Beheading is exclusive to Saudi Arabia, with 100 carried out in 2008. The executions usually take place without prior notice to the accused, their hands are tied before being taken to the nearest public place to where the crime was committed – and near to the largest Mosque. They are forced to kneel before the executioner with cries of Allahu Akbar [God is great] as he draws his sword. Sometimes beheading is followed by a public display such as putting the body on a cross – as happened in the Saudi capital Riyadh in May 09.

Hanging. The most humane form is considered to be ‘the long drop’ where a person is pre- measured and weighed in order to calculate the distance of drop so that the spinal cord in the neck [C1 & C2] is broken and death occurs at least within a few minutes. Failure to calculate correctly can cause either slow death [too short] by strangulation or decapitation [too long].

Countries that mostly execute by hanging are: Afghanistan Bangladesh, Botswana, Iraq, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, St Kitts & Nevis, Sudan.USA – In Washington it is available for prisoners who have requested it, and in New Hampshire if lethal injection is not an option.

Iran uses the automotive telescoping crane, which hoists the condemned up who is then slowly strangled by the noose; loss of consciousness taking up to 9 minutes and death up to 45 minutes. It is the most usual method of punishment taking place in public and often en masse – it may also be combined with flogging and amputation of limbs beforehand.
Stoning. There is a specific penal code regarding stoning: the condemned person is wrapped in white shrouds and buried in a pit. Men are buried up to their waists and women to their breasts. The stones used should not be large enough to kill the person in 1 or 2 strikes or be too small to cause an injury. If the person can escape they will be freed – ‘which is very unlikely, particularly for a woman with just her head and shoulders above the ground.’

Where is stoning legal?

Nigeria – issued deaths by stoning in 2008.  Iran – 2 men stoned to death Dec 25th 2008, and 1 in March 05th 2009. Somalia – a 13 year old girl stoned to death for adultery Oct 27 2008. On 17th Sept 09 Indonesia passed a new law to allow stoning. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Iraq also maintain the law for stoning.


Firing squad. The process varies from country to country so this is a general overview:

3-6 soldiers or peace officers fire simultaneously at the condemned, who may be strapped to a post or chair or lined up against a wall, they may be hooded or blindfolded in some instances a rock will be put in the mouth to stop any shouting. The shooters then aim at the heart for up to three rounds if this is unsuccessful they may also be shot in the head at close range or left to bleed to death.

The firing squad has been used in 2008 and 2009 in carrying out executions in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates [preferred], Indonesia [preferred], Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. The US state of Oklahoma authorizes this method which is reserved should the electric chair or lethal injection be deemed unconstitutional.

Shooting. China uses shooting reportedly in about half of all cases, mostly with a single shot to the back of the head or the heart from close range, the shootings may also be carried out en masse by firing squads.

Lethal Injection. China introduced lethal injection as a more humane form of execution in 1997. Creating mobile execution vans that travel to the area of the crime and that are equipped to facilitate death by injection. Critics, fuelled by the authorities refusal to allow anyone access to the bodies after execution, say that the switch to lethal injection is motivated not by human rights but rather by the illegal trade in prisoners organs.

United States
Lethal injection is used in all 36 states that apply the death penalty and by the military and Federal Government. There has been considerable controversy surrounding the use of lethal injection since its first use in1982. The US Supreme Court ordering a suspension of its use in Sept 07 after cases of slow and apparently painful deaths had occurred. The debate was whether lethal injection was considered to be a cruel and unusual punishment; the conclusion made was that the amount of pain and risk involved in lethal injection whilst unpleasant and worthy of elimination was not a violation of the constitution but rather inevitable. The suspension was subsequently lifted in April 2008.

The latest controversy has surrounded the failed execution of Rommel Brown in Ohio on Sept 15th 09 where staff after numerous efforts were unable to locate a suitable vein and abandoned the attempt after 2 hours. The execution was re- scheduled for the following week until a temporary restraining order was issued prohibiting a 2nd attempt unless a new motion was filed.

Electrocution. Confined to the US only 9 states maintain the use of the electric chair; Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. It may be offered to inmates as an alternative to lethal injection or used should lethal injection be considered unconstitutional.

The process involves the prisoners head & right leg to be shaved, they are then strapped into the electric chair, a wet sponge with covering skull cap placed on their head and an electrode placed on the leg when done they are blindfolded and up to 2000 volts sent through them for 30 seconds, if the process fails it is repeated until death occurs. The process may be viewed by a selected audience who are briefed beforehand. The procedure can cause violent movement of limbs, defecation and urination, vomiting of blood, the eyeballs to pop out, steam and smoke to rise from the person and the head to catch on fire.

