Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

June 2006


GeneralThursday, June 22nd, 2006, (6:46 pm)

Ten years after the IRA bomb that tore through the city centre of Manchester, England, Police concede there is little hope of finding the terrorists who planted the bomb. Chilling and previously unreleased video footage shows the bomb actually exploding

I’ve posted about the IRA bombs before, so I thought some of you might be interested in seeing this video showing the reality of terrorist bombs exploding on mainland Britain as they have done since the 70’s. The BBC report marks ten years since the Manchester bomb exploded, the biggest IRA bomb to explode in the north of England, just 33 miles from where I live.

The video, shot from a helicopter, shows the truck packed with explosives, exploding. Slowed down you can actually see the building to the right buckle and sway from the force of the blast such was its ferocious intensity.

Much bigger bombs have exploded in London, and in the mid 90’s the IRA started phoning in the bomb warnings but telling Police that the bomb was at a location in the chosen town where it was in fact was in a different location. The reason for this was because the Police would evacuate people away from the believed blast area to another part of the town. Score would gather to wait and see if it was one of the many hoaxes, then the IRA would detonate the bomb in those areas, where the number of people gathered would therefore be far greater than usual.

As yet the city where I live, Liverpool, hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack. I hope it doesn’t, but with an underground rail system and two long road tunnels going under the river Mersey, the possibility of Liverpool being a target can’t be far from the minds of authorities here.

General and SportsWednesday, June 21st, 2006, (10:00 pm)

If you live in England there is almost no chance that you have escaped World Cup mania that has swept the nation. England flags have been appearing everywhere in some truly cringe-worthy displays of national pride that almost make me want to grab a can of cheap beer and launch into a chorus of the national football chant “In-ger-lund!!!!”

I’m not at all into football. I might be if the game didn’t seem to attract such large numbers of ‘bevied up’ louts who gather in large numbers and often end up causing all kinds of agro.

I like seeing all the England flags everywhere, it’s nice to see a bit of national pride. But I can’t help but notice, and this is a dangerously un-pc thing to write, that it seems the poorer the household the more England flags they seem to fly. Drive through any low cost housing area (I didn’t say crappy council estate) and you’ll see house after house bathed in ‘In-ger-land’ flags.

The same can be said of cars. Lots of people in England are flying England flags on their cars. I’ve no problem with that at all, I just find it mildly amusing that the crapper the car the more flags it has. The other day I saw a white van that had a flag-pole with an England flag that was so big it couldn’t pass under a bridge!

I suppose the people who enjoy dressing up their homes in vast numbers of England flags are the same people who cover their homes in a million fairy lights at Christmas and having fairy light nodding reindeer on their front yards.

Believe it or not, decorating your home with flags is actually against the law in many parts of England. The law actually only allows one flag, with no advertising, flying from a single mast. Peterborough City Council has recently reminded residents of the law and stated that they will tolerate flags until the competition is over at which point the flags must then be removed.

All the flags will disappear soon enough though. England are sure to be knocked out in the quarter finals like we always are. That’ll probably be a good enough reason for drunk England fans to go on the rampage in towns across the country as well as in Germany where the world cup is being held.

I know, I know, it’s a terrible way to talk about my fellow countrymen (and women). But there is something about football that seems to bring out the worst behavior in a small minority of so called fans in a way that it doesn’t in other sports.

Until then I suppose I should get behind ‘our boys’ and chant along with the beery brotherhood. “In-ger-land! In-ger-land!!”

Top cop talks bollocks about England flags in Wales
Take your flags down or face trouble
Blair the scare will be a chav on match days
Horses don’t like England flags

Found on the web and GeneralFriday, June 16th, 2006, (2:44 pm)

Yesterday I was looking at a blog on Xanga when I noticed the banner atop of the page that advertised a dating service called blacksingles.com. I stopped for a moment and wondered if that might not be considered offensive by some? I’m not suggesting it’s racist but isn’t it at least encouraging a segregationist attitude? Moreover how would the target audience of that site feel if I created a site called whitesingles.com?

