All 16 entries tagged Waffle

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August 31, 2007

Perspective

I saw a blog entry on here today which claimed that for the average student starting university today, half of what they learn in their first year “will be outdated by their third year”.

I do History. Everything I learn is outdated the moment I learn it, and was probably outdated for many many decades before that point.

This is why History is the best degree. We know we’re learning useless information. We don’t delude ourselves like everyone else.

History = happiness.

And 20,000 word dissertations.


August 29, 2007

Holy Mole–y

Writing about web page http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,,2124324,00.html

“The Daily Mail does have an ongoing ontological programme to divide all inanimate objects into ones that will either cause or cure cancer.” Ben Goldacre, Guardian’s Bad Science Column, December 2006

I like the above quote. I like it because it really does appear to be true. One of the tabloid constants appears to be the weekly (bi-weekly in August when there’s no real news) announcement by scientists that red wine/blue cheese/mobile phone masts/Lonely Planet guide books/asylum seekers can either cause or cure cancer. In some cases it’s a flip flop effect, especially with red wine. I’m not completely up to date, so I may be wrong, but I believe that currently a glass of red wine a day will allow the drinker to live for up ninety years longer than a teetotaller, and up to three centuries longer than a binge drinker. But by next week this may well have been contradicted.

Some people will ignore all these ‘findings’ and just carry on regardless. Some will feel overwhelmed and lose faith in the processes which lead so many scientists to disagree. Some will use it as an excuse to guzzle red wine. I’ve always just ignored it, mostly because I don’t drink red wine.

I use red wine as a generalised analogy. There are often other things which can get picked up for these reports. And being as self absorbed as most people, it took something rather close to home to make me care about these reports. So welcome this month’s latest cancer/ageing/stuff medical announcement – moles = longer life.

Now, I am what most people would call “pale”. The technical term for this is “Irish”, but I prefer pale as it requires less explaining of such things as my English accent. But I am deceptively pale. I actually possess roughly the same amount of melanin as the average, slightly beige coloured, caucasian. I have just consolidated my colour into easy to use chunks all over my body, chunks which medical science has decided to call “moles”. Some of my moles are more impressive than others. Three large ones on my right arm form an nice equilateral triangle. There are a small number which are really really dark and are more likely to offend members of the BNP than the others.

Now this new mole report states that having more than one hundred of the little buggers “you will probably live six or seven years longer than someone with only 25 or so of the pesky things”. Now I’m not so bored I’ve counted my moles… ok, I tried but I can’t see the ones on my back, arse and the backs of my legs and neck. But there’s bound to be more than a hundred.

As much as I want to carp about my amazing telomeres (I don’t really understand that bit, but apparently they are important) it does feel rather weird. After all, the life of the pale is one of factor 30 minimum, and of obsessively watching your moles for any sign of them turning nasty. Really nasty. I heard not long ago that in parts of New Zealand there are weekly (weekly!) clinics for the pale to have their moles checked out and cut off in case the sunshine has got to them. It is only the lack of sunshine which prevents that happening here. That and the fact that the sheer pastiness of many Brits would mean the numbers involved overwhelming the NHS, and we don’t want that as the last thing to Irish immigrants here want is to be blamed for the collapse of the health service. We’ve only just got to the point of being the only immigrant group the tabloids don’t hate.

I digress.

So the pale are left knowing that our potential cancer points are also a sign of some good quality DNA. It’s an odd thing to hear. It’s like sitting in a room full of nuclear bombs, knowing that they can power your kitchen but potentially cause a lot damage (and kitchens are expensive to replace). It’s all a bit strange. Every pale mole-y person who dies of skin cancer is the victim of a massive dose of some sort of irony.

I’m just wondering if chopping them off (which I do whenever they start to catch on my clothes and bleed) is reducing my longevity…


March 02, 2007

Giving Stuff Up For Lent

I’ve been curious for a while about the nature of human self-denial, the way people seem to want to find excuses to give things up or deny themselves things they want/need for finite periods of time. It’s noticeable that almost all major religions have a period of denial built into their belief structures, rendering the act as necessary and as important as those other universal features of religion belief in a power, the exhortation to be good, and at least one major parable/book/component which seems to have been written by someone off their face on mushrooms. It’s an act of self discipline but an organised and regulated one, and the main one in this coutry is, rather obviously, Lent. Watch campus life continue seemingly unchanged with only the knowledge that Costcutter will be selling less chocolate and biscuits, and there may be a reduction in swearing.