The Gas Chamber. Now generally confined to the US, 5 states approve of its use; Arizona, California, Maryland and Missouri offer it as an alternative to lethal injection and Wyoming maintains it in case lethal injection is banned. The offender is strapped to a chair in a specially designed chamber and advised to take deep breaths to quicken the process – which they typically don’t. When the released gases – sulfuric acid and sodium cyanide react they produce hydrogen cyanide depriving the heart of oxygen inducing a heart attack type pain in the condemned for several minutes until death.


10 Political Leaders and their Dogs

Lucky, Ronald & Margaret

Lucky, Ronald & Margaret

1) Ronald Reagan owned two dogs a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Rex and a Bouvier des Flanders [Belgian Cattle Dog] called Lucky. Lucky, a gift, who started out as a small bundle of fur grew as Nancy Reagan put it “to be the size of a pony,” she also was terrible at being walked on a leash and on one occasion whilst Margaret Thatcher was visiting unceremoniously dragged Ronald Reagan across the White House lawn in front of photographers. This was considered humiliating for a United States President and Lucky was promptly dispatched to the Reagan ranch in California.

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

2) Theodore Roosevelt had at least 5 dogs whilst living in the White House. One dog particularly made his mark – a Bull Terrier named Pete. Pete managed to get into a lot of trouble by snapping at cabinet members, biting the leg of a naval officer and ripping the pants of the French Ambassador Jules Jusserand. This made his position untenable and Pete was swiftly sent to the family home in New York.

Ear we go..

Ear we go..

3) Lyndon B. Johnson owned 7 dogs – 1 Collie called Blanco, who he apparently always shook hands with when he returned to the White House. 1 Mongrel called Yuki who disgraced himself in the Oval Office in front of everyone, including the Shah of Iran – and later bit a White House police officer in the groin. Plus 5 Beagles called – Him, Her, Beagle, Little Beagle and J Edgar; Johnson’s favourite was said to be the Beagle called Him who was run over and killed on the White House grounds. Some believe that Johnson’s popularity was damaged when a photo of him pulling Him up by his ears was published.

Not entirely comfortable

Not entirely comfortable

4) George H W Bush owned a Springer Spaniel called Millie who became well known when a book titled ‘Millie’s Book: as dictated to Barbara Bush’ was published. This book sold more copies than George Bush’s Autobiography, and after learning that his dog had made $889,176 in royalties he is quoted as saying to graduates in 1992 “Study hard, and you might grow up to be President. But let’s face it: Even then you’ll never make as much money as your dog.” He also said, referring to Al Gore and Bill Clinton –“My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than those two bozos.”

a dog jefferson

5) Thomas Jefferson concerned with the relatively new practice of farming sheep in Virginia  and protecting them from wolves and other hungry dogs, brought back with him from France a breed of  dog called ‘Chien de Berger’ or shepherd dog. The Shepherds dog was just one of the species that Jefferson was intent on colonizing in the United States. [Along with the Skylark, Nightingale, Red Legged Partridge the Hare, Angora rabbit and Angora goat.] Keen to create a pure breed of Sheep dog that was reliable and trustworthy Jefferson ordered one bitch to be ‘hung’ when she was found eating a sheep.

a dog franklin roose

6) Franklin D Roosevelt had many pets but it was a Scottish terrier named Fala that became his absolute favourite. Wherever the President went Fara went, Roosevelt, concerned with Fala’s health even issued written orders to the White House staff that ‘Not one crumb will be fed to Fala except by the President.’ On one occasion in December 1941 when ‘A Declaration by the United Nations’ was being signed in the Oval Office it was reported that there was not a heartbeat to be heard from all the guests gathered round for the mementos occasion – apart from that of Fala who was sleeping ‘rather heavily’ whilst laying stretched out on the floor in the office. With regards to the widely reported myth that Roosevelt spent $15,000 for a destroyer to pick up Fala this was addressed in Roosevelt’s so called ‘Fala Speech’ which he ended by saying “I think I have the right to resent, to object to libellous statements about my dog.”

Hitler & Blondi

Hitler & Blondi

7) Adolf Hitler was said to adore the loyalty and obedience of the German shepherd dog [Alsatian]. His favourite being Blondi who was constantly by his side and even allowed to sleep in his bedroom, this affection however was not shared by his girlfriend Eva who according to her secretary would regularly kick Blondi under the dining room table. Hitler took Blondi and her four puppies to the bunker with him along with Eva and her two terriers. In his last days Hitler no longer trusted the SS and wanted to check that the cyanide capsules he had been given actually worked. He ordered his physician Werner Haase to test them on Blondi who was duly taken to the toilet, her jaws forced open and cyanide capsules crushed – by pliers – into her mouth. She died instantly. Hitler came in soon after, saw Blondi dead and walked out without saying a word. Blondi’s four puppies were then ordered to be shot and so were taken from the arms of the Goebbels children, who had been playing with them, and immediately destroyed along with Eva’s two terriers.

