12 April 2010

12/04/10

The trial of Galileo Galilei for heresy began in 1633.  Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumpter in 1861, beginning the US Civil War.  The Salk polio vaccine was declared safe for use in 1955.  Yuri Gagarin became the first man in outer space in 1961 and Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 as Euro Disney.

Born today:  Montserrat Caballé (1933), Alan Ayckbourn (1939), Herbie Hancock (1940) and Bobbie Moore (1941).

It is the feast day of Zeno of Verona.

115 comments:

  1. @Paul:

    I don't feel that you owe me an apology, but as others have said, it is appreciated that you have done so and I agree with others that we're happy to have you here, if you would continue.

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  2. Paul

    If you're reading, considering the "colourful" history of UT tempers fraying, insults and general naughtiness you really shouldnt feel you cant post here anymore. There have been some horrendous slanging matches at this place, no holds barred chaos. People wake up, sober up, make their peace and on we go. Would be good if you stuck around, I've enjoyed plenty of your posts.

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  3. Paul

    I agree with the others. No grudges borne on the UT.

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  4. Morning all (Barcelooooooooooona!)

    Have been made very depressed by the voter index which informs me that in Lewisham Deptford my vote is worth 0.018 of a vote. It's ultra-safe. The average voter has 14.29 times the 'vote power' that I do. It's 590th out of 650. This is annoying.

    Grrr.

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  5. Philippa

    I think that makes you the most democratically useless UTer here so far. I thought i was useless at 0.03. You've beaten me. But on the plus side, our combined vote is worth around 0.048 of a single vote. FPTP - the oligarch's best friend.

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  6. Morning fellow not-being-in-their-twenties-people! And Jay, young fellow, a very good morning to you, too! (And any other people below thirty, if there are any.)

    Just wanted to say I remember the opening of Euro Disney, as it happened on my twelfth birthday; took some time to go there, too, and I guess I was rather underwhelmed by the attractions (while being overwhelmed by the length of the queues to said attractions).

    Have a nice and sunny day, folks!

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  7. Jay, Philippa: At least with your vote being so powerless, you don't have to carefully consider who you vote for - you can totally go radical with your vote, knowing it wont change anything, but feeling, well, totally radical!

    In Germany we have the Violet Party, advocating for more spiritual politics (I'll possibly vote for them next time); do you have something similar?

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  8. Is it your 30th elementary? Happy Birthday, have a virtual cake!

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  9. And a good day to you, Watson, and all other pension drawing UTers ;)

    I went to Disney Florida when i was about 10 i think. I had never seen so many fat people. On a boat trip, it had seats two people wide, one behind the other. The gap between one backrest and the one in front was at least a meter. A man sat behind us and his belly was touching our backrest. Gargantuans, everywhere.

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  10. "In Germany we have the Violet Party, advocating for more spiritual politics (I'll possibly vote for them next time); do you have something similar?"

    Hmm. The Greens have Bea Campbell. Spiritual fuckwit.

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  11. Jay - I know, and after all that arsing around trying to get my postal proxy vote sorted out. Thought there'd be a chance, given that Lewisham Council is a right hotch-potch.

    My MP is Joan Ruddock (decent constituency MP, no real expenses questions). But her constituency covers 6 council wards which have returned:
    6 Greens (My old ward, Ladywell, plus Brockley - a bit leafy, but pretty much working stiffs)
    2 Socialists (not kidding - nice one, Telegraph Hill)
    10 Labour

    Meanwhile, another of the three local constituencies is held by bridget Prentice (standing down this time) whose 6 wards have returned:
    13 Libdems
    3 Tories (Grove Park, thanks for making an effort, chaps, even Blackheath managed to go LibDem last time)
    1 Labour
    1 seat vacant
    So that would look marginal but the website still says 0.08 and 'very safe'.

    The third constituency is Jim Dowd (whose missus is MP for somewhere in lancashire, not sure how that works), whose wards are 15 Labour, 3 LibDem.

    It's just bloody confusing...

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  12. Thanks, Dot and Jay. I already had a piece of non-virtual cake this morning, but I'll gladly devour that virtual one as well.

    The German Green Party is a feminist party, of the quota-loving identity branch; they would embrace Bea-like personalities, too. Violet Party is more about lovey-dovey levitating through your spiritual powers, not accusing others of being satanist child abusers (Bea should never be allowed to live that down, IMO).

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  13. I looked at my old constituency and my vote is as useful as:

    - A mens toilet at a Bidisha lecture.

    - Working class sentiment at the Guardian.

    - Balls on the Pope.

    - A knee trembler to a double leg amputee.

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  14. Stirring statement from Gita Sahgal on leaving Amnesty International, whose support - through its collaboration with Cageprisoners - for the Jihad-loving Moazzam Begg is a disgrace. Cagepriosoners is not a defender of political liberty. It is a defender of radical Islam.

    A taster:

    "Unfortunately, their stance has laid waste every achievement on women’s equality and made a mockery of the universality of rights. In fact, the leadership has effectively rejected a belief in universality as an essential basis for partnership."

