22 November 2009

Daily Chat 22/11/09

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species went on sale in London in 1859.  Tutankhamen's tomb was opened in 1922.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.  Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was declared King of Spain in 1975.

Born today:  George Eliot (1819-1880), André Gide (1869-1951), Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), Terry Gilliam (1940), Tom Conti (1941), Billie Jean King (1943), Jamie Lee Curtis (1958), Boris Becker (1967) and Scarlett Johansson (1984).

It is Independence Day in Lebanon.


  1. Heavens, did you all have a heavy night last night?

  2. Yes
    I went and saw Buddy Whittington and Ian Siegal yesterday. Buddy is huge, and my mate Mick shouldn't have really shouted "go on fat boy" at the 23-stone Texan. Ian Siegal seemed to have been on the wine for a few weeks and his bass player looked like he had taken the script from Scarface and choped finely it into snort-sized lines, but was it still awesome. Ian Siegal is a legendary blues player.

    Hank - he's a Nottingham lad by the way.

    Got home late after *far* too much bourbon.

    Oh, and welcome Boudican, by the way, I think remember you from long ago...

  3. Nice one, Bitterweed. I managed to have a heavy afternoon, which resulted in getting home at 8pm when my 'sensible gene' kicked in, so I managed to work through my hangover while asleep...

    and have run out of milk so am on black coffee, so am currently a l i t t l e b i t w i r e d . . . .

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Wired on a Sunday ?? How bohemian !
    Ha ha.
    I'm going stir crazy, filthy weather, and I'm just sitting and nittering and eating toast with Mrs Bitterweed. I have a mate, a great friend who is marrying a needy envious control freak next year. He's asked me to be best man. While I won't outright tell him he shouldn't marry her - she has some ok sides - it's hard watching him switch that bit of his brain off. I need to get out to the woods and stomp around in the rain I think... back later.

    Going to see Mrs Bitterweed's mum later, in hospital, beautiful old lady, just had a heart attack. May take her some wild flowers.

    Grr. Fucking life.

  6. Found out one or two interesting things this morning:

    I snore "like a buffalo"


    reversing bleepers mean what they say.


    When I take the sacrament, does the nan bread really turn into your body? And does your blood really taste of lager? A few weirdos down the temple were on about it this morning. D'you reckon I should set up a few pyres and teach the fuckin heretic bastards what's what?
    My faith brings me such comfort.

  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

    Speaking of coffee...aren't civet's ugly little percolators?

  8. "D'you reckon I should set up a few pyres and teach the fuckin heretic bastards what's what? "

    Yes. Start with burning Andrew Marr. I only wish I knew why he irritates me so much. Fucking hamster man.


  9. Blood hell. Mrs Bitterweed's still sorting her handbag out.

    MF. Not lager. Cask ale ! Just for the record. Timothy Taylor's Landlord to be blunt.

    Got bored. Just phoned to order some Marijuana and was told to press the Hash key.

  10. bitter - have a good stomp, and (I have a similar situation on at the minute, although I haven't been asked to 'stand in support' or anything) try to grit your teeth. It's not your job to love her, it's his, and if he's picked her...yup, it's a difficult one, but...stomping can help. hope Mrs B's mum is OK.

    I think the civet's quite cute. beseeching eyes, fluffy tail, cute little feet...ah, I'm such a feckin' girl.

    Anyway. coffee finished. second-level buzz just kicking in...

  11. Amusing atheism article that monkeyfish linked to yesterday. I thought that this marvellous phrase might be useful on Cif identity politics threads:

    A fundamental wariness will remain if (insert oppressor) communities continue to maintain a paternalistic stance toward both the dissemination of (insert ideology) discourse and the critique of (insert victim) belief systems.

  12. lol scherfig...I thought that article was produced by the post modern generator thingy.

    The good folk of Workington are having to make a 90 mile round trip for a journey that used to take them a couple of minutes, those whose cars weren't drowned that is. 18 more bridges are in the balance according to the news and they're running out of basic supplies - so abstruse arguments about atheism aren't top of my agenda today.

