spudtater: (Default)
( Nov. 25th, 2010 10:42 am)

Scorn for those both richer and poorer than you — a handy guide

Low incomeWorking class scumFucking chavs and schemies
Median incomeThe middle classJust us regular folks
High incomeUpper class snobsMiddle class wankers

For perspective: the median household (not individual) income in the UK is £24,700. (Although in Scotland it's only £21,900).


While I was a medical student, I saw a young guy with a bad knee. After the patient left, the consultant explained that the surgeon who had carried out the operation had got it badly wrong, and this was the cause of the patient's disability. He would never walk properly again. I asked the consultant why no one had informed the patient. He answered that you don't blow the whistle on colleagues and they don't on you. [...]

I was part of a chain of errors that led to the death of a patient [...] and I confessed it to my consultant. I was overcome with remorse. I wanted to apologise to the relatives and stand up at the inquest and say it was all my fault and I deserved to be struck off. He counselled me to brazen it out. Another colleague helped me buff the notes (to "buff the notes" is to make entries in the patient's records which don't actually lie but contain only the helpful elements of the truth).

'We all kill a few patients as we learn', Jed Mercurio, The Guardian, 18 May 2004

Someone linked to this on the Bad Science blog. Quite terrifying, in a way. But it's hard to see what can be done; people simply refuse to accept that mistakes do happen in hospitals, and when they do, it's not always appropriate for heads to roll.

spudtater: (Default)
( Apr. 29th, 2010 11:52 am)
So, everybody's talking about Gillian Duffy and her remarks on eastern Europeans "flocking" in, and of course Gord's leaked after-comments on her being a "bigoted woman".

The right wing's having a field day, of course, with claims that debate on immigration is being "stifled". Lord Pearson of UKIP was invited onto BBC Breakfast this morning and got his chance to make that very point. Happily, he was then grilled by Sian on other aspects of their manifesto, over which he reverted into a blathering upper-class twit. Cutting a third of NHS staff, but not including a single doctor or nurse? Seriously?

But I have to admit as well that I think that there's an element of dismissiveness in the left-wing reaction to the story that does not sit well with me. Particularly the large amounts of people saying things along the lines of "well, she is a bigot".1

Sure, the belief that immigration from eastern Europe is inherently problematic could be described as bigoted — or racist even. But in a country where a vast portion of the population holds that belief to some degree, I dispute that labelling all such people "bigots" is the correct response. Because to label somebody is to push them away, seperate them from us. And that works both ways. If they're a minority, like the BNP, then it helps to sideline their stance. But if they're a group that the majority of the population sympathises with, then I would say you're actually sidelining yourself.

You see this all the time in left-wing debate. Somebody will say that the majority of people in society are racist, or sexist, or whatever anathemic word is applicable to the debate. And its effect is to split the commentor away from mainstream opinion — after which it's easy for the average person to point to them and call them a "loony lefty".

To call Duffy a bigot is to place yourself in a bubble where immigration is a non-issue, a taboo subject. Which may be very reassuring to yourself, but unfortunately there are more people outside the bubble than there are inside. And especially with an election round the corner, that puts you outside a position of power.

So Gord's original, public, reaction was the correct one. Do not get upset, but defeat the argument with logic and common sense. Then politely, but firmly, show that you do not wish to debate the matter any further. You may be surprised at the proportion of people who will respond positively. (If they continue to push it, then they're probably not worth engaging with.)

The third leaders' debate is coming up, and immigration is now bound to come up. My eyes are on Clegg, as the candidate with the most obviously pro-immigrant policies. How will he respond? Will he be dismissive of the question, hoping not to draw attention to Lib Dem policies? Or will he seize it, and present immigration as a positive force that improves our economy and society — in the hope that there are more people to win with this stance than there are to lose?

I can hope, can't I?

[1] This paragraph edited for clarity.

Edit: Aaaaaaand, he's on the back foot. Poop.   8^(
[personal profile] galaxy_girlThey're discussing moving the UK to european time.
[personal profile] spudtater*Splutter* Ridiculous! They should be moving to our time!


But seriously, the Prime Meridian is defined by the fact that the sun will be at its apex at 12:00. Sunrise and sunset, consequently, will be equal times before and after 12:00 at Greenwich. There's, like, maths and stuff. That goes out the window if we decide that we're going to start shifting the time forwards just to get people out of bed earlier (even if it is for their own good).

