05 August 2009

Daily Chat 05/08/09

Penda of Mercia defeated Oswald of Northumbria in 642. Sir Humphrey Gilbert established the first English colony in North America in 1583, at what is now St. John's, Newfoundland. The world's first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914 and Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1962. Celebrating birthdays today: Neil Armstrong, Loni Anderson, Pete Burns, Sophie Winkleman and Iowa's own Lolo Jones. It is Independence Day in Burkina Faso.


  1. The set-up of the first electric traffic light makes me think on the huge business that traffic has meant since. Effectively traffic fines as a consequence thereof in the world are a very important part of the income of Town Halls, an income based on the mistakes or purposeful wrongdoings of motorists.

    Oil and its derivatives again at work.

    By the way it seems oil reserves are becoming lower by the day. And no energy alternatives yet working in replacement.

    See this link:

    oil supplies

  2. CIF has published a truly stomach churning piece from Susand Anderson (Henderson maybe). A little fluff piece about the wonders of private firms running public services. I scroll down and who is she?

    A director at the CBI.

    These people make me feel physically unwell.

  3. These people make me feel physically unwell.

    well I'll see your "unwell", and raise you a "raging fury", courtesy of Justin Gest's smugly vacuous ninja warriors piece.

  4. goldengate has just dished up a blinder on that daft Ariane "ogling" thread.

    I'm still laughing at his post now.

  5. Leching is more interesting than it's given credit for. I *guarantee* that when I look at a woman as I'm riding or driving by, she will turn around and look back at me. How does she know she is being looked at? How does that happen? Ahem, How does that happen?????? I've never seen any scientist looking at this apart from Sheldrake, and his findings are poohpoohed, but yet, it happens.

    Can't be my aftershave as I don't wear any...

  6. Jay - yes, a thoroughly revolting article.

  7. Frank
    How does that happen???????

    You can't help looking - we can't help knowing. We always know....we just know

  8. good shout, Thaum, i'm going to have a look.

  9. Jay, let me summarise it for you:

    Bidisha gets indignant about something, with implication (or direct accusation) that it's down to prejudice against women, or lesbians, or something else she holds dear.

    A few people point out that there's a perfectly reasonable, non-prejudiced explanation for said circumstance.

    Bidisha ignores them and jumps on her next hobby horse.


  10. Dot - good guess, but not quite, this time! It's about Love At First Sight (!) with a random perve over Sandra Bullock:

    I love Bullock's tawny tallness and I want her characters to be happy. I also want to buff her all over and comb her russet hair for hours like a keen stablehand at a pony parlour.


  11. Thauma,

    Twasn't a guess, I read the article: love at first sight was the thing she held dear in this case..........

  12. Read it. Boring. Her tone so grates me.

  13. @Jay:

    Agreed mate, just can't read her 6th form witterings without grimacing.

    And how dull would a film about the good old coup de foudre be, if right at the start, the magical moment happened, and then everything was happy ever after?

  14. (a late response to the first post via Montana on 3/8/09 daily chat)

    @dropinbucket/3pot4/and now s3lishsp4lash(!)

    hello Nicholas, good to read you again. I was thinking just the other day that you'd been off air for a while, but then again you often take a breather before you re-engage. Doesn't matter what name you chose to post under I'll recognise the double comma ,, trademark. It's your signature .. I remember you saying that the commas are your hand gestures to punctuate as you type - as you speak.

    No, I agree, it's not worth wiping out your 3pot4 cache of poems with a name change. Speaking of which, your poems were chosen for the forthcoming (when?) Guardian Anthology of Poetry - what name did you give Sarah Crown? Will you publish under your real name, or are you committed to 3pot4?

    So how's the creative (visual - sculpture?) part of your life going at the moment? What are you making?

    Anyway, great to know you're still out there watching, reading, posting, creating. Funny how time blinks - next week is the anniversary of our farewell to cynicalsteve. Michele is moving on, selling Hedgelands, a good renewal I think - and hope.

    If you're looking for a great poetry site, visit Tom Clark - he'd appreciate your company ;) You can find him at: http://tomclarkblog.blogspot.com/

  15. Hang on, is Bidisha saying no one has ever made a film about love at first sight? Is she really saying that? Isn't she supposed to be some media creature or something?

    Is the thing about Bidisha perhaps... she's just a bit dim?