  13. scherfig - think there might be a typo in that, hang on:

    A fundamental weariness will remain if (insert oppressor) communities ...

  14. Indeed, Philippa, but weary or not, righteous indignation must never sleep.

  15. lack of sleep could definitely explain some of it...

    is it just me or is anyone else having problems understanding the Rihanna article?

    Sheff - are you floodbound? shit. hope you're OK...

  16. Phillipa

    No we're ok although pretty wet it's really not been that bad on our side of the pennines. Just been listening to the news and things in Workington seem very grim. Can't imagine what its like to have your house awash with mud and sewage and all the local bridges down so nothing coming in or going out.

  17. Sheff - listening to the reports of people trying to stay cheerful when they've just been rescued by boat from their first floor window, leaving everything behind... blimey. have the urge to kick a variety of insurers as well...

  18. Hello

    I am shocked by the damage in Workington and Cockermouth.

    I imagine families will be without basics such as warm, dry clothes - any appeals anywhere we can respond to?

    The aftermath of ruined businesses, lost jobs and months of homelessness for many, hard winter coming on. Inadequate response from gvt. and no doubt miserly insurance companies.

  19. Leni

    Couldn't have come at a worse time of year - the beginning of winter and its still raining and blowing a gale there. The main road bridge in Workington is fucked - a huge crack in it, its just a matter of time before it collapses so they're saying. Six other bridges down and yet others closed waiting for inspections.

    The wider ramifications for peoples jobs, businesses etc are grim as you say. If you haven't got sufficient insurance you're truly screwed. If we go on getting these major floods pretty much annually as we have been recently premiums will go through the roof - even if you can get insurance

    Sheffield had a flood in 2007 and there are people who are still not back in their homes.

  20. Two stories from the radio - that got me mithered - one guy who'd spent £20k on flood defences but whose insurer wouldn't reduce his £10,000 excess...and a woman working to get practical help to people flooded out, that some people still aren't back in their homes from two years back. She was full of practical help and tips as well, which was great, but you just have to wonder how people haven't managed to get a refurb and replacement furniture in two years...

    Where my parents live, they were between the sea and the river, so they were having to listen out for a special 'maroons' for when the road was impassible and they'd all just have to deal with it. Just before the road went, Mum ended up picking up two elderly ladies from the side of the road where they were trying to walk home because the buses had been cancelled with no notice at all, stranding people at the nearby market with no other option. BusCo wouldn't even go as far as the edge of the water, there was just nothing. The ladies had done two miles already and were ready to drop...

    It always feels like the community gets it together, and the emergency services, but the 'structure' fails. And then because the community gets it together, there seems less need to get the structure sorted because 'they'll cope'. I know that this is weather we're talking about, but it strikes me that proper infratructure would mean people wouldn't have to cope...

  21. Hi all. Seems I missed a really good couple of days debate. I dropped my netbook and the hard drive is fooked. Am gutted as only had it a few months and was a b-day present. But PC world might be able to sort it.

    I know it was yesterdays discussion but re the labia thing - men are having their knobs extended too because of porn - allegedly - saw a doc on it and some guys are having silicone injected into it! But my theory is it is not porn per se but the rancid American stuff where everyone looks like gone wrong Barbie and Kens. I might start making porn - seventies styley - with real people with hair and such.

    Anyhoo - on to more serious stuff. Sheff - you are so right about what is going on in Wokington and the area, it is really bad. As you say there are people here still without their homes ready. In fact I shouted at the tele last night when this presenter stated that people might not be able to move back in for a few weeks. Weeks! What planet are these people on - some of these people are going to be out of their homes for months and months. It is awful.

    I read somewhere that a lot of the people who were caught up in the Sheffield floods have suffered quite bad depression and anxiety since as every time we have bad weather they fear it happening again.

