Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Horse of the day

This should also be called Apology of the Day. I have been neglecting this blog shamefully. I am in the south, away from my desk, desperately trying to combine an enormous amount of work with family life with my cousins. I am used to living alone, where I have the luxury of great expanses of time. As a result, I get hopelessly behind when I am in a different environment.

Anyway, I do not love the Daily Mail website, but sometimes I have to look at it for my work. As I went there today, I found this rather enchanting equine story. I don't know if it because there are horses here, and I have been riding, but it touched my my heart in a keen way.

Have a look; it really is incredibly moving. And the photographs are astonishing. You can see it here.

Picture is of the three horses I have been spending time with today. They are a little woolly and muddy after being in the field all winter, but very charming, nonetheless:

Friday, 17 February 2012

Jaw-dropping thing of the day

If I had my way, I would put up Rachel Maddow clips every day. She has a particular genius for teasing out the astonishing stories that the rest of the media gloss over. She has been on about the really strange and alarming vaginal probe law that is being passed in Virginia for a few days now. Yesterday, she brought that together with  Bob Dole, Viagra, and Rick Santorum. For anyone interested in politics and morality and hypocrisy, it is a brilliant mix. Also, you get the bonus of watching the very professional Andrea Mitchell actually lost for words, live on air. It's fourteen minutes, which is long in internet terms, but it is worth every moment of your time:

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Funniest thing on the internet of the day

I think I come rather late to this; I have a suspicion it has been flying about for a while. But it is the kind of thing that is so funny it makes tears come out at right angles, as my old Irish godmother used to say. I really would not listen to it in a public place, for fear of embarrassment.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Dog of the day

Sometimes, it is important to have something uncomplicatedly lovely on which to rest your eyes:

Yes yes yes YES of the day

I have long loved Eugene Robinson, most excellent and wise writer for the Washington Post. Interestingly, the spat about religion vs secularism is being played out in America at the moment in a very similar way to here, mostly because of the Republican primaries. (I have written about my bafflement over Rick Santorum on this blog before.)

Robinson nails this nuttiness much, much better than I ever could, and with humour and lightness of touch, where I get grumpy and earnest. I take off all my hats. You can read it here.

Uncredited picture of Mr Robinson:

Odd religious argument of the day

I genuinely do not understand today's broadside against Richard Dawkins by Stephen Pollard. It made me fretful and cross, and I blogged about it at awful length on the other blog.

It's not the specific Dawkins thing; he can look after himself. It's the wider fury at secularism. Have a read here and see what you think.

Because all this religious fighting is making me so grumpy and sad (see Baroness Warsi yesterday), I'm going to put up a beautiful picture of a horse instead of anything germane. Although you could say that equine loveliness is very close to godliness, if you were so inclined. It is transcendent, anyway.

Here you are - my absolute favourite fellow, Kauto Star, whose name I shall be shouting up the hill at Cheltenham in March:

Kauto Star

Absolutely ravishing photograph found on the BBC website; photographer sadly uncredited. But very talented, whoever she or he is.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dog of the day

My own little canine star:

Awards ceremony of the day

I did not know there were awards for best film dog. I do now. They are called the Golden Collars. Very funny slideshow from The Guardian here.

Golden Collar awards:  Vince along with B-Dawg arrive at first annual Golden Collar Awards
Adorable picture by Gus Ruelas for Reuters.

Inexplicable statement of the day

I try not to get cross about my atheism. I think of it as a quiet, personal thing. My default mode is: each to each is what we teach. (Which of course originally came from from each according to his ability etc etc, but which I have bastardised into everyone must think what they will, as long as it is not cruel and unusual.)

The weedy liberal in me thinks: there is good and ill in the religious and the secular. It really is not four legs good, two legs bad. Religion does horrifying things - child abuse, blowing people up, oppression of women - and marvellous things - charity, solace for the afflicted, needed human ritual. Secularists may be anything from the selfless carer to the homicidal maniac.

Then Baroness Warsi comes along and compares me to a totalitarian regime. (Yes, I damn well am taking this personally.) Militant secularism, she says, is taking over society, and demonstrating traits last seen under totalitarians, by which she must mean Stalin, Mao, the Jong-ils, or similar. At which point, the muscular liberal in me stands up and starts shouting about freedom of expression and thought. The pedant starts yelling about intellectual laziness.

I really do try to avoid ad hominem, but this is such a stupid thing to say. It is simplistic, offensive, and empirically incorrect. Why would anyone in public life think this is an interesting or useful thing to state? Quite apart from being provably wrong, it has no utility.

