Wednesday, 30 March 2016


There are some folk who find this image offensive as it mentions a disorder called rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which is not intrinsically funny in itself. In fact, the condition is a chronic debilitating disease affecting a lot more than just the joints and bones. 

My beautiful wife suffers from a very severe form of RA. She has had numerous operations (18) to repair the ravages of the disease. Her right hip has broken on three separate occasions and on each occasion, a successively larger plate has been inserted. The right shoulder joint has been replaced with titanium. Tendons in both hands have been repositioned in an attempt to slow down the inevitable ‘swaying’ of the fingers into gnarled lumps. She has had an emergency operation on her cervical spine and the bones shaved to prevent damage to the spinal cord. Both feet have been operated on. I remember very distinctly the day a screw head popped out the top of Mrs. FS's big toe. O we did laugh all the way to casualty. She has so much metal placed inside her body that she has to carry a special card explaining why she sets off the security metal detectors at airports.

Her medicine is manifold and various and she maintains a chest stocked to the brim with 18 types of tablets and capsules. Her three types of pain medication are based on opiates. My wife jokingly refers to Oxycontin as her 'foo foo' pills. Some pills she takes with food; some are taken on an empty stomach; an intramuscular injection every Thursday and every three months she spends a day in hospital to be infused intravenously.

All the pain, indignity and inconvenience is endured with courage, fortitude, without complaint or whimper, even though she sometimes suffers horrendous torment. And through all this she has nothing but praise for modern medicine and the health professionals who keep sticking her back together, again and again. My wife is indeed a remarkable woman. As she never reads my blog she will never really know my true sentiments because I find it difficult to express this sort of thing to her in person. There are certain standards to be maintained and I am English, after all.

And with all this she has to put up with me. Believe me, when I say I'm not the easiest man to live with.........

As for the 'offended thingy'. If you don't like something, fair enough. Best to avoid it then so you don't get upset. What you shouldn't do is try and force other folk to your viewpoint and especially not by government legislation. I'm sure everything is offensive to someone, somewhere, even stuff which most reasonable people find totally innocuous. But this, of course, raises the problem of what represents a 'reasonable person'. Well, that would be me- I am the benchmark and ultimate standard of reasonableness. And if you don't believe me, I'll come around to your place and smear dog shit on your doorstep.

When my wife first saw this image on a blog I frequent she found it hilarious and said I should steal it for my blog. And I'm never one to ignore sound advice from my spouse

“Those who are determined to be ‘offended’ will discover a provocation somewhere. We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.” 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Taking the piss

Urine flavour wheel

Modern diagnostic medicine is indeed wondrous. Analytical machines can analyse blood, urine and even faeces and quickly diagnose a myriad of disorders. All this we take for granted in our astonishingly advanced technological age. It could be argued that reliance on analytical tests and high-resolution imaging techniques have robbed modern doctors of their 'old fashioned' clinical skills such as percussing (not a real word) body parts to find out what ails you. But you have got to agree that MRI scans are better at detecting cancer than palpitating body bits.

In times of yore and before the biochemist's spectrophotometer, doctors had a fondness for urine drinking. There is a lot you can learn about someone's health from examining the smell, colour and of course, the taste of a urine sample. Diseases can be divined if you are endowed with a suitably sensitive palate. Amber nectar anyone?

Sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus) could be diagnosed because the presence of sugar imparted a sweet taste to the urine. Normally very little sugar passes into the urine, but a diabetic can have high blood glucose levels which eventually spills into the piss. There is a condition with a similar name but a different aetiology to sugar diabetes called diabetes insipidus. Diabetes insipidus, as the name suggests, can be ascertained because the bearer of the condition has insipid tasting urine. In fact, sufferers also have very pale urine as they produce copious amounts of the stuff due to a hormone deficiency which affects water uptake in the renal tubules. The presence of blood in the urine imparts a metallic taste and can thus indicate a urinary tract infection. What a great way to share your disease with the local quack.

Piddle drinking amongst physicians was particularly popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. With the rapid development of science in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, empirical chemical testing became available and piss taking became a lost diagnostic art much to the lamentation of its practitioners.

Urinary diagnosis should in no way be confused with folk who drink piss for its so-called 'health giving' properties or for recreational reasons. I've been drinking my own 'juices' for years as it is a powerful aid to digestion and sanity. Wibble bottom.

Saturday, 26 March 2016


Let us not forget the true meaning of Easter before it was hijacked by the Christian folk.

Tis a time of renewal, a time of bountiful goodness when the earth reveals a hoard of fruits and grain for mankind, so they in their turn can be fruitful. 

But that is only if you live in the northern hemisphere. For us dozy Pomms, in the south, Easter beckons winter with its slightly lower temperatures. Fuck.  

