Archive for August, 2012

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It isn’t often that there is the opportunity to report a victory of the common man over the banksters. But a few years ago one did happen when a 71-year-old British farmer, from Northumberland, won a £300,000 settlement from his bank after what he described as years of frustration and pain.

Although the bank settled, shortly before the case went to the British High Court, the farmer, Mr David Cannon, said he still felt as though he had not got justice. “They could give me every penny on the planet, but it still couldn’t put it right. It’s taken 10 years away from me. To them it’s monopoly money, but to me it’s all I’ll get.”

His problem was with the National Westminster Bank plc, and began in May 1990. It centered on £70,000 which Mr Cannon claimed went missing somewhere between his own account, his son’s personal and business accounts and an account belonging to his son’s business partner.

He is convinced the money had disappeared gradually during “dozens and dozens” of transfers between the accounts. Naturally the NatWest Bank always strongly denied that the money went astray.

The legal proceedings started way back in 1991, and the Cannons were forced to sell their 300-strong herd of prize-winning Ayrshire cows to fund their case. Mr Cannon said: “It was heart-breaking having to sell the herd, and soon I, and especially my wife, had problems with our health.”

After four-and-a-half years of deadlock with the legal proceedings Mr Cannon decided enough was enough. He borrowed a muck-spreader and chugged into Newcastle-upon-Tyne on his tractor.

In a little over two minutes, he blasted four tons of slurry over NatWest’s Mosley Street branch.

Phew!!!

Stonemasons spent two weeks clearing up and Mr Cannon was fined £2,000. But undeterred, a year later, he subjected the bank’s Ponteland branch to the same exterior decoration.

He really was giving them shit!

Still the dispute dragged on, until December 1998, by which time Mr Cannon had lost patience once again. This time he blocked the door of the Grey Street branch of the bank with his tractor.

Ten months later he returned to the Ponteland branch, baffling staff by measuring the entrance. The next day he forced the doors open with his tractor and barricaded himself inside, nailing fence rails across the doorway. This bank job cost him another £600.

His final fling occurred the following June 12, when he dumped a five-ton load of shit on the doorstep of the Ponteland branch and returned to his farm – pursued by police. Amazingly, he managed to reload and chugged back to the bank, where he made a second five-ton deposit. A low-speed chase ensued, the police puncturing the 10mph tractor’s tyres with a ‘stinger’.

Mr Cannon was charged with criminal damage, dangerous driving, driving without an excise licence and failing to stop for a police officer. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence and ordered to pay £845.60 compensation plus £250 costs.

Mr Cannon, a former bare-knuckle boxer, said: “But fortunately it was in my nature to fight them. Breeding cattle was my life.”

The bank, NatWest issued a token 63-word statement which denied any admission of liability. They refused to add to it when questioned by reporters.

Simon Pitkeathley of the British Bankers’ Association, says angry customers would do better to follow the conventional complaints procedure or move your account elsewhere, said: “Mr Cannon’s behaviour obviously can’t be condoned.”

But I liked it. Good one Mr C.

The big question is, by awarding £300,000 to a man who has taken direct action, has the bank set a dangerous precedent for those distressed customers contemplating direct action? Wouldn’t it be great if they were in for loads more shi……I mean, bother?

 

Farmer David Cannon giving his bank some shit

Farmer David Cannon giving his bank some shit

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Have you ever had awkward moments when you feel a bit stupider than normal? Thankfully I am not as intellectually challenged as the people who feature in this blog, and, of course, neither are you. But I have had my moments!

For example I have been at serious business meetings in hotels where everybody leaves at the same time. We go outside, say our goodbyes, shake hands  –  and then we all set off walking in the same direction! FFS!!!

There are lots of others too. Here are just some of the classics.

Enjoy!

 

 

That awkward moment when someone says “Hello!” and you say “Good thanks!”

(Okay, so there are times I don’t really listen.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you don’t know whether you should tell someone they have food wedged between their teeth.

