21 November 2010


I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them. 
-Jane Austen


  1. moonwave said...


    BTW - anybody know much about the journalist that redminer recently flagged up as wanting contacts/insight into ESA/IB medical system??

    I refer you to a comment of Monkeyfish’s on this subject on 25 October 12.44

    That journalist, Amelia Gentleman, is an award-winning social-issues journalist, who is married to the parachuted-into-Orpington Tory MP Jo Johnson, younger brother of the Boris Johnson; and this caring couple reside in Cambden. On 2007 she was named best foreign journalist for India as a result of being a New Delhi correspondent for the Observer and the International Herald Tribunal, where she made a good wage from poverty issues.

    I’m not acquainted with the lady, so I cannot comment upon her character; but find myself overwhelmed with a natural suspicion of the motives of anyone whose everyday life is so entwined with Tory-dom, and who is making money by picking up on the serious social issues now more likely to become even more serious because of --- quite.

    The piece she produced recently about the hopelessness of an unemployed blackspot in Middlesborough carefully sought out just the type of families which a right-wing paper likes to display to public view to show how undeserving they are, only without quite saying so (because this is a liberal paper) - leaving me wondering what was its motive.

    After all, there are quite a few people here, and on cif btl, who already do the ‘job’ of reporting social issues rather better, due to actually knowing what they’re talking about. That is, not being someone on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of something alien to their own-life experience, and who don’t have the purpose of making personal profit from it.

    I possess a very good example of a fraudulent (for that’s what they are really) Atos medical report, which had a very quick success at appeal, as it was so much humbug. It even had statements that directly contradicted one another! Although only after half a year of much distress and financial difficulties for the person involved. The written defence was concluded like this: These conditions cannot be changed by words. (That is, if someone can’t do it, they still can’t do it, however much anyone else invents statements that they can do it.)

    But I won’t be sending it to the Guardian (it’s a confidential matter anyway) - a paper which so much cosied up to characters like James Purnell, and would rather support him and delete the comments of those pointing out the damage he had helped orchestrate – a paper which kept on spouting forth articles about how this was going to give more opportunities to the disabled long after it had been pointed out to them in many ways by many people that was happening was going in exactly the opposite direction.

    The Guarn has a weird pretend-to-themselves socialism which I can’t quite follow – wonder why they bother really.

    After which, there’s the problem that people are scared, and if someone has got through the appeal process, they’re not going to risk having anyone looking their way too closely thereafter. The villifiction that’s been whipped up means that mostly someone in that situation doesn’t tell anyone new – definitely nobody sensible would send it to a national paper unless they were very sure indeed, or they’re rather niave.

    That’s why the publicised cases are often persons who are somewhat deficient, and so it tends not to help; and it’s why the papers find it hard to find good example cases, even though there are so many out there. Would you want your imperfect domestic situations and/or Incapacity (to be denigrated) splashed all over the national media?

    It is that situation of fearfulness, amounting to a permission-to-bully, that Tory-dom has been encouraging through a prolonged right-wing propaganda smeer campaign; and Ms Gentleman is closely involved with a Tory MP and therefore those circles; from which anyone can form whatever opinion they feel appropriate.

    Turminder - I'm glad for you.

  2. The above was rescued from the spam folder, which most of you would probably figure out without me telling you. But I'm telling you, anyway.

    Hello lurker from Cyprus! (Oroklini, perhaps?) Feel free to de-lurk any time. We promise we won't bite. Not too hard, anyway. :-)

  3. Montana Wildhack said...

    I refer you to a comment of Monkeyfish’s on this subject on 25 October 12.44

    The Guarn has a weird pretend-to-themselves socialism which I can’t quite follow – wonder why they bother really.

    Well, the NuBab approach appeared superficially to offer a "have-your-cake-and-eat-it" thing going for it.

    A hybrid affair marrying Thatcher's Neoliberalism with redistribution.

    You get your neoliberal growth, and help the needy as well!! And make some dough on Buy-to-let etc. while you're at it. What could possibly go wrong!!!

    Weeeeell, quite a bit, as it happens...

  4. Morning Montana--Good work, and I'll add the first bit of moonwave's second post --21.58 ---

    " I should add to the above (should it manage to appear) that I'm all for the Guarn, or anyone, better making public the carrying-ons of Atos (and suchlike), and at one time I added my 'voice' to the urgings.

    But even when they do do something along those lines, it's never in a hit-you-in-the-face way - but like they're only going through the motions somehow, and don't mind if it's not too noticable.

    They are welcome to prove this to be wrong as soon and as much as they like.

    It is a shame that they feel that they always have to be able to produce individual cases - for surely it can be effectively illustrated from the numbers of appeals that succeed and why they succeed, and soforth?

    But then that would take some real investigative journalism; and - like, this is only a - big national newspaper."

    Moonwave makes a good point in the first part, that it is very difficult to find an 'ideal-typical' case to publicise, for many reasons. And of course why do it at at any rate ...

    Good day, all !

  5. @dave from France.

    Yep, what you say lies at the heart of issues with Waddya and Cif. (And many spats spring from it, actually).

    When people first started posting concerns about the disability claimant thing etc. on Waddya, and asking for articles, Jess was able to point out that they may have done an article on it already.

    But people then naturally pointed out that maybe one article wasn't sufficient in the face of an onslaught from the right wing press, etc.

    Jess said that they weren't much for campaigns, though. It wasn't their deal.

    Which rather hammers the idea of influencing for the good, if the best you can hope for is a single article rapidly lost in the noise.

    And the predilection of the first-person-experience perspective in articles makes it worse, as a lot hinges on whether something's a few isolated cases, remedied with an appeals process, or an epidemic causing systematic hardship and requiring a fundamental change to the approach. To prove the epidemic, it's important to consider, as you point out, the overall numbers and so on.

    But then you are into the realms of the data, into analysing the data, the more abstract. Which is harder to convey, and to relate to.

    Whereas an individual, experiential injustice, is much easier to describe and relate to. It's also easier to find people to give such an account.

  6. Just Fancy That !

    Lord Young Apology Not Good Enough After "never had it so good" Claim
    Guardian, 21 Nov, p6

    Fashion Shoos Off Austerity With Maxi Skirts And Palazzo Pants For "Hedonistic" 2011
    Guardian, 21 Nov, p11

  7. Fashion Shoos Off Austerity With Maxi Skirts And Palazzo Pants For "Hedonistic"
    Suggesting that this really is the 1970s. Palazzo pants? Next stop, three day weeks and rubbish piling up in the streets.

  8. Morning all

    Jesus, BW that's brilliant.

    I am so pleased palazzo pants are back in! :o)

    (Talk about bloody pseuds corner.)

    On another note, the worst thing about Bitey posting on here is not the creepiness of it, but the fact that he is just soooo bloooody booooooring!

  9. I think his grace needs to head over to the AL Kennedy thread and reprise his Coalition Happiness Index.zip (chiz, for short).

    Question 3 probably my favourite.
    c) look at my face – do I look bloody happy?

  10. What the hell are palazzo pants?

  11. Guten Morgen alles ;0)

    Ahhh... the joys of a good night's sleep! And what a beautiful,serene picture Montana.....thank you ;)

    Thanks Leni and Jenn - it's nice to be missed!

    I am fine, job is going well and I am enjoying it, just a lot of pavement pounding involved....plus they're putting lots of jobs my way so am keen to get the moolah coming in, after months and months of being supported by Mr LaRit, general torpor and inactivity, I'm getting used to it all again and there's been a bit of too much going out of late instead of the quiet contemplation of the inside of my eyelids!!! (Plus the crap with the neighbour hasn't helped - good news on that front though - the landlords have written him a stern letter and the Police have told us that if he so much as bangs on our front door - to call them)

    @Jenn - ignore what Spencer says about the Wire (sorry Spen) it's brilliant, it just takes a little while to get into and get your head around the Baltimore accent .... once in though, you can't stop watching - we watched all 5 series virtually back to back and were completely bereft when it came to an end.