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Big Bad Bob the Albino


I've got to admit I've known a few odd balls during my time in this incarnation. I seem to attract, or more likely, I'm attracted to eccentric characters.

To my mind, an eccentric is an individual with a natural and effortless ability to display a range of unconventional behaviours. It is difficult to generalise about something so complex, as by their very nature, eccentrics are exceedingly hard to classify by conventional means. However, if pushed into a corner and asked to list some of their salient features, I would itemise thusly: The most standout eccentrics do seem to share a few common characteristics, in my experience. They don't appear to care much for societies' norms or for what other folk think of them. They often appear obsessed with rather obscure topics and are generally very knowledgeable on those topics. Most are creative and intellectually smart. They don't tend to have many true friends, if any. But this does not seem to bother them as they are more than happy to spend long periods alone indulging in their favourite pastimes. Often they have problems forging relationships with the opposite sex and consequently remain single throughout their lives. The character I am about to describe is a 'textbook eccentric' (no such thing). For the sake of anonymity and to protect the innocent, I'm going to call him: 'Big Bad Bob, the Albino'- or BBBA, for short. By the way, he is not an albino.

When I was a relatively young man I was engaged in botanical research at an English University. In the department, we had several PhD students diligently engaged in the furtherance of knowledge for the greater good of humankind. As I distinctly recall, we had one student researching 'buttercups' (Ranunculus repens); a second student worked hard improving the nutrient content of 'water-cress' (why?). The subject of my tale, BBBA (there is no other), was working on sun flower cotyledons. To say that this fella was a little strange was an understatement. And like many highly eccentric people he was highly intelligent having obtained ‘a first’ in his Bachelor's degree at Oxford University.

He was a hive of activity and immersed himself in several student activities. He was an avid member of the boxing club but never boxed himself and applied himself to the administration and organisation of amateur bouts. He was also active in the 'The Young Conservatives' and the local Anglican church. For all his church activity I saw very little piety in the man, just grandiose eloquence.

Although our research interests were quite different I got to see quite a lot of him around the botanical department. From our first meeting, I realised I was dealing with an exceptional individual. For some reason he managed to twist the conversation to a discussion about the majesty of Gothic Cathedrals; not so much a discussion, more a monologue. He was undoubtedly an anachronism; lost in a time that didn’t understand him. His mannerisms and speech were archaic and would not have gone out of place in a Victorian drawing room. He once described himself as ‘High Tory’ and High Church’; no one would describe themselves like that anymore. Nor was it an affectation, BBBA was genuinely like that.

On one occasion he wrote to the British Ministry of Defence stating that he had worked out the formula for the nerve gas, VX. This was in the early 1980s and therefore, his scholarship was achieved without the benefit of the ‘all knowing’ internet- so quite a feat, especially for a biologist. Of course, he was spot on and very soon afterwards he received a visitation from a couple of large lads in black suits. He was promptly told that if he ever mentioned the topic again to the Ministry or anyone else for that matter, he would end up in a disused coal mine. BBBA was mightily impressed and consequently discussed the matter with everyone.

BBBA was not imbued with the social graces. One day I was chatting to one of the technicians, a drab, mousy, single lady of about 35. During the conversation, BBBA interspersed himself between us, completely ignoring my presence even though I was in mid conversation, and proceeded to ask the technician out on a date. Not just a meal or a drink either, but a weekend away in a hotel. She, of course, refused in a very stern tone. Completely unfazed he turned on his heel and wandered off down the corridor. Eccentricity should in no way be confused with charisma.

BBBA was a poor lonely soul and most folk avoided him, if they could, in order to escape his extensive rants on some esoteric point of English Canon law, or something, else equally arcane. He was universally loathed by women in the department who considered him rather creepy and weird.

BBBA would take no direction and consequently drove his thesis supervisor to distraction. After a particularly difficult encounter, the Prof (not Mugumbo) confided his profound insight into his none conforming student. He said: “If BBBA was adrift in the ocean on a sinking boat and was about to be rescued and  if he got it into his head to count all the nails in the boat, before being rescued, that is exactly what he would do regardless of the dire situation confronting him….." I think the Prof gave a very fair summation as to BBBA's character and motivation.

I was about the nearest thing he had to a friend, probably because I didn't treat him with total contempt, although it was a close-run thing. But if I had treated him with disdain it is unlikely he would have noticed. I invited him to my wedding and he gave an excruciatingly long impromptu speech at the reception much to the amusement of family and friends.

Two years into his PhD I left for a career in human genetics and for a short while I received tediously rambling letters in beautiful copperplate handwriting. Then he simply disappeared. Apparently he terminated his research at the University never completing his doctorate. There would be nothing more to tell except for that damned thing called social media. A couple of years ago out of sheer curiosity I searched for his name on ‘Facebook’ and quickly established contact. He had not changed. His Facebook posts are long screeds about things that interest him and no one else. He has modest employment as a ‘Sports Administrator’ which undoubtedly gives him time to pursue his interests, various. And before you ask, he is still unloved and single............    