    Bitterweed, so sorry to hear about Mrs. Bitterweed. I hope she starts to feel better soon. Re the mate marrying a girl you don't like. I really didn't like one of my hubbies mates - in fact at first I detested him but now after years of forcing civility we do actually get on quite well. I would even say I am fond of him. Perhaps we have both mellowed (ha ha) - so you never know?

  22. Pp & Sheff

    Crumbling infrastructure throughout Britain - we get small flashfloods here mainly due to victorian drains system - just can't cope. Sewage is discharged into river and backflows up the loo, floods cellars etc. I.m lucky as I am top of hill so tend to be in bale out crews for neighbours.

    Extremes of weather seem to be on the increase - bring the army home . use men, money and equipment to upgrade infrastructure - benefit us and the peopleof Afghanistan.

    Bloody gvt. needs to sort its priorities.

  23. Phillipa

    Insurance companies will find ways of weaseling out of paying up if they can.

    I had an opportunist burglary last year and because I had a friend staying with me who was here for more than two weeks and I hadn't told the company they refused to stump up. Total shysters.

    I really pity people who live with flood risk, their chances of getting any cover at all are diminishing by the day.

  24. sheff - whaaat? mate stays ergo no cover? that's barking...

    leni - hear hear. given the current economic climate, all we hear about is cuts, cuts, cuts, and the only question is where they will fall. with unemployment being what it is and the longer-terms benefits of proper investment (rather than the whizzo schemes the politicos keep coming up with) I can't help feeling that a good dose of pay capping, de-consultantisation, and actual investment in the public sector and wider public infrastructure would be a crazy idea that just might work...

    if we started making stuff again, the present might still be f**ked but the future would look a lot better.

    mind you I've just been listening to a programme about how banks and bank managers used to operate and I've come over all 1950s...must remember to wear a hat when I pop to the shop...

  25. Phillipa

    Apparently our beloved leader has generously offered £1 million to help with the clean up. Given the number of bridges alone that have been damaged not to mention other basic infrastructure - drains, sewage works, roads etc don't really think that'll stretch very far. How the local councils will cope god only knows. Bet you anything though there are people already working out how to make a buck or two out of this.

    As this looks like its going to be a much more frequent event - how the hell will we manage? What happens for example if the Thames barrage is overwhelmed, which is not an outlandish scenario given the way things are going these days?

  26. £1 million? That'd cover, what, one brdge, maybe two if you didn't want a handrail? FFS.

    A couple of years back, a mate of mine on a floodplain in SE London (the 'river' Lee being the problem, which was not so much surface water as waterlogging the ground and overwhelming the drainage) spent nearly two years without his back garden as they put in 'defences', which was a four foot wall at the edge of his patio. All nicely done and everything but they didn't actually do anything to the drains. Smacked of management rather than prevention, and you say, sheff, maybe we need a root and branch (drain and sewer) approach.

  27. Have spotted today's troll, I think

    "So I am like a feminist too, but it's important to see things from two sides. If you are going out with a boy then you need to respect him. If you don't then you can't really complain when you get beats, is it."

    Am considering rolling out 'toxicshock' for that one...

  28. Afternoon all.

    I'm a bit worried because my cousin lives near Workington and so far can't get through to her. I am sure I would have heard from one of the other family if she was in dire straits though.

    What a nightmare for these people. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like, poor souls.

    Hope Mrs Bitterweed's mum is ok.

  29. Just spotted that one Pip - "whiteaintright" is the moniker, which is obviously a troll name. Ugh. Nasty bit of posting there.

  30. Report from Workington local paper

    The army *may* build tempoary bridge to relink areas in town.

    Local clothes collection centre has reached capacity - nothing about how they are distributing them.

    Many GPs' surgeries are being relocated

    Sounds like total disaster.

  31. Hi thanks for comments guys, off to see her soon. Currently steeling myself with a hefty dose of Thick of It from last night. Jesus, those scriptwriters are good.