    I admit I have the same 'personality trait' about things... especially reading and doing things to make life a bit better, I get blocked and it's a hard one to overcome.

    @Spike - congrats on the giving up!!! KEEP GOING!!! I need to give up and am swerving the task ahead ;( we too going to Brittany at Chrimbo.... nr Paimpol .... courtesy of Mr LaRit's Dad booking a place to stay early on ;)

  12. jen - i dread to think.

    on the left of this picture, perhaps?

  13. Morning La Rit, I will give the Wire a go.

    Ah wide leg trousers then Philippa, not a good look for the vertically challenged among us, I have no desire to look wider than I am tall. ;)

  14. I presume Paul is nursing a bit of a 'head' after the result in the derby yesterday. Good game - thought it was going to be embarassing as they went in for half-time, but then bloody hell.

    And Brum beating Chelsea. What a day not to put any money on anything. [sigh]

  15. Re: Palazzo Pants.... someone at Groin Towers has nicked my idea (they're Soooo behind darlings...) I've been saying for a year that when we get married next year I wanted to wear a white 70's trouser suit a la Biancaaaahhh.....is nothing sacred?

  16. jen - and high-waisted, as well. one does have to have the body-shape of a new-born faun to carry off that kind of thing. any waistband that covers my navel and i look several months gone, and I'm 5'9...

  17. Jen - it took my sister a little while, she'd struggled with it and couldn't understand what we were raving about, and then (about 5 episodes into series 1) she sent me a text saying..... "I get it" - never looked back.

  18. Philippa - I too am a short-ass like Jen but love wide leg trews.... my problem is long waist and shorter legs..... 'fashion' doesn't seem to believe my body type exists......

  19. Philippa

    I am almost (almost, how sad is that) 5'2 and I am one of the tall ones in the family, by the size of my hands and feet I have often thought that my mother was having a passionate extra marital affair with a gentleman of the dwarfish persuation. ;)

  20. Aren't Maxi skirts supposed to make you look shorter as well? The Graun's solution fantastic solution to Austerity then is for some women to feel less tall???

    Well, the Condems' solutions are even worse, to be fair...

  21. For someone tall and podgy with long legs, palazzo pants and maxi skirts are about the only thing that make me look even vaguely elegant.

    LaRit - I can picture you in that wedding suit! :o)

  22. BB

    I love Maxi skirts but because of my height it all tends to go a bit Princess Di.

    The only thing that would make me look elegant is plastic surgery. ;)

  23. Moonwave - Thanks for that.

    I knew the name rattled a brain cell but I was fucked if I knew which.

    I share your reservations/scepticism. I won't be responding to her enquiries.

    If you will shag a Tory you are Tory - always was always will be so. I've always regarded toryism as a kinda of infectious disease.

    In all my years I have never knowingly fucked a Tory and I usually subject would be friends and acquaintances to gentle enquiries to to find out something about their politics before I even think of anything else.

    My universal admiration and lust for lady librarians ends abruptly with the notion of Tory lady librarians.

    You can be sure that I won't be assisting her in her journalistic endeavours. She can go fuck herself.

  24. "..The only thing that would make me look elegant is plastic surgery. ;) .."

    Take more than that for me.

  25. maxi skirt = calf-length?

    tend to look like a schoolgirl in that kind of rig, and not in a good way, neither.


  26. Philippa I think of a maxi skirt as one that almost touches the ground, a calf length skirt is known as a passion killer or ankle fattener. ;)

  27. ah, i see. the sixth form look. nice.

  28. Jesus...what was I doing last night?

    Just saw Joan Bakewell telling the world how magnanimous the Pope was by speculating that male prostitutes may be justified in using condoms.

    I notice he didn't mention orphans or choirboys...who, let's face it...are at pretty serious risk whenever one of his 'employees' is in the neighbourhood..

    Or women...FFS...since that would mess with God's sincere desire that every act of copulation ends in a pregnancy...what a fuckin set-up that would be...puts me right off...I'd have visions of shitty nappies and milky puke all over the back seat of the car

    Surely nobody serious thinks sex is about babies?


  29. deano30 said...

    and I usually subject would be friends and acquaintances to gentle enquiries to to find out something about their politics before I even think of anything else.

    Gentle?? Lol Deano, you mentioned the possible friendship thing to me but I'm not sure a grilling along the lines of suggesting they might be stormtroopers of the establishment, and backers of gross inequality and even eugenics was all that gentle a treatment of a noob. Coulda been harsher I suppose, and good to hear that it was just gentle probing, not an attempt to stigmatise or anything like that.

    Still, on the subject of Tories, if you are going to screen out on politics, then is that really far enough? Cos Labour/Lib Dems are parties that back the risible neolib thing, and have laid the ground for the Tory assault on the welfare state.

  30. hevers

    Is Deano not just talking about cultural Tories rather than actual I vote Tory Tories?

    We all screen people we meet and Tory is a nice shorthand term.

  31. MF

    You see that brick wall over there? Go and bang your head on it. And when you stop you might feel a bit better.

    Trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church - which, to my mind, is possibly one of the biggest, most pernicious and most dangerous mind-control cults in history - is like pissing in the sea.

    A mate of mind is an ex-Catholic from a very faithful Irish background. Her husband was divorced when she met him (not his fault either - his missus had run off with someone else). Her family wouldn't talk to her for three years. Her mother's priest contacted her and tried to get her to understand that as far as her mother was concerned she was committing a sin akin to murder.

    Eventually the old bag came round to reason and the parents came to the wedding. But I was buggered if I was going to be civil to the woman having seen all the suffering she had caused on the basis of a bunch of fairy tales told to her by weird men in dresses.

    There is no room for this kind of divisive, obsessive bollocks in the world.

  32. I won't send me mates 'experience' with IB/Atos to some Tory slag.

    But in due course I might, with his consent, write up a sort of case study for those interested over on UT2.

    It might be helpful to others and let folks see what worked/failed/happened. Other UT friends might benefit from an insight into the absurd system and how at least one nutter tried to fight it /dealt with it etc.

    We here on UT have briefly touched on the ethics of the bastard 'Nurses'/medics working for Atos - but there some questions to be asked about the role of the civil servants in the DWP too.

    I'm learning a lot about the DWP procedure and because of the nutty approach we are taking we are getting a much better understanding of the system and the role of the DWP decision maker ( who in law is acting as proxy for the Sec of State)

    Moonwave is right it is psycho babble and fraud.

    But because of the need of the DWP to act in a regimented formal legal way - there is a lot of scope for us in the awkward squad to add grit into the oil of the creaking machine.

    If more people knew how it could be made to and groan louder and it might be just be possible to grind it to near standstill......
    As I said to BB yesterday we have already got/forced a 'bundlle' (a package of documents for a potential legal hearing) of about 100 pages and we have only just started on one of three sepeartate aspects of our case......I now have the names of three separate civil servant who (are working on the case) I can write to all of them about this and that related to the case......... The bundle and the workload for them will grow.

    They are having to put a lot of work into the questions we are asking - at least they are now taking us seriously!

    La Rit - looking forward to wedding pictures. I won't ask for an invite 'cos I always get pissed at weddings and end up behaving like a disgraceful old goat.

    There is something about the notion of the (grown up) bridesmaids that I have always found appealing........

    ........ if perchance your having a lady librarian bridesmaid please can I have an invite?

    Montana please could email me the details of how to post on UT2?

  33. BB - aye, couldn't help thinking, when the news broke (as "oui, si..." on the JT), of all the people already f-ed up by the interdiction who might now be thinking, "well, that's lovely, but it's a bit late, isn't it? for thousands of people..."

  34. Yep Jenn, people screen, but not necessarily in quiiiite the same way. Though maybe you have had the same thing... Oddly, I didn't get it until I mentioned Public School. Still, no one died... I just found the "gentle probing" thing kinda funny.

