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December 25, 2006

School Comedy

Congratulations go out to the BBC website for taking a normally serious column and comedifying it (is that a word? Not even the dictionary knows). Here’s an overlong teaser that doubles up as a link:

If we go any further down that road there is a danger that government will impose targets for improving the sexual attainment of head teachers, bringing demands for a whole new category of school performance tables. Perish the thought.

December 13, 2006

Not a kangaroo Court

I accidentally stumbled across Executive Order of the President 13224 today. An interesting find. It essentially bans people from interaction with a list of organisations and ensures that bad things happen to you if you do help out with these organisations. It offers no evidence against any of the organisations, and don’t specify what crimes have been committed by the organisations.

Some of these are obviously worth of inclusion, the list begins with Al-Qaeda. Some of the other organisations don’t appear to have had any serious offences proved against them in a court of law and are in fact charitable in nature. There being a difference between a claim being satisfied within a court of law and someone pointing a finger and screaming terrorist at the top of their voice.

Worst of all some of the organisations seem to have a large number of people in Guantanamo, not because they have committed a crime, but in relation to this claim that the organisation should be banned. Aside from the fact that I don’t believe that someone can be proved to be a terrorist by applying the law of transitivity to known terrorist entities, its even worse to be applying it to organisations on a list where some charities are simply being convicted in something with less respect for law and order than a kangaroo court.

October 16, 2006


Newsbiscuit is pretty much a uk version of the onion. It has been producing some pretty good satire of late. Today, however, really took the ‘biscuit’. I’ll let you read the link for yourselves…


Newsbiscuit is pretty much a uk version of the onion. It has been producing some pretty good satire of late. Today, however, really took the ‘biscuit’. I’ll let you read the link for yourselves…

September 22, 2006

'Political In–correctness Gone Mad'

Conservative Leader David Cameron today setup a new policy group to tackle what he termed ‘Political In correctness gone mad’ within the mainstream media. The move comes after a recent poll suggested that people thought David Cameron, ‘Didn’t moan enough to be Conservative Leader’.

The new policy group is to be headed up by former Journalist, Richard Littlejohn. In a BBC Radio 4 interview this morning he stated, “I’m working on something that’s not Racist, You couldn’t make it up!

Previously my most serious piece of political journalism was that Essex Girl Joke Book I wrote, now Davey boy has named me one of the Beautiful People.” When asked about his motivation in taking up his new position Mr. Littlejohn claimed it would help him “score” more often.

An unnamed labour official was overheard saying, “I don’t have a name, whats that all about?”

Escaped Mental patient and author of, “Political (In) correctness” Professor McDougal explained, “Previously people thought that political correctness was a society’s major ill, surveys show that the public are reaching a tipping point whereby PI replaces PC”

August 16, 2006

Built to Last…

Writing about web page

Today a quite interesting thing happened… The Conservatives released a policy document. Well, lets rephrase that, it wasn't quite policy. But its closer than anything we've seen from the party under Mr. Cameron, and thats a good thing for the conservatives, and a good thing for anyone who wants a serious election in 2009, not the bad jokes that we've had on the last three occasions.

You see, I would really like to vote Conservative – I really do agree with a lot of their agenda. Seriously – privatise, de–regulate, personal responsibility over collectivism, lower taxes, free trade – I'm for all of it. But theres been huge problems for me over the last few years with the Conservatives. And I mean huge problems, things that would want to make me actively campaign against them if I wasn't confident that my local seat hadn't been safely out of their reach at each of the last two elections.

If you recall the good Mr. Hague in 2001 ran an appauling campaign based primarily around save the pound, and secondarily around a 'send the buggers back' style immigration policy. At the runnup to the last election we had a tabloid style mud slinging match where Mr. Howard slated asylum seekers, gypsies… It got to the point where I was actively awaiting for him to go on TV, beat up an asylum seeking midget and tell me this is what his parents told him make Britain the best country in the world. I was generally pretty sickened. Bottom line is that singing the national anthem at the top of your voice whilst beating up on people whose lives are so bad in their own country that they choose to leave it does not appeal to me one little bit.

