Here are some things that you might like to read.

Topless of the Pops
90s girl band All Saints today made shocking allegations about the BBC’s Top of the Pops programme:

They said the music show’s makers wanted to film them from the shoulders up to create the illusion they were performing naked.
“They were filming images of us to use as a backdrop and they wanted us to take our tops off.”

This took place in the late 90s, but there was no mention of this in 2006 when All Saints reformed, disastrously. However, since the Jimmy Savile story broke in 2012, Top of the Pops is now known not to have had the cleanest of reputations. Still, it’s taken All Saints an additional four years to come forward with these allegations, coincidentally in the same month that they relaunched their band.

Sun in an 8
Here’s what the sun looks like if you take pictures of it at the same time each week for a year.


Pretty cool, ne?

This tracking pattern of the sun is called a Solar Analemma and is formed as a result of the earth’s axis’ 23½º tilt. Useful images (like the one above by Jesús Peláez) include a local landmark (like the one above incorporating Burgos Cathedral in Spain) to provide perspective and avoid any sort of “drift”. You can delve as deep as you want into this one – here’s an interesting site.

Peninsular Removal Services
Are apparently still up to their no good tricks.

Malik Jalal is on the Kill List
The fascinating story of a man the USA are apparently trying to kill. 

The next attack came on 3 September 2010. That day, I was driving a red Toyota Hilux Surf SUV to a ‘Jirga’, a community meeting of elders. Another red vehicle, almost identical to mine, was some 40 meters behind. When we reached Khader Khel, a missile blew up the other vehicle, killing all four occupants. I sped away, with flames and debris in my rear view mirror.

Two sides to every story, and sure, this is his (in the Independent, the biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore), but maybe while he’s over in Blighty, the US might at least like to hear what he has to say.

Staying with death…

The Assad Files
A long, LONG, harrowing read, but worth it if you have the time. The story of those trying to bring Bashar al-Assad to justice for war crimes in Syria. And those who are trying to help from within, together with the sometimes comical difficulties they face:

Large extractions often depend on friendly countries to negotiate openings in otherwise sealed borders, so captured documents can remain hidden for months. On one occasion, several thousand pages of evidence were left with an old woman in a remote farmhouse in southern Syria, but the investigator didn’t explain the significance of the files. When winter came, Wiley said, “in fairness, she was cold, so she burned the whole lot of it as fuel.”

That’s the lighter side, and there’s not much of it.

New $5 note upsets Aussies
Yeah… that is pretty ugly.

NGB5_Queen_side_-_mock_up_specimen_image_-_blue_background_-_JPG_300dpi   NGB5_Parliament_side_-_mock_up_specimen_image_-_blue_background_-_JPG_300dpi

The E.coli are apparently actually wattle, and the technicolour bird is an eastern spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris).


Now, you’re up to speed.

Welcome to South Africa

With newspapers, the internet and social media full of images which have proved difficult to handle for ruling politicians all over the world, while offering unprecedented opportunities for slacktivism and cheap, opposition bandwagon-jumping and point-scoring, we finally have some clarity from our own Government on the current refugee crisis. Geographically, we may be rather distant from the current troubles, but in these days of the global community, no country is exempt from making excuses statements about the problems. Thankfully, our erstwhile Minister of Home Affairs broke his silence and had this to say:

We note the situation in Syria and the surrounding regions with alarm and disappointment. Despite the fact independent figures suggest that over 95% of the civilians killed in Syria over the past four years have been at the hands of President Assad, whom we tacitly support through our partnerships with Russia and Vladimir Putin, we maintain that these problems are clearly the result of the evil, imperialist, neo-colonial Western powers and their political and military interference in the region.