  35. Is Deano not just talking about cultural Tories rather than actual I vote Tory Tories?

    deano is talking about anybody, who has not instantly been showered clean in caustic soda after having been, caught breathing the same air as the Tory bastards.

    hevers ;) you are quite right. - there are only about half dozen questions I shall be asking of my grand daughters boyfriend when we meet.........nothing too difficult or inquisitive .

    I might start with something like .....what do think about the idea of original sin?..... there will be sure to some passing enquiry about Clause IV .......and if the lad shows promise we might finish up with ....what do you think about Guinness as a contraceptive and .....finally is your mother/aunt/older sister a librarian ?

  36. aw hevers, I don't hate you because you went to public school, I often wished I could go to one when I was a child.

    Partly because I read too many Mallory Towers books and partly to get away from my frankly miserable, neglected home life.

    I do now think they are a hideous bastion of priviledge though.

  37. MrsB:

    I am aiming to starve myself as ruthlessly as posh Spice, so I can look 'gorgeous' for my 'special day'..... ;0) I had the idea of the trouser suit (pref. vintage YSL) because I loathe wedding dresses.... all that frou-frou nonsense ... bleucccchhhhh.....


    I'm sure, given my past rep at weddings (I cannot cope with them in general) it will be me being drunk n disorderly!!!

  38. I would fail on the Librarian thing, Deano. Clause IV a bit of a vague on, as I'm not always a fan of state ownership, and might prefer more of a co-op kinda affair.

    But generally I am of the opinion that democracy comes first, since whatever system is deployed, without sufficient democracy some fucker is liable to seize and mess with it for their own ends regardless.

    If it were me, I might be concerned with determining whether they have sociopathic traits or not, since even lefties can behave like that. Like religious leaders, there is much fertile ground for it, since in both cases there is opportunity to plead concern with injustice while shafting people.

    Something right-wingers are increasingly doing of late, of course.

  39. BB - don't me started on the left footers.

    My dad's opening position when me my much loved late younger sister told him she was going to marry a left footer was ..........."suit yer sen I'm not coming to wedding".......it took one hell of lot of persuasion on the part of me mam to get him to change his mind.

    He would never have any truck with practising catholics........sheer prejudice I'm sorry to say. But they can fuck of as far I'm concerned as well.

    Me brother in law and I are, 40 years later, good friends........but then he is not a practising Catholic anymore and he's never voted Tory or had Tory girlfriend etc (I think there is a suspect cousin in his mothers family though)

  40. @jenn

    Yep, a few people have said the same thing about wishing they had gone for similar reasons.

    And I suppose it kinda works, in the same way going to prison might save you from your family.

    It is a bastion of privilege, of course, though not always in the way people think.

  41. MrsB:

    Apparently, my Great-Grandmother paid for all kinds of masses and things to try and stop my Grandfather marrying my Grandma as she was not only not a Catholic, but a woman who had spent her formative years as part of a travelling Magic show and working on the Fairgrounds fortune telling....

    Similarly, my Mum's Dad, on the day of her wedding to my Dad, was driven around and round in a taxi, with him trying to stop my Mum marrying my him because he was a Catholic - it mattered not that he was not brought up as one and loathed the Catholic Church - just the fact that he was from a Catholic family was enough.... honestly, it was bloody lunacy.

  42. LaRit

    I know what you mean about the froufrou, hon. I got married in a grey skirt suit the first time round and brown velvet trouser suit the second time.

    And stop with the posh spice diet nonsense. You look fab as you are, silly.

    Philippa - yup. Although when you think about it, what kind of strict Catholic is (or has sex with) a male prostitute anyway? So it is a bit like saying "we will relax the laws on gun licencing for bona fide dodo hunters".

  43. My first husband came from a catholic family and my small-town Scots presbyteria Mum was not best pleased. She made me promise that if we had any kids they wouldn't be christened as catholics (which was an easy promise for me to make as we had already decided that if we were to have any kids they wouldn't be christened at all!)

  44. jen
    Partly because I read too many Mallory Towers books...
    for me i was the chalet school, st trinians, and molesworth, so my expectations were a little at odds with the reality...

    I do now think they are a hideous bastion of priviledge though.
    the thing is, the place where i spent two years wasn't a particularly good school - little heard of, not very good exam results, not particularly good teaching (some subjects, yes, but it was very luck-of-the-draw), and with that sort of odd glaze-eyed conformity firmly on the syllabus. however, i am well aware that having sixth form sets of 9 (politics), 7 (german) and 3( english) is far from the norm, plus extra tuition for uni entrance, so even at a bad private school (it was nowhere near being 'public'), you had an edge.

    i was lucky - went at 16, so had already had experience of being in a 'normal' school. my friends who were sent off at seven, well...slightly different situation. bloody depressing situation, mainly.

  45. BB - "Although when you think about it, what kind of strict Catholic is (or has sex with) a male prostitute anyway?"
    I did think that was a particularly odd bit of reasoning, but given the state of the rest of the 'reasoning' on display...

  46. Philippa

    Very true, it is normally evangelical Christians who use male prostitutes, how they must agonise about the use of condoms. ;)

  47. jen - providing abortion doesn't come into it, would imagine they're happy/...

  48. morning all.....

    BB - "Although when you think about it, what kind of strict Catholic is (or has sex with) a male prostitute anyway?"

    well this is what the sky fairies believers think:

    "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection"

    so there you have it, any catholic worth their salt won't go to prostitutes....blimey just saw a pig and an elephant flying by.......

  49. @Phillipa

    Yep, we had smaller class sizes too, but generally around 12-per-class, which isn't small enough for one-to-one tuition or anything.

    It does have two knock-on effects: less pupils' work to mark means they can set more work for pupils, and they could also stream much more tightly. If you have say 60 pupils doing maths, that's just two classes of 30, or FIVE of 12.

  50. Day 3 in the No Smoker house.

    Spike is living each day as if it were his last: lying in bed and slipping in and out of consciousness.*

    He's now spending about 12 hours a day sleeping and is horribly lethargic the rest of the time (fortunately, he has no essential work to do)**. There are absolutely no other symptoms. Did he start incubating some foul disease on the very day he gave up the coffin nails? Is it some strange coincidence?

    * with thanks to Jeremy Hardy
    ** you can watch Spike sleeping all day on the MoreYawn channel

  51. I found out recently that the drunken Irish priest of my childhood had a long standing sexual relationship with the infant year 2 teacher who played the organ at church, for some reason it really made me happy.

    He only escaped being a walking, talking sterotype by being very kind to children. ;)

    Catholisism, even the priests can't be bothered to follow the rules.

  52. I'm away we me dog

    but not before I say that amongst one two old Labour folk I know it has been heard...."I fucking knew it........(When Blair came out of the woodwork).......stands to reason. I knew when ClauseIV went he were a bastard left footed Tory......."

    I've always found folk from the nonconformist tradition more comfortable to be with. They seem to have more degrees of freedom in their thinking about the business of life.

    Anyway they are freer to have more interesting fantasies when slip sliding around on lazy summer afternoon.

    The idea of shagging a Tory, who would likely be preoccupied with how much the sex was going to cost or benefit her, never was appealing.

    And as for a lady left footer - fuck that if a priest wants a fantasy he can fuck off and get one his own. I prefer mine to be kept away from the confessionals. (a choir boy might be eavesdropping and that would be unfair on a young and still developing mind)


  53. I gave up smoking once Spike (I am back on them now sadly) and at one point I thought I had had a stroke, I lost all feeling in one side of my body.

    The withdrawal symptoms were just horrendous, I sometimes can't believe smoking is legal.

  54. @phil

    Next stop, three day weeks and rubbish piling up in the streets.

    Hmm. Well, if we also get the rest - only half a million unemployed, the belief that the future will be be better and lots of easily obtainable council housing - I'll be happy to take the power cuts.

  55. @Spike

    Unfortunately, what happened next was that people didn't realise that Labour had in fact saved the economy from the mess Heath had left it in and the oil shock and then voted in Thatch...

