Wednesday, 31 October 2007



Today is LAVENDERBLUE’s birthday, and I’ve been honoured to give her a bouquet with love from all of us at the Burrow.

During our West Country travels, I learned quite a lot about the artistic temperament! Our LAVENDER has oodles of that, besides an abundance of flair and talent, as her lovely paintings attest.

These qualities were the gifts of a good fairy, or ghost, who kissed her at her birth in a Scottish castle. So when LAVENDER’s sun shines one basks warmly in its golden glow, but when the lightning strikes and the thunder booms you’d best take shelter from the storm, which is usually brief -- so thank goodness my skin, like my fur coat, is nice and thick!

Oh, yes, it’s a dog’s life, but with LAVENDERBLUE there’s always a sketch book at the ready, a meaty bone, a string of pearls, a swig of brandy, a comforting pat, and at the end of it all a hearty chuckle and another beautiful picture.

So Many Many Happy Returns, dear Ms LB, and lots of love from me and all of us at ANTICANT’s. Woof, Woof!

Sunday, 28 October 2007


For some inexplicable reason, Anticant is deluged daily with offers to enhance his manhood, though in his case it would only be locking the stable door....

But in case anyone is ever tempted to take up one of these enticing offers, here's a cautionary tale from Wired:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- A security flaw at a website operated by the purveyors of penis-enlargement pills has provided the world with a depressing answer to the question: Who in their right mind would buy something from a spammer?

An order log left exposed at one of Amazing Internet Products' websites revealed that, over a four-week period, some 6,000 people responded to e-mail ads and placed orders for the company's Pinacle herbal supplement. Most customers ordered two bottles of the pills at a price of $50 per bottle.

Do the math and you begin to understand why spammers are willing to put up with the wrath of spam recipients, Internet service providers and federal regulators.

Since July 4, Amazing Internet Products would have grossed more than half a million dollars from, one of several sites operated by the company to hawk its penis pills.

Among the people who responded in July to Amazing's spam, which bore the subject line, "Make your penis HUGE," was the manager of a $6 billion mutual fund, who ordered two bottles of Pinacle to be shipped to his Park Avenue office in New York City. A restaurateur in Boulder, Colorado, requested four bottles. The president of a California firm that sells airplane parts and is active in the local Rotary Club gave out his American Express card number to pay for six bottles, or $300 worth, of Pinacle. The coach of an elementary school lacrosse club in Pennsylvania ordered four bottles of the pills.

Other customers included the head of a credit-repair firm, a chiropractor, a veterinarian, a landscaper and several people from the military. Numerous women also were evidently among Amazing Internet's customers.

All were evidently undaunted by the fact that Amazing's order site contained no phone number, mailing address or e-mail address for contacting the company. Nor were they seemingly concerned that their order data, including their credit card info, addresses and phone numbers, were transmitted to the site without the encryption used by most legitimate online stores.

"There was a picture on the top of the page that said, 'As Seen on TV,' and I guess that made me think it was legit," said a San Diego salesman who ordered two bottles of Pinacle in early July. The man, who asked not to be named, said he has yet to receive his pills, despite the site's promise to fill the order in five days.

A former employee of Amazing Internet Products, who requested anonymity, reported the company's tendency to expose order log files to Wired News. The file was viewable by anyone with a Web browser who truncated one of the Internet addresses published by the company.

Besides legitimate orders, Amazing Internet's log file also contained numerous complaints from spam recipients, who used the order form to register their unhappiness at the site's lack of a proper list-removal option.

Faith York, a rehabilitation counselor in Maine, left Amazing Internet a few choice words last month after an e-mail advertising Pinacle pills slipped through AOL's spam filters and landed in her 10-year-old son's inbox. In a telephone interview last week, York said she lost her temper when she discovered that neither the e-mail nor the ordering site included any means of contacting the company.

"The only way I could send them information was by making up an order, and in the spaces for address and whatnot I described my discontent at them sending my son that kind of e-mail," York said.

The registration record for the site, and the ones for the dozens of other sites used by Amazing Internet Products, provide little help in tracking down the company's owners. The domain records typically list a fictitious registrant and a post office box in Manchester, New Hampshire, along with a nonworking phone number and e-mail address.

To further throw people off its tracks, Amazing Internet and its affiliates send out their loads of junk e-mail using fake return addresses, or the real return address of an innocent third party.

But records on file with the New Hampshire secretary of state show that Braden Bournival, a 19-year-old high-school dropout who is also listed as vice president of the New Hampshire Chess Association, owns Amazing Internet Products.

Bournival refused repeated requests for interviews about his business. When approached for comment at a chess tournament in Merrimack, New Hampshire, last month, Bournival, who is a national-master-caliber player, ran away from a Wired News reporter.

The registered agent for Amazing Internet Products, Mark Wright of Manchester law firm McLane, Graf, Raulerson, & Middleton, also declined to be interviewed.

Amazing Internet leases several thousand square feet of office space at the Tower Mill Center on Bedford Street in Manchester, where, according to the former employee, Bournival's teenage sister fills padded envelopes with bottles of Pinacle and ships them off to customers.

