What is it, I wonder, that makes hair migrate southwards with age? Is it because ageing nares can’t look after themselves and need extra protection that some old folk appear to have a rodent nestling up their snout? As far as I am aware science has yet to come up with an answer, though boffins have got their slide rules and calculators out to work out what actually does go on up there. One experimental report reads: “Measurements have been made of the anterior nasal passage and nasal hair of an adult caucasian subject, and calculations have been carried out using fibrous filter theory to determine the deposition efficiency for unit density spherical particles of diameter ranging from 1 nm-40 µm at three steady inspiratory flow rates. For particles > 5 µm, inertial and interception deposition on the nasal hairs was predicted to account for a measurable fraction of the experimentally measured nasal deposition, becoming significant for particles > 20 µm. Diffusion of ultrafine particles to the nasal hair was predicted to be appreciable for particles < 5 nm.” Well, they do say that you learn something every day.

dsc01189.jpg what’s that creature lurking in the undergrowth?
Whatever the explanation for their growth, nasal hairs are often made the butt of ageist jokes, as when the 5 year old wrote “When I go to heaven, I want to see my grandpa again. But he better have lost the nose hair and the old-man smell”. One woman who was hired as an administrative assistant won substantial damages form her employer after her boss had asked her to trim his nasal hairs for him. She pointed out, quite rightly, that such depilatory activities were not part of her job description. Naturally, the modern man cannot allow these follicular excrescences to flourish and the ‘Male Grooming Guide’ by one Shane Corstorphine has some excellent advice to get you started: ‘First things first, trimming unwanted nasal hair will not make them grow back thicker and faster. So relax and feel free to trim any nose hair that you are conscious of.’ (my emphasis) Could anything be more relaxing than feeling free to trim one’s unwanted nasal hairs? How, I wondered, did our world religions tackle this prickly question of hairs in the nose? The Buddhist code of behaviour for monks is quite specific on the matter:”Nasal hairs should not be grown long. (In the origin story to this rule, people objected to bhikkhus with long nasal hairs “like goblins”). Tweezers are allowed for pulling them out; by extension, scissors should also be allowed for trimming them. The Vinaya Mukha notes that nasal hair performs a useful function in keeping dust out of the lungs, and so interprets this rule as applying only to nasal hairs so long that they grow outside the nostrils.” So let any of the offending strands protrude and if you’re not careful you’ll be coming back in your next life as a chihuahua. Islam, showing the tolerance for which it is noted, is much less prescriptive: ‘Muslim law (Sharia) puts hair in three categories: that which it is recommended to remove (pubic and armpit hair), that which it is recommended to keep (the beard), and that which is not the object of any recommendation (foot, hand, back, nasal and chest hair).’ And where does Christianity stand on this? The Bible is deafeningly silent on the question, the only references to noses being in terms of putting rings or cords through them. Unless the Pope has issued an encyclical on the subject without my knowing, I would say that this is a serious failing of the church. Finally, does anyone know what a Bonto is? The Bonto is a new formal type of poetry devised by Edward de Bono for use on the net. There are, he says four lines in each poem.
“Rhyming is aa bb.
Syllables: as yet undecided (5, 6 or 7)

* First line: sets out some extraordinary behaviour. The more bizarre the better.
* Second line: gives the explanation for the bizarre behaviour.
* Third line: gives the result or outcome of the behaviour.
* Fourth line: provides some “philosophical” reflection on life in general but arising from the situation.”
For some reason, nasal hairs feature prominently in this new literary form:

I pulled my nasal hairs
To move myself to tears
Effort lachrymatory
Woe’s unsatisfactory
©Steve Smith & Edward de Bono Creative Team 1997

I plucked my nasal hairs
To beautify my nares
A tear wells in my eye
It’s sad to say goodbye
©Steve Smith & Edward de Bono Creative Team 1997

Wonderful thing, creative writing.