But most people I know won’t give up anything really hard. None of my smoker friends have stopped with the cancer sticks, none of the drinkers are giving their livers a break. None of the football team have stopped skipping training. Admittedly in the case of the smokers I sympathise a little (not much though) because they are facing a rather less temporary time of hardship from 1st July, or as I like to call it, the day we catch up with Ireland and stop poor people like me getting lung cancer against our wills. But why do so few people give up something hard? I stopped when I realised that I was as bad. And that I’m not interested in religion. But mostly because I never ever gave up anything hard… and even then I still couldn’t refrain from what I did give up.

My dad gave up pineapples one year. The year in question was some time in the late 1950s/early 1960s in Ireland. Considering his family weren’t rich, and Ireland was itself in a bit of a backwards situation then, he hadn’t ever had pineapple. The mental image of this small Irish kid giving up something stupidly exotic sums up a lot of the efforts which are made with Lent. He’d have had to make more effort to take up pineapple eating!

I guess I just don’t understand the intrinsic need to give stuff up at a given time, for a limited period. You either give up when needed, say because you need to detox or similar, or you give up permanently. In both cases on your own time. I’m as bad as everyone else at giving up things which I actually want to do… but if and when I give up the things I want to stop doing (procrastinating mostly… she says blogging instead of essay reading) I will bloody well do it. At least until I give in. And I reserve the right to give in at any time, with no stop point.

For the record I’ve not eaten any pineapple at all this calender year. Take that, dad!


February 11, 2007

No, I Don't Understand The Democracy Here Either

What the hell happened? Let this be a lesson to me… no money will always lead to unusual adventures.

How much of Union politics is decided on the basis of personality and friendship groups? How many sabbatical officers have risen to power purely because they could get their faces into as many minds as possible? It’s such a closed environment that it’s impossible to view our Union elections as anything vaguely like real life, real world elections… even the smallest council seat would be contested by a less enclosed electorate, even if they are smaller in numbers than the electorate at Warwick. Does Union politics and elections teach us anything about the real world? A slight appearance of competence and a good number of contacts should be enough to establish victory – hell, if that’s all it took I could have run and won.

No ego polishing here citizens, I don’t want to be told I should have run to put my money (which I have rather little of) where my mouth is. You didn’t see my essay last week.

I don’t know if the people who voted now for the winners will be the ones complaining about them vigourously in nine months time. Probably not, but possibly so, the massive hypocrisy of the complainer who didn’t do enough to check what they were getting. In amongst the myriad complaints about Kat Stark there were voices noting that she laid most of her cards on the table from the outset but people still hated some (or all) of what she did. Makes me feel a little freakish for having done my homework and knowing what she stood for.

But when faced with the limited repetoire of sabb issues, students just implode with indifference and vote for the face, slogan or friend of a friend who seemed like the quickest choice on the voting form. Some of these people had as few as three issues. Those voters are going to find themselves in trouble when faced with ‘real’ politics with its millions of policies and candidates. People don’t care enough, and we all know this but the problem is we don’t care enough to do anything about it. Or we can’t.

I don’t know what the answer is, I can’t even tell if there’s anything depressing about this. Large scale indifference mostly means that we are more vulnerable to extremists on all sides but most of the time these get batted aside when they stray too far from a cosy centre ground. Witness how Damian King (lefty) and Bill Rees (righty) didn’t get anywhere. Even by having a political allegiance they were dooming themselves to defeat. So for Warwick as for the real world where most people regard Nick Griffin and George Galloway with suspicion even as they seem to grow stronger. People need a shock to be motivated. And Warwick is too simplistic a system, too obvious a routine, too content to just drink purple, to ever have the shock which would generate full on thought in these elections. And that’s why they are a popularity contest.

Now why oh why did strange things happen every time I lost my coursemates? Oh this will make even less sense tomorrow…


December 05, 2006

Erase And Rewind?

I have a question – if we removed history, if we destroyed all the history books and banned any mention, any reference, any thought of the past, what would be the outcome? Would we be freed from the prejudices which have grown over time, the historical enmities and hatreds, the rounds of “your family killed my family”? Or would we have lost so many lessons that it would cause a mass repetition of all the worst things to have happened?

I wonder…


November 25, 2006

Answers

Is it really too much to ask for an answer, simple and undiluted, placed in your hand, no cost, just once in this life?