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  15. "In fact, the leadership has effectively rejected a belief in universality"

    Nothing new here, sadly, the identity brigade and multiculti zealots had to scrap universalism a long time ago.

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  16. Happy birthday elementary - another virtual cake winging it's way to you from Yorkshire.

    PB - very worrying things happening at Amnesty. I'm not really clear about what is going on. Perhaps I should take the trouble to find out.

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  17. Woo hoo, I have 0.8 of a vote!

    and I wanted to say thanks again to medve and PeterJ for the physics lessons on Friday.

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  18. I'm worth next to nothing as a voter too Your Grace - 0.221 of a vote in this 'very safe' Labour constituency. Voters elsewhere have a 1.14 better chance.

    Dot

    The physics was really interesting although it stretched my understanding more than a bit. More conversations like that would be great.

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  19. Sheff,

    Yes, anyone else got any physics questions for medve or peterj (if they don't mind of course). I'll try to answer any biology ones, time and ability permitting!

    Talking of which, my bee contact got back to me with this:

    http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk/gardening_for_bumblebees.htm

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  20. Happy birthday elementary enjoy the day.

    ".... (whose missus is MP for somewhere in lancashire, not sure how that works),....."

    Almost certain to be a Parliamentary conjugal rights allowance to facilitate harmonious relationships between married MPs. Probably based on the cost of a saucy weekend in Blackpool/Brighton (inc first class travel).

    (Breaking news) Nag trainer robbed in home of £100K at gunpoint in Co Durham .....

    Question - what straight taxpaying citizen keeps £100K at home in a safe these days? Bet he/she votes Tory.

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  21. Happy birthday watson.

    Sheff - money under the mattress tax free ?

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  22. Dotterel:

    I thought we were having a conversation about that stuff, not a *gag* lesson. And we haven't finished yet ;-)

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  23. elemtary_watson:

    Many happy returns!

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  24. I really am going to have to stop buying the graun. I've been doing it so long it's become like a reflex action.

    But today takes the biscuit - Ms Greer devotes a whole page in the G2 to how she not only shagged Fellini but influenced him too!

    What is it with some old folks - this need to trot out fucks they've had with famous people in their long dead pasts? Its bad enough in the pub - but a whole page in a national newspaper?

    I'd put a link in but I wouldn't want you retching on to your keyboards.

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  25. ...being hit by the vanishing comment syndrome today.

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  26. The real value of votes is well known to the likes of Ashcroft whose loot targets the swingers in the marginals.

    Depressing, but I fear true, to think that policies and manifestos are an irrelevance. and it all turns on how good the 'hidden persuaders' are at manipulating the self interests of a few thousand here and there.

    We should insist that the swingers along with the politicians are held accountable for their actions. Bring back the stocks ...with the addition of a little electricity to the seat.

    When I realised how little my vote was worth I handed it back. I've not been on the electoral register since 1997. And that after almost 25 years of canvassing and actively supporting Labour.

    I'm now a member of the largest party in the UK - the ex Labour Party

    Fegging machine is on me tits this am ,crash after crash....

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  27. Jay - saw and answered your question to me on CiF

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/11/iceland-wikileaks-henry-porter?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

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  28. "..What is it with some old folks - this need to trot out fucks they've had with famous people in their long dead pasts? Its bad enough in the pub - but a whole page in a national newspaper?.."

    Beautifully put Sheff - raised a laugh just when I needed one. xx

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  29. medve,

    My apologies, my only defence is my outright geekiness: lessons are good things in my eyes ;-)

    If we haven't finished then perhaps I can say that I didn't quite get your answer to my question on the evolution of universes. You say that as uber god you set up a universe that spews out 10 baby ones, which out-competes the instantly collapsing ones that only spew one. I accept this, I think maybe I didn't phrase the question properly.

    Let's say that the maximum number of "baby" universes a universe can create is 100, and the minimum is 1, if our universe is set up to create 99 baby universes then this supports the idea that that's the evolutionary pressure behind universe evolution, but what if we're an early universe that only creates 30? We'd still have an advantage over the 1 universe ones, but not create "close to the maximum".

    Hope that makes sense: if it doesn't I'll have to actually go back and re read Friday's thread instead of doing it off the top of my head ;-)

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  30. Saw it mentioned, but don't know if anyone posted up the text of the Private Yee piece on Carolyn McCall's jumping ship from GMG. FYI:

    Few tears are being shed at the Gruaniad over the defection of chief executive Carolyn McCall to the no-frills airling easyJet. McCall's polciy of not charging for content on the Grauniad website has left the company's finances swimming in red ink.

    McCall's empire-building has also cost Guardian Media Group (GMG) dear, as it is writing off half the value - £150m - of her 2008 purchase of trade magazines group Emap. That lost money that could have kept the ailing Guardian going for at least another couple of years. Naturally, at the time of the Emap deal, McCall collected a 90% "performance-related bonus", worth £385,000, on top of her £424,000 basic salary.