(I always leave that job to someone else.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you notice someone’s zipper is down but you don’t want to say anything because you don’t have a good excuse for why you were looking there in the first place.

(So many euphemisms for this one. The awkward bit is when you are talking to someone so dumb they can’t take the hint.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you’re trying to get over someone you weren’t even dating.

(This actually did happen to a friend of mine, the dork!)

 

 

That awkward moment when you don’t know if you should hug someone or not.

(Americans are huggers, continental Europeans are kissers on both cheeks, but the British find the whole idea repulsive and usually recoil in terror – awkward or what?)

 

 

That awkward moment when you try to exit through a closed glass door.

(I’ve posted videos about this one – very funny when it happens to other people.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you pull the push door even though it’s clearly signed.

(I’ve done this one, happens a lot if you are preoccupied with other things.)

 

 

That awkward moment when someone asks you how far along you are, and you are not pregnant.

(Whoops!)

 

 

That awkward moment when someone asks when your baby is due and you had your baby two years ago.

(Double whoops!!)

 

 

That awkward moment when you don’t know which arm rest is yours at the cinema.

(Or which cup holder to stick your drink in. Is there a rule? They haven’t told me??)

 

 

That awkward moment when you get stuck in a bean bag.

(Never a bean bag, but got stuck in a leather chair once, maybe blog about that one.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you arrive at the party and see someone else wearing the same dress.

(Personally I don’t wear dresses, but I can see how it might be awkward.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you’re singing Happy Birthday but you don’t know the name of the person so you just mumble the name part.

(Semi-pro at this one.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you’re talking to someone but you can’t remember their name, so you try to avoid introducing them to the person you’re with.

(Gold medalist if this was an Olympic sport.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you try to sneak a photo of someone but the flash goes off.

(You’d have to know how to work the camera on your phone for this one.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you realize you’ve kept talking after the call dropped out.

(Since the arrival of cell phones who hasn’t had this one happen at least once?)

 

 

That awkward moment when unexpected visitors arrive at 11am and you’re still in your PJ’s.

(Haven’t done this one yet, I just wouldn’t let them in.)

 

 

That awkward moment when you see someone that looks like someone you know, and you scream their name, and it’s not them.

(Well maybe not scream, but I have got names mixed up once or twice.)

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I’m going to run a short series of ‘Witty One-Liners’ from the late great comedian, George Carlin.

I didn’t agree with everything George believed in or everything he said, but the man had a great gift of looking at life from a slightly different, and very humorous, perspective than most people.

I hope you enjoy them too.

George Carlin

George Carlin

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If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?

 

Is there another word for synonym?

 

If you take an Oriental person and spin him around several times, does he become disoriented?

 

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

 

Why are a ‘wise man’ and a ‘wise guy’ opposites?  

 

Why do ‘overlook’ and ‘oversee’ mean opposite things?

 

Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

 

If it’s true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

 

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

 

Swimming is not a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning. That’s just common sense!

 

A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.

 

Have you ever noticed that their ‘stuff’ is shit and your ‘shit’ is stuff?

 

You can’t fight City Hall, but you can goddamn sure blow it up.

 

If the Cincinnati Reds were really the first major league baseball team, who did they play?

 

No one knows what’s next, but everybody does it.

 

The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

 

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.

 

Just when I discovered the meaning of life, they changed it.

 

Weather forecast for tonight: Dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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First, let me put your mind at rest, today is a test that isn’t really a test, so don’t worry.

Instead I have a selection of twenty curious questions, some of which can be answered, others perhaps not.

But they are worth thinking about, and, they might, I hope, make you smile too.

Enjoy!

