Sunday, 29 November 2009

Diana Watch

I want to begin with a bird feeder update. As you know, because you read this nonsense every week and I thank you for that, I have a birdfeeder and it was being ignored by my local feathered friends and I was wondering how long I should wait before being offended by the tiny little feathery, ungrateful gits.
Well I no longer have to worry about this most modern of dilemmas as I have seen one bird on my new bird feeder; it was a Robin thank you for asking. Of course, just because I have only seen one bird on it doesn't mean that others have not been flocking around it whilst I'm not there or when I’m looking the other way (they are sneaky you know). Now, you may think that I am slightly deluded but just ask any good religious person and they will confirm that, just because no one saw it and there is no evidence for it, in fact there is evidence against it, does not mean that something didn't happen.

I am still keeping up with the “Diana Watch” element of this blog and I have for you one Daily Express front page photo of Princess Diana.

So NICE says we can’t have a bowel cancer drug that seems to work (a bit). This is an emotive subject and I can see both sides of the arguments. If you were dying you would want any chance of increasing the length of your life but is infinite cost ok? Of course it isn't. (Interesting side point, when NICE said no to the £30,000 a year drug the company that makes it offered to renegotiate the price. So that's not how much it costs then? Was it just a number you made up?)
You can't have this drug that has been shown to work (in some cases) on the NHS but you can have some homoeopathy at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital if you like.
The rest of us use evidence based medicine (but what's the evidence for that?) and we only use treatments and medicines that have been shown to work but one part of the Health Service is allowed to give it's patients little vials of water and sugar pills claiming that it will make them better with no evidence to support that statement. There is actually quite a lot of clear evidence to show that it really, really doesn't work and it's just silly.
So you can't have real drugs that have been shown to work but the NHS is more than happy to fund Quackery.
On the subject of Homeopathy, there was a Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee hearing this week that discussed this subject and you can watch it here if you like.
Boots the Chemist were represented at the hearing because they sell some homoeopathic products. Under questioning the representative from the company admitted that they had no proof that it works (not a great surprise there) but they sold it because their customers wanted it and believe it works. Well that's ok then, it not as if you are a trusted Pharmacy that is known for primarily selling medicines that have been shown to work then is it? Oh no, wait a second, you are! Even the anti-dandruff shampoo has to be shown to work before it can be advertised and sold as anti-dandruff shampoo but not so homoeopathic “remedies”.
Pure consumerism in action there. Sell stuff that is known not to work just because some people think it does and completely forget any moral element of separating people from their cash for a useless product. Here is an open letter to Alliance Boots for the Merseyside Skeptic Society.
If it works then let's test it, independently, with double blinded trials and then it can be regulated properly. I'd want in then because the money you can make from selling this stuff would be massive, it's so cheap to produce.

It seems that all you read in the press may not be true. There have been several stories recently that seem to have been, let's say, a little exaggerated. Well, maybe even untrue.
We can start off a little gentle “misreporting”. MP Sir Peter Viggers got a duck house on House of Commons expenses didn't he? Well, no. I know it is only a technicality but he only claimed for it. He filled in a form and asked “might you pay for this?” and the Commons Authority said, “Umm, no. No we won't.”
But that was not how the story was spun in the papers. Ok it was a silly claim but it wasn't paid. When the Express reported it they admitted that the claim was refused but only sort of. They wrote “However, it is not clear whether he was in fact reimbursed for the duck home, as a Commons official wrote "not allowable" by the side of the claim.” So it was not allowed but they tried to insinuate that it might have been paid anyway. Nice.
Then there was that incredibly indecisive Gordon Brown (if you want to see indecisive hand me a menu. Get yourself a snack; this is going to take a while). He was asked about his favourite biscuit on a webchat he did for Mumsnet (for some reason this has become the communication medium of the moment as David Cameron has done it several times) and he didn't answer the question. The press laid into him. All of them. “He can't even decide on a biscuit. This man is a disgrace.” was pretty much what they went with.
The thing is it didn't really happen. Someone on Mumsnet did, indeed, ask Gordon about his favourite biscuit but he didn't receive the question. There was an IT problem at No. 10 and the question didn't get through so he didn't see it and so couldn't answer it. Not many of the papers reported that bit but the lady who runs the website/chatroom confirmed the techy problem.
Do you remember Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross? They rang an old man and left messages on his answering machine. There was a little bit about in the papers, I'm not sure that you would have seen anything about it.
Well it turns out that they probably didn't leave any messages on his machine. Well according to Comedienne Richard Herring who claimed to have heard this when recording “Never Mind the Buzzcocks”.
And then there are the things that they don't tell you. The News of the World was fined £800,000 this week at an industrial tribunal in a case bought by a former Sports reporter for that paper.
If you read most of the UK's daily papers you probably don't know this because they haven't printed it. This little interesting tit-bit is explained here by Alan Greenslade in the Guardian, the only paper that printed the story.
What isn't pointed out in that article, but is in the rest of their coverage of this story, is that the man at the head of the paper when this bullying was taking place is the same man who was in charge whilst the paper was hacking the mobile phones of people that you may have heard of. That man was Andy Coulson. He is currently the Tories Director of Communications & Planning. So he was fired from his paper for mobile phone hacking and now is found guilty of bullying, just the sort of person David Cameron wants to have around.