    And who was the chairman of the GMG board which approved this generous deal? Step forward Lord Myners, who has gone on to become Treasury minister and demand that City bonuses be dependent on long-term performance, not short-term gain!

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  31. Step forward Lord Myners, who has gone on to become Treasury minister and demand that City bonuses be dependent on long-term performance, not short-term gain!

    Oh well - what can we expect. I imagine they'll be drafting in Fred Goodwin next, as an advisor to the treasury.

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  32. Brown's "absolute assurance" on VAT is that Labour hasn't put it up in the past, but the Tories have. Can't help thinking I need to get Penguin to pay him a visit to explain the precise definition of 'assurance', possibly through the medium of interpretive dance...

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  33. And now, instead of fixing broken things, like, ooh, hospitals and the police, they're just going to throw them away and buy a new one? Presume the old one will end up on freecycle or ebay or something...

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  34. Phillipa
    possibly through the medium of interpretive dance...

    I now have an image of Broon dressed as Isadora Duncan in gossamer frocks, cavorting about amongst Corinthian columns.

    Of course there's also that last image of her - being strangled by her own scarf - caught in the wheel of an open topped car.

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  35. Thanks Peter, have responded on thread, am very busy today so hoping not to get too bogged down on CiF stuff, succint responses very welcome and i'll try and keep mine brief as possible too.

    RapidEddie - good to see you. Interesting info on the Graun, champions of pay restraint and fairness in the private sector. Nearly a £million for a years work. Nice. I wonder how much Graun cleaners get paid.

    And Lord Myners is chairman of the GMG? Is there not something alarming about politicans being chairs of media organisations? Unbelievable. How can the media hold power to account when politicians are on the bloody board? This country really is repugnant in so many ways...

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  36. a joy to read PB... the medium of interpretive dance... ah..

    Mr Brown would it help if I danced on your head in these stiletto heels - I'm sure that between us we could get a rhythm of understanding. Lets start with something simple:

    A tune for Brown


    Well that's me cheered up I'm away with the dogs.

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  37. Penguin's very cross about the misuse of words - have had to send him out of the room while Lord M does his piece on World@1. The use of words such as 'strategic' does bring him out in hives.

    Ah - "Blair Plus" has just been rolled out. Can hear retching...

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  38. Sheff - our crazed thinking was along similar lines.

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  39. he he he....deano. If I had the techie skills I'd transform that clog dancing widow into Broon and post it up on youtube.

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  40. This country really is repugnant in so many ways...

    So it is Jay but interests of the few are so well protected that both the sheer brassed neck and sophistication of it are awesome. They leave nothing to chance.

    They would not have an alleged democratic system were they not convinced of their ability to manipulate and thwart it. But they like a second line of defence ....just in case Parliament should get uppity.

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  41. Thanks very much for the Eye text Eddie and thanks your Grace for making me laugh. Am in Glasgow North which puts me at .339. Glasgow North East is .023. Allan Brown in the Sunday Times Scottish section has been asking people round the Boundary Bar (where our last Lord Provost went to score his cocaine just a few months ago) asking people why they will vote for Labour when the party is institutionally corrupt and people just shrug their shoulders!

    John Curtice has an even bleaker wee piece answering the question that bothers many of us - why are the SNP (John Mason MP apart) not making more of the corruption issue? The answer is that everyone wants the issue to go away; Labour is the worst, but all the parties are in it up their triple-chinned necks.

    The Eye is invaluable for wee snippets of news on Scottish corruption and is very good on the Guardian also - a wee while back they described the GMG as the most secretive media group in Britain.

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  42. And while Broon's butchering the English language while pratting about on tippy-toes, CallMeDave has been at a builder's merchants and a brewery.

    Oh, dearie me...

    I wonder if anyone sent him for a long stand...

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  43. Cheque in the post for the builder calling him a 'nice down-to-earth chap'. Tory HQ must be shuddering with delight...

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  44. Dotterel:

    Our Milky Way Galaxy is estimated to contain some 200 billion stars. One in ten-thousand stars is thought to end up as a black hole, so that is ten or twenty million black holes in our galaxy alone. And there are probably some 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. SO our observable universe has/will produce(d) some 10 to the 15 black holes. So we are not an "early" universe producing thirty black holes.

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  45. Love that deano thanks. Elizabeth Custer's Following the Guidon records how 7th Cavalry troopers were obsessed with clog dancing and used to take them on campaigns during the Indian Wars. This was a problem for the army as clog dancing was a violent pastime in the US and in England (the maiming in Bill Tidy's the Cloggies is authentic!) and Custer says the troopers went to great lengths to hide their clogs during inspections.

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  46. Medve

    I heard an answer to this before but cant remember. If we have 200billion stars per galaxy and 200billion galaxies thats a lot of stars in total (4 x 10 to the 15 thereabouts?) why does the night sky appear mostly black, rather than mostly white/yellow/star coloured?