I understand, of course, that as human beings we tend to congregate among groups with whom we share a commonality, be that race, religion, social economic standing or whatever. But when Martin Luther King Jnr led the Montgomery Bus Boycott do you suppose he might have seen a service such as blacksingles.com as unhelpful in what was a long fought battle to end segregation not only in Montgomery but across the entire United States?

The site itself doesn’t actually state on it anywhere (that I could see) that it is closed to people of other races. However the ‘about‘ section of the site states “BlackSingles.com is an online community created specifically for African American singles,”

Now I want to be clear, I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this site or the ad for it on Xanga. Xanga like many community sites likes it, caters to all people or all ages, races and geographical locations, so to that end the ad would seem entirely fitting. But I’m curious if Xanga would be so keen to take the ad of a site that had some kind of similar service specifically tailored for whites?

Indeed there is a website at whitesingles.com. It links to a site run by the Stormfront White Nationalist Community which proudly displays a prominent “White Pride World Wide” motif. If a banner ad appeared on Xanga with “White Pride World Wide” emblazoned across it I’m fairly sure there would be an outrage, and rightly so. But if that’s the case then it leaves me wonder whether services such as blacksingles.com are in some way counterproductive in efforts to stamp out racism and segregation.

Blacksingles.com
Segregation in the United States

PhotographyTuesday, June 13th, 2006, (10:29 am)

“I have been pondering for the past three hours over what I should write in this card. However, the only things I have come to realize is how there are no words to describe how much I love you, and will miss you. I will also promise you one thing: I will be home. I have a wife and a new baby to take care of, and you guys are my world.”
2nd Lt. James Cathey, from a note he wrote to his wife the day he left for Iraq. He was killed while on duty in Iraq.

The other day I was in borders just thumbing through magazines when I came upon a photograph by Todd Heisler which was part of a series called ‘Final Salute.’ The photograph showed the wife of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq, asleep at the foot of her husbands casket. It’s a moving picture of love and devotion that earned Heisler the 2006 Pulitzer prize for feature photography.

When I got home I wanted to find the picture and post it here to share with all of you. Some of you will have seen it already I’m sure, but others may not have. But I couldn’t just post the picture with the very little information I knew about it. I needed to put it into context somehow and to that end I went online and started to try to find some background about the picture, something that would tell the story of the picture as if the picture itself wasn’t already telling enough.

I ended up finding out that the picture was part of a feature, originally published on November 11th last year in the Rocky Mountain News, earned its author, Jim Sheeler, a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler spent most of 2005 with the Marines stationed at Aurora’s Buckley Air Force Base whose job it was to notify families when a soldier was killed in Iraq.

The picture above shows an American Airlines flight arriving at Reno airport at night bringing home the body of 2nd Lt. Jim Cathey. Passengers look out of the windows of the plane at the family of the fallen soldier who are gathered on the tarmac watching Marines climb into the cargo hold of the plane and drape an American flag over the casket. A few hours prior to leaving for Iraq Cathey had written a note to his wife who was carrying the couples first child. In it he wrote “I will be home.”

“He wasn’t supposed to come home this way,” Said 23 year old Katherine Cathey as she watched the plane bearing her husbands body arrive. “Everything that made me happy is on that plane.”

Above: Katherine Cathey sobs as her husband’s flag-draped casket is taken from the plane. She is supported by casualty assistance officer Maj. Steve Beck, who had notified her of her husband’s death some days earlier.

Cathey clung to the casket for several minutes weeping and refusing to move.

Katherine Cathey drapes herself over her husband’s casket at the mortuary before placing some personal items in it. Flowers from their wedding, a bottle of Jim’s favorite perfume and an ultrasound of their son were some of the things Katherine placed next to 2nd Lt. James Cathey’s remains.

According to the Department of Defense, 2nd Lt. James Cathey was killed in Al Karmah, Iraq, on Aug. 21st (2005). His family were later told by members of his unit that Cathey was killed when a booby-trapped door of an abandoned building he was leading a search of exploded without warning.