This is a plea really. Articles in most of the papers this week report that people in the UK is still not donating enough organs. Why not? You don’t need them, you’re dead!
There has been a very large rise, a doubling in fact, in Surgeons using organs from donors that are described as “marginal”. These include the elderly, cancer victims and those with a history of drug abuse. Now, I have nothing against any of these groups of people, actually some of my best friends are elderly, tattooed (higher hepatitis risk), cancer suffering drug addicts, (not fun to be with but they tick so many boxes), but I wouldn’t want their organs.
So to those of you who are not on the donor register, click here and go and do it.

The Award for Heart-warming Sports Story of the Week,

We have joint winners for this as I couldn’t decide between them.
Firstly Gretel Bergmann has had her German National high jump record restored after 73 years. On June 30, 1936, in Stuggart, she jumped 5ft 3in but this record height was removed from the record books by the Nazis because she was Jewish. She was also barred from the German Olympic team. She left Germany in 1937 and emigrated to America.
Whilst it has taken a little bit of time the German track and field association has decided to reinstate her record.

The other story is about Wigan Athletic (who are a football team, sort of). They played last weekend and they lost 9-1. That is not the heart-warming part, unless you are a Spurs fan (the team that beat them). No, the nice bit is that, after this thrashing, the players have said that they are going to reimburse all of their travelling fans who came to the match and who saw their team get royally spanked.

The Award for I’m Not Sure How I Feel About This,

In Nepal they have started their festival to the goddess Gadhimai. The celebrations included fortune-telling robots, a ferris wheel and stalls broadcasting music and offering tea and sugary snacks. Oh and they also sacrifice 250,000 animals. Yes, you read that correctly, I didn’t add any extra numbers. 250,000 animals will be slaughtered, including 10,000 buffalo. That is a lot of buffalo.
I’m not sure how I fell about it because whilst a lot of the animals will just be killed, at least the buffalo will be sold on and used for their meat and hide etc, so they are not going to waste.
If you are going to kill an animal in this coming week, the least you can do is eat it all up.

The Award for Changing It Everytime You Say it,

This goes to Radio 4 and the BBC in general. The family of Jean Charles de Menezes have accepted an undisclosed amount in compensation from the Metropolitan Police. I hope this helps to soothe their pain some what and that they understand that the entire country is sorry for the death of their son. I hope that they feel that they can move on with their lives. I also hope that news reporters can go back to not trying to think up new ways of pronouncing his name. I’m pretty sure that every time I have heard them try, they have said it differently.

Sorry to go on a bit this week. Hope you enjoyed my rambings and are going to register on the Organ Donor thingy, I'm off to obsess over my bird feeder.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Kate Moss Speaks

There was something that I forgot to mention yesterday. Kate Moss. She is a woman who is famous for looking quite good with a frock on and quite good without a frock on. That’s about it really. She has taken some drugs and had relationships with some “Rock Stars” but not much else.
One thing she has done, rather well if you ask me, is keep her mouth shut. She rarely gives interviews, she’s not one of those people who pops up on list shows claiming to remember something (I criticise but bills do have to be paid) that they were reminded of by a researcher. No, usually she is a little enigmatic.
It came then as a surprise to me to hear that she had been interviewed and had said something controversial. Now, let us first remember what she does as a job, she looks good in frocks. Small frocks mostly. The sort you only look good in if you are not too chubby. She said “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.
Some have seen this as an encouragement for little girls to make themselves thin and it has appeared on some Pro-anorexia websites (there are such things? I thought it was a mental health issue but it seems it can be taught). The usually tabloid nonsense has been written about it as well with little irony, forgetting that they mock the chubby celebs every day and print pictures of stick thin woman saying how great they look on one day and then the complete opposite on another.
The thing that got me about the quote, though, was this; that is a very, very good line. Did she come up with that herself? Because if she did I have underestimated Miss Moss. I don’t care what you think about what she was trying to say, the full quote by the way is “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. You try and remember, but it never works.” i.e., I eat some crap too, but I care not. It is a great line. It’s witty, it’s succinct and I love it. Perhaps she has been working on it for her entire adult life and this is the one great thing she will say, well, that’s one more than most of us will muster.