An investigation (registration to required) last month revealed that Bournival's mentor and business partner is Davis Wolfgang Hawke, a chess expert and former neo-Nazi leader who turned to the spam business in 1999 after it became public that his father was Jewish.

By all appearances, Bournival's and Hawke's spam business is highly profitable. Amazing Internet pays a supplier around $5 per bottle of pills, and gives affiliates who send spam on its behalf about $10 per order, said the former associate. That leaves plenty of room for a tidy profit in the low-overhead spam business.

But does the stuff work? Amazing Internet's spams make this promise to Pinacle users: "Realistically, you can grow up to 3 FULL INCHES IN LENGTH."

The Federal Trade Commission said there is no proof that the pills work as advertised. But the FTC does not have the resources to press a case against such companies, according to spokesman Richard Cleland.

Earlier this year, Joe Miksch, a columnist for the Fairfield County Weekly, published a humorous account of what happened when he took Pinacle for 30 days. It went something like this: "Day one: No change. Day two: No change. Day three: No change. Days four through 30: See above."

But according to the former associate, Amazing Internet Products makes good on its enlargement guarantee, and -- poor security precautions aside -- protects customers' data.

"I don't know if the stuff works. But Brad has a weird sense of ethics. He would never use a stolen credit card, and he honors requests for refunds," he said.

To that end, one of Amazing's websites, which has since gone offline, listed a toll-free customer service number. The company's PayPal account shows two e-mail addresses.


The clocks have gone back, alas, and the long dark winter evenings are upon us. But cheer up! Here in the Snug, thanks to the tireless efforts of Ben, the Beadle, and Mrs Malaprop, the curtains are cosily drawn, logs are ablaze in the hearth, the polished brass and pewter gleams in the firelight, the candles are lit, and the bar is - as ever - well stocked.

All that's missing are the regular gossips, whose ready wit and good humour we rely on to make this a bumper season.

So roll up ladies & gents all, toss in your [polite] penn'orths, and place your orders.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


Next weekend the clocks will be put back one hour and we shall return to the long dark winter evenings with their accompanying epidemic of Seasonal Affective Disorder and upsurge of traffic accidents. As usual, we benighted islanders will be out of step with our European neighbours. Grudgingly, we shall go through the twice-yearly tedious performance of adjusting umpteen clocks, watches, and household devices.

Before the proliferation of technology, the time change used to involve maybe a couple of household clocks and a few personal watches. Not any more! At the last count, over two dozen gadgets had to be adjusted in the Burrow – an irritating and unnecessary procedure. Multiply this by the millions of items needing attention in homes and businesses throughout the land, and the wasteful economic impact of this unnecessary biannual rigmarole becomes obvious. Yet, surprisingly, there seems to be no strong demand to scrap it.

During World War Two, summer time was retained throughout the winter and the clocks were moved forward another hour, to “double summer time”, in the summer. If this was in the national interest then, it should be the practice now if it is deemed necessary to change the clocks at all, or else we should stick to summer time throughout the year.

When Anticant was growing up during the War, his family lived next door to an elderly lady who refused to conform to the clock-changing routine because, she said, it upset the birds, who didn’t perform their dawn chorus at what she considered to be the appropriate hour. So she kept her clocks an hour behind everyone else’s. A friend of ours said she lived by ‘Cuckoo Time’.

Here at the Burrow, Cuckoo Time seems a jolly good idea – except that we would prefer to keep our clocks one hour ahead of everyone else.

Joking apart, what do others think of this clock-changing business?

Thursday, 18 October 2007


The welcome return of our errant Naked Kayaker has brought great relief to his Burrow friends, who were becoming quite sick with worry over his unaccustomed silence.

Why he went offline for so long is his own private business, and it isn't for us to pry. But knowing that Zola, Anticant, and some of our other regular blogging friends suffer from ongoing health problems, we in the Burrow would like to suggest that when any of us intend to stop blogging for a while we should post a note to this effect on our own blogs so that our friends won't be having nightmare scenarios about our being at - or through - death's door.

Welcome back to the Snug, Zola! Ben is serving fee drinks all round, Mrs Malaprop has donned a brand new pair of woollen stockings, and the Beadle has promised to turn a blind eye to a little discreet knicker waving. Dame Barbara has embarked upon a new epic, Paddlers' Paradise, involving intrepid canooing and canoodling in the Arctic, polar bears, virgins marooned on ice-floes, etc. etc. Order your discount advance copy NOW!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


It now seems that Pimpernel Zola has been hobnobbing - or nob-hopping - with two fat ladies, and is well oiled. [See his site.]

This tall tale reminds Ben of the following recent gleaning from the ether:

"A drunk is staggering down the road when two nuns are walking in the opposite direction.

As the nuns approach him they wonder which way to walk to avoid him as he staggers. The road is busy so they can't walk off the pavement, so they decide to separate, with one going each side of him.