In his casket at the mortuary his wife, Katherine, placed a picture of the couple kissing at the top of the casket, above the neck of the uniform. Because of extent of his injuries Cathey’s body was wrapped in a white shroud and covered it with a satin body-length pillow and his dress blue uniform. Katherine bent down and pressed her lips the picture. “I’m always kissing you, baby,” she whispered.

She placed several other photos of their lives together and around the uniform, as well as a bottle of her perfume, and some dried flowers of her wedding bouquet. The final item was an ultrasound picture of their unborn child. The scan had taken place two days after her husbands death on a day that Jim was supposed to call so that he too could learn if his baby would be a boy or a girl. In the end it was a boy, a son who will now bear his absent fathers name. James J. Cathey Jr. After some thought Katherine placed the picture of their son over her husband’s heart.

On the night before her husbands burial, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket and instead requested to be able to sleep next to her husband one final time. The Marines made up a bed for her then resumed their positions, standing watch over their comrade’s body as per her request.

Before eventually falling asleep Katherine played music on her laptop that reminded her of husband.

Final Salute gallery
Honor after the fall : Time magazine
Original Rocky Mountain News article print format (10MbPDF download)
Todd Heisler wins Pulitzer prize
Digital Journalist article about Todd Heisler

Faith & Religion and Meanwhile articleTuesday, June 6th, 2006, (11:33 pm)

Meanwhile : Articles written by Simon Jones

It seems to me that here in the West the general feeling toward Islam is one of suspicion. These days the popular new enemy of the state in many Hollywood movies seems to be an Islamic terrorist, and therein lies the problem: the word ‘Islam’ and ‘terrorist’ are so often seen together that to believe they are one and the same might almost be a forgivable mistake.

At the same time though, it might be fair to suggest that there are large areas of the Middle East that view Westerners with the same amount of suspicion. We might be referred to as ‘infidels’ despite the fact that the predominant religion in the West, Christianity, actually worships the very same God as that of Islam; the God of Abraham.

Maybe it’s just a cultural difference that’s been muddled up with religion and politics? When we look at their lives, their rules, and their traditions and it’s hard for us to put ourselves in their shoes… [Click here to continue reading this article at ‘Meanwhile’]

GeneralTuesday, June 6th, 2006, (6:06 am)

Anyone who knows me would tell you that the only way I would see 6:06am is if I hadn’t yet gone to bed, and today is no exception.

It’s six minutes past six in the morning of the sixth day of the six month of the sixth year in this millennium, abbreviated that means that right now it’s 6:06, 06/06/06. I’m about to go to bed after working through the night, a bad habit I have gotten myself into. But just as in may when another interesting date occurred, I couldn’t go to bed without waiting just those few minutes for the clock to tick around to 6:06 on the date some have dubbed as ‘the Devils day.’

According to the BBC news website, Dutch evangelical Christians who believe that todays date has great significance for Satanists who revere the number 666, are to hold a round-the-clock prayer vigil to ward off the evil forces.

The happy clappy Christians are going to counteract ‘evil forces’, that may or may not be at work today, by holding what they confusingly refer to as a “violent day of worship.” I’m not entirely sure what a “violent day of worship entails but if I hear ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ even just once I swear I’ll do something evil myself!

The reason why some Christians are wary of todays date is because of a reference to a similar number to todays date in the Bible.

Revelation 13:18 states: “If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”

Although 06/06/06 isn’t actually the ‘number of the best’ there is sure to be some attention paid to todays date and its closeness to 666. Indeed 20th Century Fox is using todays date to launch a remake of the classic 70’s horror flick, The Omen.

People suffering from hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia might also choose to stay in bed today. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is apparently the full medical term for people who suffer from a fear of the number 666. (I wonder what the medical name is for people who suffer from a fear of long words?)

I’m pretty sure today will pass without incident though. However it’s still early yet and anything can happen.

Christian lovefest in the Netherlands
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia
Dizzying facts about the actual number 666

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