  16. I've come to the conclusion that she just selects a lot of purple adjectives and then hangs them on any old premise.

  17. I wonder if Bidisha thought of checking IMDB. There's at least a dozen films called Love At First Sight.

    I wonder what they're about?

    Frank, regards the looking business. I've pondered this myself. My theory is that when the person looks at you they are in fact reacting to catching the sight of the movement of your head to turn to look at them out of the corner of their eye.

    If it's true, call it Summerisle's Theory.

  18. LordS - you are wrong. It's because we can read your filthy little minds.

  19. It's because we can read your filthy little minds
    Bugger! I knew it!!

  20. Bloody hell - have just spotted "Every government needs a Harman" and the Yvonne Roberts one about how we need collaborative education.

    The mind boggles.

  21. As a kid, I was sure my mum could read my mind. In fact to this very day I'm still not convinced she can't.

  22. Frank:

    Many years ago, I worked in the chill out bar of a techno nightclub, which is where most people would go if they wanted a joint. Over time, I became pretty experienced at spotting people discreetly trying to skin up - eventually I could walk over to people who hadn't even started and tell them they couldn't do that here (does wonders for the paranoia of someone really gone on ecstasy).

    Women (especially women with large breasts) have this skill too. No matter how discreet you think you're being, you're looking at someone who has been looked at more than you can imagine. She will pick up your body language from a mile away, and even though you think you've just made a little glance, your whole posture and mannerisms will be different in a way that screams out 'I'm looking at your tits'.

  23. Lord S,

    My Mum is a woman, a mother AND a primary school teacher, I didn't stand a chance, never had any fun as a kid..............

    .........which is why I'm making up for it now ;-)

  24. No, the "people just pick up your body language or notice you out of the corner of their eye" theory doesn't work. You can be riding a motorcycle and look at the back of someone's head... and they look round.

    You know, one of the reasons I got annoyed with CiF is I wanted to write a non-crystal-hugging piece about "paranormal" events; specifically telepathy. Specifically some experiements I've done with my youngest daughter... MattS nixed it and suggested CiFbelief, even though it's nothing to do with religion. Got vetoed there too.

    Have you noticed this? The assumption that anything that doesn't quite fit with current scientific assumptions must be somehow religious or spiritual in nature? Huh? I absolutely 100% believe in the reality of telepathic contact, sometimes, for some people, somehow, but I don't see this as in any way supporting the existence of god or anyfin. It's, I'm certain, a function of the way we think - if anyone ever figures out the human mind, flashes of telepathy will be seen to be an emergent phenomena on *that* emergent phenomena - just an aspect of the universe we don't have a handle on yet.

    Rant rant.

    Dont' get me started on other ideas they vetoed...

  25. Over time, I became pretty experienced at spotting people discreetly trying to skin up - eventually I could walk over to people who hadn't even started and tell them they couldn't do that here

    As a despatch rider I could predict which car was about to do something damned stupid thirty seconds before the driver did it. I can still do that - it freaks my missus out. "See that Golf - he's going to do something insane..." and he does... ho ho ho.

  26. I can tell when someone's about to switch lanes on the motorway before they start indicating...

    ..I can also sex a crayfish from above, when their bits are underneath.......

  27. Don't get me started on other ideas they vetoed...

    Oh, do tell.

    Regards motorcycle riders ... I'm tempted to say it's because you motorcycle riders are a paranoid bunch but the other suggestion I'd offer is that man has evolved from a creature that was at one time much lower down the food chain. We still carry that with us. We're always scanning the surroundings for predators. We see a flick of movement, such as a head turning, and we look up. He hear a noise, such as a motorcycle, and we look up. Hell, we spend a lot of the time scanning for predators simply because those of us that stayed alive were those who spent a lot of time looking for predators.

    It's a liberal mixture of fear and coincidence.

  28. and something else LordSummerIsle.

    Yes, of course we look for danger, we look for patterns, we are extraordinarily good and fast at seeing both patterns and the things which break the pattern - we're hunters and prey; we are *very* good at detecting dangers and opportunities; but none of this explains how we can detect danger in the plain white steel of the back of a transit van, or how an individual with their back to us fifty yards away knows we're looking at her arse.

  29. Interesting ideas thrown up by the discussion on the Bidisha piece (doubtless more interesting than either her piece or the thread following).

