Sunday, 4 November 2018

CHANGE OF A BULLSEYE, GUV



Serving Suggestion
We are going to get a new £50 note; made of plastic like the replacement £5 and £10 notes introduced over the last couple of years. 

The Bank of England has decided that the back of this new note is going to feature the portrait of a British scientist. There are a number of suggestions being made and I won't bother to join in the debate here. Any of the names so far put forward deserve a note of their own and whoever is eventually chosen will be unfair to those left out. I don't see why we can't have a montage of several at once, which would give more of them a better chance of being selected.

Not this one
When the announcement of a new note was first made, there were a number of names put forward, including that of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. That idea was soon quashed: a mistake in my view.

At one point, there was a lot of talk about abolishing the £50 note altogether on account of it being the banknote of choice for the criminal fraternity and no-one else in particular. Peter Sands, the former head of Standard Chartered Bank once described it as "the currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all sorts and of tax evasion". As such, I would have thought having a picture of Margaret Thatcher on the back would seem an obvious choice.




POPPY TIME



Genuine poppy merchandise


It's that time of year again (the annual Poppy Appeal if you weren't sure) and this year (so far anyway) I haven't read any of the usual stories about how the local store/council/public body, etc., etc. has banned the poppy in case it offends Muslims/immigrants/extreme right-wing loonies who wish Hitler had won the war and so on. Must be the first year ever although the campaign still has a week to run so there's still time.

What we do have though is the usual problem of fake poppy merchandise. Manchester Trading Standards have just seized a whole load of the stuff and that probably only hints at the level of the problem.

A few years back, the market was flooded with fake poppy merchandise produced by the far right political organisation, the English Defence League, although they don't seem to have repeated the exercise since.

Please be on the lookout for this stuff and report it if found; it goes without saying, don't buy it. Ideally, go directly to the Poppy Shop or one of the official licensed producers.



HOCUS POCUS


Take two three times a day
before meals.
In a huge victory for traditional and folk medicine over the massive corporate power of "big pharma" the Chinese government has decided to allow the use of Rhino horn and Tiger bones in medicines prescribed by doctors and hospitals.

Hopefully, this is going to be just the start and will encourage other governments to take a similar stand. For instance, perhaps we can now persuade the NHS to start funding homoeopathic remedies, psychic healing and the driving out of evil spirits using the power of Jesus which are known to be the principal cause of illness if you bother to do your research.

Speaking of "big pharma", I suppose this means that now that the pharmaceutical industry is going to be producing cannabis based drugs, all the conspiracy theory nuts will claiming it causes cancer and gives children the autisms.



EGG


Our local branch of Morrison's is selling eggs produced by a local small market trader and are prominently displayed at the shop entrance. I was selecting a few the other day when I noticed that one of the eggs had a white shell. I haven't seen one of these in a long time and, going by the reaction of some of the people around me, they had never seen one.

When I was a small child, I would go shopping with my Mum to the local grocer's store on the corner of Wickham Lane. The eggs were sold from behind the counter and were usually displayed in a large bowl. Housewives would ask for however many and the assistant would then count them out into a paper bag. And yes, you would be lucky if you got them all home in one piece.

The eggs were, almost without exception, white. In amongst all this whiteness you might see an egg with a brown shell and these were especially favoured as it was believed that if the eggshell was brown, it would mean the egg was somehow more healthy and nutritious.

Egg producers, quick to cotton on to the demand, began to provide what the housewife wanted by changing the breed of egg laying chicken from the White Leghorn which produces a white shell egg to the Plymouth Rock or Rhode Island Red which produces the brown. It is possible to change the colour of the shell by altering the feed balance as well but mainly, it's the breed of hen.

In the United States, the attitude is completely opposite and shoppers there favour (should I spell that "favor") the white shell. Strange, considering both the main brown shell layers are American breeds.

In actual fact, the colour of the shell makes absolutely no difference to the flavour or nutritional quality of the egg which is determined by many other factors.

If this is something that really matters to you, have a look here for more information on the subject.



UKRAINE MYSTERY


No 1 - read the
Thamesmead Grump
Over the last couple of months, the stats relating to this page seem to have gone completely wild. In just a couple of days in October, my page was visited by no fewer that 4566 times by viewers in the Ukraine. This is a good deal more than everywhere else in the world put together, even the mysterious "unknown region" which has also started popping up.

I'm sure there is a good reason for this but I have no idea what it is.