Since some football managers, especially those of England national football teams, seem a bit lost for tactics and have difficulty in beating opponents classed a hundred or so places below them, I offer my advice on winning matches.
1. Overtalk your opponents before the match, say how scared you are, how they are the best team in Europe etc and what wonderful players they are. They will be so big-headed that they won’t even notice where the ball is.
2. Give them a 2 or 3 goal start. Anybody knows that being a few goals up induces complacency, after that they are yours for the picking.
3. Get one of your own players sent off- it’s well known that ten men play better than 11. Play one or two ‘straw men’ as it is known in espionage parlance. If things get really desperate get another two sent off as well, tactically your opponents won’t know what’s hit them.
4. Study what insults are going to wind your opponents up. Casting aspertions on the virtue of their mothers or sisters might work with Latins but not at all with the Scandinavians or Africans. If it’s another team from the British Isles, even implying that you have enjoyed the favours of their current girl friend or unfavourable comparisons between her and the inhabitants of Chessington zoo might not work. Impugning their sartorial taste, size of their member or capacity to hold alcohol, however, almost certainly will. With players of some nationalities references to livestock seem more successful.
5. Get into bed with the referee (not necessarily literally). Referees are sensitive souls so giving them a few words of encouragement, praising their decisions even when they go against you and behaving with ostentatious stoicism when fouled work wonders.
6. Choose players with exceptional physical characteristics- if possible have one player over 6’9 in height, an obese goalkeeper to narrow the opposing strikers’ field of view, one with a large bottom as most goals are sneaked from parts of the anatomy other than the foot and the head; the odd midget of 3 foot and a bit can also come in useful in running between the legs of tall opponents; somebody exceptionally ugly or with a large nose can also unnerve the opposition. Some of the most successful players are still teenagers- consider fielding the odd five or six year old. They know no mercy.

7. Pay players the national minimum wage and give them a modest bonus if they win. Every football fan knows that players whose minds are on their 150k Aston Martin and their next trip to Armani are not going to be interested in kicking a ball about in a muddiy field.
8. Ban sex except for 24 hours after a match that has been won. Sex is like carrots, not bananas- it should be a shimmering light at the end of a glorious tunnel, not a knickerbocker glory that is available any time. Sex to come stimulates; sex in the past enervates.
9. Train your supporters in choral singing and I don’t mean rubbish like ‘You will never walk alone’ and ‘I will survive’. There’s nothing like a few Buxtehudian counterpoints belted out by 60,000 drink sodden Merseysiders to strike terror into the hearts of any team.
10. Have some players in your team with unrponounceable, or at least unwritable names. No referee is going to wasnt to spend five minutes writing down Szckzymnjzy or Lekmankulphrasittiwatnathithornchandrasekhaphon.

bite worse than his bark

October 24, 2006

Under headlines like ‘Toothless FA refuses to bite bullet’, several reports that the footballer Mr. Jermain Defoe has escaped FA punishment for biting the arm of Mr. Javier Mascherano during a football match. ‘Leading referees are dismayed at the message the FA is sending out by not pursuing the case against the striker, fearing a “trickle-down effect” at the lower levels of the game.’ Before long we can expect to see Second Division players grabbing a mouthful of other players’ legs and mass biting brawls in the Natoinwide Conference. Mr Defoe explained ‘I reacted in a bit of a mischievous way; my character is a little like that at times’ but his victim was less philosophical: “To receive a bite was the worst thing that has happened to me since I came to England.” Mr Mascherano has obviously never had to digest a sandwich on a British station, queue at Stansted Airport, sit through a Conservative party conference, or been stuck on the tube, arrested for carrying a nail file or faced any of the other hazards that most people in the UK have to confont. Mr Defoe’s manager, Martin Jol, tried to put the incident in perspective: “He was nibbling his arm. Ask Mascherano if he has got a mark,” said Jol. “It is part of the game”. Interesting that nibbling, which my dictionary defines as ‘gently bite at (a part of the body), especially amorously or nervously’ is now part of the game of football. In my day it was hacking at shine, neither nervously nor amorously. This merely confirms my suspicion that football is no longer a game for real men. Mr Jol also pointed out that biting is found in other sports, like rugby, where, I imagine there is no question of a mere nibble. The sight of all that biteable flesh must be one temptation too many for the normal hot-blodied meat-eating male rugby player.
Of course these incidents pale in comparison with the most famous sports biting of all, when one Mike Tyson used his teeth to carry out some impromptu plastic surgery on the ear of his opponent, an event that prompted Bill Clinton (who knoew a thing or two about biting) to say “I was horrified by it. And I think the American people are.” Post 9/11, however, that incident no longer ranks as the most traumatic event in American history subsequent to Peal Harbour. As one commentator pointed out at the time “What do you expect? Two guys pounding at each other, trying to cave in each other’s skulls: why would a bite be considered animalistic?” I think boxing might be a little more entertaining and less primeval if the contestants were required to nibble each other rather than beat the opponent’s face to a pulp. And if dentures were forbidden it might do wonders for the dental health of one section of the population. I can’t resist quoting what one US sports commentator said at the time: “I love boxing. I love mano a mano.It’s primordal. It’s there, and at its best, it’s balletic.” How much more primordal and balletic diente a diente would be. A couple of images to close:
this, Mr Mascherano, is a bite biting-fingers.jpg (a 19 year-old activist from Beit Sira biting the hand of an Israeli  soldier who arrested him)

and maybe it would not be a good idea to give you a pair of these shorts for Christmas


what a shower!