    Can I suggest that we’re clearly seeing an extension of the “male gaze” concept so beloved of Po-Mo Rad-Fem discourse?

    Except now it includes the mum’s gaze, the spot-a-splif gaze, the despatch rider’s gaze and the crayfish-sexer’s gaze.

    There’s got to be a CiF piece in there somewhere, Frank, but if you want Seaton to accept it, you’ll have to cram it full of pseudo-academic verbiage, and submit it under a false name – French and female would give you the best chance, I reckon.

    In the unlikely event they don’t publish it, I’m sure Montana will be happy for you to post it here.

    Just don’t include anything about the socialist hater’s gaze and I might even read it myself...

  30. Dot: please tell me that 'sexing a crayfish' does not mean what I think it means.

  31. ... or how an individual with their back to us fifty yards away knows we're looking at her arse

    That's an assumption. You were looking at her. She looked back at you. That's all you know. You assume cause and effect, but there's no reason for doing so.

  32. You assume cause and effect, but there's no reason for doing so.

    Correlation - again and again and again. And a connection. C'mon... it happens.

    But okay, here's the example I wanted to write about on CiF: reading to my six year old daughter, Maddy, at night, my, then, three year old, Phoebe, would sometimes sit and look at the book alongside us, sometimes lie on the bottom of the bed, sometimes dangle upside down in the wardrobe, as they do. Maddy would read, come to a word she was stuck on, umm a bit, I would look at the word, think it, and Phoebe would say it. Noticed this for a while before mentioning it to the missus, and she confirmed Phoebe did it with her too. So I looked at eliminating possibles - made sure Phobe couldn't see the book, so eliminating the possibility she could simply read, made sure it wasn't a book she had seen/heard at home or play group by buying obscure/new books, hid them in the house so she couldn't have found them before we read, made sure the words weren't guessable in context by selecting weird extracts to read that couldnt' possibly be within Phoebe's experience.

    And still she did it, night after night. "Jack stood on the cliffs and saw a... umm... ummm... umm" "Hovercraft!" shouts Phee.

    That was a good one...

    Maddy is a sweet and bright child, and didn't get annoyed by these interruptions, although she did start feeling a little bad that three year old Phoebe could "get" all these words she couldn't, while staring at the ceiling or hiding under a blanket. But then one day she twigged... "Hey..." looking baffled and crosseyed, " how does Phoebe do that?" P giggled and hid. "How do you do it Phee?" I asked, worried about breaking the spell. "Don't know. Just do"

    I don't know how she does it either, but I know it's not something body language, guessing or fakery can explain. And it is, 100%, real.

    I'm quite encouraged by this - it annoys me that so many claimed "rationalists" are not, annoys me that science largely ignores the accumulating evidence, and especially annoys me that they do so even though they don't have a fucking theory of mind anyway!!!! How is telepathy weirder than... speaking? Simply thinking? How is it weirder than dreaming? Anyway, I like the fact - simple fact - that there is a massive hole in science; someone will fill it one day, and we shall all benefit.

  33. Swifty, I think it might be a pretty brief film, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. They see each other, fall in love, marry, end, I suppose.

    She would make an even worse scriptwriter than she does a journalist.

    Frank why dont you put your article here?

    I read an interesting theory for the "6th sense" once, that its actually gravity changes we can sense, tiny changes, that its another sense we arent aware we have, and thats why it sometimes feels like you know someone or something is there/happening before you have looked/heard it. Cant remember where i read it but quite interesting.

  34. Fascinating story, Frank. No doubt about that.

    Unless you're hoping to flog it somewhere, why not do as Jay suggests and put the article up here?

  35. Anyway, I like the fact - simple fact - that there is a massive hole in science; someone will fill it one day, and we shall all benefit.

    Maybe, but there are going to be others there first, in fact they already are. The phenomenon you describe is part of what is classified as Indigo Children in the new age movement. Genuinely unusual behaviour is now knee deep in pseudo science and freestyle bullshit which preys upon a parent's natural desire to think that their child is special (I'm not suggesting that's the case with you, Frank, btw). Consequently, there are a lot of children with either undiagnosed medical/psychological conditions, or who are just badly behaved, who are now classified as Indigo or Crystal by their parents.
    I think that you're right in that there are some unexplained phenomena that could do with some scientific rigour, I just wonder what effect that might have on gullible parents or unusual children.
    A lot of money has already been made by people who have convinced parents that their child is in need of 'special training', when in fact they have ADHD.