 

 

1.  Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

 

2.  Is it wrong for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers?

 

3.  If people from Poland are called ‘poles’ are people from Holland called ‘holes’?

 

4.  Can you cry under water?

 

5.  Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

 

6.  What is another word for thesaurus?

 

7.  Why is ‘abbreviation’ such a long word?

 

8.  What do they use to ship styrofoam?

 

9.  When sign makers go on strike, what do their signs say?

 

10. Is it okay to shoot tourists during tourist season?

 

11. Why can’t we tickle ourselves?

 

12. Why does the word ‘monosyllabic’ have five syllables?

 

13. Why do they call a building a ‘building’ when it is already built?

 

14. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown, too?

 

15. If honesty is the best policy, then is dishonesty the second best policy?

 

16. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how will anyone ever know?

 

17. If Harry Potter has magical power, why does he need to wear glasses?

 

18. How important does a person have to be before they are considered ‘assassinated’ instead of just ‘murdered’?

 

19. Why do you have to ‘put your two cents in’… but it’s only get a ‘penny for your thoughts’? Where’s that extra penny going to?

 

20. Once you’re in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

 

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Mondays wouldn’t be the same without a selection of answers given by Joe Public on television quiz shows. Here’s the latest batch from the archives. 

Usual Disclaimer: If you are of a nervous disposition please read the following with caution, severe feelings of intellectual superiority may follow.

Enjoy!

 

 

Q: Name something people want to be buried with         

A: Their home   

 

 

Q: Name a phrase some husbands dread hearing          

A: “Honey, I’m home”    

 

 

Q: Name something you learn how to do from a how-to book     

A: Read           

 

 

Q: Name something that goes off when a fuse blows     

A: Lighter

A: Gas

 

 

Q: Name something that breaks out      

A: A baby         

 

 

Q: Name a holiday usually celebrated on Mondays in order to get a three day weekend   

A: Thanksgiving

A: Somebody’s birthday

 

 

Q: An animal people fear because it’s a man-eater         

A: Hippo           

 

 

Q: Name something you’d hate to be doing on airplane when it hits turbulence    

A: Having sex   

 

 

Q: Name a part of the telephone           

A: The bottom part        

 

 

Q: Name something a baby might hide in his diaper if he didn’t want his mommy to leave home  

A: Kelly Clarkson          

 

 

Q: An unwelcome gift people receive from a cat

A: A bowl         

 

 

Q: An animal whose eggs you’d never eat for breakfast 

A: Hamster       

 

 

Q: Name a tradition associated with Christmas   

A: Hanukkah    

 

 

Q: The worst place to be when you need to use the restroom     

A: On a game show      

 

 

Q: Name something you might find on an old pirate ship, besides pirates           

A: A wrecked pirate ship

 

 

Q: Name something that goes up          

A: An erection

 

 

Q: Name something that is prohibited on most beaches 

A: Sex 

 

 

Q: Name something that falls from the trees      

A: Bird shit       

 

 

Q: Name something that has to warm up before you use it         

A: Wife

 

 

Q: Name a type of foreign money         

A: Monopoly     

 

 

Q: Name a weather term that can also describe your wife           

A: Wet 

 

 

Q: Name a job that helicopters are used for       

A: Tuna fishing 

 

 

Q: Name a happy occasion where you feel a little let down when it’s over

A: Funeral        

 

 

Q: Name something that comes with a summer storm    

A: Snow           

 

 

Q: Name something you wouldn’t want the police to find in the trunk of your car 

 A: Pickles                    

 

 

Q: Besides a house or a car, the most expensive item you own  

 A: Car  

 

 

Q: Name something starting with the word “Club”           

A: Golf club      

 

 

Q: Name a place where people are scolded for falling asleep     

 A: Traffic school

 

 

Q: Name a male dancer

A: Betty Grable 

 

 

Q: Name a famous rock band that starts with the word “The”      

A: The KISS     

 

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There are times when it is difficult enough trying to think up stuff for a new blog every day. But there are also a few times when you get handed some inspiration because of an event that happens somewhere in the world.

Occasionally those events are inspiring and exciting, more often than not though they are tragic. Today is one that is a mixture of both and has led to a double-blog post Sunday for the first time.

