Thursday, August 31, 2006

The new vendetta.

It seems the ban-it-all brigade have finished with smokers for the time being.

Now it's time to turn their attention to the overweight.

The British Fertility Society (BFS) have decided that fat girls can't have fertility treatments.

If you're overweight, and need medical help to have a child, then the answer is no.

However, if you're a single woman, or in a same-sex relationship, even if you have children from a previous relationship, you can still get fertility treatment--as long as you're thin. Before anyone shouts 'Chauvinist!' let me state that I have no grounds to disagree with that part of this article. As a single man, who harbours a healthy distaste for the small, irritating little creatures, I have no reason to call for anyone to be refused the opportunity to inflict children upon themselves. They won't be inflicting them on me.

I merely point out that both statements are from the same organisation, the BFS, and attempt to reconcile them with the following quote, from the same organisation, in the same article:

"Continued inequality of access to treatment is unacceptable in a state-funded health service and the source of considerable distress to a great number of people with fertility problems," Dr Mark Hamilton, chairman of the BFS, said in a statement

Inequality of treatment is unacceptable? Unless you're overweight, in which case they can tell you to clear off. Discrimination on the grounds of weight is perfectly acceptable, it seems. Do the BFS believe that fat people are incapable of feeling distress over a fertility problem?

Smokers can breathe a sigh of relief (or a hacking cough of relief if you prefer). We're going to be left alone now, probably for some time. This, based on previous moves by the Enjoyment Police, is only the beginning. The vendetta against the overweight has begun.

So enjoy your tobacco, at least for the moment. They'll get back to smokers. They always do.

In the meantime, try not to put on any weight.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life laughs back.

I was joking about the online priests I mentioned last time.

Seems life still has that habit of getting the last laugh though.

The days of have arrived.

Yes, a group of Catholics have set up God's Yellow Pages are online.

It has begun.

Does this mean I'm a prophet? God, I hope not!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

C'est vrai?

The GCSE exam results are out, but the carping about 'exams getting easier' is muted this time by a more important concern.

It seems schoolchildren aren't bothering to learn foreign languages any more.

Naturally, this means many schools are 'letting their language teachers go' (an euphemism for sacking them).

So, even those few who still want to learn French or German soon won't have the option. Sound familiar? It's already happened in chemistry departments in universities, and most school science classes have very limited practical experimentation - mostly because of the cotton-wool-wrapping of the nail-biting, terrified-of-shadows safety-conscious... but more of them later.

Let's see what the UK's future adults are learning.

The greatest beneficiary of the decline in languages has been religious studies - up by 8.2%.

Religious studies, for God's sake! How many damn preachers do we need?

Computer-related classes, and PE, have both increased student numbers by 6%.

So, we'll have a whole generation of preachers who communicate by Internet while pedalling exercise bicycles. None of whom, unfortunately, can speak to the country next door. Although the country next door might not regard that as unfortunate, considering what this lot are likely to be saying.

History has increased by 1.9% and maths by 1.2%. So all is not lost. The pedalling preachers from might have some knowledge of the past (although they'll more likely learn how to change it), and they will at least be capable of filing a tax return.

However, one increase made me shake my head in disbelief. Currently it's considered separately from the mainstream subjects (yes, I regret to say that religious studies is considered a mainstream subject) as it has less than 100,000 students annually. Incidentally, this year, so does German.

Media, film and TV studies have increased by 25.9%. They now have more students than Chemistry or Physics.

The couch-potato class is growing. So we'll have plenty of screen-watchers in the future.

At least the pedalling priests will have an audience.

I don't like to say 'told you so'... yes, I do.

Scotland banned smoking everywhere in March this year. Even at bus stops.

Now, pub takings are down ten percent.

Dear me, isn't that awful?

That's during the Scottish summer, too, when it's actually pleasant to go outside for a smoke. They still have to go through their first Scottish winter of banned-indoor-smoking. A quick trip outside in a blizzard with a wind chill of -20 degC might have a little more of an effect on sales, methinks.

