No great surprise when the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons to become this season's NFC champions. And when the New England Patriots strolled into Pittsburgh and proceeded to demolish the Steelers on all fronts to take the AFC title, that was more or less what everyone expected (apart from die-hard Steelers' fans).
Romiley survived in remarkably good shape, the battering of gales and heavy rain of this month's second weekend. Residents lost a bit of sleep as the winds shrieked about the rooftops during the night but the River Rom remained contained and the village was spared Carlisle-style floods.
Snow? What snow!
Romiley had a brief mid-month adventure with snow, which seemed to be hurtling down with blizzard-like intensity. But next time anyone looked, it had vanished! Apart from a token covering on shed roofs and wheely bins.
Do newspaper advert work? A Sunday Telegraph reader writes:
US occupation troops have done a terrific job of wrecking the remains of ancient Babylon, indignant archaeologists are saying. The troops tried to dig decorated bricks out of the dragons of the Ishtar Gate, they drove heavy vehicles across 2,600 year old brick pavements, they filled sandbags with earth mixed with archaeological fragments and they brought in sand and earth from other sites, contaminating Babylon with foreign archaeological material.
"We're not wasting any more time there," says ISG.
The US government has abandoned the search for WoMD in Iraq. The Iraq Survey Group and the US weapons inspectors have refused to return to the Middle East after Xmas leave, telling the Pentagon that they see no point on wasting any more of their time on what was always a lie.
Four More Years!
Prez Bush has promised the US troops in Iraq security of employment for at least the duration of his final term of office. "Iraq will still be a hell of a mess in 2009," a highly-placed US government official said. "And we are exploring the concept of letting foreign nationals gain US citizenship through a period of service with the US forces in Iraq."
"Iraq is now, in a very real sense, at peace for the first time since 1921."
The government is bracing itself for a world-wide pandemic of a lethal strain of bird flu, which has jumped species to humans in South-East Asia. The virus is so unstoppable that its death rate is over 70%. Which is why the government is setting up quarantine centres for infected globe-trotters, finalizing evacuation plans for major cities [To where? Ed.] and hiring inflatable mortuaries.
Apparently, someone dressed up in a Nazi outfit at a private fancy dress party. But we found the whole thing so trivial, we couldn't be bothered getting any details. So we're going to draw a line under it and move on. Ed.
"There are too many people around whose sole reason for existence is to be offended; people who count a day wasted if they can't feel shocked and outraged at least once."
"If anyone has to apologize, it should be after Vice-Prez Bliar has apologized for lying to the nation to get us on board Prez Bush's illegal war in Iraq."
"I think every right-minded person in the country should dress up in a Nazi uniform to show solidarity with Prince What's-his-name."
"How does anyone know it was a genuine picture of Prince Whatsit and not something faked on someone's computer?"
"If anyone should apologize, it's the newspapers and the TV news. If they hadn't made such a big deal of it on a slow news day, no one would have been any the wiser and the poor old public wouldn't have been subjected to this torrent of tosh."
"What does he have to apologize for? It's not like he started a war in Iraq and got 100,000 people killed."
Indignant followers of Hinduism, the Chinese and all other users of the swastika during its 10,000 years of existence are up in arms at an attempt to introduce a Europe-wide ban on the symbol. Which sounds like a recipe for some interesting demonstrations if the Eurocrats try to impose their will on rebellious customers!
January 24th is officially the worst day of the year, so anyone who manages not to commit suicide on this blackest of days can look forward to blue skies and plain sailing for the rest of the year. [Well, until Vice-Prez Bliar & his cronies do something further to ruin things for everyone. Ed.]
The government's plans for 24-hour compulsory drinking are being sabotaged by a vocal minority. The people who will have to clear up the mess left by drunken customers the police, the transport police, the medical profession, cleaning staff and some members of the legal profession are all threatening to go sick if pubs and clubs are allowed to stay open all day and all night too.
Councils everywhere are threatening to take the government to court over the extra costs which Vice-Prez Bliar and his cohorts are wishing on them.
The Huygens probe made it all the way through Titan's dense, cloudy atmosphere to land on a 'stable, hard surface'. The first pictures of Saturn's foggy moon, which is larger than the planet Mercury, show dark, meandering rivers on a light, icy landscape, and big chunks of ice on the surface (which turned out to be quite small when we were told the scale of the pictures!). The probe sent data back to the Cassini spacecraft, which gave it the lift from Earth to the vicinity of Saturn, until its batteries were exhausted. Its builders at the European Space Agency will be spending the next few years processing and reprocessing that data.