As Africans, we are culture-bound to extend the spirit of Ubuntu to those in peril, especially those who find themselves needing to cross borders in haste, as we recently demonstrated with our role in assisting President Omar al-Bashir in safely returning to his homeland. In addition, in defying the imperialist agenda of the ICC’s puppet-masters, his safe return to Khartoum will allow us, without any suggestion of irony, to further demonstrate our role in conveniently overlooking the 5.5 million individuals displaced from his homeland.

South Africa has long been known for its open, welcoming arms to those from other nations. Who could forget the warmth we infamously showed Ernesto Nhamuave back in 2008? It is with this in mind that we will open our otherwise secure, conventionally impenetrable borders to those displaced by the turmoil in Syria, those who have had to hurriedly evacuate their homes, those often forced to leave their possessions, and members of their close families behind.

* Incoming refugees will be asked to provide suitable paperwork, including identity documents, passports, the original unabridged birth certificates of any individuals below the age of 18, and a certified Affidavit giving consent to travel from any absent parent named on the aforementioned original unabridged birth certificate. It should also be noted that any Syrian national wishing to enter the Republic of South Africa is also required to provide a valid visa for their entry into the country. This visa can be obtained from the South African embassy in Damascus. Appointments are available between 12-2pm on the first Wednesday of alternate months, subject to the absence of military activity in the Jadet Kouraish, West Mezzeh area of the city. Visas cost $500 per person. Cash only.

Ha. Your move, UK.

Amazon offers free UK delivery on cruise missiles

Incoming from my brother – not literally though, I hope:

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We’ve had some weird ads here on the blog – mainly for pseudoscientific charlatans – but that’s because I blog about them from time to time. I’m not quite sure what my brother was searching for here, but I hope he didn’t buy it.

Incidentally, Amazon’s delivery charges to Syria are astronomical, which was probably what put the UK parliament off.

“So, what’s it going to be?”

Bashar Al-Assad taunts US and allies in new web article.

With the world on tenterhooks over the situation in his country, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has written an open letter to the West taunting them over their seeming lack of options with regard to intervention (or not) in Syria:

Well, here we are. It’s been two years of fighting, over 100,000 people are dead, there are no signs of this war ending, and a week ago I used chemical weapons on my own people. If you don’t do anything about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. If you do something about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. Morally speaking, you’re on the hook for those deaths no matter how you look at it.

So, it’s your move, America. What’s it going to be?

I’ve looked at your options, and I’m going to be honest here, I feel for you. Not exactly an embarrassment of riches you’ve got to choose from, strategy-wise. I mean, my God, there are just so many variables to consider, so many possible paths to choose, each fraught with incredible peril, and each leading back to the very real, very likely possibility that no matter what you do it’s going to backfire in a big, big way. It’s a good old-fashioned mess, is what this is! And now, you have to make some sort of decision that you can live with.

And he’s right, of course. This a complete no win situation for the West. And with Russia and China strongly backing Al-Assad regime, there’s the danger of things going all sorts of Taylor Swift if the US and chums move in.
Here in SA, we’re tucked away from the military side of things, but we’re still economically involved (as a developing economy, we’re the first to get shafted by this sort of unrest) and, of course, politically. Basically, the SA government will side strongly against the US on anything it can. So that means that tacitly, we’re fully in support of Syria using chemical weapons on its own men, women and children.


It’s also interesting to note how politicians have dealt with the situation: UK opposition leader Ed Milliband, for example, has said this week that his party would back military action and also that his party would not back military action. So that’s fairly clear then.

Al-Assad leaves us with this chilling warning:

Long story short, I’m going to keep doing my best to hold on to my country no matter what the cost. If that means bombing entire towns, murdering small children, or shooting at UN weapons inspectors, so be it. I’m in this for the long haul. And you will do…whatever it is you’re going to do, which is totally up to you. Your call.

The man’s a cold, calm, calculated nutter.

No easy way out of this, and sadly there’ll be no good news coming out of Syria any time soon.

Oh, and for those of you who have been bothered to read this far down, yes, I’m completely aware that it’s a satirical article from a satirical website.