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  47. medve
    SO our observable universe has/will produce(d) some 10 to the 15 black holes.

    What are the chances of Earth being sucked into a black hole? It would have the advantage of putting us all out of our misery and cleaning things up environmentally at the same time. And if we chanced to survive such an event, would we pop out in another universe?

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  48. Or 4 x 10 to the 26 is it...

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  49. medve,

    I know we're not (I knew I should've looked at last Friday's thread!)

    You said:

    This is a "proper" scientific theory in Popperian terms, because it leads to a falsifiable prediction: The parameters of our present universe are tuned so that it produces close to the maximum number of black hole possible.

    My argument (in the discussion sense) wasn't that a universe tuned to produce the maximum number of black holes was evidence that universes are tuned for that, I accept that. My argument was more that the reverse was not true (a universe not tuned for maximum black hole creation was evidence that universes aren't tuned for that) and therefore that the theory wasn't necessarily falsifiable.

    However, since ours is, I accept that I'm probably nitpicking.....

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  50. Jay:

    Olber's paradox is what you are speaking of.

    IF

    1. the universe is infinite in extent
    2. the universe is infinitely old
    3. It is homogeneous (more or less the same everywhere)

    THEN

    the sky will be infinitely bright.

    In our case, according to the big bang nonsense, our universe is NOT infinitely old.

    Our observable universe is definitely not infinite in extent.

    Stars are clumped in galaxies, galaxies in clusters, and clusters form a sort of froth, so not homogeneous.

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  51. medve/dott I'm enjoying your conversation but let us not forget we could not consider these questions without the contributions of:

    Enlightening Rods

    My favourite one was a very special one created for sewer engineers. You could slide the bits around but if a certain answer came up - you started running for the fact was you were about to be deluged in shit cos someone had miscalculated previously.

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  52. Sheff:

    The re-assuring answer i suppose is quite small. But you did not give a time frame. The longer we wait,the more chance, but still unlikely.

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  53. Must go off for another battle with the school, will check back two or three hours.

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  54. Afternoon all!

    Happy Birthday, Watson! Your life won't begin for another 10 years yet but hey... :p

    Actually, I really enjoyed my 30s - old enough to really understand how life works and lose all the hang-ups, and still young enough to enjoy every single minute of it instead of dozing on the sofa knackered on a Friday night :o)

    Re: Amnesty - not sure what the hell has gone on there. My understanding was that the falling-out wasn't so much that she had raised a grievance in the first place, but more that she went to the press with it at the same time while AI were trying to deal with her grievance.

    Ah well - it will all come out soon enough, whatever it is.

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  55. Sheff,

    It would have the advantage of putting us all out of our misery and cleaning things up environmentally at the same time.

    Do you do the dishes by nuking the kitchen ? ;-)

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  56. I'll post here rather than over there, Jay, and later

    If I comment on Israel on CiF I get dumped on by a million cranks, give or take one or two.

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  57. If:

    1. the universe is infinite in extent
    2. the universe is infinitely old


    Not difficult to understand why the laity get confused. For they sometimes think:

    If the universe is infinite in extent it has no start nor end and thus no time. How then can it be old, infinitely or otherwise.

    If the second assumption is impossible/improbable to hold with the first we are in difficulty. Oh my brain she hurts and struggles with these things.

    The bit I adored about the Quaker/Astro physicis women I was raving about (the other day) is that she liked to ask leading thinkers - what then would be the consequence for your conclusion if your premise was wrong?

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  58. Mr Brown/Cameron - what then would be the consequence for our futures if your premise(s) were wrong?

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  59. @ Deano. Don't know about his political affiliations (though the equine world tends to be Old/patrician/paternalist Tory:mildly preferable to Thatcherism, but that's not saying much).
    However, consider 2 things: it was Grand national wwekend last weekend and more significantly (since he's a Northern circuit trainer, and has struck lucky getting all of Graham Wylie [Mr. Sage accounting software, v wealthy by Nth East standards]) it's the Scottish Grand national this weekend...Now with increased Jockey Club vigilance on horsey 'connections' and betting patterns, internet punting isn't the way to engineer a betting coup these days. Cash is king- not traceable. Not suggesting anything untoward, but a late plunge in the betting ring mightn't be unheard of.

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  60. Dot

    Do you do the dishes by nuking the kitchen ? ;-)

    I might consider it - given the huge piles I accumulate, were it not for the environmental consequences :-))

    My enquiry was frivolous I know but only because I don't know enough astro/physics to frame an intelligent question. I aminterested in listening in on the conversation though.

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  61. Sheff - our chances of being sucked into a black hole are pretty small; space is a big place, most black holes don't last long (apart from the very big ones) and there don't seem to be any wandering ones anywhere near us (we'd see the graviational effects, lensing at least, if there were).

    There is a huge one at the centre of the galaxy we're in, but that's no danger to us.

    Sadly, we couldn't go through a massive black hole and come out somewhere else unless the hole was really, really big. Otherwise, tidal forces would rip the planet apart as we approached it.