And this ban comes south to England next year. Once more, it will come into force during pleasant weather, when smokers will be mostly happy to stand out in the sunshine. Pundits consider that there will be less of an effect on sales south of the border, because 'English drinker/smokers will have a longer period of pleasant weather'.

It's not that far south. We're talking about an island which is about 1000 miles top to bottom, and Scotland makes up about 400 miles of that. It's not quite as much of a difference in climate as, say, New York and Florida.

Anyone who thinks England has balmy winters should get out more.

Next year, the smokers will have to.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Which role model? Tom or Jerry?

I didn't think I had any more to say on this subject, but I do.

I was browsing the Yahoo message boards (the UK ones) and found they were just as silly as when I last looked, some years ago.

There are a few on there with no brain at all. Correction: there are many, but there are a few who are in the negative-count for brain cells. The sort of people who think deleting an Email involves printing it out and shredding it.

These few maintain that it is right to stop Tom smoking the occasional cigar because 'children see these characters as role models'.


Tom and Jerry routinely beat each other senseless with frying pans, throw knives at each other, blow each other up, set fire to one another, and Tom actually dies in more than one episode. Guns and dynamite are staples of these cartoons.

That's okay though. Children can copy all that. As long as they don't smoke while they're doing it.

For the hard of thinking out there: THESE ARE CARTOONS!

Children are not as stupid as you think. They are certainly not as stupid as you. They know that Wile E. Coyote is a drawing, and that's why he can step off a cliff and not fall. They don't need to be little Isaac Newtons to realise that's not going to happen in real life. You want proof?

Try feeding them spinach. They've seen what it does to Popeye, after all. You'll soon find out they know the difference between cartoons and real life, when they refuse your canned green mush.

There was mention of banning Cruella deVille's long cigarette holder. I wouldn't be surprised. Children might, after all, become 101-a-day chainsmokers after seeing that.

Nobody will consider banning the storyline, where she plans to skin a batch of puppies to make a coat.

So when your child next asks for a puppy for Christmas, remember to hide all the knives.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The angstmeisters strike again.

So you think there might be a smidgeon of intelligence left in the rulers of the UK?

Look at this.

Yes. On the basis of ONE whining little toad's complaint, the UK have decided to cut any scenes from Tom and Jerry where Tom is seen smoking.

I don't think I need to say any more on that subject.

Our government may wring their hands and wonder why we refer to our Great Leader as 'Tiny Blur', but the rest of the world can see exactly why we insult the halfwitted idiot. It seems to be the intention of this Government to make the entire UK into the world's laughing stock.

They are succeeding.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More on exams.

Anonymous said...
Perhaps the whiners should take the tests and see how they score. Might give them a different view on whether the tests are too easy. Might stop them from undervaluing the work of the students.

That's one possibility. There are subject areas taught now that didn't exist when most of the high-and-mighty were at school. Let's give them a quantum-physics paper and see how they do.

On the other hand, maybe our wonderful "unbiased" press should point out that schools now allow students into A level classes only if they are certain the student will pass.

Pass grades are up not because the exams are easier, but because those students who are unlikely to achieve high marks simply don't get the option to sit the exams.

This happens because schools are assessed on performance. Performance is measured by exam results. Exam results have to improve every year.

If they don't, the school risks losing funding.

If they do, the school is accused of making exams too easy.

Is it any wonder that it's now very difficult to fill teaching jobs? Why would anyone want to take on a no-win job like that, on a teacher's salary?

Imagine what it does to a teacher's morale. That has an effect on the teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. That affects the students.

If the class racks up a high failure rate, the teacher is blamed. If the class racks up a high pass rate, surely the teacher should get some credit?

No. The exams were too easy. It's the teacher's fault.

I can think of no other profession where you get punished for success.

This situation is spreading into universities. I know, as soon as I mention Administration, you're all going to say "Oh, here he goes again." But those are the people making up these 'goals'. They set the hurdles at any level they like, because they won't have to jump them. They set impossible deadlines they won't have to meet.