As they pass the drunk he stops. Then after a moment he turns around, stares at the nuns, and says:

"How the f__k did she do that?"

Saturday, 13 October 2007


Since returning from his brief holiday in mid-September, Anticant has attended five outpatients' clinics at different hospitals - two for 'procedures' - and several more loom between now and Christmas [including yet another unpleasant 'procedure' at the end of this month].

All this makes him feel his new, octogenarian, age and is not conducive to skipping the light fantastic inside or out of the Burrow. We therefore ask our Snug 'regulars' and other friends to be patient while more energy is generated for creative invention. Even Dame Barbara is suffering from writer's block at the moment. Pink gins are at a premium.

There is still no news from Zola, who has been AWOL for over two weeks now. We trust that all is well with him, and look forward anxiously and eagerly for further tidings. Ben, the Beadle, and Wooffie would gladly sally forth bearing brandy and other comforts if they knew which direction to head in, but even Miss Marple is more clueless than usual. Only Mrs Malaprop is keeping her head above water, cossetting Anticant and the Dame and keeping a wary eye on the Crafty Chambermaid.

Monday, 8 October 2007


Zola has not been online for nearly two weeks now and his friends in the Burrow are becoming increasingly anxious as he has not responded to an email enquiring if he is OK.

Dear Zola, if you see this PLEASE post either on your own site or here, and let us know that all is well with you.

And if anyone else has news, or means of contacting Zola, please report back.

Saturday, 6 October 2007


Today I’ve been on this planet for eight decades. Survival is worth celebrating, I suppose, and a couple of years ago I didn’t think I would last this long. But I’d rather be 40 than 80, and I don’t expect to reach 90. So the question is: how best to spend the relatively brief remainder of my life?

Eric Berne, the wise ‘father’ of Transactional Analysis, once said that the most important problem every human being has is how to pass the time between being born and dying. In the wicked world we are living in, far too many people don’t have much choice in the matter, and the majority of those who can choose make what to my mind are some pretty rotten choices.

One choice I am making on this birthday is to spend less time in future on the supposedly serious blogosphere. I’m getting increasingly fed up with the ceaseless outpourings of anger, intolerance, and irrational opinion which clutter up so much blogging, and in particular the inability – or unwillingness – to follow a line of discussion through without veering off into irrelevant and intemperate rants and slanging matches. We are living through a self-tormented period when what Jung called the ‘dark shadow’ seems to have taken over the bulk of humankind, who purblindly see nothing but good in themselves and project all badness onto the supposedly demonic ‘other’.

With such almost universally one-sided views being peddled from conflicting standpoints, and so little inclination to compromise, I’ve almost given up hope of finding much constructive thinking or sensible answers on the internet [or anywhere else] to the increasingly menacing self-made plight of humanity, and reluctantly conclude that as the lunatics and thugs are well on the way to taking over the global asylum, there’s not much point in bashing my feeble brains around serious issues in the few short years I may have left to me.

Anyway, I’ve said most of what I want to say in previous posts, so anyone interested in my views can browse the Arena archive. No doubt I’ll be popping up every now and again in Anticant's Arena, but mostly I shall indulge in sheer escapism by frolicking in my Burrow, which I increasingly find a much more congenial place than the real world.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


During the court adjournment, Ben fished this out of the internet joke pond:

A woman goes to Italy to attend a two-week company training session.

Her husband drives her to the airport and wishes her to have a good trip.

The wife answers, "Thank you honey, what would you like me to bring for you?"

The husband laughs and says, "An Italian girl!"

The woman kept quiet and left.

Two weeks later he picks her up at the airport and asks, "So, honey, how was the trip?"

"Very good, thank you."

"And, what happened to my present?"

"Which present?"

"The one I asked for - an Italian girl!!"

"Oh, that," she said, "Well, I did what I could; now we have to wait for eight months to see if it's a girl."


Wooffie lurched into the witness box, hiccupping slightly. When told by Dame Barbara to bark once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’, he nodded blearily.

‘Now, Wooffie’, said Dame Barbara, ‘do you recognise the defendant?’. Wooffie barked once.

‘Do you trust her?’ Two barks.

‘Have you been keeping an eye on her?’ One bark.

‘Have you watched her through bedroom keyholes?’ One bark.

‘Oh, the treacherous hound!’ exclaimed the Crafty Chambermaid.

‘Did you see her rummaging under beds?’ One bark.

‘And was she concentrating on her cleaning duties?’ Two barks.

‘Did she remove any items of Miss Marple’s and Mrs Malaprop’s personal belongings?’ One bark.

Cross-examined by Miss Marple, Wooffie indicated that he had followed Dorcas into Burrowville, and had sneaked after her unobserved into the saloon bar of the Anticant Arms, where she was joined by a man who Wooffie identified as Snoopy Scribbler. Pretending to be asleep, Wooffie had seen, out of the corner of one eye, Dorcas talking into a tape recorder and then putting a large bundle of bank notes into her apron pocket.

Asked how he felt about this, Wooffie suddenly vomited and was hastily ordered by Dame Barbara to leave the witness box.