    With you on nuking the kitchen, though. I'm putting off trying to reduce the pile at this very moment.

    And happy birthday Elementary!

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  62. our chances of being sucked into a black hole are pretty small;

    I'll cross that doomsday scenario off my list then Peter.

    Anyone know whats happening at Cern at the moment? Someone asked for a piece from Brian Cox on cif - I'd certainly go for that.

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  63. Hi All

    Happy Birthday Watson and many more.

    Beautiful spring day here. Out with the dog, then golf. TTFN.

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  64. My friend breaks the washing up in a process we call 'hoeing the dishes'.

    My vote = 0.093

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  65. Dot

    Meant to say thanks for that bumblebee website. Its given me some ideas for suitable plants.

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  66. HB, E_W!
    My vote = 0.118,pah.
    Mangled my post upthread a bit re J Howard Johnson. he q. possibly is Tory-inclined, but I would suggest his having £100k in cash is more to do with the nature of horse trainers, (Oh, and it's Graham Wylie's horse he trains,the possibility of a plot with a late racecourse plunge (not illegal,necessarily, but a downer if you're not in the know). There's a good reason why the term 'horse-trading' has entered the language... and Wylie, having sold his big stake in Sage, has been buying plenty of livestock).
    PeterB(racken) re 21st century nature of OBL:spoke at length to one friend who's done much work on this and I think, from his work, the uniquely modern twist is that the threat now posed is "open-source" as it were: little by way of top-down structures or hierarchy:just a 'brand' and a loose, even malleable framework, and a strong DIY ethos.

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  67. Cheers Alisdair - daft question really.

    A bit like asking why there are so few £50 notes in circulation - answer: they are all overseas, having been used by tax evaders and drug smugglers to move their wealth abroad,

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  68. BB:

    "...but more that she went to the press with it at the same time while AI were trying to deal with her grievance."

    It was a point of principle, not a grievance as such.

    The issue has damaged Amnesty, and rightly so.

    Begg's outlook is antithetical to everything that Amnesty stands for (or should stand for), and it is another illustration of the left's miserable, regrettable dissaray.

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  69. Our green and pleasant land really is a gigantic nuthouse and there is nothing like an election to make that plain. - I think I'd go nuts too without a daily dose of sanity from my UT friends.

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  70. Thanks for the birthday greetings, Sheff, Alisdair, BB, thauma, deano, medve, Peter, Boudican, Leni, everyone I forgot :-)

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  71. Christ on a bike, mangled that last post too (although to a marginally lesser degree). Memo to self: don't attempt to hold conversation on phone,write a document, verbally outline the week ahead's business to colleagues, neck coffee, send a text and post on UT simultaneously.Tab time.

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  72. "...and it is another illustration of the left's miserable, regrettable dissaray...."

    Peter - it may, or may not, be an example of shabby or questionable conduct but that does not, repeat, does not justify tarring all on the left with the same brush.

    I am of the view that all associated with Blair and Thatcher (and indeed even the air they breath) are bastards. But there are shades within that view.

    Some are right bastards, some are complete bastards and some are self seeking wanking bastards.

    It pays to have a hierarchy in mind we might have to decide on the order of execution one day.

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  73. Like your hierarchy there, Deano!

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  74. Class Alisdair - I am so pleased to be unemployable.

    You young folk have it tough these days.

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  75. You're welcome Sheff, and I knew you knew about the dishes....

    Find washing up quite relaxing myself, no tactical warheads required!

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  76. Psst. Montana. Just noticed with the old birthdays/anniversaries up top. It's Bobby Moore, surely (y not ie) and er, he is dead (d.1993), so shouldn't it read(1941-1993)

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  77. Bindel's on the radio.

    Am quite glad I've already opened something.

    Although, to be fair, she's on a very playable wicket.

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  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  79. deano:

    The Left IS in dissaray. And I am of the Left, which is, I think, why I know it. You're defensiveness serves no purpose, besides the delusion at the heart of the malaise.

    And this comment should be beneath you:

    "Some are right bastards, some are complete bastards and some are self seeking wanking bastards."

    Why bother with this kind of ridiculous cheerleading on UT, of all places? It's on a par with some bigot declaiming 'Pakis Out' at a BNP rally, and expecting to be applauded for it.

    Does it have to be so relentlessly partisan, all of the friggin time?

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  80. Oh, dear, apparently the Girl Guides are regularly targeted by men (who are paedophiles).

    The way it was said was :
    men, who are of course paedophiles
    rather than:
    the occasional person who is a paedophile and male.

    again, glad about the open bottle. meh.

    "we know how that feels"?
    We? Was Bindel a guide? She seems to be easily diverted from the sensible path, frankly...

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  81. Bindel? A Girl Guide? Such militaristic and imperialist hierarchical fascist front organisations were surely not for Julie. Even if it was girls-only.

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  82. PeterB - I think that deano castigated "all associated with Blair and Thatcher" as being in on e of the various 'bastard' categories.