So here we are, we now have a Mr. Cameron in charge, who is very likeable, and talks a good talk. The real question that he has to answer to me is whether his 'quiet revolution' is actually an attempt or merely a corporate branding activity. Well we have some evidence today in terms of the 'Built to Last' agenda, and it requires analysis. The majority of the document is spent reciting bland, smile inducing, rhetoric about Conservative values, but there are some points of interest.

Firstly the opening page acknowledges that political views change over time, this is a massive contrast to Mr. Howard's repeatedly asserted dislike of Moral Relativism. They also accept that the previous administration has had some positive impact. This is a far easier pill to swallow, firstly the majority of the electorate believe it to be the case, secondly because being so nice sounds good in a 'mini–manifesto' situation like this. There's nothing to loose politically or in terms of one's convictions.

Mr. Cameron's new calling card of the environment also pops up throughout the document, as one would expect. I am glad he is really pushing the idea that environmental and economic sustainability are not mutually exclusive goals. Perhaps this is something that American and Australian conservatives could also learn. Unfortunately it is here that he really lets me down. He has been talking non–stop about the environment since he was elected leader and I really want some ideas, not proper policy, just ideas that show he is on the right track about it.

You see with things like the environment there are intelligent solutions to be found. Hybrid cars are obvious example from the states, but there are lots of other areas of interest. For example on the recent energy debate a lot of discussion has concentrated on generation, nuclear vs renewable vs fossil fuel. There are a wide range of options to be considered on the front of distribution, however, that haven't even got a mention in the debate. What is notable is that only about 30% of the energy used in generation ever gets to the consumer. Most of the remaining 70% gets let loose as heat. In Scandinavia there are currently trials underway testing underground heat pipes that can delivery the generated heat to the consumer. This not only increases efficiency of generation, since the previously excess heat is now utilised, but also decreases demand, since less electricity is used in heating homes, since they can use the heat from generation.

It is this kind of efficient thinking around problems that needs to be pushed rather than the brute force, 'lets build shitloads of nuclear plants, Gordy' thinking that prevails within the mind of the current government. Ultimately the test of the modernising conservatives should be the extent to which they can come up with, or back, intelligent and potentially workable ideas like the heat pipes or hybrid cars. If nothing original arises out of the new Conservative think tanks then I shall be taking it for granted that this is merely a branding exercise rather than a deep period of self reflection. I expect that in this instance Mr. Cameron will rely on the traditional tool of tabloid racism that proved such a poor fallback for bald erstwhile modernisers past.

July 02, 2006

A kabal of fools speak

Writing about web page

The bbc have decided to mock England fans for their exit by putting up some of the worst punditry of the tournament on their website since Kevin Keegan claimed that David Batty was going to score his penalty in 1998.

Fool #1 – Graham Taylor

" Eriksson is not a better or worse coach than all of us – there is nothing extra special about him " – it sounds like a pretty rational statement, Sven hasn't done anything remarkable as England manager, and it comes amongst an on going hailstorm of criticism. Except Mr. Turnip what happened last time you were England manager?

As a website called 'Geofftech ' observes: "England did not qualify to go to the world cup of '94 after losing to Norway and Holland in the qualifying group."

Thats right – we didn't qualify, the only time in the last 20 years. And you claim you are as good as Sven – who has time to diddle secretaries whilst misusing the talent under his direction. Thats a life skill called multitasking.

Fool #2 – Chris Waddle

"We have got to face reality that we are a team nowhere near the top seven countries in the world. " – what? We went out on penalties in the last 8 – how can we be nowhere near Portugal if it was still 0–0 after 120 minutes.

"Look at Cristiano Ronaldo, Simao, Pauleta. We don't have a player anything like that. Every other country has one, but we don't." Do Trinidad and Tobago have one?