You can read all about her very odd speech here, and see why it made me quite so grumpy. If anyone says anything else like that, I shall have to start going about invading places and getting the populace to perform daily leader worship. Because that is what we secularists really, really like.

The Guardian also covers it here.

Rather brilliant photograph sadly uncredited.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Dog of the day

Taken in the late afternoon, in a fading, rose pink light that suddenly appeared after an unremittingly black day:

Riveting political hypocrisy of the day

Rick Santorum, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, will soon disappear from public consciousness, as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney duke it out. But before he does, it is worth contemplating something interesting about his candidacy. He has, from the very beginning, wrapped himself in the cloak of piety, religious belief, and general godliness. Whenever challenged about his policies on homosexuality and abortion, he always states that he stands where he stands because his bible tells him so. Christianity, in this case, is automatically conflated with goodness and kindness. His policies might sound harsh, but they cannot be, by definition, because of the milk and honey of his devout belief.

The little-observed oddity about Rick Santorum is that he does not seem to be a very nice man. I very rarely do ad hominem in politics, because I think it is often cheap and unfair. If you present yourself as good and kind and faithful though, you must expect those claims to be examined. There are numerous video clips from the campaign trail where Rick Santorum becomes impatient, dismissive and even aggressive when faced with dissent. I noticed this in particular with a group of bright, engaged university students, who were asking him about gay marriage. Instead of debating with them, he hectored and talked over them, in a most unChristian fashion.

Rachel Maddow, who goes where the rest of the press pack do not, has picked up on this, and had a brilliant segment on it in her show this week. She shows two really shocking moments, where Santorum loftily ignores, even mocks, the concerns of a brave little boy who asked him a question (I am always incredibly impressed by children who are bold enough to do this; it must be so nerve-wracking) and a mother with a child suffering from cancer. These are not hardy political opponents or toughened hacks. They are very ordinary members of the public, in some ways the most vulnerable among us: a worried mother, a young child. Santorum acts as if they count for nothing.

I don't know quite what I take from all this. But I was shocked. The Maddow segment is quite long, sixteen minutes, but if you have any interest in politics, morality, and people acting on their beliefs rather than just mouthing them, it's really worth a watch.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Dog of the Day

Slideshow of the day

Is over at The Guardian, and combines the two enchanting traits of good photography and rampant adorableness.

See it here.

One example, by Helen J Arnold:

Unlikely animals friends: The pitbull, siamese cat and chicks

Extremely funny thing of the day

This was not necessarily supposed to be a comical blog. I am traditionally a little suspicious of all those cats/babies/teenagers doing hilarious things on the YouTube. But it turns out that the people on my Twitter stream have most discerning taste. They truffle out the funny like Basset hounds. (Did I just compare the people I follow on Twitter to dogs? Although, coming from me, that is a high compliment.)

Anyway, @liz_buckley found this list of proverbs as completed by students. I think it is a work of genius. My favourite by far: 'The pen is mightier than the pigs'. I don't think you can argue with that.

I always like to put up a picture with each post. Usually I type whatever the subject is into the Google, see what comes up, and hope it is apposite. If you type in proverbs you get an awful lot of faux numinous nonsense, because the bots think you mean the biblical version, rather than the stitch in time saves nine version. But as I waded through, I found this lovely, gentle, uncredited photograph. It has nothing to do with anything proverbial, but I just liked it:

Thursday, 2 February 2012


I'm really sorry about the capital letters, but it is THAT FUNNY. Do not watch whilst in the presence of important people, as there is a very real danger that snot will shoot spontaneously out of your nose.

I've never heard of the Bad Lip Reading people before, but thanks to @archiebland on Twitter, I now know they are comical and technical geniuses. Today, they take on Rick 'man on dog' Santorum. And, oh do they take him.

My favourite line: I just want to practice soft algebra, please.

Interesting Scottish analysis of the day

Is from Alex Massie in The Speccie. I am still struggling with the arguments for and against independence. He brings up an element of the debate I had not yet thought about. . Read it here.

Oh, and the takeaway, as the political bloggers say, is that Mr Salmond is not persuading the ladies. Interesting.

Any excuse to put up a picture of a highland coo. This one is from Wikipedia:

PS. I was going to say that Massie gets bonus points for using the word 'trumed'. I assumed this was from some marvellous Scottish dialect, and carried a subtle meaning that only those north of the border would truly understand. Having not found it in any dictionary, I went back and looked at the context, and realised it was just a plain old typing error. It should have read 'trumped'. Still, I think trumed sounds beautiful and am going to attempt to make up a meaning for it, and get it into common parlance.