One of science fiction's most celebrated illustrators had died at 82. He was known for creating images which related to the essence of the story rather than standard 'rockets and ray-guns' and he received 11 Hugo Awards from science-fiction's fans. Readers of Mad magazine were treated to his covers between 1958 and 1962, most featuring Alfred E. 'What, me worry?' Neuman. As well as producing illustrations and cover designs for magazines and books by the best science-fiction talents, he designed Skylab shoulder patches and posters for NASA, and wrote and co-authored several books.
Drummer, composer and founder member of Traffic with Stevie Winwood, Jim Capaldi has died at 60. Traffic had its main successes in the 1960s with its quirky brand of music but Capaldi continued to write hits for others through 4 decaded, including Love Will Keep Us Alive for the reformed Eagles (1996). His compositions sold in the millions and he was a winner of 5 of the US radio industry's awards for Most Played Compositions in America.
If God doesn't exist, he/she/it isn't to blame for the deaths caused by last month's tsunamis.
p.s. Where were the warnings about tsunamis from astrologers, psychics, fortune tellers and the other con-merchants who proclaim inside knowledge of what the future holds?
The long delays associated with chip & PIN credit card transactions are leading to a large increase in the number of fed up customers dumping their shopping and taking a walk in protest at long check-out queues in supermarkets. The operators of the nation's consumer goods providers are now having to face up to the possibility of having to do something about the problem. Like making some tills cash-only or hiring more staff to return the abandoned stock to the shelves to reduce the confusion it causes.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance a grand coalition of 50+ professional, private sector and volunteer groups is in trouble for bullying. It has been using bullying tactics to inflict its code of conduct on potential members. Why? Because the code of conduct is designed to prevent criticism by requiring members not to disagree with the views of other members, no matter how stupid or irrational, and to treat every scrap of information as top secret unless it is specifically flagged as non-confidential.
BT nick a couple of hours from their customers
BT is to chop 2 hours off its cheap calls period. It used to charge 5.5p for up to an hour's chat between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. the next day. In future, calls made after 6 a.m. will be charged at the usual daytime rates with a 5.5p minimum charge. Those paying a fixed fee for 'free' off-peak calls will also lose the 2 hours.
You can tell how little real news is floating around from the fact that theGuardian, once a serious newspaper, is reduced to filling up space with lamentations on the demise of East Enders in the viewing figures, and urban myths about vampires in Birmingham.
The school inspection service Ofsted has reached the brilliant conclusion that nursery teachers are wasting far too much time teaching kids to count and write their names. What they should be teaching them instead is how to 'explore their thoughts and feelings'.
Let the people pay
Vice-Prez Bliar, too tight-fisted to pay his own way, spent £100K of taxpayer's money flying himself and his entourage to Egypt for his latest winter holiday.
Lethal French electricity runs riot in London
Televisions, computers, microwave ovens and other electrical appliances exploded in flames in Highgate, North London, when the wrong sort of electricity stormed into homes. A spokesman for the French-controlled utility company EDF Energy blamed a rogue surge of 415V electricity, which assaulted up to 150 homes. The fire brigade had to attend several of the fires and everyone affected spent a Sunday without power.
MI6 has appointed a quality control officer, to be known as R, in a belated attempt to stop New Labour rewriting intelligence data for its own devious purposes. R's boss is C, aka John Scarlett, the man who bent over backwards to accommodate Alastair Campbell's wishes for the content of what were supposed to be Mr. Scarlett's dossiers on Iraq's weapons. So no one is expecting desperately high standards of quality from R.
The government says it's responsible for 'record' results in GCSE exams. How? By awarding an 'A' grade to schoolkids scoring 45% and a 'B' grade to duffers who can achieve at least 17%!
The attention-seeking MP defector last got himself noticed in 1990, when he claimed he had a bomb in his luggage at an airport. He said it was just a joke and a protest at being kept hanging around. As the incident took place not long after a Libyan bomb sent an airliner crashing onto Lockerbie, the police were not amused. But the defector got away with just an official caution.
Aberdeen Council thinks letting children sing 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' will turn them into racialist hooligans. Also, it feels that kids need to be exposed to black and brown ducks, as well as fluffy yellow ones, to make them racially and ethnically aware.