    Unless the two were in the same party, I fail to see how that could be seen as 'partisan'.

    And the equation with racism is, if I may say, beneath you.

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  83. PeterJ - I was a Brownie for about 6 months. You wouldn't believe bullying....

    Clearly the little bitches were all men in disguise.

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  84. http://cifmoderationwatch.blogspot.com/

    look what i found ^^^^


    Atomboy, good on him.

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  85. Philippa:

    I drew an analogy, FFS - not with racism but with happy-clappy populism.

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  86. PeterB - but it was a very pointed analogy when there are many others out there.

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  87. BTW, peterb, you're developing something of a fanclub on waddya. just thought would mention. ahem.

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  88. PeterB

    All politics seems to be in disarray to me. It appears that only the politics that accord with free booting market forces has any real purchase these days. Everyone else is just floundering around, tinkering a bit with this and that at the edges, if they have the power to do so.

    Basically, no one seems to have a clue what to do when faced with rampant capitalism - except of course making the humble taxpayer pay the bills when the economy goes belly up thanks to overweening greed and gratuitous risk taking.

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  89. ermmmm.

    MPs facing charges over expenses have had applicatins for legal aid allowed?

    just...just...[moving to daily mail mode] grrrrrr......

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  90. LOL phillipa

    They are entitled to it...they have just sneaked in, mind you, because they are phasing in means-testing for Crown Court trials now. So from the end of June people will have to be either pretty rich or very poor to afford legal advice.

    All so the MoJ can save £26 million a year.

    (As an aside, I read something a while ago where they said that the refurbishment of their new offices, which have moved from Selbourne House in Victoria, cost about £18 million. Nice to have the right priorities, eh?)

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  91. PeterB

    They are all bastards! We just have to find a way of voting for the least illegitimate of them. :p

    Quite a fan club you have on Waddya! Don't let the missus see... :o)

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  92. Peter - it was not my wish that you should confuse piss taking with cheer leading.

    Part of the problem that many of us who seriously consider themselves on 'the left' encounter these days is where exactly the left starts and ends.

    Given the reality, and the record of Blair/Mandelson et al in shifting the alleged left so far to the right (in what many now see as the pursuit of personal and individual glory/grandisement) there is undoubtedly confusion.

    What understandably follows is that there is a healthy questioning of those who want to claim to be of or to speak for the 'left'. In that you are as entitled as I.

    Personally, and I stress personally for, I have no monopoly on the use of the 'left' badge, Blair and those who put him and the message he peddled in the left camp were either misguided or plain deluded. He was never of my left and had no real identity or empathy for the values associated with the traditional left.

    His preoccupation was not so much the equitable interests of his fellow citizens and neighbours but of himself and his friends. You and I may differ on this view.

    Sheff puts the matter well when she speaks of her disquiet at the inevitable bundling (and some might say confusion) of contemporary politics with free booting economic market forces.

    Economics are only part of the story of politics and the obsession with economic growth is seen by more and more as a smoke screen which distracts attention from some some important and unanswered questions about fairness etc.

    Whilst we might struggle to currently identify the best way forward, many on my part of the left ground think, and indeed know, that the prescription of the Blair/NuLab approach ain't it. And truth be known it ain't of the left which I/we identify with at all.

    I am a simpleton Peter a left without values ain't a left for me. What little new labour achieved was built on sand - a few bankers blew it all away (almost overnight) with the blessings of the alleged left politicians.

    I'm guessing you would want me to vote for them again.....but I wouldn't wish to put words in your mouth.

    Dog walking calls .

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  93. I have to say, deano, that that was one of the best posts you have written in a long time.

    I didn't leave the labour party. The labour party left me.

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  94. deano:

    Where I think we differ is that the tribalism of Left or Right leaning politics has, for me, been replaced by something altogether more important.

    The crucial distinction in politics today is between the defenders and the enemies of an open society. This may seem a hopeless generalisation, but I believe it to be both true and without historical precedent. And it delineates the modern concept of the public good.

    The defining political development since universal suffrage was enshrined in law is the convergence of the main political parties. Today, on the issues that are fundamental to the public good, they are well nigh perfectly aligned. The course of synchronisation did not always run smoothly – Thatcher, for example, ruffled a few feathers with the stridency of her reform programme – but hindsight tells us they were but the birth pains of the emerging consensus. That consensus is now upon us, and with it party politics has been diminished. I don’t mean that pejoratively – I mean it literally.

    It is not just a British phenomenon, of course. The alignment is universal to the Western democracies, and for good reason. The ideological battles that defined Western politics of old have all been played out and so overwhelming has been the victory for secular democratic pluralism that the West presents the appearance of a gigantic blotting paper, able and willing to ‘absorb’ the countries that once prescribed the schisms themselves. We need look no further than our own back yard for the evidence for it. The embracing of former Eastern bloc nations by a thriving, tolerant and progressive European Union has been among the great, peaceful developments of our time.