The world needs more people like Bob.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bad Science

Can't argue with this

As scientists, we like to think that science is a bastion of virtue, untouched by science fraud. The perception is that, other than junk science, science should be beyond reproach, unsullied by lies and propaganda. Results should always be regarded as valid and completely unbiased.

There is a popular perception of scientists as impartial seekers and arbiters of knowledge. A scientist's goal is to objectively sift data without preconception before arriving at the truth: "Quid est veritas?" Noble sentiments, indeed. There is also a common perception of scientists as being preoccupied, socially awkward and eccentric. In a professional capacity, I can certainly attest to the latter sentiment. I have definitely worked with some fascinating, 'odd-ball', characters in a career spanning over thirty years. I have the suspicion that some of my colleagues, past and present, are according to clinical classification, stark raving mad. The line between eccentricity and frank insanity is very fine. I, of course, am the byword for sanity. Indeed, I am often portrayed as the paragon and paradigm for mental stability (arse akimbo). For those who would question my veracity, I suggest they contact my psychiatrist, the esteemed, Professor Mugumbo. Functioning insanity in an insane world is a prerequisite for modern life.

Unfortunately, scientists are afflicted by all the foibles and vices which assault everyone else. This, of course, leads me neatly into the title of this post: 'Bad Science'. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that the bulk of scientists are practising blatant, 'Scientific Fraud'. Very rarely does this form of deception occur. Scientists are not perfect, but fortunately, the scientific method is. Therefore, the peer review system checks the work initially. Although not a clean sweeping dragnet, it will certainly pick up research which hoists 'red flags'. Not that all exceptional claims are necessarily bad science. But the general rule should always be: 'Exceptional claims warrant exceptional evidence'. If a paper passes this crucial stage it is deemed worthy of publication. This is where the real test of merit occurs. A research paper promulgating new knowledge should be a stand alone. In other words, any other researcher in the field should be able to replicate these results. If the research can't be replicated, then the research is considered dubious. This is the ultimate strength of science. If it can't be replicated then it is not worthy of the canon of science.

As an aside, most scientists are not of this ilk. Most papers are 'stocking fillers'. No major insights in nature are unleashed. For every paper which appears in the prestigious journal, Nature, a thousand appear in lesser journals never to be cited or referenced and therefore never to add to our body of knowledge. To be honest, most of us 'bread and butter' scientists fulfil this role. Einsteins and Richard Dawkins we are not. We work hard in a very competitive field.

The next level of bad science involves self-delusion. A good scientist has a model in his brain but is prepared to modify or disregard this model according to evidence...... Of course, human bias never intervenes. It is a well recognised phenomenon that scientists and people like to reinforce their preconceived ideas and prejudices. This is why humans have prospered in an evolutionary context. Seeing patterns where none exists is a very human response and quirk. To combat this bias, scientists have introduced the 'double blind trial'. Results are anonymised thus preventing subjective observer bias. This level of objectivity is not suitable for all scientific endeavours but has proved particularly useful in assessing the efficacy of drug treatments.

There is another factor, although not bad science in itself, which dilutes and disperses good science. Scientists in their academic ivory towers are seen exempt from the hurly-burly politics of everyday life. Not really. Scientists compete for an ever decreasing government money pot. If they are fortunate they receive corporate sponsorship. This has to be 'sexy science' or more importantly, lucrative science. Industry is not interested in science unless there is an ultimate financial prize. There is a huge preoccupation to publish. Lots of papers in scientific journals is not only a matter of intellectual endorsement it can help secure funding. In times past a scientist may have waited several years to gather data before releasing his/her seminal work to the world. The temptation these days is to split the work into several projects and thus publish separately. Subsequently, there is an emphasis on quantity often to the detriment of quality. Tis a matter of publish or be damned, or lose tenure.

Plagiarism has always been with us. Some argue that great minds steal and make better. It can come in many forms. I once supervised a Chinese student whose English was not the best. When she submitted work to me I noticed that interspersed between paragraphs of her own fractured English were screeds of beautiful English prose. When I pointed out the discrepancy she assured me that it was all her own work, honestly. Even when I pointed out that the suspect passages were in a different font, she stuck to her word- whatever font that was in (comic sans). Luckily I wasn't her prime supervisor and she obtained a bona fide PhD. I hear tell she is now running a department in a Chinese University conducting valuable research into dog cloning (makes me wanna burn stuff).

