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Trains and bots and planes

Gag of the Day:

“Hey, if we have a Johnson in 10 Downing Street and a Trump in the White House, that’s a dick and a fart, right?”

 

The tracks of my tears

Owing to a 43 per cent increase in passenger traffic, Britain’s railway network is groaning at the seams. The problem being that the network cannot safely accommodate enough trains, all running at the same time.

Consequently Network Rail, the company that owns the infrastructure on which franchised operators run their cattle-truck services, is asking the government for money to digitise the still partly mid- 20th-century mechanical signalling system so more trains can be squeezed onto the tracks.

As any desperate commuter kno, fares have gone up every year on average by an allowable three per cent above the rate of inflation; one of the conditions under which the formerly State-owned network was broken up and sold off piecemeal in 1993.

The reason given for the above-inflation increases?

To provide money to invest in the railways.

Network Rail bosses in line for £5 million ‘double your money’ bonuses …

http://www.dailymail.co.uk. (18 Jul 2013)

 

Beating our breasts

I have in a cupboard somewhere a pot of Gorilla Glue. In a drawer is a roll of Gorilla Tape. It’s a reliably sticky brand. Four-year-old Baby Gregg joins ‘Canoe Man’, John Darwin, so-named after he staged his own death to claim the insurance by faking a canoeing accident, as the child now forever known to the British tabloid press as ‘Gorilla Boy’, following his adventures at Cincinnatti Zoo.

Gorilla Boy somehow slipped his parents’ attention and crawled into the moat of the gorilla enclosure, where, as we now know, a 17-year-old, critically endangered silverback Eastern Lowland gorilla called Harambe took a parental interest in him. Staff say Harambe dragged the boy up and down in the water for ten minutes, possibly playing with him until help arrived, which it didn’t, then standing over him protectively, before a decision was taken to shoot him dead – the gorilla (one of a few hundred left in the world) that is, not the boy (one of 7.4 billion humans), who is recovering uninjured.

As with Cecil the Lion, 300,000 people have signed a petition expressing outrage, demanding punishment and reparations from the boy’s parents. The only phone video of part of the incident seemed to suggest that the 400 lb gorilla did not harm, and appeared to have no intention of harming the boy. However, hysterically screaming bystanders might have tipped Harambe over into panic, and who knew what might have happened then?

The media immediately flashed back to 1986 and an incident at Gerald Durrell’s notoriously unsafe Jersey Zoo (Gerald didn’t give two hoots for humans) when a gorilla male protected an unconscious child, stroking his back gently until keepers arrived. After that, the ape became a star, even appearing on a postage stamp. The Director of Cincinnatti Zoo has made a number of highly reasonable justifications for their decision to kill the animal, however; notably that while young gorillas are designed to withstand tough love, human kids are more breakable.

Any suggestion that shooting suspects on sight is a peculiarly American preoccupation is, of course, unworthy. Police are investigating.

What do I think? It’s a tragedy, of course. Why did the Director of Cincinnatti Zoo not accept immediate responsibility for failing in his duty of care, both to the animals and to the public? No doubt an inquiry will establish how the kid got into the 20-year-old enclosure. No doubt too, lawyers will soon be rattling his cage. How – and why – the gorilla got there is more problematic.

Despite their close genetic relationship with us, gorillas are being hunted in Rwanda for bushmeat, and for body-part souvenirs, sold, often, to Chinese and US tourists. If they can only be saved by being specially bred and put on show as exhibits in badly run old zoos, where they have to be executed if they become a potential danger to the gawking public, maybe it’s better and more dignified to let them go into extinction in the wild.

We won’t be far behind.

When he grows up, I hope Baby Gregg (we don’t know his full name) comes to understand his unwitting responsibility for the death of this magnificent creature. I’d like to think of him becoming someone who works tirelessly for conservation, not just another fat slob slinging burgers, or working in a bank.

 

Purple passage

For only the second time ever, Dr Henry Heimlich has reportedly performed his own manouver (manoeuvre?) to save a person from choking to death.

The inventor of the famous method of forcing air from the lungs to expel chunks of food jammed in the trachaea now lives in an old folks’ home, where he sprang into action yesterday, beating off members of staff to rescue a fellow resident in the dining room who was trying unsuccessfully to swallow a piece of cheese.

Estimates suggest that over 100,00o people in the USA alone have been saved by Dr Heimlich’s famous ‘manouver’, whether they needed to be or not.

I wonder, what are the chances of retiring to an old folks’ home where you will subsequently have your life saved by the very man who invented an effective method of saving life, in the precise circumstances in which yours needed saving?

It would be like waking up with a sore throat and paralysis, to happily find that your elderly gardener is in fact Dr Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine. Or having your house burgled by the local chief of police.

And what are the chances that at the age of 96, you will for only the second, and possibly final, time in your career have the opportunity to demonstrate for yourself that your life’s work works?

Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone believe in Intelligent Design.

 

Just what the hell is going on?

President Trump’s famously bewildered rhetoric regarding the unwelcome tendency of foreign Muslims to visit Disneyland applies more than ever to the passing-on of weirdly obscure notes to The Boglington Post via the virtual gatekeeper known as ‘Akismet’, whose job is supposedlyto weed-out Spam messages sent to boglers bogling on this, the WordPress platform.

Virtually all such notes in my case quote their inspiration as a piece I Posted over four years ago, called ‘How to Live in a Stately Home’. While the detail of the messages changes, the format and the syntax are always recognisably similar, the relevance to living in stately homes questionable, and the URLs or whatever they are called, the IPs, are compound and probably untraceable via poxy servers. I suspect no human hand is involved.

Here is the latest example, received this morning (I have truncated the address to avoid the possibility of people contacting it and picking up some nasty disease such as botfly larvae, which have to be dug out of your anus):

Outstanding piece. I was happy to find this since I was also born in the big apple. furthermore, thank you for heading to Daytona Beach and aiding me to better have an understanding of grilling and cooking food. This assisted me with my entrance to University of georgia. Looking forward to seeing you in our apartment and catch up with our ping pong game.

Jere Saum
Irancrmblog.jimdo.comx…..

Now, readers of this, muh bogl, may not be aware, although I think I have mentioned it, that while I have some family roots in the USA, I have never actually been there. I was not born like a caterpillar in the ‘big apple’, but in the Great Wen; I have never visited Florida’s famous Daytona Beach (although I have shares in BP); I know as much as the next man about burning dinners; I know no-one at the University of georgia; I have never been to anyone’s ‘apartment’, nor have I played ping-pong, or ‘whiff-waff’ as Boris Johnson calls it, since I was 15 years old.

But I might have done all those things in the creative mind of a computer program, a bot that could have been set in motion to generate these messages automatically . Add them all together, and you might be looking at a virtual version, a kind of online romance, of… me!

The questions come thick and fast: who is this ‘Jere Saum’, what does he or she want of me? Why is he or she sending me messages about wholly non-existent connections between us? What has it got to do with Iran? What is the mysterious secret behind all these fake Comments, all written in pretty much the same surreal, non-sequiturial style, that could conceivably only have come from the algorithmic pen of a computer?

And how do these messages in particular manage to get past Akismet’s magic Net of Spam, that has already prevented me from seeing five thousand others; many of which might indeed have been welcome and valuable Comments, albeit some possibly abusive and murderous, with a wide-eyed offer to add them to my Posts as if they were genuine – which, quite obviously, they are not?

Naurally, I welcome Mr or Ms Saum’s view that the piece is ‘outstanding’. ‘How to Live in a Stately Home’ is still the most frequently visited of all my Posts, despite my attempts to get readers to come on board with the other 516 ‘outstanding’ articles I have published to date in this, frankly pretty thankless, pursuit.

I occasionally Post requests for money, but none arrives. If I had just two dollars for every Spam message in Akismet’s bulging sack, I could visit Disneyland before I die. Not being a Muslim, I reckon I’d stand a pretty good chance of getting in, despite being an elderly, single, white, bearded atheist in a cardigan and sandals, travelling on his own.

 

This Strange World

Char Wars

‘A vegan cafe in Tbilisi has appealed for public solidarity after being invaded by alleged ultra-nationalists wielding grilled meat and sausages.

‘More than a dozen men stormed into the Kiwi cafe in the Georgian capital on Sunday evening, the cafe said, shouting and throwing meat at patrons. A brawl erupted but the attackers fled before police arrived.’ (BBC News, 31 May)

(Have you tried throwing Kiwi fruit back at them? Wimps! Ed.)

 

When you gotta go…

‘A freedom-of-information request by the BBC has revealed that at least 1,782 public toilets have closed in the last decade, with some councils now offering none.’ (BBC News, 31 May.) NHS advice: ‘People suffering from urinary incontinence can undergo “bladder training”‘ – and should avoid drinking irritants such as alcohol or caffeine.

(In other words, the peeing public can just piss-off. What about elderly gentlemen with oversize prostates, eh? Fuck you. Ed.)

 

Globalisation news

German national airline Lufthansa is stopping flights to and from Caracas because Venezuela has become too poor to support its operations there.

The other reason given is that because of the plunging value of the Bolivar, Lufthansa is unable to expatriate any of the money it makes from ticket sales in Venezuela back to Germany.

Fresh assessment

Following his declaration that he would happily talk to their God, Kim Jong-un, about withdrawing US forces currently protecting one of America’s key trading allies and a democratic bulwark against Chinese expansionism, South Korea, from invasion, an influential North Korean ‘journalist’ has welcomed Donald Trump’s candidacy for the White House, calling him wise and sensible.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is dismissed as merely ‘dull’.

So that’s the Trump vs the Frump.

 

 

 

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