  32. Leni - you are right about the infrastructure. I thought when the government announced it was going to pump prime the economy they might really do something like that. You know truly Keynsian and build bridges, update transport networks and the sewers. But they didn't they just flooded the economy with money. Which to my mind is why the markets are buoyant but in actuality joblessness is dire and in the US people literally cannot find money to eat.

    It seems to me we are in the middle of some sort of thirties scenario but no one is really noticing. It is very strange.

    Sheff - that is appalling re your insurance company. You should have reported them to the financial ombudsman. They are such shits. They will do anything to avoid paying out. Some mutuals (if you can still find one) are better than the big guys that are run purely for shareholder profit but even then they are dire.

    One of the issues is the re-insurers. They are absolute bastards and most insurance companies only hold a small amount of the claim 'burden' and then re insure the rest. That is certainly the case in life and illness cover - not as sure re household stuff.

  33. One of the issues is the re-insurers. They are absolute bastards and most insurance companies only hold a small amount of the claim 'burden' and then re insure the rest.

    No offence, proincesschipchops, but I worked in reinsurance for 5 years, and that is just bollocks.

  34. I didn't even know about those Sheffield people still being effectively homeless. Sounds truly awful. I'm not surprised about the anxiety and depression they're suffering. Grim.

    When people get meally mouthed about climate change I wish they could just look out of the the window. It's here.

    In other news, would monkeyfish
    care to elaborate on the "reversing beepers" thing ...?

  35. I don't have time to get into a discussion about reinsurance, but some points:

    1. Reinsurers have no influence on individual claims handling.
    2. Reinsurers will not touch an insurer who has not retained a substantial portion of the risk.
    3. Any given insurer will be reinsured by anything between 5 and 15 reinsurers in any number of countries.
    4. They're all bastards anyway. It's called capitalism.

  36. "whiteaintright" also having a fine old time ont he rupert myers thread.

    still, england beat SA so I've won a fiver.

  37. and to be fair, the 'charity auction' gag was pretty good...

    but am staying the hell away from that one.

    reinsurance always confused the hell out of me because my only exposure to it was avoidance cases - offshoring risk to try to get VAT back on covered works, somehow, which I still don't fully understand.

    clearly will have to try harder to develop my devious streak if I have to relocate back to blighty and find myself a job

    (note to Hank - kidding...)

  38. "reversing beepers" thing ...?"

    As I pointed out, they mean what they say ie. "I'm coming, backwards..in a big white van..so get out the way"

    I instead interpreted the message as "bleep, bleep, fuckin bleep..a sort of indeterminate annoying bleeping sound...so instead got shunted into a fuckin lamppost.

    Luckily, once my ninja like reflexes kicked in and I realised the danger, I managed to skilfully bounce off onto the pavement and jump up screaming "Are you fuckin blind?"...answered..quite reasonably I suppose by "No..are you fuckin deaf?" at which I cupped my hand to my ear and said "You'll have to speak up mate" which had him looking a bit sheepish for a second or two.

    Walked away..feeling a bit daft but having learned a valuable lesson about bleepers...still managed what I took hoped was an inscrutable Confucian swagger however. So the moral victory was...somewhere...probably with the bleeper manufacturer.

  39. ouch, monkey. hope ninja reflexes are intact. have to admit I thought "reversing beepers" was another eupehmism for the reinsurance industry...

    think I should probably try loggging off for a while, my brain is clearly melting.

  40. Sherf - No offense taken. I went and sat with a friend about two months ago (a mate from an ME group) who was having a visit from her claims consultant. She was nervous and had asked if she could have a friend there.

    The guy turned up and she asked him how long he had been working for the insurance company - he said he did not he worked for the re insurer (think it was Munich Re) who held over seventy percent of her claim! he also said that his report would form the basis of the insurance companies policy on her claim.

    I was a bit surprised myself - as when we used claim consultants at my old firm they were working for us - the original insurer. So I called my mate who is senior manager for a life firms PHI center - she said that they too use the claims consultant attached to the re insurer and take their advice. E..g if they think there is something fishy they will advise the insurer to spy on the client etc.