And now a quick game of “who got the earliest Christmas Card?” I think you will find that it is me. I got one this morning. It’s the 23rd of November! To be honest it comes from a slightly odd elderly relative who always sends them very early but I think that this might be a record.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Diana Watch

So the sad news is that we had to have the cat put down on Tuesday. To be honest, it was quite an easy decision to make. She had become increasingly unwell and was barely leaving her chosen spot on the end of our bed. She became a sort of Miss Havisham character; always there in an upstairs room, an ever there presence, we would go up every so often to check that she was ok. That and she never wanted me to be happy.
Following the putting down of Pootle (named after a flump, which was a 70’s children’s TV program) I phoned my Nan on an unrelated topic but she asked after her. “How's is you cat?” she enquired
“Oh, we had to have her put down today Nan.”
“Oh dear but she had a good life”
“Yes Nan, yes she did”.
“Are you going to get another one?”
“Later on, yes.”
“Oh right” she paused for, unintended comic effect, “maybe you could get a nice a next time.”
Well thanks for that Nan, that really helped me get over it.

On Friday we received a hand written letter of condolence from the vet. This was very nice of him. He didn’t have to do this and had taken time out from his day to express his sadness at the passing of our cat. Nice man.
Although, thinking about it, his hand writing was very poor and he may have spelt the cat’s name incorrectly. Someone call the Sun, I am deeply offended by this obvious disrespect.

The Daily Mail managed to take perfectly reasonable scientific study and give it that unique Daily Mail spin.
For a long time people have known that plastics can leak chemicals that mimic Oestrogen. If fact there have been studies into the effects that these chemicals can have on fish, with some quite surprising results, boy fish turning into girl fish. This study, however, was into the effects on to the unborn child. The terrifying news is, drum roll please, that small boys don’t want to play with toy cars. As the Mail put it “Those exposed to high doses in the womb are less likely to play with 'male' toys such as cars. They are also less willing to join 'rough and tumble' games.” Later on in the article it makes the same point again, “The higher-phthalate boys were less likely than other boys to play with cars, trains and guns or engage in rough-and-tumble games such as play fighting.” It then went on to say that “They preferred 'gender-neutral' activities such as sports.”
Sports? So they still like sports then? Sports like Rugby or Football? So still quite physical and competitive then?
There are of course problems with the study, small sample size, only 74 boys, and “personalities” of the children were reported by the parents. No mention of the socialisation of the children either. But that is not my point, others can criticise the study, no, my point is, do the think the Mail meant, makes them gay? Do you? I do?
I may be suffering from a little confirmation bias here, I was looking for it so I found it, but come on. The number of references to “boys games” like cars, trains, guns and fighting and the use of the phrase “'feminising' the brains of baby boys”. I think an insinuation can be drawn.

It turns out that Ernest Shackleton liked a drink, as did the men he took with him on his unsuccessful Polar expedition between 1907 and 1909. A lot of whiskey was taken on this trip; well you need something to do on those long winter nights (lots of man together, lots of alcohol, a love, or least a physical activity to keep you warm, that dare not speak its name)
Anyway, back to the story, two crates of McKinlay and Co whisky were found 3 years ago, encased in ice and buried under Shackleton’s old hut.
New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust is hoping the do conservation work on the bottles and crates before putting them back in the ice under because they are planning on renovating the hut (that will be on the tourist trail I’m sure) but the company that now owns McKinlay and Co are wondering if they can get their hands on at least one of the bottles and have a bit of taste. Well you would, wouldn’t you? It’s been there a hundred years! I appreciate that alcohol freezes at a lower temperature then water but it is really quite cold there. It should have been preserved. There is only one way to find out.

Another story in the Mail, sorry, was one of its classic “I'm really offended by this”/”their trying to ban Christmas” nonsense. A Bishop makes up things and deliberately misinterprets the new Equality Bill so that he can be offended so that the Daily Mail to be upset about it.
To be honest it's boring as usual but more interesting than the article were the comments, One commenter said said “Having read the Bill, can't see word in it which threatens any religious festival, Christian or otherwise.
Which bits are you all referring to? Nick, Liverpool, 17/11/2009 19:44”.
This was massively voted down. Let's not let facts get in the way of a good (made up) story.
However my favourite comment, and very popular amongst the sort of person who reads the Mail was “The countdown to Sharia Law has started. WAKE UP BRITAIN !!!!!!
RUPERT, COLCHESTER UK, 18/11/2009 19:15”
I'm sorry, where did that come from?

It's awards time.

The Award for (at least trying) to Wake Some Americans Up Via the Medium of a Survey,

1 million US children go to bed hungry. That's all I'm going to say on the subject. Remember that the US is perfect as it was (if you are a Republican.) Bring on the, alleged, socialism I say.

The Award for Crime That Got Me Thinking of the Week,

In Peru 4 people have been arrested on suspicion of killing chubby Peruvians and rendering down their fat and selling it to cosmetics companies in Europe. How much is human fat worth you ask? Well it turns out that it is quite expansive. About £9000 per litre to be precise.
Now whilst killing people for their fat is a nasty thing to do (I'm not sure why I feel the need to point that out but I do) but you can sort of see their point.
There are lots of very, very wobbly people about. It seems that you will get a very good price for the self inflicted source of their wobbliness. And it's not like they can run off so they are easy to catch, oh and if they do try and run off, the strain on their poor, struggling hearts will be so much that they will keel over any how, thus saving you the effort of actually killing them yourself.
I'm not saying you should do it, just saying it might be profitable and not to hard.

