Thursday, 19 January 2012

I predict...

It might be interesting to see what happens. I am scheduling this post to appear in a couple of days (Thursday 19 January).

Predictions for news:

  1. Some problem to do with the Olympics

  2. The Concordia will be relegated to second-page follow-ups

  3. Scottish independence controversies

  4. Some sort of health-scare

  5. More credit-rating downgrades

So. We'll see...

Monday, 16 January 2012

We are not alone!

This fascinating list will doubtless bring cheer to many hearts - and despair and anger to the many more who are terminally confused.

Big Boats for Business!

I'm not sure whether I can even be bothered to comment on the latest attempt by Michael Gove to contribute to national happiness - the suggestion that the way to Her Majesty's heart on this the year of her Diamond Jubilee is to buy her a new boat to play with.

Thank goodness this mad proposal is doomed to failure from the start. Even if the project was started tomorrow, it would not be ready for launch in time for the celebrations.

In any case, the nation already has a royal yacht. True, it does need a little bit of attention, having been reported to have been leaking and listing recently (now apparently fixed - phew!). It is located in the soon-to-be-independent nation of bonnie Scotland (another mad scheme apparently more supported by the English than the Scots) and is open to visitors as a tourist attraction.

Well - patch it up, bring it to London, re-open it as a visitor attraction (like Windsor etc.), and let Her Majesty use it on appropriate occasions (which the proponents argue is to help Win Business For The Country, even though other nations seem to be able to Win Business without the help of royal yachts and families).

I sincerely wish Her Majesty a long and healthy life. When one considers the dotty successor...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

More honored in the breach...

There are said to be a number of laws still on the books of this kingdom of ours which are relicts of previous ages and which have never been repealed. Examples are the legal requirement for drivers of hackney carriages to carry on board a bale of hay for the horse and another law which requires adult males to perform one hour per day of archery practice (except Sundays).

I have no idea whether this is true or just another urban myth and, quite frankly, can't be bothered to find out. It simply doesn't matter that much.

Much more serious is the 1939 Cancer Act which was drafted in order to protect the public from the depredations of charlatans and quacks. (An interesting sidelight on this is that the Cancer Act was passed during the premiership of Neville Chamberlain, along with some even more important reforming laws such as the Factories Act, the Coal Act, and the Holidays with Pay Act. If he hadn't tried to appease the nazis, he may well have gone down in history as one of our finest prime ministers...)

Inter alia, the Cancer Act states:
"Prohibition of certain advertisements. (1) No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement—
(a) containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof"
(my italics)

Breaches of the Cancer Act are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment and are criminal breaches.

There are numerous websites run by quacks, charlatans and cancer "charities" which - to any sensible person - contravene this act. Some of the more canny among them seem to be aware of this and try to mitigate the crime by posting lengthy disclaimers saying, in effect, well this might look like an advertisement, might read like an advertisement, might walk like an advertisement and might quack like an advertisement, but it isn't an advertisement!

I have reported a number of these sites to the relevant authorities, but - so far - no action has been taken.

Now I don't care if the next London taxi I take doesn't have a bale of hay in the boot. I just want to be taken to where I want to be in safety and comfort and in a reasonable time.

I do care if quacks and charlatans, and the honestly confused who may support and endorse them, endanger the lives of vulnerable, worried and scared cancer patients and their families.

Why won't the authorities invoke and apply the law of this country?

Curious connections?

The City of Bath College seems to really be Engaging With The Local Community (aka the definitely for profit new-ish spa in the city for which the local ratepayers had to pay) by offering a fantastic range of Beauty and Complementary Therapy courses.

Hooray! The college is well set to mop up all those prospective students of quack therapies who can no longer find BSc courses in this rubbish at UK universities.

Forty years ago when I did my A-Levels there, things were rather different...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Some post hoc interpretation?

Yes. I know. It's easy to interpret things after the event, but this little movie is still intriguing.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Silver Lining?

Yes, we are battling with The Cuts. Yes the higher education sector is battling with the quite pointless, quite destructive and very expensive (to the taxpayer as well as the students and their families) fees hike.

Yet - there has been a gleam of joy in all this darkness. In today's Telegraph is an article headlined (in the Kindle edition) "Reflexology and aromatherapy degrees axed as numbers fall". Within the article are the cheery words, "From this year, it will no longer be possible to study homeopathy to degree level in a British university." Apparently - and somewhat depressingly - this is not principally because the institutions offering these degrees in pseudoscience are developing a conscience, but rather because of a significant fall-off in demand. Rather makes one wonder if the previous popularity of these courses was due to the vast numbers of school-leavers without hoped-for A-level grades, yet still harbouring some desire to Be a Scientist with the added bonus of Healing the Sick (try conventional medicine?), turned to these nonsense degrees. After all, the prospects of employment seemed good...

I think we all now approach consumption with a different, more skeptical eye. I have noticed myself that when I am toying with the notion of buying some non-essential item, I have developed the habit of imagining how I am going to view the purchase and the item itself some hours or days ahead. Almost always this leads me to the shop exit. People now seem to have a greater tendency to be Sensible; to consider the actual value of any prospective purchase.

Hence the probable demise of both Hawkins Bazaar and of pseudoscience degrees. Frankly, I would be rather sorry to see Hawkins Bazaar go out of business...