  56. @jenn

    I've given up properly twice before, for eighteen months and for five years, and I really don't remember anything like this. The other times, it was just craving, not exhaustion. Age, perhaps?

    When heavy smokers stop, they tend to spend a year or so falling ill all the time as their body adjusts. They don't tend to announce what a shock withdrawal is to your system when they advertise the benefits of giving up.

    Last time, for me, things were complicated by a previous, abortive attempt to stop, so after giving up, I'd put on a total of 3 stone. That led to type-2 diabetes which in turn, undiagnosed, resulted in a life-threatening case of pneumonia and pleurisy.

    So it's not just a question of giving up, you have to watch out for the knock-on effects. I'll be paying attention to diet and exercise too this time, so I don't put loads of weight on.

    In the run-up to Christmas, no cigs, no booze, daily walks, grilled meat and veg, and salads.

    Still, I can sing the blues really, really well now!

  57. @hevers

    ... and all became capitalists with a leasehold on "their" house and thirty shares in BT.

  58. @Spike

    There's an argument that smoking ups the activity of the immune system, to deal with the toxins. Maybe as you stop smoking, then you become more susceptible to illness for a while?

    I'm a smoker too... first time I gave up smoking, it was easy. Second time, took six weeks of feeling distracted, irritable, hot flushes... like I'd drunk twenty double espressos or something.

    Playing guitar for long periods helped.

    This time, I've been gradually working my way off it with nicotine replacement, distraction and so on. I've cut down a lot, but haven't stopped. Seems to get harder each time...

  59. @Spike

    If you ever find yourself at a loose end, and a bit irritable with the smoking thing, and fancy taking it out on some of the right wingers...

    ... pop into one of the economics threads and inform them that Labour in the seventies did monetarism a lot more successfully than Thatcher.

    And enjoy the ensuing carnage. They get all frothing and in a right tangle over it.

    Which is nice...

  60. After reading your posts, Spike and hevers, I have decided that I would rather die from a smoking related disease than give up. ;)

    That sounds a bit flippant but I watched my Mother die from lung cancer and a family friend died before 50 from smoking related COPD so I do know what the end game is going to be like.

    I still can't face the idea of giving up, fatal drugs being sold in every shop, what's that all about?

  61. @hevers

    I find it hard to make really long-term efforts, so it's easier for me just to stop and suffer more in the short term. A mate of mine who smokes two to six a day always says to me, "It's all or nothing with you, isn't it?"



    Hi, hope all's well!

    If I'm in Brittany, I'll be near Rennes, so quite a long way from Paimpol. Don't know if you'll be making any excursions?

  62. I gave up several times and failed - the one single thing that worked for me was having an inhalator - to deliver nicotine when I needed it, but also to have as a placebo effect - just having it to hold or suck on helped loads. For a few weeks I even went to bed clutching an empty inhalator! 2 Years later I still occasionally crave a cigar, but mostly not.

  63. jennifera30 said...

    I still can't face the idea of giving up, fatal drugs being sold in every shop, what's that all about?

    Tax revenue, corporate lobbying, reduced pension costs, votes etc. etc...

    we're doing our bit for the nation Jenn, one ciggie at a time...

  64. Bitey (from last night, with apologies to everyone else)

    "Like to explain?

    Are you suggesting that MrsBootstrap, if that's who you're referring to has protected status of some kind?

    I doubt she'd publicly agree, despite evidence to the contrary. "

    Ok, depends what you mean by "protected status". If you mean "given her posting history and general propensity to attack the argument and not the person, am I, personally (Dotterel*) more likely (but not certain) to come down on her side in any given argument between the two of you and "stick up for her"?"

    And furthermore, if you're implying that I am suggesting (perhaps not so) politely that your problem with her seems to be just that "your problem" and that maybe, just maybe, in my opinion you ought to POB"

    Yes, all of the above, what I'm not suggesting is that BB should be protected through deletions, bannings, "outings" on Cif or anything other than those of us who feel like it sticking up for her, in words, and saying, repeatedly, POB!

    Right, having got my "daily hate" out of the way I'm off for a walk in the woods before they sell them off, perhaps I'll get to see some real Porcellio scaber crawl back under their rocks...

    *and BTW I have no admin rights over this blog, other that putting up new posts.

  65. "perhaps I'll get to see some real Porcellio scaber crawl back under their rocks..."

    not mushrooms, then? sound like mushrooms. apart from the crawling.

  66. Well said Dot. Apart from the implied insult to the pea-bugs! :o)

  67. @jenn

    Oh, I don't think you can challenge the fact that giving up is a good thing to do. It's just you have to watch your weight (different people are affected differently). Doctors can help too with advice and even treatments.

    So don't let me put you off giving up with my gloom and doom on day 3 of cold turkey. ;-)

    A big incentive for me too is the money. If I bought all my cigs "tailor-made" at the current French prices and carried on smoking as much as I have been, I'd be spending about £4,000 a year on tobacco, which is a serious amount of money.

  68. If you've got 10 minutes to spare...discover your moral "style"


    It's quite diverting

    (Seems I've a Moral parsimony index of 32%...which I'm OK with...I..er...suppose)

    also...if you go to the homepage...


    you can have a go at either...

    Battleground God
    Can you get across the battleground?

    Philosophical Health Check
    How consistent are your beliefs?

    Morality Play
    What's your moral style?

    Do you succumb to the yuk-factor?

    Should You Kill the Fat Man?
    The Trolley Problem

    (Seems I've a "Moral parsimony" index of 32%...which I'm OK with...I..er...suppose)

  69. I googled it, woodlice. ;)

    I used to have a proper phobia about them but I have grown to be able to tolerate them, I don't think I will ever love them.

  70. Hi Shaz.

    Not revising today?

  71. LOL

    Thanks for that, Dot :o)

    Poor boring Bitey just doesn't get it, unfortunately, so you are casting pearls before swine. If he were capable of addressing points made by posters without attempting to smear them every time with mis-quotes and made-up stuff that he then spins to fit his world-view, nobody would object to him.

    But he is utterly incapable of doing it.

    Not to mention attributing things to posters that they never said. Poor old Paul got the Bitey treatment last night for something Tomper2 said on Waddya...


    Niquitin lozenges. Give em a try. And no I don't have shares in GlaxoSmithKlein. But they have been a republic-send for me.

  72. Jesus, my score was 84%, I am a fucking sociopath.

  73. Having said that it is a rubbish quiz, just because I don't think that you are morally obligated to help someone in severe need, at no cost to yourself, doesn't mean that I wouldn't do so.

    I am just not obligated to.

    OMG, am I evil?

  74. jenni

    being intolerant of woodlice is one of the 7 signs of sociopathogy.

    Keep on keeping on Spike - smoking damages both health and finances - I am trying to give up too.

  75. "Playing guitar for long periods helped. "

    What do you play, Hevers?

    Been playing Villa Lobos this morning. He's fond of frantic chord sequences that mean you have to slide your fingers up and down the fretboard very quickly, and because I haven't touched the classical guitar in a while, it's really rough on the fingers - particularly my little finger, which appears to have something akin to carpet burns on it....

  76. Jenni

    There is a difference, I think, between feeling obligated to help and responding instintively to need.

    The BS is trying to make us obligated so that the state can ignore its responsibilities.

  77. Heehee I tortured woodlice as a child (not really), I am unsaveable.

  78. Hmm... my score on that test is 72%.

    Which I am ok with... I suppose...

    (And falls into line with the nagging voice in the back of my head that has always told me that everything that went wrong in the world was somehow my fault)



  79. @MF & Jen

    I got a score of 96%, but it's all rather theoretical. The 4% may have come from the question about assisted suicide.

    Possible spoiler alert!

    I was a bit hesitant because they specified that the person had asked for help to commit suicide, but they didn't specify whether they had asked for medical assistance to be withdrawn. I'm probably splitting hairs, but they should perhaps reword that one.

    Anyway, it's easy to say it's morally correct to save ten other people rather than your own child. It is. That doesn't mean you'd actually do it.