The Award for Not Giggling Despite a lot of Provication,

This goes to every single newsreader in the country who managed to say “Cockermouth” over and over again without having a little chuckle. Yes it is a sad thing that someone died and that the town was damaged but it is a very, very funny name. When we drove past earlier this year and saw it's name on a sign we laughed at it and I've had a little chuckle each time it has been said on the news. They have even had to combine it with words like “flood” and “12 inches”, oh come on, that's funny.

Hope you all have a lovely week and that the rain stops.
One quick question before I go, how long should I wait before I’m offended by the Sparrows in my garden who don’t seem interested in my new bird feeder thingy? It been there over a week and I’ve not seen them on it yet. They are in my tiny, tiny garden but they are ignore it. Little gits.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Good People

So, a while ago I wrote a short blog on Good People. This was a pretty self-explanatory list of (at the time) 4 people who I thought had done goods things and had not really been celebrated properly for them. A quick reminder of the list,

Tim Berners-Lee, he is the man who enabled you to read this by inventing the internet and then giving it away for free for the good of mankind. He works at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider.

Adam Neate, he is an artist who recently gave away 1000 paintings by leaving them around various places in London. He had used bit and pieces that he had found in London for his art and this was his way of giving back.

Jimmy Wales, this man founded Wikipedia. Wikipedia only employs 10 people and everyone else is a volunteer.

Richard Reynolds, he runs the website which does great things and that I love.

Well we have a new entry. If I knew what I was doing there would be an MP3 fanfare here but I don’t so there isn’t. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Dr Tom Ord.

Dt Tom Ord

He has decided to give 10% of his earnings and all earnings over £20,000 to various charities and he will do this for the rest of his life.
He is an Ethics Researcher at Oxford University and has calculated that he will be able to give away £1 million, which he estimates could save 500,000 years of healthy life.
He has also set up a website,, so that other people can join and pledge.

I think that counts as a good person. I am still taking nominations for people to be added to the list by the way.

The Good People Gallery

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Diana Watch

I love this weather. Seas are rough and trees are blown on to railway lines meaning that I can't get to work for a shift that is not during my usual contracted hours but felt pressured into changing because some else, who my work clearly think is more important than me, if they didn't they wouldn't have asked me to change my contracted shift, for someone who is not contracted, could work. I'm not even sure that makes sense. Ah well.

The beginning of this week was taken up by one story. Gordon Brown's handwriting.
The poor man can't win really can he? He writes a letter to everyone who has lost a loved one in war. That seems to me to be quite a nice gesture (and it is no more that (a gesture I mean) because really there is no more he can do. Well, maybe make sure that the relative is financial secure but you get my point) at this difficult time. A hand written letter from the leader of our country expressing his sorrow at your lose and his thanks for the sacrifice made by the member of you family. It's a good thing.
One woman complains about the letter she received following the death of her son to the Sun newspaper (I use that term loosely) because his hand writing is scruffy. It also looks like he as spelt the name of her son incorrectly and that there are some spelling mistakes in the letter. The paper decides to run with this story as its front page. What their point is no one is really sure but that doesn't stop them.
Gordon Brown then apologises profusely and is said to be mortified. He also phones the lady concerned to apologise for any inadvertent offence caused and she records the conversation and releases it to the Sun again (anyone else think they may have approached her rather than she, them) and continues to complain. He says sorry 14/16 times on the tape and she claims that he didn't apologise.
I did not know, before this story broke, that Gordon Brown wrote to the families of soldiers that have died. This makes him out to be a reasonable bloke in my eyes.
If he did nothing he would be uncaring, just sending “our boys” off to die. If the letters were typed the response would be, “well, this is just the same letter he sends to everyone, he doesn't mean it, he just signs it.” He could never get that right.
No, he takes the time to write each one out in his own, admittedly scruffy, hand. Can I just point out that he does only have one eye and the working one isn't that good. So poor in fact that he has to use a thick tipped pen in order to see it.
The poor woman had recently been bereaved so Gordon was never going to win. It just had to sit and take it. You can't criticise or argue with those who have recently lost someone, it's just not done.
What was the Sun trying to say? Were they saying that Gordon Brown shouldn't be Prime Minister because his hand writing is bad? It seems likely that it wasn't that poorly spelt but, because of poor penmanship, letters were not correctly formed. If that is what they were trying to say then that is a little harsh being as it is his eye sight that is the problem. They seem to be saying that visually impaired people have no place in government. Nice people at the Sun.
You know that your hectoring and bully has gone to fair when even the Daily Mail doesn't agree with what you are doing.
Oh and as a fantastic postscript to the story the Sun spelt the lady's name wrong on their website and had to issue an apology.

