Singing buildings, smart condoms, immigration, and other stuff in the news

The Guardian printed a report on singing buildings recently.

Are singing buildings a sign that the world’s ending? As far as I know, no religious text says it is. Mind you, I haven’t read any religious book from end to end. I tried reading the bible once, when I was young and thought it was something I ought to at least crack the covers of. I got as far as the begats, which bored me into insensibility, before admitting to myself that (a) I didn’t get it and (b) I wasn’t getting anything out of the exercise. So I am officially no expert. But singing buildings do sound harmless: Apparently, when the winds are high enough—and I’m not sure how high that is—certain buildings get the urge to sing. I do some singing myself, so I understand how powerful the impulse can be.

The list of singing buildings include Manchester’s Beetham tower. Several fixes have been tried, and the architect has apologized, but the building sings on, hitting a note close to middle C. If anyone reading this is trying to fix the problem, better breath support should bring that note in right on key. Or so I’ve been told when I go a little flat.

The Cityspire building in Manhattan (who names these things?) used to sing but no longer does. Instead, it’s being treated for depression. That actually might herald the end of the world, and it could be that religious texts need to be updated as architecture and technology evolve.

I’d give you a link for all these claims—they do sound like something I made up—but the Guardian online is mad at me for using it too often and thinks I should subscribe. I would—it’s a fine paper, and I understand how difficult the business climate is for newspapers today—but Wild Thing and I already pay for the print edition and unless you have a tablet you can’t access the online edition based on a print subscription.

Or something along those lines. Google “the strange case of the singing buildings” and you should find it. And in case I wasn’t clear, I was talking about an electronic tablet, not a stone one.

Screamingly irrelevant photo: This is a whatsit plant. In our garden.

What else is happening in the world? Smart condoms are now for sale. How smart are they? Not smart enough to solve your relationship problems or even your (assuming you to be either male and equipped with the relevant organ or female and involved with a male equipped with etc.) sexual—we shouldn’t say “problems” in this context, should we? Issues, then. All it does report back—speed, frequency, girth, skin temperature, and so forth. All those things a thrilling lover needs to know.

Do I hear hysterical laughter from the alto and soprano sections?

The Guardian gave me access to that story. They understand what matters.

Smart condoms probably aren’t a sign that the world’s ending either, but they could evidence that it deserves to.

By the way, as far as I can figure out, they’re not actual condoms, they just work in the vicinity of the real ones. They won’t prevent either pregnancy or venereal disease. They may prevent relaxation and fun.

Moving on:

The CIA, Wikileaks announced, is spying on us through our smart TVs, smartphones, and antivirus software. At our house, we’re assuming some British agency does the same, since Britain helped develop the technology, and that they’ve been listening to everything we say in the living room. Wild Thing’s delighted.

“My opinion finally counts for something somewhere,” the spokesperson for our household said.

[Update: I just checked the link on that story, and (who knows how) I linked it to one of my own posts–about village life and chasing chickens. I’ve left it for the pure silliness of it–and because I thought it was a good, if irrelevant, post. For relevant information, try this link instead.]

What else is happening? A 99-year-old from the Dutch city of Nijmegen had herself arrested because—and I’m making an assumption here—she thought it would be fun. Apparently she’d always been a good girl and, as her niece explained it, she “wanted to experience this.”

O ye who have never sinned enough to be arrested, there is still time to repent. But I warn you: I was arrested in a civil rights demonstration a hundred or so years ago and I didn’t find it a whole lot of fun. Neither, to the best of my knowledge, did anyone I was arrested with. But maybe we went into it for the wrong reasons. Instead of trying to end racism, we should have been trying to have fun, fun, fun.

The tales from our court appearances were pretty funny, but I’ll need a different excuse to tell those.

The 99-year-old isn’t alone. A 102-year-old from Missouri had herself handcuffed and delivered to an event at her retirement home in a police car. It had been on her bucket list.