Fool #3 – Anonymous BBC Sports Quoter:

who changed:

"I think there's every chance that Wayne Rooney could go back to the Manchester United training ground and stick one on Ronaldo"


"I think Wayne Rooney should go back to the Manchester United training ground and stick one on Ronaldo"

Fool #4 – Alan Shearer

"How you're feeling at home, multiply that by a million and that's how they feel." How do I multiply what I'm feeling by a million.

Fool #5 – Alan Ball

"Portugal … are the luckiest side in the world." Do I even need to comment?

May 14, 2006

Can you smeeelllll what the Rock is cooking!

The 7D's of Revision Avoidance:

Derail – to deliberately put someone else off doing work for your own amusement
Doodle – scribble incoherently
Dump – notes on the floor so that you can spend time tidying them later
Defecate – frequent toilet breaks during revision
Draw – scribble coherently, but off of the subject material's topic
Dick–around – eg: playing generals, watching films, etc.
Destroy – rip up notes in frustration the day before exams

April 29, 2006

The best there was, the best there is ….

Ok, so I'm sorry about the lack of recent updates. I know – I am not really sorry at all, but please carry on reading – there will be a lower lies/sentences ratio from now on, maybe.

So, I was thinking about this revision malarky – what makes good preparation? I mean I am pretty much at the end of the sitting exams phase of my life, so I should have figured it out by now – surely? As far as I can tell there's 5 ways in which people's revision can be classified:

1. Representation – notes are needed, knowledge is needed – but how is this information represented? Some people seem to love massive list orientated revision notes, others are more visual and diagramatic (mind map?) Somewhat orthogonally to this there's the issue of how contingent you make your notes – are notes for formal methods modules the same as project management?

2. Focus – here there's the issue of whether you are the heads down for three days straight working until you realise you've nearly died of starvation type, or the "well I've worked for 23 minutes and 42 seconds I might as well have a break and go write on my blog now" type.

3. Organisation – Do you know when your exams and where you notes are?

4. Fear – I love exams, well not really but I find them a fairly stress free exercise compared to many.

5. Music – this is the really important one. Anyone else blast some Fear Factory through their speakers in order to speed up the note taking, or is the preference for the first movement from Beethoven's 6th (you know – the music in soylent green)? Frankly I'm pretty agnostic I can even revise with the simpsons on in the background, though I am pretty convinced its impossible to revise to Jazz.

What are you habits?

March 29, 2006

The Moral Maze

Its been a while since I last listened to the moral maze, and yet it hasn't lost any of its old fascinations: Melanie Phillip's ridiculous brand of fascism for feminists, the old religious guys who spend most of the program arguing over which of their biblical interpretations is really the more appropriate for the case at hand. Most importantly there's that 10 minutes or so of really good debate that tends to bring up something insightful.

Today it was the bloke who argued that Norman Kember was being self-indulgent, reckless and most interestingly, immoral by choosing to promote pacifism in the region. The crux of his argument was that Kember was opposing a constitual appointed force by his anti-war demonstrations. Ignoring for a moment that he was actually opposing the British & American Occupational forces, he seems to be completely denying any position that offers any possible opposition to the existing positions of power.

When he was asked what he thought of previous opponents in other circumstances his argument become rather confusing. For example Ghandi was 'fighting a constitutional abheration'. Leaving aside the semantic issue of whether Indian during that period had what one would call a constitution, after a while of this twisting and turning it became apparent that the only distinction between the immoral pacifism and apparently moral Ghandi was that this guy agree with Ghandi, but not Kember.

I think this bloke might have had a phd as well – its frankly quite disturbingly intellectually vapid that the man appears to have proposed the idea of a morality based entirely on person whim, where it can apply in some cases, but not others. But I suppose in less obvious ways most systems of morality are like this. Don't worry kids determining the one true system of ethics is on my 'do before you die' list, allong with enumerating all the accompanying moral rules. I cannot fail. (Its ok, realism isn't part of the list).

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