you daft sod,” I reminded him, “that was Barry, and he had to get rid of them after they mistook his brother in law for a reindeer”.
“Well, if the worst comes to the worst, we can always try to flog the bits off at the car boot sale in Lugano. Bit of a shame, really. I dare say some of the chaps will be a bit miffed.”
I made my excuses and put the telephone down. All in all, it went quite well. I think I will leave it until next week before I phone old Ratty in the Vatty and tell him that I am pretty sure that the vase Mrs S has been using to display freesias is actually the Holy Grail.

Sneak this in at the weekend

It's been on Youtube for some time, but in case any of the old folks haven't seen it yet.
This domesday machine is going to keep me occupied with posting for the next few days at least.

Friday, September 05, 2008

What would be worse Palin for VP or the galaxy being destroyed?

I was pleased to learn that my friends at the BBC are having a Big Bang week. This is not, for those of you (a Mr Trellis of North Devon) whose minds always look for smut, anything to do with noisy copulation, but rather a celebration of the upcoming events in Switzerland, where a bunch of failed physics teachers (tautology?) are preparing to suck this solar system or galaxy into a black hole of their own creation. My good friend Frankie Boyle on another BBC channel this evening suggested that the whole universe would disappear into said black hole. This is not the case. He is scaremongering. We still have plenty of time (one week) to visit our distant cousins in a neighbouring spiral, and watch millions of stars and planets being sucked up the arse of a well proportioned housewife from Zug.

A silly young fellow from Cern
Caused the whole solar system to burn
So don’t fuck with God
He’s a cantankerous sod,
An important lesson to learn.

This evening’s offering was a collage of various BBC programmes from the last 50 years tracking the evolution of the physics mysticism that relates to the damn silly Big Bang Theory.

One of the amusing clips illustrated the Doppler effect by having trumpet players holding a note on a train while the train approached listeners, and recording the fact that the listener’s perception of the frequency was affected by the approach and recession of the sound. Are you with me so far? No? I don’t fucking blame you. I lasted about 4 minutes in my first physics lesson before becoming more interested in the enticing breasts of Jasmine Hepplethwistle (name changed to protect the busty).

By extrapolating this boring theory into the realm of light, some bright spark deduced that the universe was expanding. I am not averse to trumpets or other brass instruments, but I think our children should be warned about listening to them if the consequence is the propagation of such complete twaddle. Listening to the Incredible String Band never caused me to engage in the exploration of fanciful and bizarre ideas.

In a further attempt to make all of this hogwash (not this hogwash, you buffoon, the hogwash about physics) more accessible to the thicky in front of the telly, they then went on to describe an experiment to prove the existence of dark matter. Sorry to lecture you, but some of you may not have done your physics homework this evening. Cosmologists need to prove the existence of dark matter in order to explain why matter congregates into galaxies rather than just buggers off and does its own thing. In order to find some dark matter, they needed somewhere quiet and decided that Yorkshire was the quietest place on earth. This is true if someone within the county boundaries has just asked the question “Whose round is it?” They therefore assembled some tomato cans and sticky tape half a mile underground just north of Arsedale, and waited. 20 years later, and no dark matter. Not even a hint of black pudding.

Now they’ve dug a hole underneath Switzerland. Dunno what I’d rather have knocking on my door, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Physicists. Either of both of them could be right, but it would be a tad rash to side with one or the other based upon their tortuous use of logic.

Anybody written anything amusing about noisy copulation of late?