So let’s talk about bucket lists. I’m all for acknowledging our mortality, but a list of ridiculous things you want to experience before you die? Don’t we have anything better to do with our lives, and if not why are we bothering the planet with our presence here?

For reasons known only to its algorithm, the Guardian gave me access to this story.

From there, we go to immigration. Britain, having held a referendum in which we voted to jump off a cliff of unknown height in a fog so thick that we can’t see what’s at the bottom—this is known as the Brexit referendum, in case you’re not getting the allusion—is now pretending that what we voted for wasn’t to leave the EU but to  get rid of foreigners. As many as possible, and for any reason.


Well because they’re foreign, silly.

Did I say “they”? Sorry. Slip of the tongue. I’m a foreigner here myself, and citizen or not, I always will be.

So who are they getting rid of? For one, a grandmother who lost her indefinite leave to remain because she spent too much time outside the country caring for her dying parents. You can see why she’d be dangerous. She was held in a detention center for a month and was given no chance to say goodbye to her British husband of 27 years, her two sons, or her granddaughter before being hustled through the airport by the arms and tossed on a plane to Singapore. She had £12 in her pocket and the clothes on her back. That happened on a Sunday, presumably to keep her family from getting hold of a lawyer.

For the government, it’s all about numbers. The more immigrants they throw out, the better the politicians (with rare, brave exceptions) think they look. They’re like people with anorexia—they look in the mirror and never think they’re thin enough.

It turns out that being a citizen is less protection than Wild Thing and I thought when we took citizenship. The home secretary can revoke the citizenship people who weren’t born here if it’s not “conducive to the public good.” No court has to approve it and the person doesn’t have to have been of—or even charged with—a crime. When our current prime minister was in charge of the Home Office, 70 people lost their citizenship that way.

I’d make a joke about that, but I’m afraid I’d suddenly find myself in Singapore. So let’s move on.

The town of Rochdale plans to ban swearing. Also begging, unauthorized collections for charity, loitering, antisocial parking, loud music, drinking in public, and skateboarding. Not to mention bad temper, bad attitudes, bad hairdos, and stupid laws. It’s already made a difference. Asked by a reporter what he thought about it, a resident said, “It’s a load of bullshit.”

Onward. The most hated household chore in Britain is ironing. That’s why I live here. Ironing is against my religion and people don’t laugh when I explain that.

A dog swallowed a toy train and was rushed to the vet for emergency surgery. I believe it was a Thomas the Tank Engine. I am grateful for the existence of a free and fearless press.

Former chancellor George Osborne, who’s still an MP, has been moonlighting at BlackRock, a fund management company. He declared a salary of £650,000. For working four days a month. And then there’s the £800,000 he made in speaking fees.

You know, in a pinch, a person could live on that.

The National Trust has started charging for parking near the Levant mine, in West Cornwall, which has become popular because of the BBC’s Poldark series. The mine was the site of a 1919 disaster in which 31 miners died. The National Trust’s pay-and-display machinery had already been ripped out of the ground once. This time, the coin slots were filled with expanding foam.

I know I’m not supposed to think that’s funny, but I can’t help myself. Expanding foam in the coin slot. Haven’t you ever wanted to do that yourself?

Cornwall’s St. Piran’s flag—a white cross on a black background—was painted onto the information board, just in case the Trust didn’t get the message.


And finally, as a reward for slogging through the parts of this that weren’t funny, here’s a comment I just dug out of my spam folder: “Attractive portijon of content. I simply stumblled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your bpog posts. Anyy way I wiull be subscribingg to your augment or even I achievemewnt you get entry to constantly rapidly.”

Yes. Finally. I aim to establish my bpog as a portijon of content and I’m flattered all to hell that someone noticed.

What, you ask, is a portijon? It’s what you get when you cross a portable toilet with a demijohn. And I—thank you for the applause—have cornered the market.