  80. blimey - just looked back and the posts with "that finding the odd piece of putative hypocrisy and treating it as a fuckin heinous abomination doesn't provide enough scope for loosing both sardonic barrels." are still there! Thought they would go very fast, maybe the mods liked that turn of phrase too! :)

  81. Jenni

    i see we will have lots to tussle over - there are always small communities of woodlice living under plant pots. If I move one and tip a woodlouse over I always turn it right way up again.

    The pink babies are very pretty, the mother stays near them while they grow.

    There will be no no torturing of tiny, helpless crustaceans in my back garden.

  82. 69% on the parsimony test. I found the repetitiveness annoying.
    I don't buy the argument that parsimony is a good thing - not one of those 'universal moral principles' types, but also not a complete relativist, so I guess that's about right.

    "blimey - just looked back and the posts with "that finding the odd piece of putative hypocrisy and treating it as a fuckin heinous abomination doesn't provide enough scope for loosing both sardonic barrels." are still there! Thought they would go very fast, maybe the mods liked that turn of phrase too! :)"

    It's the high percentage of big words, and the absence of anyone's actual name that got you through, I imagine.

  83. Hey, Spike - congratulations on reaching Day 3! No, can't be bothered today. Have till 1st Dec to write three tasks, so not panicking too much yet.

    Don't mind woodlice. But I found a massive spider snuggling in my dressing-gown this morning...after I'd put it on... I minded that...

  84. Ah Leni I would never torture a woodlouse, I would however leap around screaming at the sight of one of them. :)

    I am seriously not that bad any more but at one point I thought they were stalking me, the one that launched itself out of the overflow pipe and into my bath came very close to killing me.

  85. @BB, Leni & all

    Thanks for the support. I'll just weather it out.

    I've never had a problem with woodlice. Or most other non-flying, non-biting creepy-crawlies. I hate flies, though. Scum of the earth. Wipe 'em all out is what I say. Sod ecosystems!

  86. 55%.

    is that good or bad? the explanation confused me...

  87. Jenni

    I am inspired to write a poem "Death by Woodlouse"

    There is a story about the young Asimov - disconcerted his mother by putting them in his mouth to see if they tickled his tongue.

  88. Philippa

    I have no idea if a higher or lower score is 'good' but apparently 67% is the average score so you are a lot less something or other than the average person.

  89. Leni

    You have just fueled my nightmares for the forseeable future.

  90. @spike

    Yeah, I wasn't advocating my method, just sympathising that it gets harder each time. Whatever works, I guess, and best of luck.


    I play guitar and keyboards, of a generally groovy nature, I suppose.

  91. @Phil

    Depends what you consider good or bad. If I've understood, the nearer you are to 100%, the more you apply strict moral rules inflexibly and tend to say that something is right or wrong regardless of circumstance. The lower you go, the more you take into account things like proximity, closeness of relationship, etc.

    But as I've said, I think it's very clear that morally, you should save ten strangers rather than your own child if that's the only choice. Practically, though, almost none of us would. I'd save my child and feel guilty about it for the rest of my life, so fingers crossed that particular decision never comes up.

  92. jen - hmmm. it's a 'word' thing, think - doesn't 'parsimonious' normally mean 'tight'? so assumed it was bad. but now looks like it could be good. anyway. just got cross with the act / ommission bits. where apparently i scored highly. or lowly. whatever.

    and i'm quite fond of woodlice (it's the being-able-to-roll-up-into-a-ball thing that impresses me) but i can live without knowing if they tickle tongues. that's just weird.

  93. It means more that you're using the fewest possible explanatory processes. So a parsimonious theory is one with the minimal components to explain a phenomenon - no extraneous noise.

  94. Too true Spike, last time I had to choose between saving my own child rather than ten others I went with the ten, total bummer, his dad thought I made the wrong decision and nothing I said about abstract morality would change his mind. ;)

    Pointless bullshit.

  95. @hevers

    Sure, I understood. Thanks!

  96. spike - gotcha. it said something about 'taking more things into account'.
    "I think it's very clear that morally, you should save ten strangers rather than your own child if that's the only choice"
    y'see, i actually disagree, which could explain the difference (!). now, hypotheses annoy me, the absence of info as to whether or not you are the only person who can save the world! a la flash gordon or something being kinda relevant.

    but i have a role, in family terms. that is key for my child (and for me). the other ten people (may) have people who have a key role to play for them, and we don't hear anything about that.

    i don't know whether the moral 'plus' of being the parent of one hypothetical victim trumps the moral 'plus' of there being ten v one, but i don't think morality is a numbers game to start with, so...

    i went for morally obliged re: your own child. as a general rule.

    but may have confused things by not dobbing in my brother, but dobbing in the 'person I knew', which actually wasn't about the family ties but the people hurt by the crime (whatever it was, more info that would inform the response).

    anyway. feels a bit too much like the first couple of weeks studying ethics. in that i ended up whingeing about the quality of the questions. even in logic and the cartesian stuff.

    there's squirrels, right? in the forest.

    need to go out...

  97. meerkatjie - thank you. think i've got it now.

    i worry too much.


  98. 47%.

    I had a problem with the idea of obligation, which implies that you don't have a choice regardless of surrounding circumstances.

  99. @jenn

    Yes, that sort of choice is a bit unusual. :-)

    I get the impression that what tends to happen far more often in real life is people having to choose which of their children to save - in fires, cases of drowning, etc.

    Doesn't bear thinking about.

  100. Jen - that sounds like out and out Woodlouse-phobia to me.......

    Spike - have no idea of the geography of Brittany having never been there.... an 'excursion' may well be in order ;) The full-on cold turkey of the fags is hideous.... has driven me many-a-time back into the arms of Death. If you can cope, it will get better. The best times I've given up for long periods I had barely any withdrawal symptoms, but it was my mind set, it was all very strange.

  101. Anyway, J.B.S.Haldane reminded us that this child/sibling thing is all down to genes anyway.

    Would I lay down my life to save my brother? No, but I would to save two brothers or eight cousins.

  102. on the yuk test found the frozen chicken scenario a bit odd.....should send that to the vatican conclave bet they'd have a field day.........

  103. @Spike

    Brackers may love the Haldane thing. We should get him to do the test...

  104. I am supposed to be doing housework, so back to the Marigolds for a wee while ...

    BB - was only joshing about the 'starvation' plan - having regularly done such things when I was much younger, it is tantamount to self-loathing and singularly destructive. (Mr LaRit has sometimes commented that he thinks I have a mild version of body-dysmorphia......with which I am inclined to agree) Looks like this job will help me shed a few pounds as at present I reckon I'm walking about 20 miles a week..... perhaps I need to get a pedometer???!!!!

  105. @LaRit

    Paimpol to Rennes is 90 miles, so not exactly next door. But if you decided on a day trip to St. Malo/Mont St. Michel (both well worth a visit), you'd be getting much closer. How long are you staying for?

  106. @LaRit

    perhaps I need to get a pedometer

    Watch it, you'll have NOTW readers coming round to firebomb your house!

  107. gandolfo

    I am also very high on the moral permissive scale (very high!).

    I think there might be something wrong with me.

    Maybe the religious types are right, no god makes you a bad person. ;)

    Sex with a frozen chicken which you then eat, go for it if it makes you happy. :D

  108. jenni

    Fair enough but I would advise warming the chicken first.

  109. I woke up this morning to the horrid suspician that I had developed a strange lurgy over night. The palms of my hands are bright orange. Tried scrubbing it off to no avail.

    Reaching now for one of those wet wipe things - Dogge jolted my coffee drinking arm, I discovered that I have by mistake bought a packet of self tanning wipey things.

    Who knew there were such things? How long will I be orange - anybody know?

  110. Leni


    Brings a whole new dimension to the Chefs' special sauce. ;)

  111. I haven't scrolled right back but how did we get onto the subject of sex with a frozen chicken?!


  112. I would advise getting the chicken drunk and then warming it before having sex with it - and then playing some nice music to it and then eating it.