Academic institutions are in at as well. Foreign students equal big bucks and even if they are piss poor intellects they must matriculate, otherwise, the word will be out and the foreign gelt will run dry. Therefore, there is much pressure on supervisors to pass a student when they are ridiculously underequipped for academic life. I have had many a happy meeting with senior administers informing me I should make sure a wealthy Saudi student make it through the semester because his family were paying big bucks for their retarded son to obtain a degree. May the gods who oversee these things forgive me. Us men are wretched creatures and it is no wonder I sleep badly at night or in some instances, not at all.     

No comment

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Sensing Bollocks

New Zealand television have revived an old show from the past, entitled: 'Sensing Murder'. As the name suggests, the thrust of the programme involves a wandering troupe of 'psychics' who are on hand to unravel unsolved murders. As if New Zealand tele is not dire enough without this sort of televisual monstrosity.

The show is an edited mix of event reconstruction intertwined with shots of so-called psychics pontificating and channelling information from the dead. Sadly, the programme has proved popular in New Zealand although the format failed miserably in Australia and Scandinavia where the show was first aired. To date, the show is in its 5th incarnation on NZ tele from its inception in 2007. Not surprisingly the programme has attracted its fair share of criticism from sceptics (no shit).The programme is viewed as a paltry and exploitative drama with emphasis on tawdry speculation. Evidence supplied by the so-called psychic detectives is simply a rehash of known facts, cleverly edited, with a heavy smearing of unsubstantiated mutterings and vague generalisations; nothing specific that is verifiable is ever given. Instead, we are subjected to the usual fair of psychic verbiage: "I sense her body is close to water" or "I believe her murderer is now in prison after committing a similar crime."

How accurate have the psychics been? How many successful leads have they supplied and more importantly how many murders have been subsequently solved due to their god given gift of communing with the dead? Well, here is the news:
Total arrests as a result of leads provided by psychics = 0.
Total bodies located by psychics = 0.
Total amount of new information provided by psychics = 0.
I think we can see a valuable and consistent pattern emerging. Unlike the ‘information’ provided by the scryers, the above statistics and information are verifiable.

What is the harm you say? Surely this is a bit of harmless television hype and fiction and should be seen as pure entertainment. The viewing figures show that ‘Sensing Murder’ is indeed popular with the viewing public. After all, this is why production has continued through five series. For all the drama, clever camera angles and 'real life' reconstruction, the crimes are very real and the families of the victims are left aghast at the fiction and story telling regarding the last days of their loved one's lives. This is particularly distressing when the prediction concerning a victim is subsequently found to be wrong. Consider the case of missing Auckland prostitute, Jayne Furlong. On the show aired in October 2007, the resident psychic confidently proclaimed that the body was within Auckland city and likely to be interred on a building site. When Jayne’s body was eventually discovered in June 2012 it was found buried in sand dunes 90 km south of Auckland city. The case remains unsolved.

In some cases, the bodies of the victims have never been recovered. Apart from opening old wounds, the families are subjected to a stream of proclamations and 'leads' from the psychic gang, often stated with compelling conviction. Whether a family member believes these to be legitimate pronouncements will be based on that individual's degree of sophistication and also their desperation to find out what really happened to their loved ones. Ordeal by television is a real phenomenon.
- saying it has generated new leads in several old cases."
The Police Response
A national New Zealand newspaper, ‘The New Zealand Herald’ back in 2008 had this to say about the series: "New Zealand police have praised Sensing Murder- now in its second series- saying it has: generated new leads in several old cases". Furthermore, it stated that a senior detective, had "endorsed the programme and Tauranga police have praised it." Quite a commendation from the boys in blue. The detective in question is, George Staunton, a senior detective at Rotorua police. Detective Staunton headed one of the unsolved investigations aired on Sensing Murder during the second thrilling instalment. But in fact, detective Staunton, when questioned about the alleged quote, expressed surprise and stated: ''I think the Herald comment may be a little misleading.'' What he did say was that the publicity from the programme generated a lot of phone calls about the case. Fair enough, television programmes reach a wide audience and, on some occasions, have provided solid leads which have resulted in prosecution. The New Zealand show, ''Crimewatch'' comes to mind. Crimewatch features a lot of low-level crime with some serious crimes thrown into the mix. There is a mug shot section and not surprisingly the public has helped enormously in catching these miscreants who happen to have been previously processed through the police system. ''The offender is described as male Maori of fat build...." Tis prudent not to take reporters at face value. After all, they are not interested in absolute truth. The job of the reporter is to induce the public to buy the newspaper. Catchy headlines and stories sell copy. ''Man bites ferret'' does better than, ''Ferret bites man''. A little twisting of the truth is always going to be present in the greatest of stories. Just another form of entertainment, I suppose.

"Let it be known, the New Zealand police do not actively approach or employ psychics in investigations."