One of the things I don't like about my local pub is the fact that they have 2 televisions on all the time. No sound and only some times do we have the joy of live subtitles, which are always funny. They seem to have Sky News on most of the time and so on a Monday, when we go to the quiz, we get to see, but not hear, a lot of this awful channel (for balance News 24 is pretty poor).
This Monday they were covering the commemoration of the Berlin Wall falling. It's been 20 years you know; ha, now you feel old.
Centre piece of this celebration (is that the right word, I think so) was a line of 1000 massive dominoes that had been decorated by artists across the country, falling like, well umm, dominoes. Half an hour of a couple of World Leaders and ex-World Leaders wondering round in the rain, under umbrellas was entertaining according the director of Sky News but when they finally got round to the dominoes, do you know how long they stayed on it? The main point of the day? After all that hanging around? 30 seconds. They showed 30 seconds of the dominoes falling. They didn't even wait until they had all fallen. Nope. It seems that their idea was “we have told you that this thing would happen and there it is, starting to happen. Right, back to the studio.” Very strange indeed.
But for your entertainment here it is (with non-English voice-over.)

Steven Tyler may or may not have left Aerosmith. This isn't the most important story in the world but the reaction of Joe Perry was quite interesting. He said that they were would be looking for a new singer. I'm sorry? You want to replace Steven Tyler? Now, I'm not the world’s biggest Aerosmith fan but even I understand that Tyler is an iconic front man. And this got me thinking, what does it mean to be a band any more.
Aerosmith are the Toxic Twins, I mean, can anyone, apart from hardcore fans, name the other 3 middle aged blokes that stand behind them?
Have you not made enough money Joe Perry? Do you really want to whore out the good name of your band to make a few extra dollars? I mean, Brian May and Roger Taylor wouldn't do that with Queen would they? Oh wait, that is exactly what they did. First of all they played on the awful cover of “We Will Rock You” by 5ive, then there was the musical and then, worst of all, they got a new singer. Paul Rodgers, who used to be in Free, stepped up to the plate and pissed all over the grave of Freddie Mercury. Full respect to John Deacon who wanted nothing to do with it and still doesn’t.
I understand that musicians want to continue playing together but I point you to the Joy Division/New Order model. Singer dies tragically young; you want to continue playing together, so you form a new band. You do not do a reality series on MTV to replace the only member of your band that anyone, including a lot of the fans, has every heard of, like INXS did. I think the Doors did something similar but they are rubbish so I don't care. I assume the remaining band mates do it because they want to show that the band was more then just the ridiculously attractive, charismatic singer. Yes, ok you wrote the songs but they brought them to life. You can replace a bass player (Arctic Monkeys) or a drummer (Guns N Roses) but not the singer. Although Axl Rose has tried the reverse of this by replacing the entire band and leaving just the original singer. That went well then.
You also get the ridiculous situation that the Sugababes find themselves in, the band name is no more than a brand and it doesn't seem to matter who is in the band, or if any of them were in the original line up. The Sugababes aren't the only band to have done this but they are the most recent. I think that the version of the Temptations that is touring at the moment has no original members in it.
A band is more then some musicians and the songs that they used to sing. If three girls get up and singer covers of the Supremes, are they the Supremes? Of course they aren't. They are just three girls singing some songs; see the Sugababes for an example. A band is the collective experience of a group of people. It is the chemistry between people who understand each other.

So what happens if the press constantly vilifies a whole profession over one, very unfortunate, case? Well it seems that the people who do it leave and not many people want to train to do it.
60% of British Councils are reporting problems in retaining staff. That is a 50% rise on the year before.
Following the death of baby P, or to give him his real name as our press refuse to, Peter Connolly, the British press worked itself into a rabid frenzy. They blamed everyone but they mostly went for Social Workers. “Why don't these uncaring Social Workers take more children into care rather than leaving them with their awful, awful parents?” seemed to be the thrust of many of the articles. Well the answer to that is because policy seems to be based, yet again (see education policy and drugs policy), on headlines and not on evidence or best practice.
Many years ago there was an outcry about the number of children being taken into care. It was pretty much the same outcry as we had this time, except it was the other way round. They were doing too much interfering. So the policy changed. They tried to keep more children in their homes with their families.
This went on for a while until, in one household, it all went very horribly wrong. So again we have a press outcry over the very policy that they wanted in the first place. This brings us round to where we are now, with stories about a massive rise in the number of children getting taking into care.