Tuesday, 18 September 2018

IGNORANCE IS BLISS



WARNING!
May contain sugar.
A couple of years ago, I was standing in a queue, waiting to pay for the lunch I had just bought from a shop at some English Heritage site I was visiting with Mrs Grump. The woman in front of me was complaining bitterly about the cartons of fruit juice; she was looking down the list of ingredients on the side of the boxes and was unhappy that they all seemed to contain sugar.

"Of course they contain sugar you idiot, it's fruit juice: where do you think sugar comes from? All living material contains sugar, plant and animal; if it didn't it wouldn't work". I didn't say; I must have been in a good mood that day.

This incident leads me on to the appalling level of scientific illiteracy among the general public. Ignorance makes you vulnerable: vulnerable to those who would exploit that ignorance for their own ends.

One popular area of exploitation is in the so-called "alternative food/medicine/whatever" racket. Purveyors of this nonsense will use the fact that you don't know your acid from your carbohydrate in order  to sell you some product with improbable qualities such as an ability to cure cancer with a fruit berry/cannabis/psychic chocolate, etc. 

On a stall in a local craft market there was someone selling something they call Himalayan Pink Salt which, among other unlikely things can reduce your blood pressure. Yes folks, never mind that the entire medical profession constantly warns about excessive salt in your diet and how this can lead to high blood pressure among other things; Himalayan Salt is "magic" so this rule doesn't apply.

Organic food producers warn constantly about "chemicals" that are used in conventional farming despite them having been proved safe to eat, without mentioning the chemicals they use, many of which are highly toxic indeed. Copper Sulphate is one example.

Another group of people who like to exploit public ignorance do so for entirely different reasons and you will often see articles on the internet which offer dire warnings about things which are, in most cases are completely harmless but can be made to seem otherwise. 

Probably the most widely distributed and well known of these is the Dihydrogen Monoxide hoax. Its creators have been campaigning for many years to get the substance banned in food production, citing just how dangerous it is. They even have their own website DHMO.ORG where they warn that 

"Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol."

They go on to warn that 

"Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment. Some of the known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are:
  • Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
  • Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
  • Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
  • DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
  • Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
  • Contributes to soil erosion.
  • Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
  • Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
  • Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
  • Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
  • Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
  • Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect."

Any child having a first world education and who is aged over ten years should know that Dihydrogen Monoxide, or H2O as it's usually called is nothing more than water. Having said that, all the claims made about the dangers of the stuff are absolutely true and without any form of critical examination of the claims made can result in the public fear of something we cannot live without.

This particular hoax doesn't actually have any malicious intent but is intended to show how easy it is to fool people and can therefor be considered more as an educational tool. In 1997, a 14 year old American science student Nathan Zohner, handed out a convincing paper arguing for the banning of DHMO which was supported by most of his fellow students. You can read more about this story here

Since its inception, it has grown into a major industry with its own web site. It has even managed to spawn a counter movement called the "Friends of Hydrogen Hydroxide". The claims made on this site are not to be trusted however as they obviously have financial connections with the DHMO industry.

Elsewhere, in a Hysterical article in the Daily Express (where else) they manage to take time off from warning us about migrants to tell us of a hidden danger hidden in our apples.

The headline warns of a "shocking video" which reveals the truth about wax which is coating our apples and asks just how dangerous is it.

Danger!
If anyone actually reads beyond the headline and the video, they will see that the wax is produced by the apple itself and is actually beneficial as it prevents bacterial infection. Some producers supplement this wax with an extra coating to protect it in storage but this is made from natural sources and is harmless. Wax, you will learn if you enquire further, cannot be processed by the human digestive system so passes straight through. Whether that makes your (now wax coated) turds easier to pass, I haven't managed to learn.

I don't know if the waxy apple hoax is supposed to be educational or a straightforward bit of malicious scare mongering by a tabloid rag to sell more copies, I also haven't managed to learn.

If you really do want to learn more about fruit and wax then click on this link to an excellent article here.

This is a link to the Express scare story as well if you want to read it for yourself.









Friday, 7 September 2018

AFRICAN VISIT LATEST



Prime Minister finds time to "Strut Her Funky Stuff, 
Sho' Nuff" during intense trade negotiations with 
African leaders. "It's not just 
that Boris Johnson 
who can dazzle those flag waving 
Piccaninnies" 
she announced.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a lucrative new deal with Nigeria after returning from trade talks with African leaders.

Speaking to Parliament she said "I have been in negotiation with senior African politicians and legal experts including Barrister Williamson Robinson, a solicitor from Lagos, Nigeria and we are in the process of settling an arrangement whereby he will transfer 50% of his client's assets to the UK for just a handling fee of £195 payable by Western Union".