    You see I never thought the re insurer got directly involved on an individual claim basis but now I am told that they do for certain policies. Maybe it is just an phi/pmi thing? Do you still work in insurance or did you escape like me? Although I would rather go back to insurance any day than ever teach again!

  41. Princess, no longer in reinsurance (I was a broker, anyway, not a 'real' insurance guy) but FYI MunichRe are the world's largest reinsurer by a long way. The story sounds odd as reinsurance doesn't work that way, no reinsurer could possibly say that they held '70%' of an individual claim - that is simply meaningless. Also, in my time, MunichRe wouldn't medical insurance with a bargepole (US anyway), dunno if it was different for the European stuff. I suppose claims adjusters could theoretically come from anywhere - depends on the insurance company what their procedure is.

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. "ouch, monkey. hope ninja reflexes are intact"

    Indeed. I usually expect the unexpected. If it had been a flailing nunchuck or a swinging samurai sword, there would'nt have been no problem but we didn't encounter many big white vans at the Shaolin temple in my day.

  44. have got into a nick cave chat on the face to faith thread - just wanted to share this (give it time to buffer...)

  45. and this one...

  46. Philippa - Heavens, did you all have a heavy night last night?

    Yes. Sorry to all! It was my joy over the rwgbi.

    Hi Boudican - many apologies for asking if you were a Merkin! I think it was 'Caribou Barbie' and 'skank' wot done it. (Not, of course, that you are wrong.)

    BW - actually I know Ian Siegal in a friend-of-a-friend way. He's played at some private parties of the friend's and he can certainly kick out the blues. Last time he was going it alone, but that party by itself could be responsible for the too-much-wine look: it was only a couple of months ago. The party is legendary around here.

    Sorry to hear about Mrs. Bitterweed's mum and best wishes to her.

    Will post this and catch up with rest of thread....

  47. Hey Scherfig - well thought it was a bit strange myself - and also a little intimidating in the way it was explained to her to be honest. I worked in insurance and finance for six years - ended up national account manager for a big company but they then merged and the whole place went to hell in a handbasket so many of us jumped ship. But it was a good place to work before that and easy money in many ways. Anyway... Are you in the US then?

    I am off to make some tea peeps - will pop in and out but without my netbook surfing is a lot more tiring so won't be as often till get it fixed.

  48. MF: reversing bleepers mean what they say.

    Ah-oh, that doesn't sound good! (Have now read explanation: that was you on foot? Ow!)

    Good comments from the Northerners on the flooding.

  49. HI all. thaumaturge,I am over it already! No worries, although for a while I thought it may have been some sort of sinister initiation rite into the UT! BTW I love the blues, listening to Alvin Lee's "Pure Blues" disc right now.Always been an underrated talent IMO. Off to watch NFL with friends,will catch up later.Bye for now.

  50. MF - just reading the atheism article you posted last night.

    While I've no time for either identity politics or racism, the article is actually quite interesting. It is a phenomenon that, in the US, blacks and Hispanics tend to be more religious than whites, and are quite conservative on social issues, even though they'll generally tend to vote for Democrats for other, obvious, reasons.

    SH: I for one think that there has not been enough political exposure of the massive welfare state entitlements that have been conferred on organized religion in the form of so-called faith-based initiatives.

    A very good point.


    sinister initiation rite into the UT

    No, you will know when that comes into play. *christopher-lee-like laugh*

  51. Just had one of my regular browses on Cif. 'whiteaintright' is clearly one of the resident pranksters - surprised that people are taking him seriously.

  52. "SH: I for one think that there has not been enough political exposure of the massive welfare state entitlements that have been conferred on organized religion in the form of so-called faith-based initiatives."

    Oh yeah, I agree. There's a good point in there somewhere...I thought I'd said that. But the issues she highlights seem linked to blacks' and Hispannics' emotional and historical links to the churches through the civil rights struggle and the churches current 'material and financial' power which has produces a new dependency.