The Award for Most Surprising Headline of the Week,

I'm just going to give you the headline, if you want to read the story then click the link. The headline, form the BBC website, is “New warning on 'perfect vaginas'”. I don't know about you but I missed the old warning. Was there a meeting or an E-mail?
It sounds like the sort of headline you would get on newspaper in a 50's B-Movie about a perfect, yet deadly, fanny. If, of course, they would have used the word vagina and not some sort of amusing euphemism. Go on, send in your favourite lady part euphemism. A long time ago a patient referred to her front bottom as her “Mary”. This amused me an awful lot but I'm not going to tell you why and I'm pretty sure only one reader will know why. Enigmatic hey? Hello Kate xx (I mean no disrespect by that story by the way)

The Award for Most Fantastic Thing I've Seen in Ages,

Yes, it's a pop up book but look at the beauty,

The Award for the Funniest Thing I saw on Friday Evening,

This is a video of some dolphins. Not that funny you might think, but wait. Suddenly they swim slowly past some jellyfish and then hilarity ensues.

Every time I walk past my sleeping cat I have to stop and check that she is still breathing. Poorly sick cat is still holding on. Used to do the same with patients at work. The number of people who look dead when they are sleeping would surprise you.

Have a good week and I hope you survive the storm.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Diana Watch

So I had my swine flu vaccination on Tuesday and, unsurprisingly to anyone with a modicum of sense, not much happened. I had a bit of a sore arm and, as the Occupational Health Nurse Kerry said might happen when my body started to produce antibodies, I felt a bit hot and slightly achy during the early hours of Wednesday morning. To be honest I was reassured at the speed at which my body made me feel a little unwell.
I am telling you this because, as a not overly bright person, I had not considered what happens in my body when I had the jab but, because it was explained to me, it all made sense. Oh yes, that would be the standard response of the body to receiving a denatured virus (or part of a virus) or any other potential infection. It's not the infection; it's what the body does. But I wonder if those people who you meet (I met 2 yesterday) and claim that they had their flu jab and a day later they had the flu get this explained to them at the time of stabbing? The NHS can be a little poor at explaining itself sometimes.
Is it the lack of understanding of how our bodies function and how vaccines work that lets in all the anti-vaccine nonsense that is out there? Have you had a look at some of it? OMG! To the rational eye (most of me is rational but my eyes are especially so) it is so badly informed as to be hilarious but to the not so well informed it is spectacularly misleading and dangerous.
My favourite argument that the, umm....... let's for the sake of balance call them, charlatans and liars use is “Big Pharma is lying to you in order to separate you from your money”. Now I'm not here to defend GlaxoSmithKline and friends because they aren't the world’s most moral companies but I will say this, those who use this argument are always trying to sell you something of their own. Whether it be magnetic bracelets or a homeopathic swine flu vaccine(this lady, in the section called “Swine flu treatment and Flu Treatments”, even questions whether this strain of the virus is naturally occurring or created in a lab. She later goes for the complete set of nonsense cards as she claims that all vaccinations cause autism.), they are trying to get your credit card details.
If someone makes a claim on a website please don't just take them at face value, read around them a bit, learn something relevant. Now you are able to make a slightly more informed decision and if you are still open your wallet for snake oil sales men than it is Natural Selection at work. Intelligent design my arse.
If vaccines didn't work then the world would still be revenged by small pox and it's not. This may be simplistic but it makes the point rather clearly I think.
Please don't get me wrong, I am not criticising the people who buy this nonsense (well I am a bit), I understand their desire to be told that their incurable disease can be cured by some herbs and a wand. No, the people that I am having a go at are those who prey upon these desperate people with their many kinds of woo. Theirs is the cynical misinterpretation of science and logic in order to extract money from those who have been told that they have no hope and, in the case of Mediums, the recently bereaved. I mean, what sort of cunt tells the parent of a child who has died that they can talk to them but it will cost you money?

OMG! (sorry to use the expression again) They want to teach 5 year olds about sex and drugs! It can't be allowed to happen! And of course it isn't, despite what the Evening Standard or the Daily Express says.
The Government want to bring in a new plan for sex education in schools but it has annoyed the usual sort of people. This time, however, they are way out of touch. The new government plans, that do not include sex education for 5 year olds, have been discussed, and agreed with, many religious groups such as the Muslim Council for Britain and the Catholic Church.
So why bother complaining about them when the current lessons have worked so well. I mean, it's not as if we have the highest levels of teenage pregnancy in Europe or anything. Oh, now, wait a minute, we do.
The plans are to start teaching children, yes, as young as 5 (but as a vast number of parents have decided not to teach their children anything before they go to school such as how to use the toilet or cutlery it shows that some one should), about relationships in the most basic ways and learn about parts of their bodies. So what's wrong with that? Well, obviously nothing. Fuss for the sake of fuss. And the part about drug lessons for 5 year olds? I have no idea where that has come from. I was told about drugs and their dangers at school, were you?
The argument against seem to be that if we tell children about sex they want to do it. Interesting point. We don't tell children about smoking but they still want to do that and that is because they see others doing it. Our world is all about sex. Sex sells and lots of people want us to buy their stuff. We are surrounded by sexual images all the time so it is no wonder that younger and younger children find it interesting.
Let us have a look at the statistics from a country that teaches abstinence shall we? After years of falling, the teenage birth-ratein the US went up between 2005-2007, it is the highest in the western world. Many blame the “abstinence only” sex education bought in by the Bush Administration for this rise. Young people will have sex, we need to except this as fact, and what we need to do is to make sure that they have the knowledge to do it safely. Proper facts, sensibly discussed. Internet porn and playground chat is not a really that helpful.