And I intentionally say start shifting the time forwards. Because what happens after we shift? One company and then the other will start thinking: "Hmm... our employees are very tired in the mornings and it's hitting productivity. Perhaps we should start at 9:00 rather than 8:30." (Or 9:30 instead of 9:00, or whatever). Eventually everybody will have shifted their effective working day an hour ahead, at which point some journalist or politician will say: "Hey, guys, I've just had an idea..."

So, yes, looking at the map, it appears that not only should we stay at GMT, but Spain for one should join us there. Arguments could be made for France, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg too.

Well, I can dream of date lines based on rational principles, can't I?   8^P
(I mean, Kiribati, Tonga: UTC+13? UTC+14? You're doing it wrong!)

spudtater: (Default)
( Jan. 27th, 2010 01:02 pm)

Monday's word-of-the-day calendar informed me about Nellie Bly, 19th century investigative journalist extraordinaire.

Wiki extracts )

Why have I not heard of this awesomeness before?

This morning's news included the story of a report on the question: "should people in troubled relationships stay together for the sake of the children?". To which the answer turned out to be: "No". Or, more specifically, "unhappiness in children is more likely to be influenced by conflict in their family than the family's structure"

Thank you. You'd have thought that would be bleedin' obvious, but apparently not, as they then interviewed some fucking Tory who went on to explain how this survey, comprehensive and unbiased though it might be, contradicted the beliefs and policies of the Conservative party and was therefore, obviously, wrong.

I may be paraphrasing there. But only a little.

My personal feelings are that the increase in divorce levels are consequences of nothing more complex than the fact that more women are able to support themselves, giving them an increased chance of being able to escape unhappy or abusive relationships. But this would contradict that rose-tinted image of 1950's household nirvana that is so bloody pervasive in this country, wouldn't it?

spudtater: (Default)
( Jan. 22nd, 2010 02:37 pm)
I'm a bit ambivalent about this story, looked at from a feminism standpoint. Is it an laudable example of an empowered woman turning the tables and showing sexual assertiveness over a man? Or a shocking example of disrespect for the body of a member of the opposite sex, of the sort that would absolutely not be tolerated were genders reversed?

Or am I overanalysing things, and is it just something stupid happening to an equally stupid slebrity?

I have nothing against the X-Factor — it's easily-watchable, throwaway reality television that can prove an amusing distraction for a while. However, I also believe that it has very little to do with real music, and dislike the hijacking of the Christmas number 1 spot by said TV show.

A lot of people feel likewise. They've set up a Facebook group to promote the idea of Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing in the Name' being number 1 at Christmas. Links to download the track are given on that page.

It's a bit of a silly protest, but I find it amusing, and will do my bit to help it along.
It seems to be doing quite well so far

A less silly aspect of the movement is the collection for Shelter that downloaders are urged to donate to. It's an appropriate charity for the Christmas season, and I'd urge a donation whether or not you're also downloading the Rage Against the Machine track. So far, they've raised £37,648 — nice work!

Edit: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bracknellexile for this: X-Factor – Killing in the Name Of (YouTube)

Edit 2: Tom Morello (of RATM) is donating his profits from the song to a charity that supports young musicians

Original post: That Daily Express Dunblane thing

THE Scottish Sunday Express has enjoyed a long love affair with the people of our nation. [...] Over that time, we have established a reputation for crusading journalism built on the twin cornerstones of honesty and integrity. [...] It is also hugely important to us that the Scottish Sunday Express reflects the feelings of the people of Scotland.

On March 8 we got that all wrong.

— "Dunblane: We're Sorry", The Scottish Sunday Express, 22 March 2009

"On-ess-tee"? "Inn-teg-rittee"? What are these words?

The Press Complaints Commission has launched an investigation after the Scottish edition of the Sunday Express ran a front page story alleging survivors of the Dunblane massacre "shamed" the memory of their dead friends by boasting about drunken nights out on social networking websites.

— "PCC targets Sunday Express over Dunblane allegations", Oliver Luft, The Guardian, 16 March 2009

The Scottish Sunday Express has recently been slated – and rightly so – for running a horrifying story about the survivors of the Dunblane Massacre. The story, and the reaction to it, is a great example of the good ways and the very bad ways people are using the web to spread information.

— "Web takes revenge after Express story", Nicole Kobie, IT Pro, 19 March 2009
(includes link to scan of original article, with victims [re-]anonymized)

We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep offense at the article published in the Sunday Express on March 8th 2009 about the survivors of the Dunblane massacre. [...] We demand a swift and proportionate response to the widespread disgust caused by this article, beginning with a front page apology. We would also like to see appropriate disciplinary action taken against Paula Murray, the author of the piece, and her editor at the Scottish Sunday Express, Derek Lambie.