Nixon & Family

Nixon & Family

8) Richard Nixon was a rising star in 1952 until the New York Post ran the headline “Secret Rich Man’s Trust Fund Keeps Nixon in Style Far Beyond his Salary.” Nixon went on TV to defend this saying yes there was a fund but it wasn’t secret – it was for covering campaign expenses, with no donor ever receiving special treatment – and he produced the financial proof from an independent audit. Although he did declare that there was one very special gift he had received; a black and white Cocker Spaniel – since named Checkers – who was given to the family by a man in Texas after hearing that the Nixon children wanted a dog. He went on to say ‘you know the kids love the dog and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what the press have to say about it we are going to keep it.’ This speech was an unprecedented success, [the first of its type] filmed in a studio set that was designed to represent a middle class den; Nixon had changed the political landscape to one where personality could potentially exceed policy.

Rufus with Winston

Rufus with Winston

9) Winston Churchill had a poodle named Rufus who it’s reported was very much included as part of the family; he ate in the dining room where a cloth was laid for him on the Persian carpet beside the head of the table and no one was able to eat until the butler had served Rufus’s meal.  Another example is when on one evening whilst residing at Chequers [Prime Minister’s holiday home] the family sat down to watch Oliver Twist; Rufus was sitting on Churchill’s lap and at the point where Bill Sykes is about to drown his dog Bulls Eye, Churchill covered Rufus’s eyes with both hands and said “Don’t look now dear I’ll tell you about it afterwards.

“When Rufus died Churchill got another Poodle and said “His name is Rufus II – but the II is silent.”

JFK & Family

JFK & Family

10) John F Kennedy in 1961 faced a major crisis; [simply put] the USA had surrounded the Soviet Union with military bases housing nuclear missiles. The leader of the Soviet Union – Nikita Krushchev had decided to equalise the balance of power by turning Cuba – just 70 miles from Florida into a naval base, also housing nuclear missiles – pointing directly at America. There followed a ‘standoff’ with the potential for utterly devastating consequences. Kennedy favoured a blockade and negotiations, Krushchev also appeared to prefer a peaceful compromise and resolution; in due course both came to an agreement minus conflict. However Kennedy’s military advisors also known as Joint Chiefs of Staff complained bitterly that the political talk was weak, stating this was ‘the greatest defeat in our history’ and still heatedly urged an invasion; causing Kennedy in his office to be ‘absolutely shocked’ and ‘stuttering in reply.’ Kennedy nevertheless remained resolute and now almost 50 years later historians pretty much agree that this was the most dangerous moment in the cold war, and an imperishable example of how one man through wise statesmanship prevented a catastrophe; that may well still be in the wings.

President Krushchev subsequently went on to give a gift to JFK’s daughter Caroline – a dog named Pushinka – who was the offspring of Russian space dogs Strelka and Pushok both of whom were as usual for space dogs [hardy] stray mongrels. Charlie the Kennedy’s pedigree Welsh terrier got along very well with Pushinka resulting in four puppies, which John Kennedy called ‘pupniks.’ Descendents of which are still alive today.

10 Celebrity Baby Names

October 6, 2009

10 Celebrity Baby Names

Recently someone I know, who’s 40ish changed their name from Lyn a name she’d always hated to Susie a name she likes, fair enough I say and simple enough apparently – it can be done online in a jiffy and for free. However her father who chose her name is not speaking to her anymore and some people she knows still insist on calling her by her ‘real’ name. My point or rather suggestion is, what if we get to officially re-name ourselves at 18 as a kind of ceremony into adulthood, it’s a bizarre thing that lots of us get lumbered with names we don’t like, find embarrassing or that are just plain weird and never change them because we don’t want to offend our parents or behave unusually – when surely all birth names are sort of mini labels that say more about the parents than the child – so how about we get to acceptably re-name ourselves in a way that suits us, including surnames – having just done a list of medical Aptronyms [apt-names] and 50 Really Mad Baby Names – I think there’s a strong case for more of us to go running to the name registry for absolution.

With that in mind here are some high listers from the great minds of celebrities…

1) Seven Sirius

Andre Benjamin. Not too bad in itself but I just keep thinking of the film – the severed head the well you know, I couldn’t live with it.