    I'd have said that she's have to get past Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the white Evangelicals, the more 'moderate' churches..past Obama even before it made any sense to target Dawkins.

    If, by some miracle she managed that and managed to make welfare a wholly secular issue, she'd probably have a higher profile than any best-selling Atheist commentator..many of whom seem to be British anyway, and so hardly to blame over failing to draw sufficient attention to a problem relating to US social policy when there are so many other much more serious and immediate consequences of religion around the globe.

    She does have a serious point. It's her tactics which get me. To diagnose the problem as one of patriarchal hegemony within the ranks of the New Atheists is errant nonsense but probably the one which her education, training and instincts have made her see as paramount. This I'd suggest is part of the ongoing irrationality of the identity agenda

  53. MF - I saw the 'patriarchal hegemony' point being pushed more by the interviewer than by SH (but I'd have to go back and read it again to be sure).

    The thing is that, in the US, it's practically impossible to be an atheist publicly: it's instant death politically. AFAIK the only congressperson to be an out atheist/agnostic is Bernie Sanders, who is also an avowed socialist - how he's managed to get elected is beyond me. He's from Vermont: couldn't happen in most other states!

  54. Just been watching Arlington Road, cracking film and thought-provoking. Amongst the least noble of those thoughts - is Joan Cusack, wonderful as she is, the only actress who's got a prettier brother?

  55. Arlington Road is great. Bridges is always good value, and Robbins is convincingly creepy. Ever seen Bridges in Fearless?

  56. Is that Jeff Bridgeds & Tim Robbins you're on about? Like them both, especially Robbins.

  57. is Joan Cusack, wonderful as she is, the only actress who's got a prettier brother?

    No. Julia Roberts does, too.

  58. Thauma -- have you looked at your inbox lately?

  59. Yeah, thauma. Or Jeffers and Timbo, as I call them - they love that.

  60. Montana - possibly, but who needs pretty boys? Let's go for Paul O'Connell all 6' 6" and 17 1/2 stone of him....

  61. Montana - don't see anything from you that I haven't replied to?

  62. Bah. Pretty Boys - Who needs em when you've got ninjafish and the lads right here ??

    Thaumaturge. I am extremely, insanely jealous that you were at that party ! Damn it.

    Alvin was some kind of speed demon. Whaddya think to Johnny Winter ? I reckon his first two albums, Johnny Winter and Second Winter are two of the finest ever by a white bluesman, and I'm including Bloomfield and SRV in that list.
    Had an amazing voice when he wasn't even yet twenty, and what a guitar player...

  63. Arlington Road - great film. Conspiracy theorists' wet dream! Heheheh. And yes, John Cusack is prettier than his sister.

  64. BW - party is an annual event and arranged around Sir Ian's schedule!

    Saw Buddy Guy live once - just awesome.

  65. thaumaturge
    Now you're talking - Buddy Guy was quite simpley ther best I've ever seen. Unbelievable.

    That's just the sort of gratuitous potty-mouth talk that's got *me* in to trouble. Careful now ;-)

  66. BW
    I thought the main reason anyone comes here is for the gratuitous potty-mouth talk.

    That photo looks like some sort of weird ballet. Do they really hold each other up by the bum like that?

  67. By the way,... cpompletely unrelated - anyone see that article in the observer today about France and Algeria ? Pretty good. They have got problems coming their way...

  68. "Who needs em when you've got ninjafish and the lads right here ??"

    Too right BW. Been thinking about this morning. Your average gullible punter/'sheeple' type would probably put it down to the all too predictable slight hangover/ lack of attention/ huge capacity for distraction scenario. But..I reckon it was one of those CIA 'stealth' Transits.

    First CIF..now the CIA..I'm being targeted by sinister organisations with acronyms beginning 'CI'. How else would you explain it?

    posed the targetted interweb cynic

  69. Montana - oh yes, it's called a line-out (a rather dated link, but never mind). The jumping and holding is very much part of the strategy, with decoys and all.