The administrators have caused this mess, but they are under no obligation to do anything about it, and they'll never get blamed for it. I'd like to stake them all out on the beach at low tide. If I had the right forms, signed and countersigned, I'd probably be allowed to do it.

While I was at Marchway University, there was an advertisement for an assistant to someone in the education offices. The minimum qualification required was two standard grade passes.

So we were getting instructions from someone who is considerably less qualified than the students we teach. A little digging revealed that most of the education department had in fact experienced very little of it. So the lunatics have taken over the asylum. These people decide whether or not students are suitable for acceptance, yet none of them can meet the criteria themselves. These people decide whether a lecturer, educated to PhD and sometimes to DSc level, is suitable for teaching a particular class.

This is why we have chemists teaching microbiology in our universities and colleges.

Blame stops at the teachers, because they are the visible face of education. Look behind them at the figures in the shadows. The idiots who we have allowed to take charge of the intelligent.

That's where the blame lies.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Parasite overload.

The UK's much-abused National Health Service is about to get another kick in the teeth.

Our amazing political leaders (amazing in that they appear to be able to dress themselves, although I can't prove that) have decided to take a leaf out of Grandpa Simpson's book and declare:

"There are too many hospitals nowadays."

Under the guise of the politspeak word 'reforms', they are planning to close hospitals because, and I quote from the article:

"In some areas there are too many hospitals providing the same, or similar services, which isn't value for money," a Department of Health spokesman said.

Cue a long, thoughtful pause.

We aren't talking about electrical shops or supermarkets, we aren't considering closing down bars and restaurants because there are too many of them in one place.

These are hospitals. The places people go for treatment and get on waiting lists.

So someone has noticed that all hospitals do pretty much the same thing. I hereby revise my opinion of politicians. Downwards.

What do they want? Hospitals that also sell clothing? Hospitals where you can also buy a TV? Hospitals where you can get a decent meal? (okay, that last one is asking way too much).

Of course they all provide the same services. I should hope so! If I'm ever in need of a hospital, I don't want to arrive at one only to be told "Sorry, we don't do that here. You need the hospital five towns away".

What will our empty suits realise next? All firemen do the same job. All policemen do the same job.

If it comes to that, all politicians do the same job.

Let's not forget the pin-striped smugness of those who revel in the title 'Administrator'. The parasites who have sucked the life out of every public institution in the country. They all do the same thing, though what that thing is remains to be revealed.

We could certainly do with fewer of those.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The annual 'slap down success' festival.

It's the same every year.

Exam results for UK schoolchildren are out today, and again there is a raging debate.

Once more we hear cries of "Exams are too easy. There are too many getting 'A' results."

Does anyone wonder what effect this has on children who have just done two year's work, and achieved high marks, only to be told that their results are practically worthless?

Is it any surprise that when they go to university, many of them can't seem to be bothered?

Why would they? They already know that when they finish their degree course, the UK press and public will deride those degrees as pointless and irrelevant.

So why bother? Nobody is going to pat you on the back and say 'well done'. Many people are going to point at you and call you a waste of taxpayer's money.

As a long-married friend of mine once pointed out: "Once you've realised you can't possibly do anything that will be considered 'right', there's no further point in doing anything at all."

That's the future. An entire race driven by apathy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Technology tamed.

It took a few tries, but I managed to get it sorted out it at last. Having my ADSL tied up for weeks by the Tiscali halfwits didn't help.

The problem I had was due to my being in the UK. I wanted a 6"x9" format, to make the book easily accessible to everyone, but that's a US format so the system kept defaulting back to the UK 'Royal' format. It's close, but doesn't quite work. Now, it's all OK.

'Ghost hunting for the sensible investigator' is now available here.

I'm not too impressed with the European print, but everything's come out OK at least. The Ebook, naturally, is exactly right and very cheap. The only thing missing from that is the cover, and that's of no real consequence. Ordering a print version outside the US could be costly due to the insane postage charges, although I understand intends to do something about that (eventually). I hope so, because currently the postage costs more than the book!

Right. That's one done. Next on my list is the creation/evolution issue. Then I might apply common sense and logic to the entire subject of religion.

It's time someone did.