109 thoughts on “Singing buildings, smart condoms, immigration, and other stuff in the news

  1. To be serious – is that alllowed? Those of us who voted for Brexit, yes, I was one, did it for many reasons. 1) No perceived finanical benefit despite political claims to the contrary. 2) Silly things like butter mountains and wine lakes (you may not have been here when that was happening). 3) Claims that the EU improves workers’ rights. Ha. Ha. Ha. 4) Lack of judicial/legislative independence. 5) Finally, yes, immigration. Because they push down the working rate. Great for bosses, crap for workers,

    But on that last point, chucking people out is despicable. Absolutely deplorable. A cut-off point is acceptable. Deporting people who have established a life in the UK with a British partner is a disgrace.

    And on condoms, I read recently, that if you are female to male trans, with a small surgically constructed penis, using the thumb or finger of a rubber glove is a good tip as your average condom is too large. Happy Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, that bit of information on condoms is something I didn’t expect to learn today. More evidence for Ice Badger’s comment, below (I think), that a bucket list would get in the way of all the interesting things we discover while stumbling around in life.

      About lowering the wage rate: My approach, if only I could convince the country to listen, would be to make sure the minimum wage is enforced and includes everyone, no matter how their work is defined. Then raise it to a level where people could live on it. And–oh, yeah–go back to organizing unions, which could negotiate decent working conditions. And higher wages.

      My hunch is that as we leave the E.U. we’ll find we do lose some protections, but I guess we’ll find out.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I spent years working for the health and safety executive implementing eu regs, where everything was coded with ‘as long as is reasonably practical or practible or something’. Which meant, do not cost the employers. Ever.

        When the working hours directive came in, I laughed. Sure, 40 hour week or whatever it is, unless the employee wishes to work over. OR. GET. SACKED. Because that is reality. Compulsory overtime.

        Twelve hour shifts? The norm. Six days a week. Twelve times six equals more than forty. Without overtime pay.

        Yes to minimum wage. Yes to unions. Back in Ye Olden Days I was a member of one of the three strong unions in the UK. NUJ, NUT and NUM. I was also a union official, as was my partner who argued with Graham Day at a car plant meeting. Day denied they would shut down the plant. They did. He has been knighted. Arsehole.
        In fact I might write about that :)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I tried to read the bible once because a boyfriend at the time was in the Salvation army said I needed too…which offended me somewhat but I thought I cuoldn’t dispute it unless I had evidence…
    I came decided it was not for me and found better things to read!!

    I do not have a bucket list.
    If I spent all my time thinking up bucket list items I would miss out on all the interesting things I discover while stumbling around blindly in life…
    like writing poems using predictive text :-D

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tsk about the deported lady -on a Sunday, but you are forbidden to heal the blind on a Sunday ?

    In Egypt one of the ancient statues (the Colossi of Memnon ?) has been singing for millenia. “Authorities” (on singing statues ? A fairly narrow field, I would think) say it is because as the overnight dew in some of the cracks in the structure dries as the sun rises and causes the phenomenon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Does the smart condom critique performance I wonder? Perhaps, on the female side there should be a smart diaphragm or IUD that flags male performance issues and reports back to the ladies smartphone…although she will likely already know quite clearly when things aren’t up to snuff so to speak. Well, I really had no early intention of going in that direction, but when you let your fingers rule they find where they want to be related to comments I suppose.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jumping off a cliff into the fog? Better than staying on it while it crumbles under you.
    Like Roughseas, I would have voted for a flash.
    An organisation which forces member states’ governments to borrow from private banks rather than from their own central banks is corrupt and I am in favour of bringing back hanging, drawing and quartering – not forgetting being dragged on a hurdle to the place of execution – for the British politicians who signed up to and perpetuated it.
    Oh, and confiscation of their money and property….which they have been doing to us with their policies of false austerity which keep these banks in business.