We're going to be part of Europe, oh we're going to be part of Europe and if you don't like you won't get to vote on it anyway. Ha Ha Ha Ha.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus has ratified the Lisbon Treaty. This means that it will come in to force on December 1st. As you can imagine this had annoyed our right-wing press quite a lot and has pleased me so much.
One of the purposes of the treaty (apart from the streamlining of decision making stuff) is so that Europe can keep up with China and the USA who look like they could form a G2. The 2 superpowers trading as superpowers and leaving out the rest of the world. I'm not so keen on that as others seems to be. We need to do everything we can to stop this from happening. If we don't, the UK will become some economic backwater with no one taking any notice of us at all.

The Award For Answering a Question that Simply No One Was Asking,

This has to go to the Daily Star that bought us the Headline “Is Maddie a Muslim?” Way to link missing girl and disliked and misunderstood religion there.

The Award For Heart Warming Story of the Week,

The Actress Kate Winslet has won a libel case against the Daily Mail. Is there anything sweeter than a sentence that ends “ has won a libel case against the Daily Mail”? I don't think so.
They had printed an article disputing the amount of exercise that she did, well they didn't dispute it, they said that she lied when she said in an interview with Elle magazine, "I don't go to the gym because I don't have time, but I do Pilates workout DVDs for 20 minutes or more every day at home." How could they possibly know? No, really? How could they? They are quite obviously making stuff up. Why would they bother? Because they are unpleasant people, that's why.
Believe it or not, with every day that passes my views about the Daily Mail harden. With every hate filled, factually incorrect article that they print. I hate everyone that works there. They are responsible for crap that they print. Every single one of them. They cannot us the Nuremberg defence. By that I mean the “I was only following orders” defence rather than the “pawns and a rook” opening set of moves invented by Franz Nuremberg, Chess Grandmaster, in 1923, a chequered board genius and completely fiction character, made up for the propose of this joke. I want to make it clear that I'm not comparing them to actual Nazi's, just mentioning the excuse.
This week they published an article about an Asylum seeker dying in the back of a lorry and later in the day they had to remove most of the comments because, even they had been moderated by the paper, some people found them offensive. Now remember that this was cleared by the paper, one of the comments was, “one down, many more to go”
There is also an article by AN Wilson which described all scientists as arrogant. I'm not going to talk about the article because others have done it more eloquently then I ever could. It then pointed out, for some completely unknown reason, that another person who completely believed in science was Hitler. It also had a nice big picture of the moustachioed socio-path but later in the day the paper removed this picture. There is a very good article on the Poddelusion podcast about AN Wilson and his hypocrisy, I.E. comparing scientists to Hitler whilst he believes in Eugenics, having called for a woman to be forcibly sterilised in an article earlier this year.
One of the things that really annoys me about the paper is their lack of commitment to being offensive. A few complaints and they take stuff down. So do they really believe in the things that their own Journalists and Columnists are writing? I don't know but they are spectacularly inconsistent.

Sorry, I've been a bit ranty again this week. I will try and be concise and funny again next week.
For those who are wondering, the cat is still struggling on. Her kidneys my not be working but no one seems to have told her. She seems to be coping ok.
Hope you all have a nice week.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Diana Watch

We are going to start with a question and this one's for the ladies (oh god, I sound like some terrible RnB singer, although I'm not sure I actually know the names of any Male RnB singers). Has Wolf Whistling ever worked? Have you been walking down the street and some knuckle dragging cretin has whistled at you? And then did you think to yourself, that's the sort of man that I want to be with? Have you?
I only ask this because when we were sat in the pub on Monday evening waiting for the quiz to start and on a table close to ours were a couple of slightly worse for wear young men (I believe a birthday was being celebrated.). Every time a young lady walked past someone in the group let out the World’s most piss poor wolf whistle.
Of course, no good came of this. They did not leave the pub drippin' in honeys. In fact they left the pub because the bar staff stopped serving them as they were drunk and a bit rowdy.
My question, however, remains. Was it the weakness of the whistling that prevented the acquisition of lady love or the act it's self? I have to know.
Although there is always the possibility that they were actually herding sheep using a dog of some sort but this is a little unlikely given as it was in a pub, even if it was in Dorchester.