So there you have it. Do psychics have an uncanny talent for tapping into the spirits of the dead? And are they guided by these spirits, spirits who from their unique vantage point are able to supply information hidden from mere mortal minds? Well if they do, the spirits with which they commune are shockingly uninformed. Is it not more likely that the psychics are charlatans fleecing the gullible? Or, in certain cases, I am willing to concede that the psychic is a poor deluded soul with a genuine belief in their 'supernatural abilities'. In the final analysis, it is all about results. And throughout the whole series of 'Sensing Murder' not a single piece of useful evidence has been unearthed by 'psychic abilities' which has materially helped in any of the cases aired on television. No particular surprise then. And let's be totally candid here: If psychic supernatural abilities existed, wouldn't practitioners of the noble/ignoble art be filthy rich from predicting lottery wins? I rest my case. 
So Zealand police have praised Sensing Murder - now in its

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Learn ya shit 'n' stuff

First off, I’m not a grammar Nazi. My own prose can be subject to the odd confusion concerning subordinate and ordinate clauses, on occasion. As long as I obey most of the rules, most of the time, I can live with that. Perfection is a wonderful quality in a man or woman but seldom obtained. But I have to admit I can’t spell for shit. As a kid, I would use a weird phonetic spelling which drove my teachers insane. Mayhap this is why I ended up in the bottom (arse) set for English. However, not being able to spell is no impediment these days due to the wonderful spell check facility. Although I do have to be careful to ensure that the spell check is set to ‘British mode’. Can’t be having those awful American contractions with their deplorable habit of dropping perfectly good vowels. My particular bugbear is the word ‘foetus’. A perfectly good word of Latin origin. The American spelling is ‘fetus’. Why complain you say. Surely the American version is phonetic and didn’t I just say that I’m a phonetic spella/fella at heart. To this, I say, arse, big fat arse. I’m getting old so I can be as inconsistent as I like. Seriously, though, Amerispelling is a form of American imperialism which slowly insinuates. I’ve noticed American spelling creeping into the work of my peers. I wrote a report the other day which was returned by the Boss. He asked me to correct my spelling of foetus to fetus. As he is an Englishman himself, he should have known better; for shame.

We live in an age where folk make quick pronouncements using the myriad of media outlets and ’Text Speak’  has mysteriously intertwined into everyday writing. I’m not expecting folk to write as if they have been transformed into Edwardian Gentlemen, but a bit of effort and a lot of proof reading helps. Remember: “Cursed easy writing is cursed hard reading; blessed hard writing is blessed easy reading”. I think I’ve ranted enough. Here are a few examples of bad English for your amusement and delectation (steady Flaxen).

I’m not going to use the easy but often hilarious examples of mangled English used by foreigners. They, at least, have an excuse. Here is a catalogue of native English speakers who are lazy, ill-educated or just down right thick.             


Not particularly inspiring. However, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and put it down to a genuine lapse. I hope they fix the problem, soon.

What more do you need than a permanent reminder of how stupid you are. And I'm not just talking grammar here. This sort of thing tends to be hereditary.

The superfluous apostrophe loved by baker's, butcher's and candlestick maker's.............

This is not a serious contender. Obviously, a contrived composite to show how it shouldn't be done; hopefully.

Ouch. Credibility and business are constant and firm companions, but not in this case. I am no seer, however, I predict a visitation from the bloke who serves bankrupt writs, or whatever they call these folks; not a bailiff, apparently.

What do you expect when you get the remedial class contributing to community projects during art lessons. Should have had the 'Remmies' digging ditches instead.

Nothing more reassuring than a sign that contradicts. Park here at your peril! 

That's all you get. Anyone finding errors in Flaxen Saxon's grammar can contact me by email. By the way, no one likes a prissy pedant. However, those who amuse me in ways various will receive no censure. Indeed, they will attract benefience according to caprice, whim and medication cycle. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

It's all in the title really....

What you see is an abstract for a 'scientific paper' in a supposed peer reviewed and respectable journal. This is too good not to post today and consequently, I've postponed the post I had prepared. I admit that I've shamelessly stolen the above image from a site I frequent. However, as always, the commentary is mine. On first reading, I concluded that this must be a spoof article produced for our amusement and whimsy. But this is not the case. If you would like to check out the article in full you can see it here.  If like me you can't be arsed or simply have better things to spend your time on, here is an ice-cold taster which provides the full flavour of the article. Strangely enough, the article is available for nowt.

Feminist and postcolonial theories enrich and complement each other by showing how gender and colonialism are co-constituted, as well as how both women and indigenous peoples have been marginalized historically (Schnabel, 2014). Feminist glaciology builds from feminist postcolonial science studies, analyzing not only gender dynamics and situated knowledges, but also alternative knowledges and folk glaciologies that are generally marginalized through colonialism, imperialism, inequality, unequal power relations, patriarchy, and the domination of Western science (Harding, 2009). 