The Hollywood apparitions.

There are two basic types of 'ghost'.

One is the spirit of a dead person. That type might try to communicate, and it's the type that many so-called mediums claim to communicate with. However, remember that statistically, 98% of people are too stupid to join MENSA, and many of those who do join MENSA aren't all that bright. Death does not improve IQ. But I digress... that issue is for another post.

The other type, the 'recording', is simply an impression left on the environment by some highly-charged event. Emotions, if you like, imprinted on the stone of walls or even of the earth beneath our feet. I'm not going to speculate on how it works because I really have no idea of the mechanisms behind it.

It does work, that's all that matters at this stage. Repetitive appearances, often under atmospherically charged conditions such as thunderstorms or at the same time each year, are numerous and well documented. Many ghosthunters waste their time with these 'Hollywood'-style recordings, thinking them important.

They are important, but not to the true ghosthunter. They are entertainment, nothing more. Leave them to the physicists, to the people who might be able to find the mechanism behind them.

Those recordings are worthless as evidence of ghosts, or of an afterlife. They are not spirit manifestations. They are recordings. Their only value to the parapsychologist is as a test for mediums. If a medium claims to make contact with one of the characters depicted in this kind of apparition, they are fake. They might as well claim to make contact with Groucho Marx while watching 'Duck Soup'.

Don't waste time on these apparitions. They are as much use as evidence of the survival of the soul after death as a DVD of 'Jailhouse Rock' is as evidence that Elvis is still alive.

He's not, by the way.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Smash it up.

Lola said:

Not necessarily. After you turned on the water hose and the water gushed through the streets of your perfect creation wreaking havoc, didn't you rush to re-enforce your sand dykes, redirect the flood with a block of wood, or dig a trench to allow the water to destroy some things and leave others intact? Wasn't it thrilling to watch the destruction be minimalized by your efforts? After you turned off the hose didn't you sometimes lose interest and wander off and sometimes, with great delight, take on the challenge of restoring your demolished world to it's previous perfection?

I have observed this activity in children.

It can be interpreted as destructive behaviour, or as practice in damage limitation. It depends on the child's thought process.

The truly destructive child does not build. He (or she - destructive behaviour is not a male-only preserve) simply destroys the work of others.

The builder, as you note, might visit catastrophe on his creation, then try to prevent that catastrophe from completely destroying his 'world'. As there are no actual people in the model, he harms nobody, and he is most likely testing the robustness of his creation. If it fails, he will build another.

It's called 'learning by trial and error', and such children are likely to become expert problem solvers, if not actually builders and engineers, in later life.

The child does not always react with glee when his construction fails under pressure. On the other hand, the child who recognises that his city of sand is ephemeral, and will not last the night anyway, might obliterate it rather than leave it to fall into ruin. In many cases, they will do this to prevent the local bully from doing it for them.

This behaviour might, at first glance, seem at odds with the grown man who religiously polishes his car, or paints his house, only to react with anguish at the slightest dent or blemish. It is not. Those things are permanent, and had to be worked for. Sandcastles are temporary and cost nothing but a little time. They are a test-bed, rather like the car manufacturer's crash tests for new vehicles. See how it breaks, then re-make it so it won't break next time.

Watch children on the beach, building sandcastles near the sea. They dig a moat around it, hoping to protect it from the rising tide. It doesn't work, so they move back, and rebuild, and dig a deeper moat. I have seen sandcastles reinforced with pebbles at the base. These are not destructive children, they are children in the process of learning.

The destructive ones are those who deliberately kick down the sandcastles built by others.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Intelligent design or plaything?

"No intelligent designer would let humans loose on his carefully crafted design. Look what we've done to it. I cannot believe that humanity was placed here deliberately"

Lola responded to this with:

Nonsense. Didn't you ever spend hours in a sandbox or in the dirt building an entire city and then purposefully turn on a water hose or drop a giant beetle, a box of ants, your gerbil, into your perfect creation just to see what happened? Not all creators preserve their creations with reverence. Some build perfection for the joy of watching it be destroyed. They are called 'little boys', I believe. ;)

Hmm. The notion that the entirety of the universe is a child's plaything isn't particularly comforting. Still, if it is a little boy, then he's already set the destruction in motion by adding the ants (humans) to his sandcastle. Now he'll most likely just watch.