October 23, 2006

Trouble at t’mill (or in t’shower) as “an MP called for an independent inquiry today after it emerged that the North Yorkshire police force spent more than £28,000 of taxpayers’ money revamping an en-suite shower for its chief constable. He said the £28,400 could have been spent on two community support officers or two new staff at the force’s hard-pressed calls centre. Mr Willis criticised the decision to appoint the clerk to investigate, saying he is “already responsible” for the issue, and insisted an independent review was necessary.” getedimageaspx.jpg Chief Constable Della Cannings had set up an internal inquiry which would ‘look at “any wider implications of the evidence gathered” to see if there are “consequences” for the “fitness for purpose” of the police authority’s contractual arrangements’. There is speculation that any inquiry into the shower would cost at least as much as the shower itself.

I’m sure we all approve of police being thoroughly washed. For one thing, they would be no good at catching people if the criminals could smell them a mile off. And who would call a bobby to a burglary if you knew you had to disinfect the house afterwards? It’s also right for the top cop to be setting an example of fragrancy. And in her defence Chief Constable Della Cannings lamented the fact that ‘the matter had been personalised to her rather than as a chief constable of an organisation with an enormous amount of work going on in its buildings’ some of it pretty messy I’m sure. But I wonder what sort of shower do you get for 28k? Does it have gold taps or something? Is this an example of the police igniting synergy, something they seem so keen on nowadays? More importantly, do clean cops catch more villains? There is clearly a need for research in this area and if the proposition is found to be true compulsory daily finger nail checks for all police should be instituted as a matter of urgency. girlsgetdunked.jpg Rapid response mobile shower units should be set up for cops on the move and the cops in this picture should be reminded that showering fully clothed doesn’t count.shower.jpeg

For the police station here is a shower I can recommend which any police force in the country could be proud of.luxury_steam_shower_cabinet.jpg It has the following features which would no doubt be of considerable value to the modern police force:
“1) Hand held showr on slide rail-easy clean
2) 4 Neck jets, 8 upper body jets and 4 lower body jets
3) All jets with sequential hydromassage settings
4) Shower valve with diverter
5) Computer control panel with remote control and voice acknowledgement
6) Foot massage
7) Radil and 1 speaker with CD and phone facility
8) Steam with time and temperature settings
9) Steam outlet with provision for aromatherapy oils
10) 2 moulded padded seats
11) Lighting-fluorescent overhead
12) Exhaust fan”
Total cost $2199 so you could toss in some shower gel and a police issue loofah and you’d still have change from $3000.

More recommended products for police showers:

b000fncl0401-abvymd8plec2h_scmzzzzzzz_v51556274_.jpg“philosophy the police man men’s gift set
this police man has vowed to protect and soothe. an outstanding common man, this hero works hard to protect the skin from the effects of the potentially dangerous razor blade. he honors the spirit of the true heroes who are the “a” men and women out there protecting and serving all of us every day. this police man set containing a 3.3 ounce common man shaving cream and 2 ounce amen fragrance is the ideal way to tell the hero in your life how much he means to you.”

“The Shower Police: A Gay Erotic Novella by R.W. Clinger
Brett Hide spends a summer as a counselor taking care of a six-pack of boys. When Hide’s cabin roomie, the hot and irresistible, Marco Tuvetti, exposes a sexy secret, As Camp Minnowtah’s Shower Police, Hide learns a few more secrets, particular about his steamy supervisor, Ian Pierce. As Pierce showers and Hide’s on duty, Hide runs into a sticky situation, which entails lust, obsession, and a likeness for another man’s skin”. (Hmm maybe not).

long-handled-loofah.jpg“Our long-handled loofah sponge is great for reaching those hard-to-reach areas. No plastic here except for the grip; this is a genuine wooden handle and an all-natural loofah sponge. If there was such a thing as an heirloom-quality long handled loofah sponge, this would be it. Not only does it gently exfoliate, it works great as a back scratcher!” (comes in pretty handy when you can’t find your truncheon, too.)

An interesting article, found by the Times religious blogger  and referred to in an excellent post on the MadPriest’s enjoyable blog, about the origin of the hijab and the burqa.