Two points to make: Knowledges is not a real word and the above passage is pure leftist gobbledy speak and thus says very little.

From what I can gather, this seminal work examines the relationship between feminism and glaciers. This relationship has been woefully neglected, apparently. I quote: ''Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology......'' And there was me a thinking that science was all about finding the everlasting light bulb and stuff and 'feminism' was confined to the so call 'social sciences'. As I've said elsewhere, putting the word 'science' after another word doesn't necessarily and automatically make the composite phrase relate to legitimate science, as I know it at least. Sociology is not science. And the notion of feminism is absolutely and definitely not, science. The study of glaciers can be scientific although approaching the topic from a feminist viewpoint adds nothing to the scientific credibility of the subject.

We can have a laugh at the author's expense. Presumably, they are serious and actually believe what they 'research' and write. I bet they are fond of tofu and wear biodegradable plastic shoes as well. The tragedy, of course, is that this particular and vital study was funded by the American tax payer to the tune of  $400,000. That's a helluva lot of light bulbs. Though to be fair, the money was not spent entirely on this on one paper and I've been reliably informed that the lead author is a serious researcher who has produced solid academic work in the past.  

Anyway, I'm going to take my medication now and afterward curl into a ball, in a darkened room, and gently rock.......

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

What's in a flag or Wednesday's Rant

I’m sure most folk outside the insular little islands of New Zealand have failed to notice the furore regarding our national flag. Poor little New Zealand sits in the vast Pacific Ocean totally ignored by the rest of the world until Sir Peter Jackson knocks off another ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie.

The debate over changing the flag has raged for a while and toward the end of last year a referendum was launched to decide which flag would be chosen to compete against the present New Zealand flag; the contender is shown below. The main change is the removal of the ‘Union Jack’ and replacement with the 'Silver Fern' which is symbolic of the nation and in no way reminiscent of a fish denuded of flesh. The flag’s resemblance to a beach towel is cute, and fits well with the practical nature of the New Zealand people. Over the next two weeks Kiwis will have the opportunity to choose between our existing flag and the worthy competitor.

Flagging a dead ferret

This was always going to be a contentious issue. Those desiring change argue that the flag is too close in design to the Australian flag and is often confused at international meetings. And indeed, the flags are similar. It is no secret that New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, is eager for change. Government sponsored television adverts purportedly show an 'average New Zealander' expressing confusion over the Aussie and New Zealand flags.

It is argued that the flag does not represent our country as an independent sovereign nation distinct from Britain and refers to a time when New Zealand was a British colony The flag is, therefore, anachronistic and even demeaning. Furthermore, there are those who protest that the flag acknowledges only New Zealand's British heritage and ignores, and in no way represents, the indigenous race, the Maoris. However, it is also valid to state that until the Maori contribute to society, as a whole, rather than detract, they do not warrant inclusion. Harsh you may say, but a fair comment, nonetheless. 

I am not a proponent for change, could you guess? If a nation changes its flag it had better come up with some sound reasons which have been widely and cogently debated. Flags are not to be changed on the whim of the incumbent Prime Minister. And it seems this notion of change is very much the 'love child' of Mr Key although he has little support amongst his Ministers even at the highest level. Those with a keen political eye are of the opinion that the PM’s advocacy for change is a simple manoeuvre by him to make a historical mark as Prime Minister: he will be remembered as the man who presided over the momentous historic decision to 'change the flag'. You might consider this cold comfort for an ambitious man, but politicians are not like the rest of us. You would think he would be satisfied with a cushy job on the international gravy train, which will undoubtedly fall into his lap once he leaves the domestic political stage. In addition, pundits and commentators from across the political spectrum consider the move to be a cynical ploy to grab the nation's attention and detract from serious domestic issues such as the economy, lack of affordable housing and Auckland's horrendous traffic congestion. Is the nation to be beguiled by crass political posturing; I think not.  And before you ask why Auckland's transport system should be singled out in a country the size of the UK, consider this: 25% of New Zealand's population reside in the Auckland metropolitan area. This is a problem in itself, but won’t be discussed here as it will result in a digression not totally relevant to the matter in hand; perhaps another time.

Most New Zealanders feel emotionally attached to the current flag. And this is not just a sentimental aberration restricted to 'old farts', such as myself. The majority of New Zealander's under 30, in recent surveys, state they are in favour of retaining the present flag, mainly because they associate it with patriotic national identity. Similarly, changing the flag could be construed as disrespectful to the generations of young men who bravely fought and died under the banner. Current servicemen show little enthusiasm to change a flag under which they have pledged a vow of honour. You may consider this mawkish sentimental nonsense, but hardnosed career politicians should take note and ignore 'this nonsense' at their peril.