    Deportation of those without power, while allowing tax cheats on the grand scale to come and go as they please….that is about the state of Britain at the moment – no wonder people are disgusted with politics. I was visiting my mother in England before the vote and it seemed to me that people weren’t in the least interested in the messages offered by the politicians: they had no power normally, but here they could give bloody nose to those responsible for their lack of job and wage security – immigration was certainly a factor, in that it contributed to this insecurity, but the main reaction I saw was fury at being dumped by their society.

    Oh, and mother, coming up to 100 years old then, got herself to her polling station to vote Leave on the grounds that she did not fight to prevent the Germans from taking over Europe by force to have them taking over by the creation of the Euro.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your critique of the EU but I voted remain anyway. Wild Thing’s a historian by training and could give you a better summary than I could of the wars Europe got itself into prior to the EU, but you probably know the history anyway. I’m with Yannis Varoufakis–the guy who resigned as Greece’s finance minister in protest of the way the country was about to get screwed. He wrote passionately about what was wrong with the EU, then urged people to vote remain and fight to reform it. Because the breakup of the EU, I’m afraid, will lead us back into a period of instability and, very easily, warfare. The vote to leave has awakened the hateful kind of nationalism, giving it the same kind of permission Trump’s given it in the U.S.

      Liked by 3 people

      • And the wars it is getting itself into now? The support of U.S. interests in the putsch in the Ukraine?
        We are in danger of seeing Europe only as the EU…which is, I agree, in dire need of a reform which will not take place.

        But why not multiple Europes? A trade block; a separate cultural exchange block – wider then Erasmus and offering people who are not in higher education the chance to travel, to meet their ocunterparts. Strikes me that that is a better way to avoid wars than leaving matters in the hands of politicians.
        Whatever it is though, not a united Europe where the people are excluded from power just as they are in their own countries.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. So, let me get this straight: you have to be “conducive to the public good” ? Not that I don’t think you aren’t up to the task, I mean entertainment is conducive to the public good, unless it isn’t. Then again, trains are on time, unless they aren’t. Now I’m in danger of heading down the road I took last week…let’s not go there. I’d hate to be used as evidence at the trial, you apparently won’t have if they need to send you to Singapore. I think you should build a wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, hjurray, jyou got mi cumment. “Attractive portijon of content. I simply stumblled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your bpog posts. Anyy way I wiull be subscribingg to your augment or even I achievemewnt you get entry to constantly rapidly.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the news around us. The alternatives are too depressing.
    Glad to find this post through this month’s ‘MB Meet and Greet’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I pile up clippings for a week or six and when I can’t find my computer for all the clippings, I go through them and toss the ones that don’t yield up any scrap of humor. By the time I’m done, I can’t find the floor for all the clippings. The depressing stack’s getting deeper.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I discovered your blog on Mostly Blogging. Never heard of singing buildings before. I enjoyed your cheeky breakdown of the strange but true happenings around the world. I guess I could never live in Rochdale since I like to swear and iron at the same time :)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so happy to get my news here. Sure beats the hell out of the other stuff. I never made it to the begats. It’s a very, very boring read. As for ironing. I think it really ought to be damned. Oops, I meant banned.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have heard of the singing building phenomenon before. As for smart condoms, as long as they aren’t equipped for speech like a GPS, I guess they might be necessary. For people who need to know the information that you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

              • I’m my own typo police, sadly. I worked as an editor and copy editor. I wince every time I let one get past me, even though I know no one’s good a proofing her own work. Plus I work too fast when I respond to comments or leave one and don’t always reread what I’ve typed.

                Having said which, if you want to torment the language into complete correctness, it’s “I am not they.” Would anyone actually say that? No one I can think of. so yeah, I’m not them either (except that I just admitted I am).

                Did that make the least bit of sense or have I gone off the deep end here?

                Liked by 1 person

              • As I keep telling my students, “police” is a non-count noun, ergo it is “it,”rather than “they.” And yes, nobody would actually say that, so, as I keep telling my students, whoever says whatever on the idiot box you are watching or on social media, when you hand me your paper, I want to see Standard American Written English. Granted, British (the real English) is somewhat different.
                P.S. I hate editing, especially proofing my own writing!