    A well-executed line-out is a thing of extreme athleticism and beauty.

  70. No! It's not working!



  71. Back to the black atheist woman:

    This phrase that scherfig quoted above is where I really lose it:

    but a fundamental wariness will remain if white atheist communities continue to maintain a paternalistic stance toward both the dissemination of atheist discourse and the critique of African American belief systems.

    See, I just don't believe for one moment that there is any deliberate "paternalistic stance". I just don't think many white Americans, certainly not many left-leaning white Americans, would ever consciously try to squelch any participation in the discourse by non-whites. It seems to me far more an issue of her perception of what's going on, rather than what's actually going on.

    The trouble is, this sort of statement only fosters resentment in people who would otherwise agree and support her views and it seems to almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


  72. Oh, and the other thing is: I didn't know there was a white atheist community. Are there meetings that I'm missing? Potlucks and fundraisers that I should be taking part in?

  73. Weird. Still, rugby players do seem to have nice legs and butts.

  74. Montana doesn't need the link, thauma. All she needs to know is that rugger was invented at public schools as a way for hormonal youths to caress the arses of their chums.

    Line outs and scrums. Hmm.

    If Dr Arnold had had access to libido-suppressants, we'd all have been spared a lot of jolly japes.

  75. Monkeyfish. Get writing ffs ! There's brass in this shit, I swear.

    Hank - bad man ! Did you get my last email mate ? I think the key is that it's


    not goodlemail.com, if you get my drift.

    Richt I'm off to watch last Wednesday's Spooks to catch up on what's really going on in the world


  76. Robert Skidelsky on Cif: "Keynes predicted that by 2030 we'd all be working 15 hours a week..."

    Sounds about right to me. I'll be doing morning and evening paper rounds to supplement my pension.

    I'm sure Robert will be fine though. If he's short of a few bob then, no doubt his son will be able to help him out.

    Apropos of nothing at all, nice to see William Skidelsky getting a regular column in the Graun and the Obs recently.

    I look forward to the forthcoming Focus piece on meritocracy and the mass media, with pieces from Polly Toynbee, Vicky Coren, Jay Rayner, Max Gogarty etc etc. Online debate to be moderated by Isabella Rusbridger.

  77. Montana/MF: the impression I got from the article was that it was the interviewer that wanted the identity politics, and the interviewee was to an extent fulfilling the role assigned to her.

    Montana again - yes, they do! Not necessarily the front-row forwards though, bless them.

  78. "You shit-stirrer Hank" "bad man Hank" - did you both anticipate that 21.36 post?!

  79. Hank: sorry, the wind-up's not working as I am still basking in the glow of yesterday's glorious victory with a previously-uncapped fly half getting Man of the Match. :-p

  80. Hank - nothing wrong with the GAME, its the class origins of (some) players that seem to be the problem here.

    As to the dreaded scrum (ahem!) goodness knows what happens there ;) But its interesting to note that women's rugby is apparently deemed less acceptable in some quarters than women's football because of the level of contact involved!

    Wrestling anybody? links with ancient greece I suppose. Hey ho!

    But then the WElsh game used to be so much better at least in part because pithead pitches were at a distinct angle, the smaller valleys having so little really flat ground.

    This certainly improved fitness as the teams played half the match UPHILL!

    You should have seen the pitch in my father's pit village flat it wasn't!

  81. Not winding you up, thauma. Genuinely didn't realise there'd been any boy-on-boy action this weekend (-;

  82. Haven't been on Cif this weekend but decent article in today's Observer about cohabitation law.

  83. Anne - my Welsh mates weren't too impressed with their team's performance this weekend despite the decisive win. Interesting point you make, though, as I reckon the Welsh tend to last better than most to the end of the second half.

    Hank - I don't give a toss what the players' sexual orientation (or indeed, their class) might be, as long as I see a good game of running rugby.

    Although that doesn't mean I don't have a good perv where justified.