  36. Incidentally, I heartily recommend Jon Ronson's book, 'The men who stare at goats', for an insight into what happened when the US Army started to believe in paranormal activity. Some of its funny, but some is downright scary.

  37. There was a film called "Love at First Bite" a spoof vampire movie with George Hamilton.

    It's as hot as hell over here - storm brewing.

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  39. Not at all, Annetan, Harry Enfield did a famous sketch on the wandering eye of the more mature lady, "Young man..."

  40. Right lets get it right this time!

    The consensus seems to be that only men ogle...

    Am I the only female who sometimes ctaches herself gazing at a a well muscled chest or a shapely butt?

    Caught myself at it in M&s this afternoon! Oops suddenly my glass of diet coke was absolutely fascinating.

    I think women do it too, but old ones like me aren't supposed to apparently.

    You can dream even if you are nearly 67 ;-)

  41. Sealion

    I read 'The men who stare at goats' on a train once and was convinced it was a spoof until someone showed me the film.'
    Hilarious but verrrryyy worrying.


  42. first off ,,thanks to Para for the very thoughtful asprin,,it has certainly helped with my headache,,

    thanks to frank for a very interesting anecdote on a phenomena very dear to my heart non verbal communication,,and one i have been sharing for many years with my children,,and dogs and cats,,and also the community i live in,,

    an anecdote for frank,,walking along a busy mid summer afternoon high street we stopped for the traffic light,,two blocks away on the other side of the street i saw four or five people
    looking into an empty storefront,,i said to my kids spontaneously'' strange that ,,see those people ? i cant tell if they are dancers or martial artists,,two months later the capoeria studio opened its doors,,i have a lot of those anecdotes,,

    with regard to kids abilities i firmly believe that there is an opportunity from birth to nurture and gain confidence in nonverbal communication and it gets suppressed and turned off
    by the people and circumstances of our enviroment,,the problem is that if you know what i am thinking then i can not lie to you,,and most everything in the world runs on lies,,hence the buzzphrase "cognitive dissonance",,""i know its not true but we will all agree to pretend and believe it is.""

    original sin was telling the first lie

    the most important thing to NOT turn off every little Phoebe's natural ability is to NEVER
    lie or exagerate or twist the truth,,ANY truth,,not even about why it is bedtime,,about why kids eat veggies,, about why is that man naked,,

    white lies serve to fog the lens of unspoken communications,,and its very very hard to clean

    all the lessons that work for kids also work for dogs and vice versa,,how many times you heard someone say "my dog knows what i am thinking ",,how often do you "think a lie" at a dog,, their lens stays clean

    my last thought is that this is the absolute worst subject for a remote non verbal text based
    investigation,,but the anecdotes are fun for the like minded,,

  43. Wow. Thanks for that MF. I never knew he'd made a documentary of it. George Clooney is making a hollywood version, which will be weird.

  44. annetan

    Don't worry - You are not the only 'old' woman who does this - I do it all the time (with some subtlety, I hope) knowing that its completely safe because i am so old, the beautiful young men don't see me looking at them.

    Actually I look at people all the time women, men makes no difference, people are endlessly fascinating. I used to work as a documentary photographer and 'looking' is still my raison d'ĂȘtre.

    Sealion - I read that Ronson book - very scary how totally bonkers some people can be.

  45. put it here, and waste good bandwidth I've already paid for?

    The crux is in that post above - but that doesnt' have my *theory* of course, which adds a little. I'll write it up eventually.

  46. Hmm when I was about 10 I had a gerbil (well I had a few). But this particular one was a grey colour and pregnant. My dad took me on holiday to one of the Greek islands and I had this particularly vivid dream where the gerbil had 3 babies, 2 grey ones and a black one. The black one was still born. I was actually quite agitated by this so my dad paid for a phone card to call my mum.

    She told me that my gerbil had indeed had it's babies and I told her how many and what colour I had dreamed and that one was dead. She told me that I was exactly right, she just hadn't wanted to say at first as she didn't want to upset me.

    Bloody odd that. Admittedly I knew the gerbil was pregnant, I knew the mum was grey and the dad was black and a little about Mendelian inheritance. I really do just think it was an odd coincidence. Your mind can work out answers to problems when you are asleep or distracted in some way or throw out information you were unaware you knew.