I’m sure from the title you know who this post is about.

A young Neil Armstrong during his NASA days

A young Neil Armstrong during his NASA days

 

I learned yesterday via an NBC news headline and from a friend from the blogshpere, John Erickson, of the death of Neil Armstrong.

Everybody knows who he was and what he achieved during his life, so there is no point in going over all that again here. Sunday’s newspapers will be full of it.

I have no personal anecdotes about Neil Armstrong. I never met him, and never came close to meeting him. But I was with him, as were millions of others, on July 20, 1969 when he became the first man to set foot on the moon. I sat in front of our television and watched, totally enthralled, as he did it.

The tv picture was crappy and the sound intermittent, but it didn’t matter. It was happening, and we could see it happening in real time. It was the most exciting thing that had happened in my lifetime and then some. My Dad watched alongside me, every bit as engrossed in the whole event. He couldn’t quite believe it even though he was watching it happen.

It was and remains a truly wondrous event.

At the time, and being a kid, I never considered the courage it must have taken to be the first man to set foot on our moon. It was just an adventure, but what an adventure.

The word “hero” is bandied about a lot these days, but as far as Armstrong is concerned it is a plaudit well earned and well deserved. And not just for what he achieved in his career with NASA, but in how he lived his life as well.

Is it sad that Neil Armstrong is no longer with us? Of course it is. Men like him are all too rare. But he lived more in his lifetime than most of us could ever hope to or even imagine. He will be remembered well and that’s about as much as any of us can hope for.

Neil Armstrong - the first man to set foot on the Moon

Neil Armstrong – the first man to set foot on the Moon

 

 

And Mr Gorsky mentioned in the title of this post?

Naturally this blog being what it is there is a duty to add a little bit of humor and, fact or fiction, Neil Armstrong was aware of the story of Mr Gorsky and I am sure it provided him with a lot of amusement over the years, as it has also done for people like myself who have retold it many times.

For those who don’t know, the legend goes that when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” statement, but before he re-entered the lander, he said “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.”

Over the years, many people asked him what it meant but he would never say. Then one July 5, in Tampa Bay, FL, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26- year-old question. He finally responded. It seems that by that time Mr. Gorsky had died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could at last answer the question.

He said when he was a kid, he was playing baseball with his brother in the backyard. His brother hit a fly ball which landed in front of his neighbors’ bedroom window. The neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky.

As he leaned down to pick up the ball, he heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, “Oral sex? Oral sex you want? You’ll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”

;o)

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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When I was putting together yesterday’s post about crooks who had either been smart enough to get away with it or police who had been too dumb to catch them, the name Danny Ocean cropped up in relation to a heist in Belgium.

That put me in mind of the very popular movie remake of Ocean’s Eleven starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, et al.

Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven

The Clooney version of Ocean’s Eleven was a good piece of work. (We’ll not talk so much about the sequels!) Without spoiling the whole thing for those who haven’t yet seen the movie, basically the plot is to simultaneously steal $150 million from the Bellagio, Mirage and MGM Grand casinos in Las Vegas, all belonging to ruthless entrepreneur Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). The money is being held in a state-of-the-art safe seventy yards underneath the Las Vegas Strip, with loads of hi-tech surveillance, laser beams, motion detectors and alarm systems to protect it.

Clooney/Ocean puts together a team of experienced professionals, proficient in skills from magic, pickpocteting, pyrotechnics, a card sharp, an electronics and surveillance expert and even a Chinese acrobat! 

The movie is full of special effects and great looking sets with hosts of electronic gadgets that are there to prevent people stealing the casino’s money, and loads of other gadgets that Ocean and his crew have assembled to defeat the former.

Even getting into the surveillance and restricted areas of the casinos is a huge problem that takes sophisticated planning and equipment and well worked plot lines.

casino security

casino security

But that’s Hollywood.

This blog is about reality.