If a cold bath is needed to calm frayed nerves after a hard day's work, rather than a relaxing hot bath, then everyone we spoke to will choose to stay nervy and grumpy.
Cash for the customers
That nice Mr. Howard is promising to demolish New Labour's Fat Government and when the dust settles, he plans to give his customers £4 billion.
There is more than meets the eye to New Labour's plan to introduce a compulsory pledge of allegiance for all 18 year olds. Vice-Prez Bliar is rumoured to be considering adding an optional but compulsory pledge of personal allegiance to Britführer Bliar, as well as the Crown, if he thinks he can get away with it.
"The Human body has only a fixed supply of life energy and the sooner you use it up in pointless exercise, the sooner you die. So it makes sense to put your feet up and live longer."
"Activity produces oxygen free radicals in the human body and they rampage around and cause premature ageing."
"Exercise produces the hormone cortisol, which can damage brain cells and cause premature senility."
"Laughing is the best exercise. It produces the hormone serotonin, which makes people feel happy and relaxed, and it gives the cardio-vascular system a minor work-out without producing free radicals."
Sky TV, which gets 80% of its revenue from subscriptions but still piles in acres of adverts, is frightening its 100% advert-funded rivals & sub-clients with its latest patent for a gadget for recording TV programmes. The current Sky recording gadget fast-forwards through adverts but they can still be seen by the viewer. The next generation gadget misses out the adverts completely.
The BBC would like its customers to believe that if they install a 45-foot wind turbine in their garden (at a cost of £25,000), they'll make an absolute fortune selling surplus electricity to the National Grid. In fact, if the turbine-owner manages to run an immersion heater and a few lights, he/she will be very lucky.
There's no getting rid of outdated mobiles
The latest grand plan for obsolete mobile phones is to make use of the built in clock and the memory to create useful consumer gadgets. Given a new casing, a mobile could be converted, after installation of some new software, into an alarm clock, a hand-held game, a TV remote control, a calculator, a camera or a personal digital assistant.
When Bill Clinton was Prez, his military mad scientists were working on some fiendish bioweapons. One would have given every enemy soldier treated terminal halitosis. Another would have turned the enemy into rampant homosexualists. There were also plans to spray enemy positions with chemicals to attract wasps, flies, ants and other nasties.
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US Prez George Dubya seems to have changed his name to Stalin somewhere along the line. He's planning to send a whole gang of terrorist suspects to his personal gulags for life without the benefit of due process and a trial. As long as Mr. Prez is sure they are too dangerous to be allowed to run around free, that will be the suspect's ticket to a life of leisure behind bars.
Logic turned upside down
The papers have been going on about 'remarkable' pictures of a Swedish woman running towards her family and the tsunami which was bearing down on all of them. But when you think about it, the picture would have been remarkable only if the woman had been running away from her children and the danger. Because at times like that, personal survival doesn't even enter the mother's mind.
"Not our problem, mate."
With Vice-Prez Bliar on his happy holidays and unconcerned, the Foreign Office has been getting up to its old tricks in the region affected by the Boxing Day tsunamis. Embassy staff have been putting on their best jobsworth faces and telling survivors, their relatives and relatives of the dead and missing, "Sorry, we can't do anything for you." when they ask for help. Which leaves the rest of us wondering just what British embassy staff are for if not helping the people who pay their wages at a time of crisis?
The Thai Earthquake Bureau was too busy sending out faxes about minor earthquakes to read an email giving 1 hour's warning of the Boxing Day tsunamis. And when a Hawaiian geophysicist tried to phone tsunami warnings to local weather centres, his calls were ignored or no one answered the phone.
"We'd still rather have proper dosh!"
It was wished on them 3 years ago but Europeans are still not happy with the euro. A recent survey has shown that 67% of Italians and 60% of the French still wish they could have their 'real money' back. Things are slightly better in Germany, where 50.5% are resigned to the euro. Predictably, the scrounger states Ireland and Luxembourg report 80% and 70% contentment respectively. Meanwhile, 25% of Europeans still work out what things cost in their old currencies and this figure rises to 50% if they're buying something big, like a car or a house.
A giant iceberg is about to crash into a floating Antarctic glacier known as the Drygalski Ice Tongue. And people around the world are braced for Vice-Prez Bliar going on TV and pretending he can do something about it.
British football fans will be amused to hear that Argentinian cheat Diego Maradonna is now the size of a house and it takes The Crane of God, rather than His Hand, to help the old coke-head into a standing position when he takes the weight off his legs.