— "Sunday Express "Dunblane shame" article", iPetitions, 8 March 2009
(5,700 signatures so far; donation not neccessary)

So, The Daily Express are getting their arses handed to them, it seems. Serves them right.

spudtater: (Default)
( Nov. 9th, 2007 10:48 pm)
Bad news: the owner of Electric Cabaret was charged with "selling obscene material aggravated by religious prejudice", after selling an undercover policeman a Cradle of Filth T-shirt. (T-shirt in article, somewhat NSFW). He's now planning to leave Edinburgh and sail to Portugal. I don't know if the latter fact is a direct consequence of the former, though.

Good news: Plaisir du Chocolat is going to reopen! In the new town, though, this time.

Stupid news: Dubya on Gen. Musharraf: '"My mesage was … You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," Mr Bush said.'
spudtater: (Default)
( Oct. 26th, 2007 08:08 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] spudtater presents: Scenes From The Future™

Today: Amy Winehouse reaches middle age.

"They tried to make me switch to decaff, I said no, no, no..."
Scribbled over an Adidas advert:

"Attention neds!

New uniform!"
The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent attempted bombings and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Brits have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.
So I was on the bus the other day, with an asian-looking young man sitting a few rows in front of me. Suddenly he jumps up and runs downstairs, leaving a largish backpack on the seat.

I look at it for a few moments.

Niggling fears are starting to form at the back of my mind. Should I take it downstairs, hope the guy's still on the bus, and give it to him? Should I tell the driver? Should I chuck it out the window? (No, of course not, don't be silly.)

Then, half a minute later, the guy comes back upstairs with his mate, who he'd obviously spotted getting on the bus. False alarm — I'm moderately relieved.

Now, I'm quite significanly anti-racist, and avoid tabloids alarmist publications like the plague, and yet still fear, uncertainty and doubt presented themselves in my mind. Would I have thought these thoughts if he had been white, or chinese? Probably not. "Mud sticks", it's said, and it does seem true that our subconsciousnesses are quick to stereotype, and quick to attach negative attributes to categories of people.

In conclusion: Beh.   8^P

In other news:

Answers up for the book-guessing meme! Based on a scoring system wot I just invented, the top scores are:

[livejournal.com profile] sigmonster, 200 points
[livejournal.com profile] xquiq, 125 points
[livejournal.com profile] zotz, 110 points
[livejournal.com profile] digitalraven, 108 points

Finally, I'd like to point and laugh at a spam email I received today, purporting to be from "fascist regimes". Yes, I receive lots of email from such entities — how did you know?
spudtater: (Default)
( Mar. 29th, 2007 11:23 am)

Products advertised "for men only". How insecure about your masculinity do you have to be to buy a product on the strength of that? And there are now far too many...

  • "Just For Men" hair colouring — probably the first to wander into this territory.
  • Yorkie bars
  • That shampoo ad on TV recently... I forget which
  • McCoy's crisps
  • Burger King
  • What have I missed?

Oh, and answers to the fandom meme are now shown. Congrats to [livejournal.com profile] digitalraven for getting the most right.

...in BHS.

A woman's voice admonishing her son: "No, sweetie, that's pink. That's for girls. Come over here and I'll find you something for boys." And as they appeared from behind the shelf they were previously hidden behind, I notice two things:
  1. The item in question was a box of biscuits
  2. The kid was dressed in jungle-camouflage trousers and a kiddie-sized bomber jacket.
I really hope that kid doesn't turn out to be gay, because he will never be able to come out to his family.
spudtater: (Default)
( Dec. 15th, 2006 12:58 pm)
Everybody knows Raymond Briggs as the much-loved author/illustrator of The Snowman and Father Christmas. But did you know he also wrote a book about a kindly old couple, Jim and Hilda Bloggs, attempting to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack? And a book called "The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman" about... well, you work it out.   8^)

Also: No idea what sort of crap to get your family and friends for christmas?

Yes, once again, I should be working.   8^P
So, I saw a trailer for that horrible "Extreme Makeover" programme the other day, and I was thinking to myself how plastic surgery is a horrible thing that nobody should do to themselves, and how the woman on the trailer wasn't ugly, only somewhat different-looking, and that she should learn to love herself as she is rather than conform to society's unrealistic ideals.1 ...until she opened her mouth, and I immediately thought "...but she really needs her teeth fixed".

Am I being inconsistent in my judgements? Is having a full set of straight, white teeth simply another form of cosmetic conformity? Or are teeth the exception in some way?


[1] I feel justified in being so judgemental only because I am, myself, "somewhat different-looking".   8^D


spudtater: (Default)


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