Living in poverty, “Muhammad had to house his wives in places with very primitive or non-existent toilet/sanitary facilities. He had no choice but to ask his wives to go to an open field nearby and answer the call of nature…….The new converts of Islam were so haplessly poor that they even had no shelter and privacy to engage in sexual intercourse. The only place where they could satisfy this biological need was in the open sky. Thus, having sexual intercourse in open field was also common.”
Muhammad asked Allah what he should do to avoid the women being pestered by the local menfolk and received the answer “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad)”. I am delighted to know that Allah expressly gave permission for ladies to answer the varied calls of nature out in the fields, though I think I will delay my conversion. For one thing, I don’t think I could afford all the wives (though that might solve another little problem I have).
Here. Northern Thai beliefs require me to ask permission of the spirits before relieving myself in the countryside. I assume permission is granted, not having had any indication to the contrary. Unfortunately many people seem to adopt the same stance when tipping rubbish in the negihbouring woods, although I have several times asked the spirits to refuse any requests firmly. This need to ask the spirits is just one of the irrational beliefs that litter the landscape out here, like not cutting hair or nails on a Wednesday, not whistling when there’s a storm or pointing at rainbows. Although  intellectually such beliefs, like the restrictions of martial law, are pretty dubious, I can live my life reasonably well around them. And until someone requires me to wear a burqa I will continue to satisfy my biological needs according to Allah’s wishes.

just a kiss

October 17, 2006

there’s more to kissing than meets the eye…
kiss.jpg images.jpg arafat-kiss.jpg

terrorist-kiss1-afp.jpg _41623756_dott_kiss_trophy_bbc203.jpg president-bush-kissing-condoleezza-rice.jpg   kissing-fish.jpg

I see that TV presenter Jonathan Ross got into some tepid water over his suggestion that some people should be banned from giving birth. According to the BBC there were ‘more than 60 (ie 61) complaints’. I find that remarkably few. Since I guess the number of people watching that particular show was at least double that number, I take it that probably over half saw nothing to object to in the idea. I would also make a bet that some of those who did complain, if they gave the matter a moment’s thought, might also think his idea had some merit. After all there are pretty clear guidelines on who can and cannot adopt a child so why not on who can beget one. There’a stiff test to see if you can control a motor vehicle so why not one equally searching to see if you are capable of the much more tricky task of controlling an infant. On the whole I prefer this to Mr Ross’s idea of putting something in the water supply- there are tests for so many things these days including who is entitled to be British so I don’t one extra one would be too much of an imposition.
The test for adoption actually looks to me rather less than stringent. The only people red carded are “People convicted of certain violent or sexual offences, or offences against children (or who have household members who are convicted of such offences); people (including household members) with any kind of conviction in the last two years (except motoring offences); someone under 21. After that it all gets a bit too free and easy for my liking:
‘Applicants do not need to be well off and may be on benefits. Applicants will not be automatically excluded if they have had problems with the law, but we need to understand the circumstances at the time and any likely implications for the future. Violent offences will generally disqualify applicants unless there are very special circumstances. We do not have an upper age limit. We’d rather you didn’t smoke, we wouldn’t reject your application to foster or adopt just for this reason We also wouldn’t turn down your application if you were overweight, but our medical advisor would look at the issue and how it affects your ability to be an active parent’
I would go further than that in a prospective parenting test and rule out smokers, people with body-piercing, people who watch ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’, regular churchgoers, politicians, professional wrestlers, men who use aftershave, fans of Mel Gibson or snooker, psychologists and anyone who has participated in or endorses fox-hunting. That’s just for starters. Until recently I would also have excluded people with tattooes or black nail varnish. People not excluded woould be allowed to be in temporary charge of an infant ofr an hour or two (under close supervision). In addition there would be a test in two parts, the first, theoretical, designed to test your knowledge of signs of infant disobedience and how to deal with them as well as common hazards in raising children such as noisy, impertinent or otherwise unruly behaviour.. There would then be a ‘road test’ in which the examiner would test your ability to subdue a number of infants of different types and in different situations as well as your ability to react to an emergency like a child swallowing a golf ball or putting a sibling in the microwave. You would be asked to conduct one or more manoeuvres used by skilled parents such as reversing a decision not to punish a child, making a U-turn when you’ve rashly agreed to buy the child a new toy and not cutting corners when it comes to strict observance of family rules. You would also have to deal with roundabout situations, preferably by avoiding them. That should sort out the sheep from the goats. With any luck, I would never have got past the theoretical part.