                Liked by 1 person

              • Oddly enough, I loved editing. It was like singing harmony–you blend your voice with the writer’s (assuming the writer’s good enough to have a voice). Even editing my own stuff, but with comments I just don’t take the time.

                One thing I’ve learned here is that British English varies immensely. The words and the accents, but in some regions even the grammar. That’s fading under the impact of radio and television, but you can still find it here and there.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Yes, I had learned British English before I came to the U.S., and It was quite a shock to discover the differences. Interesting psychological point regarding choir singing vs. solo; as a pianist (in the past), I was trained to perform on my own. In college, I had to take mandatory courses in accompaniment but never liked them. Is that why I hate editing?

                Liked by 1 person

              • Could be–you have the soul of a soloist. I sing at a local pub’s singers night, and when people come in on a chorus, to me it feels like being lifted by a wave. I love the sudden richness it brings.

                That would be dismaying, coming to the U.S. with carefully learned British English. I learned Spanish in my teens and learned to use the formal you for the most part with strangers, since at least that way I wouldn’t offend anyone. As an adult, in some situations where other people were using the informal, I’ve felt a bit like someone speaking biblical English, but I was too busy trying to keep up to either ask about it or change.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Sounds good – the soul of a soloist. I have to tell my granddaughter who is chomping at the bit a bit since she is singing with Commonwealth Junior Choir (in Boston) but very rarely gets a solo because there aren’t many solo parts for a deep contralto.
                I can relate to your situation with formal Spanish. I have a similar issue with the so-called “new Russians” who have taken English as a model with its both formal and informal “you.” I cringe when they address me in Russian or Ukrainian as “you” instead of the formal “thou.”

                Liked by 1 person

              • That more or less describes my voice as well. The BBC did a wonderful series on the voice, focusing mostly on opera, and the section on contraltos summed up their roles as witches, bitches, and britches. It may not be the best voice to have if you want to make a name for yourself in classical music, but–well, have you ever heard Odetta sing? She had a huge, deep voice, and my god what she could do with it!

                Interesting what the “new Russians” are doing with the language. Now that you say that, I think one reason I didn’t switch over to the familiar form is that I can’t hear the overtones, so it seems safer to stay with the formal. Even if I sound absurd, at least I’m not insulting anyone.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Odetta was phenomenal, but again, she was a soloist. Have you heard the late Elena Obraztsova? There is a Zefirelli film Carmen where she sings with Placido Domingo. She used to do all mezzo parts, but the voice was actually a contralto. Yes, soprano, as well as tenor, was always perceived as divine, angelic, while inasmuch as lower male voices were heroic, nobody wanted heroic women, so female voices were seen as unnatural. I think this feeling is still embedded in most people’s subconscious.
                What the new Russians are doing with the language is beyond my tolerance! The slang that has become part of the language is mostly originated in the criminal world, and the grammar of even the better films and shows is atrocious.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Agreed, she was very much a soloist, and I also think you’re right about the approach to the lower end of women’s range. Which is a real loss, since it can be beautiful. I hope your granddaughter finds someplace where her voice is valued.

                And I haven’t heard Obraztsova, but I’ll see if I can’t remedy that.

                Liked by 1 person

              • That makes sense to me. I don’t envy the life of professional performers. But having found, late in life, a place I can sing and where both my voice and the kind of music I love make sense? That’s been an unexpected pleasure and a real enrichment of my life.

                Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out.

                Liked by 1 person

  12. Isn’t it really annoying that we can’t get the Guardian Online on our laptops rather than having to have a mobile phone? I, too, pay for the print subscription which is a multiple of the online one, so think it should be the other way round!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Ellen,
    I thought the part about smart…….( I’m at school) would be funny, but I think it sounds weird. Is it electronic?
    Thanks for coming to the Blogger’s Pit Stop last week.
    Janice, Pit Stop Crew

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: How to get arrested in New York, 1964 edition | Notes from the U.K.

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