  84. @anne - wrestling in Ancient Greece was of course all conducted as nature intended. Think Alan Bates and Olly Reed in Women in Love, but with better muscle tone and smaller beer guts.

    As I said the other day, I love cricket and hate rugby union. There's a great book to be written about the class distinctions about organised sport in the UK, and the differences between the SE of England and the rest of England in particular.

    Hell, I might even write it some day. All I'll say for now is that all my prejudices, as someone from a council estate and comprehensive school background, about rugger and English private/public schools, were confirmed in my first term at university.

    Obnoxious fuckers, most rugger chaps you'd meet at any student union bar. Meatheads with good connections.

    One of the rugger chaps I knew back then was studying Botany. Botany?! Thick as mince.
    Got a third. But he'd also played for Harlequins youth team, and for the Uni First XV. Got a job in the City.

    Another was on the fringes of the rugger team, lovely chap, completely ineffectual but very charming. He's a partner now at a law firm run by the father of Tiger Tim Henman.

    Google "Philip Toynbee, fascism and Twickenham". He had more interesting things to say than his granddaughter.

  85. I dunno, Thauma. Hutchinson seemed to be more than happy to oblige with the talk of white atheist paternalism, to me.

    Hank -- it doesn't take much of a mind-reader, does it?

  86. Too tired to participate in the fray any more this evening - sweet dreams to all.

  87. I'm not a great mind-reader, MW. Not sure what your point is, tbh. Email please...?!

  88. Thauma

    OK..I'll have another look but my impression was she'd picked the wrong targets. She does identify substantive issues but but doesn't apportion blame for them..but she does accuse the 'New Artheists' of paternalism when they're not remotely responsible for the state of US welfare provision. I'll probably look tomorrow now. Up ridiculously early.

  89. I'm with you, MF. Atheists are way too marginalised to have any responsibility for it. The federal money for faith-based charities was purely the brainchild of the Bush regime.

    You still around, Hank?

  90. Week or two off, MW. Best all round. xx

  91. Good evening all.(well it's evening here)Bitterweed-Not sure if we've met before,only posting for a short time. The loss of my cybervirginity was a recent event. Mostly agree re. Johnny Winter, though I put SRV at the top (so young, so good, so sad)I saw a recent "poll" in Rolling Stone about the 100 greatist ever guitarists and Alvin Lee and Johnny Winter were not named!WTF-How wrong is that? I suppose we must consider some kind of generational divide but come on! They did give hendrix #1, Iwon't quibble about that.Anyway, well met sir. thaumaturge-Yes I've seen Buddy GUY live as well.(Vancouver) That man can pick it! The best performance I ever saw was John Lee Hooker(I wish I knew how to link,maybe soon)at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. He was, I think, 74 years old. Magnificent! Of course, the QE being a very fine and proper venue, there was no smoking or drinking allowed . WE knew this, so we had to get 'pretuned' before we went in, although my lovely little flower smuggled in a flask of single malt down her front. Great memories. Must also send best wishes to those battling the floods.I hope things get better soon. Bye for now.

  92. Hi-PhilippaB,Leni,Sheffpixie-just reading your posts and watching the news (as far away as i am, i still get pretty good reports though obviously not the close local situations)This is quite dire for many people in the area.What is it with governmental responses to disasters these days?(yes,dating myself)I seem to remember more immediate efficiency and on the spot decisive policy.Is it that our politicions and other leaders are wary of seeming to make a n erroneous call on an urgent matter? the 'image' is what they crave. Pragmatism loses out to vainglory. It's a good thing that the proletariat,the people,the real salt of the earth does care and responds in ways that can pleasantly surprise.I think the police,firemen,med services do their level best to help but they are constrained by the 'powers' hopefully we'll see some good governance and the folk can try to regain their regular life.ok i've calmed down. must say that our local services and citizens have done some good and heroic things under trying conditions.credit where due, although there have been other cases in Canada that should have been handled better.sorry for the rant, but utter ineptitude pisses me off.best to you ladies this evening.bye for now.