    The result is that party politics can no longer be distinctively defined in terms of the economy or visions for society. Yes, there is a need to fine-tune social and economic policies – the degrees of free market regulation to ensure responsible multinational practices and conduct, for example. But the fundamental political debate has moved on, and the main British political parties now share the same, largely extraneous and remote (from the perspective of the voter) issues: third world development and poverty, the environment, the wise use of scarce resources, open trade, and – of course – terrorism.

    The public good has come of age. And it's global in its reach.

    As Berlin said: "Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience."

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  95. BB - thank you young sister.

    "...I didn't leave the labour party. The labour party left me...."

    UT is not a fan club. But you do relate a truth, a shared one, which I have heard many times from many comrades whose opinions I have valued over many long years.

    Comrades, some of which I may not have seen for two decades or more, frequently greet me with those very words. And I often respond to our collective despair with them too.

    Some fucking leader Blair was when he pissed off so many of the foot soldiers on which he initially depended.

    My beloved best man (the one that died last year) and I had those very words as the topic of our last time together.

    Blair and your Oxford cock sucking PPE cronies ours on the left is not a cynical take, nor 'told-you-so' self-congratulation 'lefty stance'.

    It is a scream of angry despair.

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  96. Peter - you raise some interesting questions (albeit predicated on some very heroic assumes)

    I have things to attend to but I'll get back when I can. (it might not be tonight)

    "....The public good has come of age. And it's global in its reach....."

    I don't mind you, or anyone else , taking the piss out of me ......but really.

    What the fuck are you going to bed with of a night in France?

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  97. "......As Berlin said: "Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience."...."



    as deano et al said "......that is the basis of the problem ..........for liberty without equality or fairness or justice, or human happiness or a loud conscience............is no liberty at all."

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  98. PeterB, while I can see your argument, it's not one with which I agree, down to differences in interpretation, let's say. The triumph you refer to I view as a victory for rightist neo-liberalism, corporatism/consumerism and managerialist technocracy, with self-declared and self-serving elites treating the masses as dronelike units. You speak of "secular democratic pluralism" but that's not what we've got: instead we have divide et impera identity politics, with atomised,selfish,shallow individualism pushed to the exclusion of shared commonalities, and an emphasis on what divides people (including an unhealthy pandering to religion and religious factionalism). Your line bears some similarities to the Fukuyama one seized on by neocon Republicans in the US,and a dismal case of premature self-congratulation.
    You appear to be of the belief that mere tinkering needs to be done to the current Western model, but I'd argue strongly that what we've seen domestically, strongly in the UK and within the EU, plus to a degree in the US has been a capture of the state machinery by the corporate interests and elites, accompanied by both increased authoritarian intervention in the day-to-day lives of citizens and an invocation of positive liberty,in a narrow and twisted fashion that suits power elites at the cost of the citizenry,propagandising and pushing the (unsustainable) consumerism and consumption as freedom shtick: this is the way to a better,shinier,new,improved future, so we'll force you towards it, whether you like it or not, then you will attain some higher,nobler liberty, because hey, we're the smartest guys in the room so obey (or else). You cite Berlin, but surely you know that Berlin was extremely wary of positive liberty, being only too aware of the potential for it to cover or be the justification for abuse, even totalitarianism and with it alos providing justification for theocracy (We, the enlightened know the truth and the way forard, so are enitled to impose our dogmatic will on others).
    I fear that the balance has shifted way too far away from negative liberties, not just here, though there are instances and initiatives galore (New Labour seized on Old labour's extant Fabian-derived elements with the instinct to manage the population from above through direction and regulation). The people, the masses are not trusted, not seen as worthy, and so must be corralled into hive society, steered by a Superman elite (something the original Fabians and Ayn Rand for instance have in common).
    This may be something you welcome and wish for, but not me, I'm afraid:the presumptuousness (especially of infallibility) and arrogance inherent in too much of New Labour rankles and the plain detachment from and distrust of the populace is both frightening and carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.You can only push people so far, and as persuasion has segued into more coercive legislation, sooner or later a backlash will occur.That may prove nasty,really nasty, with the tragedy being that it could all have been averted with a little more humility, a little less control-freakery and a great deal more trust in the character and abilities of John or Jane Soap.

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  99. Psst. Montana. Just noticed with the old birthdays/anniversaries up top. It's Bobby Moore, surely (y not ie) and er, he is dead (d.1993), so shouldn't it read(1941-1993)

    Yep. You're right and that's what I wrote down. Dunno why it came out the way it did when I typed up the post. It was late, I was tired. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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  100. Alisdair - I am a fan or yours young sir did I misunderstand you when I read you in the following paras?


    "...PeterB, while I can see your argument, it's not one with which I agree, down to differences in interpretation, let's say.

    The triumph you refer to I view as a victory for rightist neo-liberalism, corporatism/consumerism and managerialist technocracy, with self-declared and self-serving elites treating the masses as dronelike units.

