Quirky facts

1) The cruise liner, QE2, moves only 6 inches for each gallon of diesel it burns.

2) A million seconds is less than two weeks, but a billion seconds is 31 years.

3) If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.


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Book Review: Sir Henry Howarth Bashford ~ Augustus Carp, Esq., by Himself (1924)

Sometimes I chase up references and with the magic of Google and Amazon read reviews of books I’ve never heard by authors who’s names have long disappeared. If they’re not too expensive, I buy them. Not every move outside my comfort zone is successful but on this occasion I was richly rewarded. To say the least this isn’t a 21st century book. It’s much, much better.

Augustus Carp is a self-righteous prig, bigot, sexist warrior, sanctimonious church goer, intellectual coward, social climber, utterly treacherous, proudly obese and so self-absorbed he can’t understand anything which conflicts with his world-view.

Bashford’s book is a deathless satire filled with dead pan humour. It’s so well written that Carp is plausible!

I can’t recommend this book enough.

Take courage and buy it https://www.amazon.co.uk/Augustus-Himself-Henry-Howarth-Bashford/dp/0486812871/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1552563940&sr=1-1&keywords=augustus+carp+by+himself


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A Beautiful New Council Development

A new build housing development
Who, could deny, the need
But, as in these multi-pound deals
Might there be, an element of greed?

Cram it dense, build it high
Blot the landscape, the rich will buy
But first, destroy the trees
The order made, as a communicable disease.

Arboriculturalist arrive, their power saws in hand
What was a green and pleasant place
Now a sad and ravished land
Symmetry space, now of shredded torn lace.

The open backed lorry, towing its gruesome shredder
The latter screamed for endless hours
As severed limbs, fed the soulless beast
Men nourished that high priest.

Stumps of once mature majestic trees
Protrude above the soil
Like naked backbone spines
In rows their soulless silent lines.

For years the spring displayed
The beauty of their flowers
Japanese cherry, apple blossom
No more, to laugh in the breeze.

Even the ornamental, Pampas grass – destroyed
As if the Council’s beauty surveyors
Were so annoyed, make way, make way –
They would say, for tarmac and solid concrete.

Forget what was once, that’s gone for good
The open lawns, that copse of wood,
Where the bees and hedgehogs wandered
Their future’s playground, purposely squandered.

Cram it dense, build it high
Who wants to see trees
Who wants to see sky
Isn’t this plan —

A Beautiful; New Council development?



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Karl Marx’s favourite painting

Workers before the city council, Dusseldorf

They are presenting a petition of protest to the city fathers of Düsseldorf in an opulent council chamber. Through a large window, an orator can be seen in the square outside addressing a raging crowd. Marx loved this painting for its stark depiction of what he saw as class conflict. In a rave review for the New York Tribune, he [Karl Marx] praised Hasenclever for conveying in one image a state of affairs that a progressive writer could only hope to analyse over many pages of print.


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Nazi Doctors, Sexism and Lung Cancer

In Hitler’s opinion women should have focused solely on Kinder, Kuche, Kirche1 . German sexism predated Hitler. This created a beneficial situation for Nazi doctors. Women provided a huge control group for their epidemiological studies into lung cancer.2 They knew many men got lung cancer but women, in general, didn’t. The question was: Why? Nazi doctors discovered a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. The Nazi machine attempted to reduce tobacco use using the law and PR. Nazi discoveries about lung cancer were obliterated by a complete distaste for all their medical research. Most Nazi doctors were members of the SS so this further damned their research.

The Nazi ideal family

Hitler was a teetotal, non-smoking, vegetarian who believed in racial purity and the Master Race. Nazi science was focused on fulfilling Hitler’s beliefs. No specific orders were necessary as everyone was ‘working towards the Fuhrer’. Focussing on Hitler’s beliefs led to eugenics, the Holocaust, and dehumanising non-Germans and those Germans with significant disabilities, in brief, the complete perversion of medical scientific research. Nazi lung cancer research, on the other hand, was a triumph, which followed international procedures.