    But not if it was the pet chicken of a lady librarian

    Then was a pleasant walk with Mungo but me necks feggin stiff after yesterdays papering of a ceiling

  113. Ah Leni the perils of shopping with older eyes...

  114. BB it's because of the Cif article 'Sex with a frozen chicken, can it be consensual?'.

    Just kidding, although I wouldn't put it past them, it is from the morality questionnaire on the site Monkeyfish linked to.

  115. Make sure it's not a Tory chicken too....

  116. "55%.

    is that good or bad? the explanation confused me..."

    that's probably good...I sorta assumed 0 and 100 are either end of a spectrum between rigid absolutism and permanent consequentialism...so I'd say 50% is about where a morally 'healthy' individual should be located

    I came to the one about your own kid and, I know the instructions said you should go for what's morally correct rather than what you feel you would do...you did read the instructions?, but I couldn't actually bring myself to click 'obliged'...not out of honesty...more 'superstition'...the idea of clicking it was giving off a very bad vibe

    Then..on the cousin question...found myself wandering "which one?"...there're a few I'd happily murder myself regardless of the benefits to any number of other people

  117. Well i discovered I'm inconsistent, illogical and with an incoherent grasp of morality. If someone wants to fuck a frozen chicken in the privacy of their own home, weird as I might consider it, but with no harm to themselves or others, why not? It's no worse than nailing your balls to a kitchen table for pleasure, (as some gents were prosecuted for a year or two ago, wrongly in my view).

    I was annoyed by the assumptions and lack of context.

  118. While we ae in nonsense mode.

    The snails I bought a month ago as 1 inch sized blobby things have now reached half the size of a tennis ball. They have strange face furniture, can sit back on their bums (on the back of their shells before Dott shouts at me) and curl the front of their foot to create two 'hands' whih can hold a boiled sprout or a large piece of cucumber.

    They have not yet gone walkabout - their breathing tubes are almost 3 inches long - they can up periscope and gulp air into their lungs while trundling tank like beneathe the water.

    An apple snail is a trouble free but ever growing pet.

  119. Deano

    I would advise getting the chicken drunk and then warming it before having sex with it - and then playing some nice music to it and then eating it.

    Oh, so that's how its done!

  120. It's probably not great news for the chicken, to be fair...

    Jus' sayin'

  121. Hmm. I've been certified morally unhealthy by monkeyfish. I'll have to think about how that's going to affect my brand image. ;-)

    Never really thought of myself as a rigid absolutist though. I think I just have very clear ideas of what's moral and what's not, but a much more relaxed attitude to compliance with those principles.

  122. “Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family's dinner”

  123. Leni

    Are your snails edible or fuckable - frozen or otherwise?

  124. I remember reading that the late Theo van Gogh came across a fatwa where an ayatollah (Khomeini?) said that you could eat a goat that had been been penetrated by a man, but not if the man had ejaculated, which was why TVG called imams "goatfuckers" a lot. Not sure whether it's true or not, or what the religious position vis à vis chickens, frozen or otherwise, is.

  125. Here's a particularly stomach-turning piece of nonsense...missed this yesterday...shoulda been on CIF...2000+ comments..easy


    "19 Nov 2010: Dubya's memoir shows he was neither a dope nor a warmonger, says Alastair Campbell"

    ...apparently, he's a smart sensitive and misunderstood humanitarian

  126. "Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family's dinner"

    that's cos your a moral flake...I went with my principles and fucked 10 other families' dinners

  127. monkeyfish

    That made me laugh.


    I am coming round to the idea of snails as pets.

  128. you're a moral flake even

    I'm a more solid character all together...more like an ethical Mars bar

  129. Edible certainly - as to their other activites they are in fact sexual by nature - I have yet to record any sexual activity.

    If I were of a vulgar turn of mind I might suggest they have a certain clinging quality about them.

    There is in fact a serious moral question about having sex with a living animal - surely it can never be consensual?

    Adam is of course reknowned for his lusting after the animals of the field - jealousy and all that. God made Eve to satify these lusts and save the animals from unwanted attention.

  130. "It's probably not great news for the chicken, to be fair..."

    True but Mungo is not much into fair - a fuck is a fuck as far as he is concerned. And a chicken dinner is just heaven......

    And before you ask you Sheff I'm not telling if Mungo has to wait in line....

  131. Right, I'm going for a walk before it gets dark. BBL.

  132. "......reknowned for his lusting after the animals of the field...

    Not to put too finer point on it Leni I understand this takes a lot of police time in Wales... poor sheep.


  133. Spike

    It never really got light here, what a bloody miserable day.

  134. ......mind you they have splendid choirs

  135. Now there is a moral question - is it right to fuck the sheep if it improves the singing?

  136. More of a moral pick'n'mix. I got 67% and tortured the fat man even though I don't believe in it. I suppose Martyn is used to it by now though.

  137. Am reading Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada, which throws up very interesting questions about moral or 'right' behaviour in extreme circs. I discovered it because it's been serialised on R4. Big recommend if anyones looking for something to read.

  138. I heard one episode of that the other day actually, Sheff, in the car and thought "ooh, must get that!" then promptly forgot what it was called and who it was by.

    Middle age is a terrible thing. Thanks for the heads up. I will check and see if it is on iPlayer too. I thought the dramatisation was brilliant.

  139. Thanks Sheff, another book for my libary wish list.

  140. ...apparently, he's a smart sensitive and misunderstood humanitarian

    Campbell could do with watching these again and again...




  141. Leni:\0/

    "An apple snail is a trouble free but ever growing pet"

    Giant African Snails also make good pets.... I know some people who have kept them. They were regularly on sale in Ridley Road Market and can be found at Brixton Market for eating .... frequently seen trying to make a bid for freedom..... at a snail's pace ;(

  142. Hevers -

    Campbell and Bush - to fellows united in their penchant for excessive amounts of the Columbian Marching Powder.......

  143. Amazing, the local libaries have one copy of Alone in Berlin with a shockingly long reservation list, I've ordered it but can't imagine how long it will be until it is my turn.

    Poor readers of Middlesbrough I salute you, you are not all reading Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer, this has really cheered me up.

  144. @LaRit

    I hadn't heard that about Campbell. Would explain a few things. Boy did NuLab fuck up.

    I mean... What. Is the point. Of putting money. Into the public sector. When you know that it's much easier to dismantle than to build up. And the Tories are liable to wreck it given the chance.

    Surely the priority was to focus on stopping the buggers wrecking it.

    They sold a chunk of it off anyway, while building up other bits... pretty crazy all-round really.

  145. Talking about moral behaviour - just on the news. Two Israeli soldiers who used a nine year old Palesrinian boy as a human shield by forcing him at gunpoint to open a suspect package, have been convicted and sentenced to demotion and suspended sentences...

  146. Demotion and suspended sentences?

    I feel sick.

  147. Jennifer -- I think the fact that they were convicted at all is probably quite noteworthy.

    I beat everyone on the moral parsimony thing -- 100%. Of course, I answered the questions according to what I think someone should do and not according to what I probably would do. Like Spike, although I think a person probably should sacrifice their own child's life to save 10 other children, I couldn't actually do it.

    And I was raised to believe that sins of omission were as bad as sins of commission. So not fixing the machine that I know is faulty and could injure or kill someone is as bad as sabotaging the machine in the first place.

    Haven't done the other test yet.

  148. Leni

    i would like to ask you , in simple terms, why western education and values are considered superior to those of China or other Asian countries ?

    It's a good question and one I might have asked before I'd lived in China, but not about other Asian countries about whose education systems I know very little.

    The easiest answer is that in Chinese education asking a question is considered to be a sign of weakness.

    Contemplate the implications for society as a whole, given the importance of 'face' in Chinese culture.

    And I've a student attending school in England, in whose last high school class in China there were 75 students. 50 - 60 seems to be the norm.

  149. @Sheff

    Well, that's dehumanisation for you. He wasn't really a boy, he was a cockroach, like the Tutsis in Rwanda. I'm even surprised the soldiers were demoted and given susp... Hold on, were they Bedouin Israeli soldiers?