The advert I mentioned previously has back fired badly. People who can't distinguish their own flag from their neighbour's flag are perceived as ill-informed and stupid, thus  eliciting no sympathy from most Kiwis who have no trouble at all in making the distinction. Even a Pommy bastard such as myself can easily differentiate between the two flags. A government who suggests that its own people can't tell the difference have been openly mocked and criticised for being condescending and treating its people as fools- woe to them.

Er, which one?
Many New Zealanders perceive the exercise as a great money waster. Frankly, it sickens right minded Kiwis that 26 million dollars have been squandered on this ridiculous enterprise; tax payers money which could have served the public good.

Recent polls (February 2016) suggest that 70% of New Zealanders are against the flag change. And New Zealanders are angry over what they see as political posturing by a party under public pressure and criticism. If as I suggest, the vote will be 'nay' then I suspect the government will come under severe censure, and rightly so, from the media and public. Someone has to be held accountable for the ill-placed millions. The public deserve to be better served, but this will never be the case for reasons manifest to all but the steadfast dullard. Sadly, it can only strengthen the position of the opposition Labour Party. Like their British counterpart, they are a wretched lot and too well wedded to meat-eschewing, sandal wearing, self-righteous Green twats for comfort. Of course, the present government are also a load of self-serving wankers; it is a matter of degree, after all. The incumbent government, in my opinion, are the least of the two weevils and eminently preferable to the alternative rabble of leftist scum.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Howling at the Moon

Guess the gender. I'll have a stab in the dark and call them pooftahs

As my regulars are no doubt aware I’m not a fan of political correctness. It makes wishy-washy liberals of us all, totally afraid to open our mouths in case we offend lesbian, disabled single mothers of unenhanced financial status. Also, I’ve reached an age where I pretty much do as I please, within the law, and therefore, subject to much strange looks and head shaking throughout the day. At my age, I’ve earned the right to piss myself in the ‘Exotic lard Isle’ in the local supermarket. When confronted by a nonplussed assistant I just look confused and shout, “wibble:”, very loudly. That’ll teach the bastards for not supplying toilets for: ‘mature middle-class men who are amazing for their age and have a wicked glint in their eye’- by the way, I've only got one eye and thus consider myself', 'ocularly challenged'. Definitely not, that 'Cyclops twat' with an unhealthy habit of bumping into furniture on the left-hand side. Anyway, the body has a remarkable way of compensating and I am endowed with an extra nipple. This, of course, is a vestige in a man and therefore totally fucking useless. I've digressed. I refuse to use the unisex variant (I'm back to toilets), which is an abomination in the sight of man, or humankind depending where you stand on the liberal political spectrum. And this has nothing to do with incontinence. I refuse to wear those so-called adult 'nappies’ as they chafe something awful and no matter what the brochure says they still leak. So to maintain the spirit of a grumpy old curmudgeon here is a particularly insane/inane aspect of politically correct shite which forces me to howl at the moon.

When I was growing up in the salubrious suburbs of Tipton, there was a simple choice of two genders. In case you have forgotten, they are male and female. I have no problem with a person’s sexual orientation. Everyone is entitled to a sexual outlet and an individual's sexual orientation is no one's business but their own and, of course, the people they sleep with. However, homosexuality is not a gender but a sexual preference. I am willing to concede that on very rare occasions it is difficult to assign gender. These examples represent cases of intersex where the individual will have both male and female reproductive organs. In these instances, an inter-gender state is an appropriate designation. This gives us three gender states. As gender is a biological designation and not a social construct, this is all you get. Otherwise, we are talking about lifestyle choices, not gender. Thus Facebook  in their wisdom and a pandering to any fucktard social worker with a gender agenda, have upped the number of 'genders' to an interesting and biologically impossible gender assignment of 50. This strikes me as a suspiciously round number. Why not 49 or 51 genders? I've added a link for the bi-curious. So, let us have some sport with Facebook's incredibly diverse gender assignations (sic). No matter how many they propose you can be assured some weirdo will suggest another. Isn't human nature diverse and fascinating?        

Here are some highlights. And by the way, for the purpose of balance and fairness, I've actually looked this stuff up; may Woden forgive me.

Gender fluid:  Gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is Gender Fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more boy some days, and more girl other days. Being Gender Fluid has nothing to do with which set of genitalia one has, nor their sexual orientation.

Commentary: This is simply fucked up. I have no idea what these people are but they are way out on a social limb. You bet these folk live in 'socially unenhanced environments' with their stumbling drug enhanced peers. Nothing wrong with drugs, by the way; all in moderation.