2) Sage Moonblood

Sly Stallone. Sage is nice but Moonblood what the hell……

3)    Pilot Inspektor

Jason Lee, named after the song “He’s simple, he’s dumb, he’s the pilot.” Oh yeah, and Inspektor?  It looks like a German job title.

4)    Moxie Crimefighter

Penn Jillette. Sounds like some kind of armed elite vigilante.

5) Audio Science

Shannyn Sossamon. Wouldn’t mind taking a degree in it.

6)    Tu Morrow

Rob Morrow. Tu is good Morrow is good – but tugether – no.

7)    Jermajesty

Jermaine Jackson – pretentious moi?

8)  Moon Unit

It’s a girl! – Frank & Gail Zappa, yes that’s Frank and Gail – also parents to Dweezil and Diva Thin Muffin. So got to have the really famous parents – or death.

9) Camera

Arthur Ashe, well that’s photography and film-directing out then.

10) Prince Michael II

Michael Jackson – he may have been a great dad but I personally wouldn’t be pleased with this, being named the same as a parent gets confusing at the best of times but to be named after a sibling that has already been named after the parent – I wouldn’t know where I was.

50 Really Bad Baby Names

September 15, 2009

50 Really Bad Baby Names

I’m all for new original names, to repeat the same set of names over and over would be extremely dull, language evolves names evolve; fabulous keeps us all on our toes. However I do have a couple of misgivings with some people’s choices – like giving names that are ‘funny.’  Yeah; really funny just around about the time you get the munchies and ending at around about the time you take the first slow sip of your morning coffee. Even the best joke in the world is only funny for 5 minutes – ok maybe half an hour – ok maybe every time you relive it with friends & wine – but for a whole life time no.  The other one is names like Unique – not so much the name but the reason, where people say I want my child to have a unique name because they are; now it’s true they are, but so is every child, and so in fact is a snowflake a finger tip a leaf a dog and a sandwich – in fact everything is unique, in fact being unique is the most common thing in the world – here’s some unique baby names for you; Predominant Prevalent Rampant Rife and Widespread.

When we name a child we label them with an expression of who we are not who they are, I once knew a lady called Joy Love, we all called her Misery Arse. My point, some names just do not suit their owners. Maybe the person named Ikea would prefer to be called Habitat, maybe the person named Arsenal would prefer to be called West-Ham and maybe the bloke named Excalibourgh would prefer to be called John. We don’t know so surely it would be better, if we insist on getting all creative is to re-name ourselves Moon Buggy / Popsicle / Crop Circle whatever…. rather than put our children through tortuous embarrassment. To name but a few situations – Morning Registration; Wayne Caird, here. Adora Dix, here. Iona Handcock, here. Then dating – who did you say you were going out with tonight dear? Batman. And Job interview; so Mr Hitler you’d like to work for the National Health Service. These things must be thought through.

And here they are:

NA means requested at registration but somehow not allowed

A. Adolf Hitler, Alka Seltzer, Armani, Arsenal, Avon, Abercrombie

B. Bubba, Baby Jesus, Bread, Babeloffery, Batman, Benson & Hedges, Baby Jesus Queen

C. Candy Barr, Catatonia, Cartier

D. D’Artagnan, Dianionique, Disney

E. Excalibourgh, Entrafemour, Everest, ESPN

F. Female, Free, Freedom, Fexiflossah, Fish&Chips [NA] Friday, Fitch

G. God [NA]

I. Ikea, Iona Handcock, Ivor Dix, Adora Dix

J.  Jackie O, John Thomas

K.  Krapholeanalee, Ken Tucky, Keenan Got Lucy [NA]

L.  Lexus, L’Oreal

M. Mary Christmas, Marijuana Pepsi Jackson, Memory, Maybe Barnes, Mike Hunt

N. Number 16 Bus Shelter, Non-Smo-Kang, Notwithstanding Griswold

O. Oral Sunshine Dust, Octogonrae,

P. Peanut, Puma, Pokemon, Pleasant Titty

R. Russell Prout, Ruby Cox, Rehab, Reality, Redrum, Rusty Dicks

S. Smack Head, Savlon, Snow White, Superman, Scatman, Sex Fruit [NA], Sandy Butts

T. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, Tarzan, Tinkerbell, Trixiebell, Timberland

U. Usmail, Usnavy, Unlawful, Unique, Urchines Kendall Icy Eight Special K,

V. Violence, Ventura

W. Wayne Caird

X. Xerox

Y. Yeah Detroit [NA]