Sport, diet and healthy lifestyles were promoted throughout Nazi Germany.3 Nazi doctor Werner Huttig’s research proved tobacco damaged unborn children.4 Research at the prestigious Institute for the Struggle Against Tobacco Hazards at Jena University was led by Karl Astel. It was based on the pragmatic belief, We cannot change our genes, but at least we can safeguard them from future damage.”5 The Nazis were attempting to protect their citizens from a known hazard by using research into the harm tobacco caused. Jena University was well funded and this research had a high priority for the Nazis and, specifically, Hitler himself.

SS Doctor Karl Astel

Karl Astel was the director of Jena University and epitomises why Nazi science was ditched in the post-war period. Astel was a high ranking SS officer. He embraced Nazi philosophy, committing barbaric experiments in his so-called medical research projects. He committed suicide to avoid execution before the Nazi Doctors Trial,6 1946-7, even began. Only seven of twenty-three doctors on trial were executed and those who were jailed didn’t serve their full sentence. (The Allies had an amoral attitude towards Nazi scientists. They were an intellectual elite and had soft skills, which normal SS thugs didn’t have. They also often had skills that were in demand. The case of Wernher von Braun, the rocket scientist, is the most egregious example.)

A Nazi anti-smoking poster

Nazi research into tobacco’s effect drove policy. The Nazis were very keen to translate research into social action.
The Nazi anti-tobacco campaign included banning smoking in trams, buses, and city trains, promoting health education, limiting cigarette rations in the Wehrmacht, organizing medical lectures for soldiers, and raising the tobacco tax. The Nazis also imposed restrictions on tobacco advertising and smoking in public spaces, and regulated restaurants and coffee houses.7
The Nazis even identified passive smoking as a health hazard to non-smokers, hence the regulations in restaurants and the workplace.

They had compelling evidence and they used to it to try to create the pure society they craved. The tragedy of Astel’s Jena University research group was that they were grouped in with the horrific SS medical barbarisms. The result was that in Britain it took 75 years to catch up with Nazi Germany’s anti-smoking campaigns at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.

1 Children, Kitchen, Church

2 Epidemiological studies Epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why. Epidemiological information is used to plan and evaluate strategies to prevent illness and as a guide to the management of patients in whom disease has already developed.


3 “Nazi Germany was governed by a health-conscious political elite bent on European conquest and genocidal extermination..”


4 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sI6eBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA971&lpg=PA971&dq=werner+huttig&source=bl&ots=NGRn-riiVz&sig=ACfU3U11b8zoYh4dY8PRjopYfdLWqdlwgQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiqr9Wm7e3gAhVgThUIHb1EDowQ6AEwAnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=werner%20huttig&f=false

see also the work done on tobacco and reduced fertility of women


Hitler helped finance Jena https://www.uwomj.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/v78n1.53-57.pdf

5 https://www.uwomj.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/v78n1.3-57.pdf

6 Surprisingly Astel might have made a mistake as many SS doctors got relatively light sentences. Martin Staemmler, for example, carried on as a doctor- researcher in the post-war period. https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/special-focus/doctors-trial

For Staemmler see where he was implicated in the thalidomide scandal


7 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-tobacco_movement_in_Nazi_Germany When the British government introduced similar measures in 2007 this was characterised as being ‘brave’.

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Jack Benny* on Abraham Lincoln

Any man who would walk five miles through the snow, barefoot, just to return a library book so he could save three cents – that’s my kind of guy

An American comedian from the mid-20th century now forgotten.

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Book Review: Ian Rankin ~ In a house of lies (2018)

Ian Rankin is a magnificent storyteller. His principal character and main achievement is Rebus. Rebus has been developed by Rankin in a way that other crime writers have not. Rebus is now old, ill with COPD, and retired.

Rankin however can’t let go. Rebus is involved in a major crime investigation in a way which, I suspect police officers, would find risible. It doesn’t matter. Disbelief is always suspended when a master craftsman is hard at work. (After all the TV series Taggart continued when the star, Mick McManus died (1994). The TV production company didn’t even change the name of the series.)

Rankin’s ensemble of characters continue as well. The master criminal, the female detective and a supporting cast of others. On this occasion Rankin has created pantomime detectives, Edwards and Steele, who get their comeuppance.

It’s all hugely satisfactory for the devotee.


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