Daily Archives: April 10, 2008

Every CPSC recall is to do with lead these days

ANOTHER DAY, another set of recalls from cpsc.gov – the US governmental agency that faced with the recall of exploding Dell notebooks issued a warning after the fact.

The odd thing is – and we monitor these recalls every day – is that today’s recall is to do with “fake teeth due to violation of lead paint standard”. Almost every recall is to do with lead, or lead paint. Lead is dangerous for kiddies.

It is true to say that when I was a kiddie in Aberdeen in the 1950s, my daddy said to me, don’t drink the water until you’ve let the water run a while, because we have lead pipes and we’ve been on holiday for several weeks.

The second CSPSC recall is that Michaels Stores has recalled its seasonal writing pens due to the violation of the US lead paint standard.

Lead is a wonderful element, Pb in the periodic table. When it oxidises it definitely looks dull and grey. But when you scrape the lead oxide off, it looks like a shiny metal. Anyone who has ever used a soldering iron knows this. In the periodic table,  lead (plumbum), silver (argentum) and gold are in the same class, so to speak. Gold extraction, however, normally needed cyanide to extract it. Inorganic and organic chemistry – the perfect mystery for every chemist.

It was this picture on the INQ that first galvanised us – yeah I do know the difference between the elements – to the 21st century dangers of lead.  For young kiddies, inhaling stuff like this is positively bad. It is elementary chemistry. ♣ 


Stitched up like Squirrel Nutkins, I was

I SEE RUPERT GOODWINS has written about his experiences in Ole Shanghai, here.

Much, if not most,  of this account is very very true. We did find a restaurant where he had Yellow Croaker with Squirrel Nutlets. I was approached by an old geezer who asked me where I was from. I did reply “Iceland” because this is an excellent way of foxing someone trying to sell you something.

Look what happened when an old geezer went off in front of me in Ole Iceland some years go. I was dumbfounded and left speechless,  too.


Rupert didn’t say what happened, the very next day, after we had visited endless pavilions and rocks in Ole Suzhou. On the way back, on the bus, the very excellent tour guide, who arranged for the sartorially minded to have multiple suits and shirts made for them, promised us we’d be going to the best and oldest restaurant in Ole Shanghai.

This turned out to be the same place Rupert and I dined at the day before. And sure enough, a Yellow Croaker with Squirrel Nutkins turned up on the revolving table.

Outside, Rupert and I surveyed the scene. A beautiful plaque was on the wall, telling us about the magnificence of the Shanghai Old Restaurant with a “total flood area over 10,000 square meters”. This, presumably, is where the Yellow Croakers live, to be fished out at will whenever Rupert and Magee tip up there together. Rupert’s account of Ole Shanghai continues, here.


The bogster’s guide to the UK nationals

LOTS OF OUR foreign friends have asked us about the weird array of UK newspapers which we call “the nationals”.

Look, this is puzzling even for us locals, so bear with us while we have a crack at it.

All of the nationals have their own particular political axe to grind despite having editorial stances which they insist are independent.

You used to be able to divide English daily newspapers into “broadsheets” and “tabloids”, but the only dailies which remain broadsheet are the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph. These two newspapers are a very useful size for bundling cat litter in but our Tabyssinians don’t invest money in shares, nor have they ever been retired colonels who live in Tunbridge Wells, certainly not in this incarnation.

Other daily papers here are The Times, the Sun, the Mirror, the Grauniad and the Independent, the Daily Star, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. These are all tabloids now, although the Times, the Grauniad, and the Independent all used to be broadsheets, and still maintain a certain lofty air.

None of them are any good at all for bundling cat litter, although the Tabyssinians here regularly read the Star. It is a cracking title for literate cats – see if you don’t think so. (Warning: This may be not a good site to browse if you work at a corporation).

Here is our first classification, based on the Tabyssinian/cat litter rating. Marks are between one and 10, where 10 means excellent and one means useless.

The Scotsman is another UK National. We have not included it in our survey, because while it may be good for Scottish wildcats, Tabyssinians cannot read it, nor go north of the border, because they refuse point blank to wear so-called “kilts” or play the bagpipes.

Now we must examine the political affiliations of these 10 newspapers. They can broadly be described as newspapers of the right, the left, the centre and the periphery.


ROC means right of centre, or Taiwanese; LOC means left of centre, or PRC; POC means periphery of centre; ROR means right of right; COR means centre of right; Blimey means it will cause you to utter an ejaculation; RRR means right, right, right; LOR means left of right; COR means the same as BLIMEY. The Scotsman is a special case, like wildcats.

We have some sympathy for The Sun and The Times. While we were working at the INQster, Sun Microsystems tried to sue us and we had some pro bono assistance from the guys at The Sun which really helped our case.  Sun Microsystems is here, while The Sun is here. There is no connection between the two apart from the word “sun”. In days of yore, Scott “look and feely” McNealy tried to dub the different parts of his organisation after the names of planets. The Daily Planet is the paper Clark Kent used to work on. We do not know if Sun Microsystems ever had a problem with the Leicester Mercury.

While News International owns The Sun, The Wall Street Journal (sub required), The Times and the New York Daily Post, all these newspapers only have one thing in common.  They all have web sites and suffer from a certain schiziness because they all print newspapers and therefore have huge problems with printing ink, distribution, and what we call in this country “newsagents”.

While Private Eye is a satirical fortnightly,  it runs very hard news too, which is often picked up by the “nationals” who rarely attribute it. This is because they are serious organs which take themselves way too seriously.