"This is 100% risk free and all modalities have been taken care of", she announced.

Describing this as only the first of many deals she has set up. She has also agreed to accept on behalf of Mrs Edwards Doris, widow of Engr Edwards Edwards and who is sadly now dying from long time cancer of the breast, the sum of $26,000,000 (twenty six million USD) which will be used to pay for Churches, motherless babies and the NHS.

"Who needs £350 million pounds from Brexit when we can strike deals like these?" said Mrs May.




SPEAKING OF BORIS


Boris Johnson has just announced the result of his marriage referendum and claims a victory for common sense as his partnership with Marina Wheeler ends on 29th March 2019. Boris claims that the result will be much better for him now he doesn't have to listen to the opinions of a completely un-elected Wife, and that the £350 million a week in savings will be put to better use.

Claims that he had already been in negotiation with another party for a better deal while still officially committed to his first one have been vigorously denied by himself. 

He has announced that he and his ex partner will be continuing to support their four children but hasn't given any details about how he intends to do this although he has rejected all suggestions made so far as unworkable and a betrayal of the people.








Friday, 31 August 2018

AND ANOTHER THING......................


Don't start every sentence with the word "so"; it's bloody annoying.

Don't pronounce "g" as a "k"; it's "something", not "somethink".

When you are talking?
Try to be more positive about what you are saying?
Up talk makes you sound like a foreigner?
Or even American?
Which is even worse?
Try to learn the difference between a question and a statement?

Geography not joggraphy. Write this out 50 times.

Hand a trusted friend a large stick and ask them to hit you with it every time you say "ya know" during a sentence.

It's a "chest of drawers" not a "chester draws". I actually saw it written like this once and I laughed so much I nearly went to the lavatory in my trousers.

Don't send me inspirational posts by David Avocado Wolfe because I will be very rude about it.

Likewise, inspirational posts that show someone standing on a rocky outcrop in a teapot pose with the legend that suggests that people would stop dying from wars, famine and natural disasters with positive thinking, crystal healing or by becoming a Vegan.

Likewise, posts telling me I can't fly the English flag because of immergrants; especially when you say it's not aloud. And don't tell me it's been band.

Likewise, Tommy Robinson: just - no, don't.

Don't call me a grammar fascist; it's not my fault you are only semi-literate. 




ROCK ON, PRIME MINISTER


In the novel "Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman there is a piece explaining how Demons dance. It the UK edition of the book, Demons dance like the British group at the Eurovision Song Contest. US readers would not understand this so their edition describes them as dancing like the white group on Soul Train.

After watching this performance, we will only ever imagine Demons dancing like the British Prime Minister.

Jeremy Corbyn, eat your heart out.







Wednesday, 29 August 2018

SIXPENCE


Following on from my last story, I thought I would tell you another tale from Wickham Lane. 

In 1934, my Grandparents Bill and Ivy Wray moved into No 59 with their two young children Eileen (my Mum), aged 6 and her younger Sister Betty, aged 4.

If you look at the house today, you will see that a large housing estate backs onto the garden, blocking any exit, but before the War, it was all open land and allotments and you could walk through them and up to Bostal Woods.

One day, Eileen (my Mum) decided to take herself and her younger Sister for a walk in the woods; something she did quite often. Now at this point, you are all probably wondering how her parents could have allowed her to go wandering alone in the woods with her little Sister but in those days, it wasn't at all unusual. In fact, even by the 1950s, I can remember as a small child being allowed to ride my tricycle out of the back gate and along the road unsupervised. This included going up onto Wickham Lane itself: a busy bus route.

Anyway, back to the 1930s and there are two little girls aged around 8 and 6 wandering around in Bostal Woods without a care in the world when they are approached by a man riding along the path on his bicycle. He stopped to speak to them and they exchanged a few pleasantries then he offered my Mum sixpence if she would look after his bicycle while he took her little Sister into the bushes to look for butterflies. 

Sixpence being about two week's pocket money, she readily agreed and things would have ended badly at this point if it hadn't been for the fact that the Police had been watching him for some time and when they saw him leading a little girl into the undergrowth, sprang into action. All my Mum says she remembers is that there were suddenly a lot of people running about and shouting and she couldn't understand why they were all being so horrible to this nice man who had just given her sixpence.

I don't know what the outcome of all this was; I would have assumed it would have finished up in court and I have tried to find any record of it in the local paper archives but with no luck. I don't recall Mum saying what happened to the sixpence either. Perhaps the Police took it as evidence; she never said.