John Walsh: Whatever you do, don't tell Mr Kalashnikov

BTW...
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The Independent Online

The death is announced of Wilson Greatbatch, 92, the American inventor of the cardiac pacemaker, a revolutionary device which has, since the 1960s, pumped life into millions of people. And there's some news about Mikhail Kalashnikov, also 92, inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, a revolutionary device which has, since the 1950s, done the exact opposite. A Russian newspaper reports that, although the Russian army is no longer buying his weapon – the most effective killing machine in human history – the company has told its staff not to tell Mr Kalashnikov about it, in case the shock kills him. Oh bitter irony, etc.

* It seemed a little rude of Radio 4's Today programme to tell Ed Miliband, as Justin Webb did on Tuesday, that the word most used about him by delegates at the Labour conference was "weird". But it's not entirely a bad thing, Ed. The word has many connotations. Along with "unearthly," "uncanny" and "jolly peculiar," its old meaning (in Scotland, anyway) was as a noun: "Fate" or "destiny." As a verb, it meant "to destine or doom" somebody of something – as in the sentence, "I destine and doom the Labour Party to remain unelectable for the forseeable future".

* The Irish presidential race has a distinctly showbiz air. Frontrunner David Norris, Ireland's first openly gay senator, is a distinguished literary scholar who delights students with his impersonations of Leopold Bloom's cat in Ulysses. Dana Rosemary Scallon won the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest with a winsome ditty called "All Kinds of Everything". And Michael D Higgins, the Irish Labour Party president, turned up on a 1994 record by the Saw Doctors – a rousing number called "Michael D Rocking in the Dail".

* Bad week for pretty girls standing in fields in their undercrackers. First Rihanna falls foul of a farmer in Northern Ireland, and now, in Switzerland, a calendar company stands accused of "shameless exploitation" for featuring a dozen women posing in their skimpies in a barnyard with horses, chickens, sheep and goats. The calendar people retorted that all the girls "live in the countryside," and are "ambassadors for farming". Blimey. I didn't realise ambassadors looked like that.

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