    Still there is a lot we don't know so who knows.

  47. evenin untrusted ones.

    Haven't even looked at CiF yet. Think I will give Bidisha a miss. Sounds dire.

  48. Obviously my ten year old self was much more impressed than I am now, cynical sod that I am :-)

  49. BeautifulBurnout - she has dropped in to comment btl, very different tone. Looking at her posting history it seems that someone at cif towers has found some way to get her to comment. Wonder how...

  50. Original

    Oooh! BTL, eh? I better take a shufty after all then..

    Frank - I still have a telepathic thingy going on with my Dad. Always have. Can't explain it at all. Silly things like the day before I left my ex-husband - dad was working abroad at the time and didn't phone me more than once every couple of months - he rang me out of the blue, asked me if I was OK and if I needed any money. Nobody knew I was having trouble in my marriage, and certainly no-one knew what my plans were... spookeh!

  51. I had a great-uncle who swore that his mother had the second sight and knew everything that he did wrong when he was growing up.

    Me, I think it was probably bloody obvious to her by his manner or something, but who knows? I'm sceptical about this sort of thing but not completely dismissive.

    My dog certainly seems to know things that I think she can't possibly know, but perhaps I underestimate exactly how good canine hearing and scent is. Example: she is asleep upstairs and I gently put a single piece of soft food, like chicken, into her bowl. Down in a shot. It might have been sitting out for a few hours, so not necessarily a case of hearing the fridge open, for example.

    If there is such a thing as telepathy I reckon animals are a lot better at it than we are.

    But, again, it could all be down to signals that we're not aware we're giving off.

  52. Oh my!

    Bidisha is such a complete sweetheart with her BTL comment. Wow.

    I will never say a bad thing about her again. Ever.

  53. thauma
    But, again, it could all be down to signals that we're not aware we're giving off.

    there's a lot in that i think plus there's the pheremones thing - homo sapiens are a lot less subtle with their senses than animals. You've only got to get within five yards of a horse for them to know whether you know what you're doing or not. We've allowed our intellects and reasoning capacities drown out our instincts.

  54. Sheff - yes, exactly. Animals are much better at reading a situation than we are. They rely on senses that we've forgotten how to use.

    Re Bidisha: seems to me that she's much more reasonable when she's writing about books or film. I seem to remember an occasion or two in the past, though, where she came BTL on one of her more inflammatory misandrist articles and she wasn't so sweet then. But it could be memory playing tricks.

  55. Oh dear. I wish I hadn't read Susan Anderson's PFI article, because now I am all cross. I am going to simmer down a bit before I post on it for fear of telling her precisely where she can stick the CBI in graphic and injudicious terms...

  56. Re bisisha - I liked her radio 4 programme on Iris Murdoch. I thought she came over better on that than she often does on cif.

  57. BB - I couldn't face posting on Anderson's piece - stupid fucking cow is all I wanted to say really. I think I'd rather talk about horses with Thauma.

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  59. Frank

    "The crux is in that post above - but that doesnt' have my *theory* of course, which adds a little. I'll write it up eventually."

    I (seriously) hope the above quote is an indication that you have a philosophy of mind. I'm a bit of a collector as it happens. And I'm not doubting your story for a second but it kinda squares that a libertarian theory of mind would provide accommodation for such phenomena. D'ya reckon she could do it with James Randi in the room? Your money troubles are over if she can.

    Lookin forward to it...seriously. You gonna post it on here or just your blog? If it's your blog, drop me the address will ya, or maybe when then you post it?

  60. Reposted that to make sure it didn't sound like I was being facetious. I've got a thing about the philosophy of mind.

    Great word facetious. All the vowels, once each, in order in just 9 letters. Shame kids don't know what it means. Means I have to keep calling mine cheeky little twats.

  61. BB - I know, godawful. Made me spit.

    Would love to stay up all night talking about horses but unfortunately I have to w*rk in the morning and am knackered!


  62. I do indeed have a partial theory of mind Monkeyfish but it's a work in progress. The one I hold today isnt' the same that I hold when I wrote my neurophilosophy thesis... You are right in that the theory does indeed depend to some extend on my ideology - I demand free will, so have had to build a theory that permits that. That should give you a clue.

    BTW, if you're looking for my blog... you could do a little clicking... near my name?