    Anyway, that was a damp, chilly walk. They've built a new and rather attractive footbridge and there's a whole new section of the riverbank open with a footpath, so that'll be good in better weather.

    Careful with those exotic snails. They imported the African ones to Reunion Island as food and they escaped, bred and started crowding out the indigeneous varieties. So they imported cannibal snails to eat the African ones. Sadly, the cannibals took one look at the size of the African snails, said "Sod that" and started eating the remaining native snails.

    Tricky things, invasive species.

  150. "The easiest answer is that in Chinese education asking a question is considered to be a sign of weakness."

    My Chinese students have explained this as being a sign of rudeness, rather than weakness. They'll ask questions away from class, in private, but not in class.

  151. BeautifulBootstraps

    The desire to educate one's kids in the UK or the States has everything to do with money and status and naff all to do with lower standards of education in their own countries - like rich kids from here going to Harvard, Yale or McGill, or rich kids from the States going to Oxbridge.

    Well Harvard is number 1, Yale 10 and McGill 35; all excellent universites, but by no means all the same.

    How do you think universities retain their status in these rankings other than by recruiting the world's brightest and providing them an education by the world's previous brightest?

    Were you to be asked to recommend a top law firm, would you reply "it's naff all to do with lower standards of education in their own countries", they're all the same?

    Your newspaper of choice, along with the THES and several others conduct regular surveys of the world's universities. You should examine how it reaches it's conclusions here:


    China has just six universities in the world top 200, compared to the UK's 29 and the USA's 72. India has none while Singapore has two, the same number as Turkey

    Just how many graduates of Chinese universities have you interviewed in order to come to your conclusions?

    How many applications to any of the world's top universities have you completed?

    If there was any merit in your case, your hero George Carmen would have been educated at the university of East London rather than Balliol College, Oxford and the cost of hiring a world class lawyer would be similar to those you'd pay for a suitably qualified plumber or electrician.

  152. @jen30 said:

    Demotion and suspended sentences?

    I feel sick

    But it is even less that it appears as they are a conscript army so they are not in a career as such. It is a slap on the wrist which will have no real effect.

    Just a question to all please:

    I've just been reading one of those depressing updates from Friends reunited, I see a few of my old classmates are now listing themselves as 'retired'. Is this actually a euphemism for 'unemployed-and-never-ever-likely-to-get-a-job-again-as-I-am-too-old'? These guys are slightly younger than me (long story as to the reason why), so they would be 56 (ish). Can you really retire at that age? One of then used to run a record shop, is that a sound money-spinner? I do know for a fact that getting a job in your 50s is neigh well impossible so good luck to them but the idea of living in the UK in the cold climate with 1200 plus gas/leccy bills a year and for 1600 plus council tax bills fills me with dread.

  153. Hmm. These were my results on the Frozen Chicken one:

    Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.04.

    Your Interference Factor is: 0.00.

    Your Universalising Factor is: 0.00.

  154. Hevers:

    It's common knowledge about Bush's penchant for the white stuff (as is apparently Osbourne's - thanks to SheffPixie's great links a while back) and I'm seriously beginning to believe that Gove is 1. seriously mentally ill or 2. a crack whore who needs professional help.

    I don't know for certain about Campbell, I was being a bit naughty suggesting it, but I think his behaviour certainly has classic traits of the regular Coke-head ....I've seen it so often over the years and I hate it with a passion.

  155. "How do you think universities retain their status in these rankings other than by recruiting the world's brightest and providing them an education by the world's previous brightest?"

    Well, I'd say they start with the advantage of being both established and establishment. It's easy enough to sustain your position at the top if you're in charge of defining what's best.

    However, the question itself is a little too crude. To a degree whose regarded as 'best' and how that notion of 'best' is sustained depends on subject. Measures like citation index are used to determine which subjects are best. And here's where the circularity creeps in. Established journals, mainstream journals, journals that sustain the status quo have the highest citation indexes in my subject - they are politically conservative (with a small c) journals that reinforce the status of the politically conservative within the profession. This makes it nigh on impossible for anything that challenges the status quo to ever be heard. It may not be like this in all subjects, but in mine, where the APA with its investment in the reproduction of diagnosis, cognitive models etc, is kind in the journals stakes, it's certainly the case.

  156. Bitey:

    "How do you think universities retain their status in these rankings other than by recruiting the world's brightest and providing them an education by the world's previous brightest?"

    By getting people to believe that parting with wads of cash equals intelligence in students?

    I see that kid from the Harry Potter films is now studying at Brown.... but then again, she does have at least 20 million in the bank - does that instantly make her more 'intelligent' or more 'deserving' of a place? Or is it just to further her film career when she was already a rather privileged young woman?

  157. "I don't know for certain about Campbell, I was being a bit naughty suggesting it, but I think his behaviour certainly has classic traits of the regular Coke-head ....I've seen it so often over the years and I hate it with a passion."

    I tend to agree. There are others with that same kind of narcissistic overhyped-ness amongst that cabale, too.

  158. Meerkatjie

    My Chinese students have explained this as being a sign of rudeness, rather than weakness. They'll ask questions away from class, in private, but not in class.

    I'm sure they do although as China is the rudest place I've been to, I can't imagine why they'd be worried about being rude, or even recognise they were being so.

    And as the interactivity in western education is one of the main reasons it's so effective, if you don't or won't participate by seeking answers through asking questions, you're denying yourself and your fellow students that benefit.

  159. I saw Ali Campbell on W advertised on the Graun homepage and thought I'd pass. I'm saving myself for Heydrich's defence of Ghengis Khan's essentially humanistic policies.

  160. That's interesting. perhaps Chinese students are different abroad. I've always found them to be unfailingly polite, and incredibly considerate. But I've never visited China, so I guess I don't know that much on the subject - just what I've seen here.

  161. Bitey

    What is considered rude or ill mannered in one culture is not always so in another.

    Look at the international lexicon of rude gestures.

  162. Which one is the frozen chicken one?

  163. My experience too Meerkatjie - again only from knowing Chinese and N Vietnamese in Britain.

    I certainly found them to be questioning and curious about all things new.

    Very considerate people too.


    I always understood that the education system in HK - including universities - was based on the British system. Has that changed since it reverted to China ?

    In many ways the establishment scale of educational value is predicated on the ruling political ethos - does it fulfill the support role the authorities expect of it .

    The attitude to pure research in uk typifies this.

  164. Spike


    Shared across all cultures.

  165. LaRitournelle

    By getting people to believe that parting with wads of cash equals intelligence in students?

    You're an intelligent woman LaRit. why don't you look at the methodology used to conduct the THES survey instead of making a judgement based on the single case of someone you've already judged.

    Of course a number of students with 'wads of cash' will be able to get places unfairly, but unless such students perform to the required standard, the ranking of the university will suffer and that's a slippery slope.

  166. If anyone's stuck on what to get me for Christmas, worry no more.

    I was idly flicking through the online graun and I saw an advertising link which caught my eye- it's batshit brilliant:

    A Simple Guide: How Liberalism, a Euphemism for Socialism, Destroys People and Nations

    Some choice cuts from the synopsis:

    "The author first provides a concise examination of the economic outcomes of the various nations who took the bitter pill of socialism in the 20th Century. Having provided this context, he then systematically exposes the major political actions and techniques that Liberals have used in the last 100 years to subvert representative government and achieve single party control of our great nation.

    The conclusions are devastating. They reveal just how dangerous is the precipice upon which the United States of America finds itself at this time in our history."

    "Fred Sauer does not insult your intelligence in A Simple Guide: but rather offers you the thorough, crushing evidence of modern liberalism’s shocking, shameless devastation and enslavement."

    So you see, Liberals ARE goddam communists, McCarthy was right, Area 51! Area 51! UFO's! The lights!the lights! There's red everywhere!, run don't walk...................!!!!

  167. Bitey

    Not only are you boring, but you insist on boring us further us by copying and pasting your replies from the previous day.