My gut says “yes”, answers don’t come to you, you chase them, and if you are lucky you catch them. Then they squirm and piss on your shoe before escaping and running riot around a major shopping precinct which thn gets you banned from the precinct. And then you can’t buy anything so you go on ebay and someone on there is selling answers, and you’ve not learnt anything so you buy one and it never arrives. Damn Royal Mail, even though you’ve worked there and know how hard it is and what a miracle it is that they don’t lose more letters.

It was finding passports in the post which amused me most. The government could never sell the idea of ID cards if people realised how often passports come out of their envelopes and mingle with the Christmas mail, and ebay bought answers. Which will, like their wild brethren, piss on your shoes.

What would Charles I of England do?

Nothing useful then…

I think I’ve been studying history for too long.


November 02, 2006

22

22

Yeah, 1984 was a while ago…


October 26, 2006

Broken

The reading on Foucault has destroyed my higher thinking functions.

The strain of trying to think of something to write, either here or for the Boar, has destroyed my mid range thinking functions.

My lower thinking functions haven’t been speaking to me since I started an MA rather than get an nice easy McJob, preferably not at McDonalds itself (they were hanging in for HMV).

MMy hip is playing up for no reason other than it wants attention.

Football has destroyed all my legs muscles, and the ones in my right arm and shoulder…

...and going on Adoptions to Score has cost me my hearing. Again. Why must I be so conscientious about wearing earplugs at nights where it’s my sort of music, but throw me to the shit music and I go in without any chance at all.

I suspect Score is also, perversly, responsible for my sore throat.

So how come I feel really on top of everything? S’all good. I think it has much to do with not being a pigeon.

I love how stupid the world is.

Good night.


September 29, 2006

Jaffa Cakes And Tax

No, this isn’t some really crazed idea about how we could possibly receive our tax rebates in perishable goods (although personally the idea of the £100+ the tax office seems to owe me showing up in confectionary form is tantilising), no this is about the answer to the second most burning question about small, sweet objects.*

Is it a cake or a biscuit?

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is another of those stupid debates which have no real resolution but exist purely to get students to row about things which bear no relevance to real life. You’re wrong. God, it must suck to be you.

Jaffa cakes are cakes for tax reasons. No seriously, they are. Most people who argue that jaffa cakes are cakes use the logical argument that when they are stale they go hard, whereas Digestives and Penguins go soft. Cake = hard, biscuit = soft. It was using this reasoning that McVities went to tribunal against the Inland Revenue over the jaffa cake’s status.

Basically biscuits are classed as a luxury item and incur a 17.5% VAT charge. Cakes, supposedly are basic foodstuffs and are therefore VAT exempt. The government wanted to get this tax flow and took McVities on. The soft/hard debate was what settled it.

Now what does this show? I’m sure if we really wanted we could put our Daily Mail hats on (fucking asylum seekers, etc etc) and moan about this being another example of the waste of time that the government can be sometimes every minute of every working day. But that would be stupid, and not just because it involves thinking like a newspaper which has paid no attention at all to major revelations like it being the 21st century and Genghis Khan not being considered a good model for leadership. No, the jaffa issue is important. How would you feel if they were a luxury item? Do you want to be priced out of those delicious little pieces of joy? If small people can get away with buying kids’ shoes and not paying VAT on them, then I’m damned if (with my size 8 adult shoes) I’m paying VAT on my jaffas as well.

So inclusion – cake and anyone who says biscuit is only out to ruin your life and remove you jaffa cakes permanently to a massive, exclusive gated estate filled with modern day Marie Antionettes declaring “Let them eat cake… cos jaffa cakes ain’t cakes!”.**

Rar!

*The most pressing being is does scone rhyme with phone, gone or done?

**History Pedant says “Although Marie Antoinette probably didn’t say this”.


August 20, 2006

Two Years?

Intercepted message from two government departments, recorded this morning, 20th August 2006, using an mp3 player with a microphone built in.

Personally I find it hard two believe that after two years this blog has still not been shut down and its owner thrown in jail for a bazillion years. The crap which she writes has been polluting the impressionable minds of our youth for two long, and she has been sparking debate amongst people who would otherwise have allowed their brains to cease to perform higher functions thus making it easier for the Evil Conspiracy Which Wants Two Rule Us AllTM two do so.

Hollyzone must be stopped!

If we act now we can possibly stamp out this danger but it could well be two late. Two years have passed now and already she is more powerful than we hoped… in fact we had money on her losing interest within a month and a half.

But now it might be two late.

It is two late. It's been two late for a long long time...

Mwhahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!


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