Friday, 31 August 2012

Where The Wind Blows: Did they protest against Atos?

It has been reported today that the hiding of the Atos-branded lanyards by the entire GB paralympic contingent at the Opening Ceremony was not a protest after all. It was simply, the official explanation says, because the wind was causing the lanyards and badges to blow around too much, and the GB contingent therefore tucked them into their clothing.

Leaving aside the vital political aspects of this whole Atos affair for a moment, let's simply consider just how believable this official explanation is.

Firstly, the paralympians from almost all the other countries had their lanyards prominently showing, though there were a few individual exceptions. Presumably the inconvenient wind was blowing for everyone else as well?

Secondly, while people do make clothing adjustments in response to the weather, those adjustments are very variable. The most one can observe is a tendency. See for yourself. Whatever the weather is today, get out in the streets and look. Say it's chilly and wet. While you can see a tendency for people to wear warm and water-resistant clothing, by no means everyone does. In a sample of two or three hundred people, some (for various reasons, such as lack of forethought, personal preference, fashion and so on) will buck the trend.

To issue an official explanation for the GB paralympic contingent, numbering about 300 physically and mentally tough people, hiding their lanyards because of a bit of wind, is to insultingly assume a degree of credulousness in the public of 100%, or close to.

Isn't it far more likely there is another more unifying explanation than the weather?

As to what that explanation really is, we wait for better evidence.
Meanwhile, for me the most likely explanation given the known facts and observations is: the GB Paralympic Team were protesting against Atos and more especially the employers of Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Who is going crazy - the homeopath, or me?

Earlier today I initiated a conversation with the homeopath, Nancy Malik, being intrigued by a phrase in her twitter biography, "homeopathic surgery". This phrase seemed so very bizarre that I thought I would ask the lady herself.


A simple enough question, you would have thought, especially for someone qualified in the discipline.

Here was the reply:

I was still unclear, but keen to give the lady every chance, so:

And - sure enough - I was obliged with a rather scary list:

In a spirit of both alarm and growing outrage, I delved further;


You will notice that my enquiry into how she qualified was elegantly side-stepped, no doubt because she considered me a fool. For good measure, she seems to have favourited her own tweet.

Now reaching terminal exasperation, I replied:

The reply I received left me feeling bereft of hope:

If anyone (including Nancy Malik) can untangle this and make any sense of it, then I would be very grateful.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Picked up at random in the library

A fascinating read. Dashed into Bath Public Library yesterday to get something to read in the park. Grabbed this almost at random. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Prince Harry is no Renaissance Man

Bearing as he does some accidental - and not so accidental - parallels to Henry The Eighth of That Name, it may be interesting to see how these parallels hold up to examination.

The first parallel is, of course, the name. Henry. As far as I can ascertain, King Henry had only one name, while Prince Harry has several (Henry Charles Albert David). The other most obvious parallel is the ginger hair.

Now let's look for others. Both are second sons. Both attended the weddings of their older brothers, whose brides were both called Catherine (or Katherine). Both Prince Harry and Henry (in his youth at least) were fond of physical activity and militarism.

That's about where it ends. The most obvious contrast between the two is that King Henry as a youth had quite a decent and challenging education, as befitted a younger son destined possibly for some high office in the Catholic church. Henry's rebuttal of Martin Luther, Assertio septem sacramentorum, published in 1521, was deemed a competent if unoriginal work and earned him the title Defender of the Faith. Educated in grammar, rhetoric and logic, he would probably have made a stimulating companion, capable of building a serious argument in discussion. He is also known as having other accomplishments, such as composing some pleasant if unremarkable music, and being versed in the arts of the apothecary, often preparing his own remedies. We can imagine Henry developing into an interesting and enlightened Renaissance man, if he were not stressed and corrupted by the power of kingship. But that's another story...

What of Prince Harry? The sheer banality of his recent on-leave activities is numbing, as is the blokey reaction of so many (men, mostly) who assert that he has every right to romp around naked in some stunningly vulgar Las Vegas hotel with other "fun-loving" and empty-headed types since he is a. single and b. an army officer who has served on the front line, risking his life for his country and grandma.

Hang on a minute. He is 27 years old, not some callow youth rejoicing in his first off-leash excursion. I don't deny his right to lark around like this. Frankly I am not that interested.

What I find disturbing is that this adolescent behaviour, where at least some of earth's women were considered merely playthings, has been excused and even admired and envied by so many.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Dog Bites Man

When journalists learn their trade, they are taught some fundamentals, such as, Dog Bites Man is not news, but Man Bites Dog is. In other words, "news" is not a faithful record of events, but instead is an engaging record of the unusual or, better still, the bizarre. Tyros are also taught that most readers only read headlines and of those, only a minority read what follows and if they do, they will read only the first paragraph, and certainly no more than the first four. As one reads a newspaper story, one is given increasing detail.

These guidelines attest to the notoriously puny attention span of the public, and most readers will only read the increasing detail if the story is concerned with sex.

However wise these guidelines are, they simply do not apply to any story involving celebrities and especially that subset of celebrity, the Royal Family. Today the papers - especially the tabloids - are splashed not with Man Bites Dog but Dog Bites Man. Prince Harry, it seems, has been having fun with several young women in a luxury hotel. So. "Rich, young, single prince frolics about with girls shock"

Ho hum.