    You speak of "secular democratic pluralism" but that's not what we've got: instead we have divide et impera identity politics, with atomised,selfish,shallow individualism pushed to the exclusion of shared commonalities, and an emphasis on what divides people (including an unhealthy pandering to religion and religious factionalism).

    Your line bears some similarities to the Fukuyama one seized on by neocon Republicans in the US,and a dismal case of premature self-congratulation.

    You appear to be of the belief that mere tinkering needs to be done to the current Western model, but I'd argue strongly that what we've seen domestically, strongly in the UK and within the EU, plus to a degree in the US has been a capture of the state machinery by the corporate interests and elites, accompanied by both increased authoritarian intervention in the day-to-day lives of citizens and an invocation of positive liberty,in a narrow and twisted fashion that suits power elites at the cost of the citizenry,propagandising and pushing the (unsustainable) consumerism and consumption as freedom shtick: this is the way to a better,shinier,new,improved future, so we'll force you towards it, whether you like it or not, then you will attain some higher,nobler liberty, because hey, we're the smartest guys in the room so obey (or else).

    You cite Berlin, but surely you know that Berlin was extremely wary of positive liberty, being only too aware of the potential for it to cover or be the justification for abuse, even totalitarianism and with it alos providing justification for theocracy (We, the enlightened know the truth and the way forard, so are enitled to impose our dogmatic will on others).


    I fear that the balance has shifted way too far away from negative liberties, not just here, though there are instances and initiatives galore (New Labour seized on Old labour's extant Fabian-derived elements with the instinct to manage the population from above through direction and regulation). The people, the masses are not trusted, not seen as worthy, and so must be corralled into hive society, steered by a Superman elite (something the original Fabians and Ayn Rand for instance have in common).


    This may be something you welcome and wish for, but not me, I'm afraid:the presumptuousness (especially of infallibility) and arrogance inherent in too much of New Labour rankles and the plain detachment from and distrust of the populace is both frightening and carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.

    You can only push people so far, and as persuasion has segued into more coercive legislation, sooner or later a backlash will occur. That may prove nasty,really nasty, with the tragedy being that it could all have been averted with a little more humility, a little less control-freakery and a great deal more trust in the character and abilities of John or Jane Soap...."


    Please to forgive me if I have altered your meaning - it cannot be through pretension or malice since itr be well known that deano cant punctuate let alone make a sentence.

    Warm regards,

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  101. Montana - much admired young miss.

    I have shit news from my sometime state side friend with the airline tickets.

    I accept full responsibility for his disappointing lack of foresight and reading ability.

    Please to see you inbox.

    xxx.

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  102. that's what comrades are for bro Alisdair

    It never once occurred to me that if you lost your footing that I would put my hand in your pocket and lift your wallet.

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  103. Hi All--Late again I am, the lonely Canadian flag on the counter as I write. Very good reading from different perspectives. Alisdair,peter bracken and deano, well argued. Do agree strongly with deano's earlier comment stating he felt for the young in this job market/economy/world. Have to say the employment prospects were far rosier in my own youth. Chances for a vocation in one industry were markedly better, in spite of the malfeasance and mismanagement of large companies. Different world indeed, I wish the yoof well.

    Anyone else here?

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  104. Hi Boudican

    I'm a hidden flag apparently.

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  105. Hi medve--Your flag ain't flying here but your post is. How is it going? Saw that you had some sort of issue with son's school? Hope it was resolved to your liking.

    How is the election shaping up in Hungary? Recall your views on same a couple of weeks ago. Dogs breakfast like many of the 'democracies' that the west puffs up? Must say I'm lucky in a relatively staid and stable country. Not Utopian, to be sure, but quite livable.

    Digusted just the same with the Afghan detainee torture scandal, and the minority government of the conservative party does not wish to discuss. Hard to take for little lefties like me.

    Hope all's good for you.

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  106. There is another round of the Hungarian general election to be held in two weeks time. However a lot of the result is already clear:

    Fidesz will win a two-third majority, which gives them carte-blanch to change the constitution. the Jobbik, a neo-nazi party gained one in every six votes.

    One in every ten serving Hungarian police officers is a member of the Ready for Deeds trade union, which has been actively politically (which is illegal) in cahoots with the Jobbik and worse.

    =======================

    The school is an amusing story if it were not so sad. My sons passion for a particular pursuit has been turned into a dislike for that discipline by a sadistic teacher. In league with the doctor i produced a piece of paper excusing my son from this activity. They tried to interpret it as if my son should be there passively. I said that it was very ironic that a foreigner, whose Hungarian is not that good, should help highly qualified Hungarian educators with their Hungarian language comprehension difficulties.

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  107. medve--The ingrained dogma/regression seems to have lit on your hearth. I'm sure you will take the course of action best for your boys. How do these people justify their decisions? Authoritarianism and folly combined? Can see the reasons for your concern.

    BTW--Still don't see your flag. You must be on double secret UT probation.

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  108. medve--Must take advantage of the weather, Mrs B and I will take the dog for a stroll on this lovely evening. Take care.

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