Although, after seeing what little girls do to their dolls, I just hope our planet isn't the galactic equivalent of a Polly Pocket playset.

Either way, it seems the universe will end not with a bang, but with a tantrum.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Silly season is all year round.

The English government has excelled itself for silly behaviour in recent years. Here's one of the best.

They have put in place a law which prohibits organised protests, without police permission, around Westminster.

Now, as Westminster is the seat of Government in the UK, you might think that's fair enough. The last thing we want is someone loading up a lot of gunpowder and blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Goodness, who would ever even think of such a thing?

However, it turns out the entire law - referred to as "Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act" - was intended to remove one, lone demonstrator.

Brian Haw is an anti-war demonstrator who has camped out on the lawns of Westminster for four years. The new law can't remove him, as his protest predates the Act. That does not prevent our security services having fun with it.

Here, take a look at this:

Maya Evans, a cook, wanted to read out the names of those soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq. The place she chose to do this was the cenotaph at Westminster. (for those to whom the word may not be familiar, it's a memorial to those killed in the Great Wars.)

She was arrested and charged under the same Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, found guilty, and mercifully given a conditional discharge.

Serious organised crime? A woman reading a list of names? Teachers, take care when reading those registers in class. You never know when Special Branch will be calling.

Here's another one:

Taxi drivers wanted to drive around Westminster in protest at congestion-charging. They were told that any taxi driver who tried, risked arrest.

So, if you're in Westminster, and you call for a taxi, don't be surprised if you have a long wait. If they try to get to you, they'll be locked up.

I am fortunate in that I live a long way from Westminster. I dread to think what would happen to me if I stopped to tie my shoelace in the street.

Designed by an idiot.

The Jehovah's Witnesses visited again today.

They say they are not Creationists, but believe firmly in a Creator. I can't work out the difference.

They did agree with me on the Genesis 'world created in seven days' nonsense. They even pointed out a passage in the second book of Peter (II Peter 3:8) which actually supported my argument that the 'day' in Genesis was not to be taken literally as 24 hours.

I gave them ten points.

I argued that the creationist's favourite example of 'irreducible complexity', the human eye, was an appallingly bad design. Blood vessels and nerves run across the front of the retina. If they came out of the back, we would not have a blind spot and would hardly ever experience a detached retina.

To my surprise, they agreed. Ten points.

However, they persist in their belief that the human race was deliberately placed on Earth.

Minus fifty points for that one.

No intelligent designer would let humans loose on his carefully crafted design. Look what we've done to it. I cannot believe that humanity was placed here deliberately.

It is more logical to assume that we were a terrible, terrible accident.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Finally back online.

I am back online, at long last.

After numerous phone calls to Tiscali, I managed to convince them that they really should provide the service for which I was paying, and stop blocking my line on behalf of the E7Even/EzeeDSL fiasco. For more on this, look in on and check their forums. Some unfortunates are still not clear of this mess.

Tiscali, it seems, was not the best choice since their claim of unlimited broadband is an outright lie. They throttle back connection speeds for heavy users. However, as I do not involve myself in such nonsensical activities as online games or P2P filesharing, I should escape their wrath. I'll see how it goes.

The book I placed on Lulu, through Strangely-Brown Publications, didn't print too well, and I could do nothing about it with a dial-up connection because the file sizes were too large. I have now fixed it, and it's available here:

I also reduced the price, since getting the message out about the idiocy of most so-called ghost hunters is more important than picking up a few pennies in royalties. The book will save far more money than it costs, should you be considering joining the growing band of amateur spook-chasers.

It seems Lulu had a few problems with their Spanish printer, who deals with all non-US orders, although these are being sorted out now. So the quality of printed copies should improve. I have ordered a copy as a test, and will pass on information on its quality when it arrives.

I still think the photos will be better on the electronic version though.