I know that my town is a little out of the way. Some may even say backward and those people would probably have a point but answer me this, does your town have the National Champion Town Crier? No, no it doesn't. And why is that? Because mine does.
Oh yes! For the third time in a row Alistair Chisholm has won the National Town Criers Challenge Cup. Can your town claim that it has this sort of quality living there? Well can it? No it can't. You may have Universities and Cathedrals and the such. You may have great shopping and excellent parks but we have the best Town Crier in all of the country.
You may be thinking to yourselves, “well there can't be that much competition for that sort of thing” and you would be wrong. Alistair beat 17 other completely pointless, tourist pleasing anachronisms for that title. I can see the posters now “Come to Dorchester and get shouted at by the best in the land.” It gives me a warm feeling inside.

We did paedophilia last week (if you'll forgive the expression) but for a new level in paranoia read this.
Although it does seem that it might not be as true as the papers would like to have us believe. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Somali pirates have kidnapped a British couple and their boat. Now, I'm not going to criticise the couple who did exactly what they were advised not to because they might be taken captive. No. what I going to mention is, who did the Pirates call to make a ransom demand? Was it Sky news? Was it ITV? Was it Dave? No, it was the BBC. Even Somali pirates think the BBC is great.
According to BBC news since this spate in kidnappings has started companies have sprung up to act as intermediaries between Governments and families on one side and the Pirates on the other. They will sort out all sorts of things, such as dropping of the cash and arranging the rather specific requests about the cash i.e. they like very specific denominations and from between certain dates. Isn't Capitalism fantastic?

I have a new hero. That man is Prof. David Nutt. He was the government's advisor on drugs until he was fired on Friday for using science and reporting it dispassionately.
He criticised Government for completely ignoring the advice that he has been giving them on many subjects but mostly on Skunk. He accused them of devaluing scientific evidence in general in the way that they deciding to ignore it and make policy based on the headlines they might receive.
Dr Les King, a part time advisor to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of drugs, has now resigned over the sacking of its head, Prof. Nutt.
Who is going do that job now? If you don't speak out then you are quite clearly a wuss and if you do then you are going to be fired. It is like the medieval sage who tells the King that he might loose the battle and he has you killed. What is the next sage going to say? “Oh yes my liege, you is like going to well win.” in order to keep his head on his shoulders.

So Jimmy Carr told a joke. Now, because the joke isn't actually offensive here it is, "Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a fucking good Paralympics team in 2012."
Now I think that that is quite a funny joke but it is not offensive. It is not a joke about the injuries that have been suffered, nor is it making light of them. It is a joke about war and the way it affects people’s lives.
Our lovely tabloids seem to be trying to bring about a new Puritanism. I had thought that MP's would have learnt, after being made to look silly by Chris Morris and others, that if they didn't really know what they are talking about that they would keep their mouths shut but oh no. They are still rent-a-quotes and will be offended be anything in order to further their careers or up their profile. Whilst some MP's said some stupid things i.e. calling for Carr to quit, from what precisely?, the least thought though statement was given to the Daily Mirror. Diane Dernie, the mother of wounded soldier Ben Parkinson, said: "Soldiers are fighting for freedom of speech. I hope Carr remembers that when he makes offensive jokes ridiculing them." Yes they are. They are fighting for freedom of speech. So he can say it then? Think about what you are saying.
These people just want to be offended by something. They have no idea about subtext or subtlety of meaning. I assume that they think that Animal Farm is about some uppity pigs.

The Award for Funny Looking Bloke of the Week Whose Beard is Clearly Drawn On,

This really has to go to Colonel Gaddafi,


Another Sky-News-being-on-in-the-pub moment this. They had an interview with the noted bag of lunacy that is the leader of Libya on Monday evening but unfortunately the pub didn't have the subtitles on. This meant that the whole pub was transfixed by the plastianted face (like a Gunther von Hagens victim being operated by Jim Henson) of the former terrorist sponsor rather then barely being able to keep their beer down whilst guffawing at the paranoid dribble that he mistakes for coherent argument.

The Award for I Can't Believe They Still Have That Rule,

President Obama is to lift ban on HIV+ve people travelling to the US. Let's just run through that again. America still bans HIV+ve people travelling there. Still. And has done for 22 years. I'm sorry? I didn't know that they still had a ban. I mean, how backward are these people? Actually, don't bother answering that, it’s unfair. It’s not the people’s fault. Some of them are lovely I'm sure but their Country does seem to be a little, well, slow.
Whilst I was discussing this with Significant Other, she reminded me that a World HIV conference was held there but no one with the disease was allowed to travel to it. At least things are now beginning to change there.

The Award for Sad News of the Week,

The actor Norman Painter has died. He has been playing Philip Archer in the long running Radio 4 soap opera The Archers since 1950. He has also written over 1000 scripts for the programme. One of his wishes was to carry on working until he died and he got his way. He was in the studio 3 days before he died. His last episode will be broadcast on the 22nd of November. RIP.

So, just some British sports news to finish with. At the Cycling World Track Cup various Team GB cyclist have won pretty much everything. They have, yet again, shown that British cycling is the best in the world. Bow down before our pedals tiny people.

Hope you all have a nice week and I'll keep you informed about the health of my cat which has renal failure.