    Who cares?

    Your analogy is ridiculous.

  168. Leni

    No idea about Hong Kong although recently I met a first year undergraduate from The University of Hong Kong, 21 in the THES rankings, who was quite different to most Chinese student I talk to and able to speak quite intelligently about her course. But she'd been educated at an international school.

  169. I've just done the god and religion one.

    I got:

    You took zero direct hits and you bit 1 bullets. The average player of this activity to date takes 1.37 hits and bites 1.09 bullet. 512542 people have so far undertaken this activity.

    Spoiler alert if you want to do the test

    You stated earlier that evolutionary theory is essentially true. However, you have now claimed that it is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that she exists. The problem is that there is no certain proof that evolutionary theory is true - even though there is overwhelming evidence that it is true. So it seems that you require certain, irrevocable proof for God's existence, but accept evolutionary theory without certain proof. So You've got a choice: (a) Bite a bullet and claim that a higher standard of proof is required for belief in God than for belief in evolution. (b) Take a hit, conceding that there is a contradiction in your responses.
    You chose to bite the bullet.

    I don't see that as a biting a bullet. I think that belief in evolution is reasonable based on the evidence, but "It is foolish to believe in God" (as postulated here) "without certain irrevocable proof" because there can't be any such proof, because the concept of an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent god is self-inconsistent.

    These were the statements.

    Evolutionary theory maybe false in some matters of detail, but it is essentially true.

    It is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that God exists.

    In fact, I don't really want to say, true or false to the second one, I want to reformulate it. :-z

  170. "More of a moral pick'n'mix. I got 67% and tortured the fat man even though I don't believe in it. I suppose Martyn is used to it by now though."

    well his being is torturously banal 99% of the time so one evil versus another.....

    jesus there's a mightly elecrical storm 'puter's failed twice already......

  171. This comment has been removed by the author.

  172. Hang on Bitey

    You now seem to suggest your Chinese students lack the intelligence to talk about their courses.

    Do you really respect the people you work for/with so little?

  173. Hey All,

    No woodlice but I did see some tits!

    Hmm, morality play 86%, philisophical health check 7% tension, and:

    "Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.00.

    Your Interference Factor is: 0.00.

    Your Universalising Factor is: -1."

  174. Duke

    I have long resigned myself to the fact that those of us who speak up for equality and a fairer share of the Earth's bounty for all are speaking for the Devil himself - I have noticed a small protuberance trying to fight its way out at the base of my spine.

  175. Which one is the frozen chicken one?

    it's the Yuk one spike

  176. @gandolfo

    I thought the fat man one was a load of steaming crap. Illogical and meaningless, with inconsistent hypotheses.

  177. @gandolfo

    I got 0 moralising and null yuk factor, but nothing about frozen chicken, just deathbed promise, pet cat and brother and sister.

  178. Whilst watching HP & the Deathly Hallows last night, was reminded that Hazel Blears is Dolores Umbridge...

  179. "who was quite different to most Chinese student I talk to and able to speak quite intelligently about her course."

    I wonder if you might do better with your students if you were slightly less scathing about their abilities? Surely most passing students can speak quite intelligently about their courses?

  180. spike
    the frozen chicken comes after the brother and sister

  181. shaz

    I always thought of Dolores Umbrage as Jacqui Smith, actually... :o)

  182. Your Grace

    "So you see, Liberals ARE goddam communists, McCarthy was right, Area 51! Area 51! UFO's! The lights!the lights! There's red everywhere!, run don't walk...................!!!! "


  183. Leni

    You now seem to suggest your Chinese students lack the intelligence to talk about their courses.

    Do you really respect the people you work for/with so little?

    Chinese education is one way - from teacher to student. And as I said before with questioning being discouraged, there is no opportunity or training in the kinds of verbal skills that are expected of students educated in western schools, etc. American high school students for instance are required to stand and speak to the class for say five minutes at a time.

    It's nothing to do with lack of intelligence and in mathematics and science the Chinese students I see are years ahead of most of their western educated counterparts. But if I ask graduate students to tell me about the best peice of work they've done and they struggle to come up with a couple of sentences, what conclusion would you come to?

  184. Bitey

    Do you speak Cantonese and Mandarin ?

    perhaps there is a language problem here - that would be my first thought.

  185. @Shaz & BB

    WTF? Dolores Umbridge is so obviously Anne Widdecombe! Forget the film, read the book. The face like a toad and everything?

  186. I found that Battleground God test to be hard to get through without biting any bullets -- I mean, I don't believe in a god, but if I did -- anything worth calling "God" to me would be omnipotent, which made answers to some of the later questions impossible to answer without a bit of contradiction.

    And the Fat Man thing -- if I think it's right for the engineer to divert the train to kill 1 person on the track rather than 5 on the other, then surely I have to think it's right for me to push the fat man on the track to stop it -- regardless of whether or not he sabotaged the brakes?

  187. @Montana

    I forgot to say thanks for the Jane Austen quote. Frighteningly topical on The UT today.

  188. Oh, and I don't know if their behaviour would be considered rude in China or not, but the residence hall that I lived in for the first couple of years that I was at uni had a high number of Chinese students living in it and they were rude as fuck by American notions of politeness.

  189. Your welcome, Spike. I love Jane and will apologise to no one for that.

  190. Leni,

    I had a look at the author's background. You'll be surprised to learn he's a Tea Party nutcase.


    funny you should mention Woooolverines!!, that was one of the book's working titles along with "FUCK YEAH!" and "Mein Kampf".

    It was only when the author accidentally found out that the English alphabet isn't a Communist conspiracy that he replaced the random howls that made up the text with real letters and words.

  191. Your welcome? Your welcome???

    Someone slap me, please.

  192. @Montana

    My thought was that if one fat man could stop the train, it was probably a scale model and so the five could take their chances, perhaps suffering bruised ankles. That was why I treated the whole thing as a joke and was told I was contradicting myself :-).

  193. classic managing in epsom :
    "I also play some pieces by Piazzola and transcribed for the classical guitar (e.g. Milonga del Angel), as well as pieces by Morel (as mentioned, especially the piece he wrote for his wife, Olga), the Venezuelan composer/guitarrist Antonio Laura, and Rodrigo Riera (there's a very simple please called canción). Of course, I always manage through some Tarrega, Sor, Bach, Satie, Torriba, Koshkin, Sanz, or the aforementioned Albeniz, at least once a week."
    he has quite a repertoire, not only a feminist, buddist jew with guardian socialist principles (i know it's an oxymoron)he's also talented with a guitar...

  194. Just been browsing through yesterdays paper. In the colour supplement there's a piece on what people in various professions get paid. That uber twat Rod Liddle gets between £180,000 and 200,000 a year!

  195. WTF? Dolores Umbridge is so obviously Anne Widdecombe! Forget the film, read the book. The face like a toad and everything?

    Oh really, Spike... Ann Widdecombe? Has it perhaps slipped your mind that Umbridge's preferred decorative style for her Hogwarts study includes fwuffy kitties? Ann Widdecombe bites the heads off fwuffy kitties...

  196. Montana

    slap - from oe typo miscreant to another.

    i do starting to wonder if this 'rudeness' is in fact the arrogance of privilege.

    Most of the Chinese people I have known were from the lower orders - with the exception of a very elderly classical scholar who was charming if a bit aloof and other worldly.

  197. Gandolfo - I've clearly got a way to go to match up - I play Albeniz, Sor, Bach & Tarrega... but not the others mentioned...

  198. Leni

    Do you speak Cantonese and Mandarin ?

    perhaps there is a language problem here - that would be my first thought.

    Undergraduates wanting to get into western universities typically need an IELTS score of 6.0 - 7.5 depending on the course; master degree students 6.5 - 7.5.

    It isn't a language problem, it's an education one. Having said that becoming competent in either Mandarin or Cantonese takes a phenomenal amount of time and in part accounts for why school students typically do 12 hour days and six day weeks at school.