I have spent quite a bit of time in Vegas, mostly on business but I enjoy playing in the casinos too.I even ended up in Federal Court there on one occasion, but that’s a story for another day. Suffice to say here that I like the place and the buzz that it has. Perhaps living there all the time would get to you, but for a visit I highly recommend it (take some money with you though!).

It just so happened that I was in Las Vegas about the time the Ocean’s Eleven movie was doing the rounds, probably 2002. One evening I found myself standing outside the Bellagio watching the fountain show (a great spectacle, see video) and of course my thoughts turned to the movie and all that had transpired. In my mind’s eye I could see Danny Ocean and the others in this very same place. It was a pleasant evening.

Me, Danny and the crew outside the Bellagio

Me, Danny and the crew outside the Bellagio

Within a couple of days of that, however, I discovered that my cell phone was missing. Had I mislaid it, had I dropped it, had it fallen out of my pocket in a restaurant or taxi, or had I had my pocket picked by one of Danny Ocean’s men? I thought the possibility of the latter was highly unlikely so I put it down to my own carelessness.

I was staying in one of the casino hotels, I won’t say which one, because I am sure things have changed a lot in the intervening ten years. But after checking my room for the phone I decided the next best thing to do was to ask the security guys in the hotel in the unlikely event that someone had found it and handed it in. It wasn’t an expensive phone, so I wasn’t too bothered, but one feels obliged to go through the motions when something like that happens.

So I made my way down to the casino on the ground floor and found one of the security guys. He pointed me in the direction of what I presumed was his superior and he in turn pointed me towards a rather non-descript single door on the other side of the casino floor.

After a long walk, circumnavigating numerous roulette and blackjack tables, I got to the door and pressed a buzzer on the intercom affair. To my surprise no one answered, but the door simply clicked open. I wasn’t sure what I should do, but always ready for an adventure I opened the door and went inside.

Man, talk about a disappointment. My crest was fallen on several levels!

Rather than being pleased with myself at the ease with which I had been able to dismantle the multi-million dollar security, I was actually disappointed that it hadn’t been a lot more difficult. I can talk my way (or blag, some people have said) into most places if I choose to do so, and I had been rehearsing various things that I was going to say when questioned. But here I was right in the heart of the casino surveillance system and no one had even spoken to me let alone challenge why I was there.

I was disappointed also by what I saw. Sure there were loads of cctv screens all showing different parts of the casino, different gambling tables and all that sort of thing. And a few obligatory computers. But it wasn’t like the movies. The equipment was clearly not new and the décor left a lot to be desired too, not quite tatty but showing a few years of wear and tear.

I wandered around for a minute or so taking it all in. If Ocean had picked me for his crew I would have had everyone tied up and the place taken over by now, I thought. But then the movie would have been about fifteen minutes long and very little tension and excitement (and box office takings) would have been generated.

Then one of the security guys detected my presence. He didn’t speak, just gave me one of those “Where the f*** did you come from?” looks.

I too was silent, I knew what he wasn’t saying, so I put my right hand inside my jacket and went for my silenced 9mm Walther PPK in its concealed shoulder holster. Well, no, not quite. I just retrieved my room keycard and ID which I thought might be required when everyone came to their senses.

It was. And I explained why I was there and who had sent me. After their initial surprise the guys in the security room were very friendly, but no phone had been handed in and they didn’t hold out much hope of me ever seeing it again, so after a bit of conversation I bid them farewell. I think it took longer to get me buzzed out than buzzed in, but hey that’s life.

Later that evening I again found myself leaning up against the front wall at the Bellagio watching the fountains. But this time Danny and the crew weren’t there, not even in my head. After what had happened earlier, it just wasn’t the same. It hasn’t been ever since!

Just me this time

Just me this time

.

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Ocean’s eleven trailer

End sequence

 

Video taken from Paris Casino’s Eiffel Tower Observation Point, on March 11,2007