Cis Man: There is also a 'Cis Male', although I'm unclear of the distinction. In this post I'll be exclusively dealing with, 'Cis Man': A non-transgendered male. A naturally-born man or boy whose psychological gender identity is socially male also. Clarification: A Cis Male is not necessarily macho, or even of average masculine persona. A Cis Male might have some or many characteristics that are feminine, effeminate, or female-like, but unless he seeks to project a female persona, he is still a Cis Male.

Commentary: I have absolutely no idea what the fuck is being said here. In this instance we enter the world of extreme social worker, psycho-analyst babble speak and we are starting to lose the use of the English language as we know it. If anyone meets a 'Cis Man' please let me know so I can find him and beat his pretentious self-inflated smug face into a bloody pulp. And don't get me going about 'Cis Males'.

Polygender: A person who has multiple genders. The genders can either fluctuate or be simultaneously present. Aside of male and female a polygender person's genders can include non-binary identities as well (genderqueer, agender, neutrois, etc).

Commentary: At this stage I'm starting to lose the will to live. Is there anyone out there who actually knows someone in the real world who describes themselves as polygender? Perhaps in the rarefied atmosphere that is 'The Theatre' you might occasionally bump into a member of this rare breed. Histrionics aside, I would like to think they are the type living in a lonely garret slowly succumbing to malnutrition and consumption. Cough. One less  polygender ?individual is always going to be good news.
Of course, there are another 47 definitions to work through. Don't bother, after a while, they all sound the same. Now you know why I'm driven to burn stuff. Please don't call me an arsonist (arse), tis such a pejorative term. I prefer, 'incendiary curious'.

                                                  Mad drunk bloke without a girlfriend

Thursday, 3 March 2016

The source of the Dudley Canal

Mugumbo and his intrepid entourage 

Prof Mugumbo of the famed Tipton Geographical Society has recently secured funding to explore the Dudley canal in an effort to find its ultimate source. The name of the benefactor is unknown but is speculated to be a local businessman who owns a chain of fast food outlets, enigmatically called: 'Mr Khan's Fast Food Outlet and Road Kill Museum'. Conjecture is rife, but it is unlikely that we will ever unearth the identity of this mysterious philanthropist. The Prof (for it is he) has put together a prestigious scientific team consisting of eminent geologists, ethnologists, cartographers and Mr Khan of: ‘Mr Khan’s Salmonella and Dog Free Kebab Emporium'. The team will be ably assisted by coolies and porters recruited from the hardy hill folk inhabiting the rugged hinterland between Tipton and Smethwick West.

Here is the Prof, in his own words: “We intend to traverse the upper reaches of the Dudley canal by narrow boat. Upon reaching Tipton junction we will continue south by south-west through uncharted territory never before glimpsed by civilised man".

Here be Gypos

“The region is suspected to be inhabited by a rude barbarian people known in folklore as: ‘Filthythievinggypobastards’. To ensure a safe passage we intend to barter with these primitive people with baubles, shiny things and assorted scrap metal".

Artist's impression of a mythical 'Gypo'

In addition to finding the headwaters of the canal, it is hoped that the expedition will ultimately find the fabled city of Birmingham. A city lost in time and imagination. A city where the streets are reputed to be paved in dog shit and dog ends. This legendary city was alluded to in an 18th-century chronicle by a direct ancestor of Mr Khan; Bubba Khan. Bubba Khan was believed to have lived in this wondrous city of 'Steaming Piles' and allegedly owned: 'Mr Khan's Kebab and Black Death Emporium'. Here is the relevant passage describing the eternal mythical city of BirminghamIt is but, a vision in a dream. A fragment.  

In Birmingham did Mr Khan
A tasty kebab house decree:
Where Tiddles the tasty cat, ran
Through alleys chased by Khan
Down to an abattoir.
So twice did Tiddles become ground
With spice and seasoning were girdled round;
And there were bright and sautéing grills,
Where blossomed salad and pitta bread;
And here were falafel ancient as the hills,
Enfolding runny spots of greasery.

Not everyone is convinced. Mr Kim Eat Chow of the fine Korean eatery: 'The Poodle Noodle' had this to say: "This but a cheap gimmick by Mr Khan to publicise his kebab franchise, innit. Everyone knows that Birmingham does not exist and endures only as a metaphor for sumptuous living and debauchery. And another thing, Mr Khan's kebabs are pale imitations devoid of canine meaty goodness. Here at the 'Poodle Noodle', we serve our portions in both miniature and standard sizes and we even throw in a free dog collar".

Strudel, the Poodle, stop peeing in the noodle

Later that day......

The expedition suffered an inglorious end before it started as the exalted expedition party missed the 12.45pm bus to Dudley canal. The Prof was unbowed and remained steadfast in his mission: "We remain resolute and unwavering in our determination to locate the mysterious source of the Dudley canal and will make another attempt next year after we have acquired an up to date bus timetable".

To be continued.........