Two behavioural scientists at Newcastle University have been shining torches into New Labour's murky corners. Their findings challenge the rosy picture of a crime-free Britain painted by New Labour's falsified statistics. Shock, horror! They have decided that the UK police forces are the worst in the world at dealing with crime.
Restorative Justice a waste of time
The Home Office has spent millions of pounds of taxpayer's money on making criminals say sorry to their victims. All for nothing, a study of the effect of the programme has shown. A criminal who says sorry is just as likely to rob someone at the next opportunity as an unrepentant one.
Forward planning in Thailand
Thieves in Thailand have been stealing bodies from unguarded mosques, taking them to official body-receiving stations and registering them as dead relatives. Why? In the hope that if the Thai government decides to pay compensation to relatives of the dead, they'll cop for some cash.
The chief constable of Belfast has announced that the IRA are the prime suspects for last month's major bank robbery. The Northern Bank of Belfast has decided to withdraw and reissue all of its banknotes, converting the robbery into the biggest theft of waste paper on record.
Those geniuses at the Home Office have decided to give up on burglaries and car crime. In future the above crimes will be investigated by Civilian Documentation Officers, who will have received at least 3 weeks' training. Meanwhile, the official police will be diverted to solving what the Home Office calls 'actual' crimes.
New Labour's prison lottery
New Labour has failed to build enough prisons to give the nation a break from the activities of convicted members of the criminal community. So new Home Sec. Charles Clarke has come up with a Big Idea: a lottery for criminals. If they are lucky enough to be convicted when the prisons are full, they don't have to go to gaol.
It's only taxpayers' cash, after all
Why is the Mugger so keen to hand British taxpayers' cash to African dictators? Simple. He's trying to take over Vice-Prez Bliar's self-appointed role of 'Saviour of Africa'. He thinks giving away other people's money will make him look like Lord Bountiful and no one will mind if the money disappears into secret bank accounts or it is blown on fancy cars and personal jets.
Irish priest Neil Horan, who dashed out of a taverna during last year's Athens Olympics and dragged the leading runner into the crowd, has been struck off. Horan also attempted to disrupt the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2003 by wandering about on the track. He received a 2 month gaol sentence for his antics at Silverstone and just a suspended sentence from the Greeks. Finally, the Roman Catholic Church has decided to defrock him, leaving the rest of us wondering why it took them so long.
Re: the courts martial of British troops in Germany, which got Vice-Prez Blair so excited: Let us not forget that these were not ordinary Iraqi citizens who were dragged off the streets and harassed. They were persistent scumbag thieves who were caught in the act repeatedly stealing humanitarian aid; and their fellow Iraqis were all in favour of shooting them out of hand.
The gas companies are getting very twitchy about the possibility of a windfall tax to deprive them of the excessive profits which they have been making recently through overcharging and manipulation of the gas supply. Another one on the big banks would be a good idea if the Mugger is feeling brave.
The Day Out Of The Jackal a short story
Carlos began to regret taking a mystery tour when the bus got stuck in west London. Bored, he took out his sniperscope and tried to spot the obstruction. It turned out to be a smug-looking bloke getting out of an official car with a big box done up in fancy gold wrapping.
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The Ministry of Defence recently set up a new website for the Army Intelligence Corps:
. . . denying Xmas to the residents of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean by sending their Xmas mail to Ascuncion in Paraguay, which is about 3,000 miles away. And just to confuse the issue further, the Royal Mail sent items addressed to Georgetown, the capital of Ascension Island, to Georgetown in Guyana, also in South America. Due to a lack of connecting flights with Ascension Island, everything will have to be lumbered back to the UK so that the Royal Mail can have another chance at screwing up Xmas.
Anyone planning to book an airline ticket on the internet is advised to avoid the British Airways website. They plan to introduce a £10 on-line booking fee, probably from May 1st this year.
The EU scroungers are at it again
The Spanish and Moroccan governments are going full steam ahead with a plan to connect their 2 countries with a 24-mile tunnel. Like the Channel Tunnel, it will have twin railway tunnels with a central service tunnel between them. No one has the faintest idea what the whole project will cost, but both Spain and Morocco are agreed that the EU should foot the bill.
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Phishers In Action
"Clare Short is totally irresponsible."
"Michael Howard is a political opportunist."
"Steve Moxton said Osama bin Laden's followers would have to be silenced with nuclear weapons."
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