Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Everyone in the world passes out simultaneously for two minutes and seventeen seconds.
In that time they all experience visions of their lives six months in the future.

Why do I get the uncomfortable feeling that I wouldn't actually be able to tell the difference?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Please forgive my cynicism

You may find this hard to believe but I used to be very cynical about the world.
You don't find it hard to believe?
I still am?
You should have known me back then. Trust me in this, I used to be considerably more cynical than I am now. Sometimes that inner cynic still pops his head up and looks around (and makes an acerbic comment or twenty), but he used to be here all the time.
It's nice, however to know that he's still alive and well, even if my cynicism is less scattergun and more specifically targeted.
This bit of random musing about my personality has been prompted, in part, by an article about an advert for the Smart car showing an elephant standing on the roof of one to demonstrate how strong the roof is.
Shock! Horror! It was... wait for it... photoshopped. Well I never! Who'd have thought it? I don't know if the advert has appeared in Britain and I don't know if the US has similar regulations to our "legal, honest, decent, truthful" code. I don't even know whether or not this advertisement would comply with our code.
I don't claim to have any legal expertise whatever.
I suspect that if the claim about the strength of the roof is justified then the elephant image would be treated as just a cute graphical way to illustrate (as opposed to demonstrate) the fact.

Where this ties in to the vestiges of my cynical nature is that I routinely disbelieve all advertising, be it on television, on posters or in magazines. Come to that I routinely disbelieve anything I'm told by a salesman in a shop, a politician trying to sell me his ideas and, most particularly, anyone who knocks on my door and starts his spiel with "I'm not trying to sell you anything".
I am firmly of the opinion that people who are foolish enough to believe what they see in an advert (created at great expense and paid for by the advertiser) probably deserve to be fooled. You might think that I am suggesting that advertising be viewed with a sceptical eye, but I'm not. That isn't necessary. I'm suggesting that, like me, you should choose to disbelieve all advertising on the principle that no one trying to sell you something can be trusted to be working in your best interest.

Just in two consecutive advertising breaks tonight I've seen the following (and I'm deliberately omitting product names here)

*eating a particular dietary supplement will lower my "heart age" - whatever that might be
*a supermarket is offering "top quality" wines for under £3 a bottle
*a new shape of tea bag will give me a better flavoured tea
*a group of clearly scripted actors pretending to be members of the public want me to use a particular price comparison web site
*playing some geometric games on a hand held computer will make me smarter
*two different supermarkets are both the cheaper than the other on most products
*a particular brand of high-sugar, high-salt, high fat fast food is healthy for me

Just looking at that lot, it's easy to see why I routinely disbelieve advertising.
Legal, honest, decent and truthful they may be (within the definitions of the regulations) but I find them impossible to believe so I don't believe them.
Please forgive my cynicism.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Alice all over the place

They are really testing out the limits of my willingness to collect every version of Alice in Wonderland that I can lay my hands on. I've commented before on how much sounds wrong, on paper at least, about Tim Burton's forthcoming version. There is also a new ballet version set for this year and, apparently in production, a television version that sounds only marginally less free and easy with the story than the Tim Burton one.

Now, on top of all this, pushing the envelope of my collecting even further, there is, I learn, to be a Bollywood version. (See also here.)

Data driven to distraction

Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day blog is, I have frequently found, an excellent source of great links to useful teaching sites. Recently, though, there was a post that caught my eye for another reason - it is so completely true.
In it, he comments on one of the things that I often complain about in education, they current trend to make everything data-driven. He makes the distinction between data-driven and data-informed. He's right to do so. It's important to know as much about your students, and their abilities and pass rates as possible. On the other hand you can't, and shouldn't, allow the data to become the master. As soon as you start teaching with an eye to improving your data you have lost sight of the most important thing in the whole system - the students. And that's endemic in the system nowadays. Course funding is dependent on data so you do everything you can to maximise the data, regardless of whether or not it's in the best interests of the students. No colleges or schools are at fault in this, it's how the system is designed. The funding system itself is what's really at fault.

Let me give you an example from my own current class. It's a beginners' level class, and I've had them for two weeks. Two weeks is enough for me to get a fair idea of who is who and what is what. There are a couple of students who I think would cope well at the next level. There are a couple of students who I think have very little chance of achieving at this level. The great mass of the middle ground should achieve something though a fair number of them may not get the full qualification. This is entirely typical of the classes we teach and nothing to be especially remarked upon.
However it presents me with a dilemma. I could move up the two strong students and fill the gap with weaker students from the waiting list. That would, of course, potentially lower my pass rate. There is nowhere to move the two weak students down to, except out of the college altogether, so I will have to keep them and accept the hit against my pass rate.
If my pass rates fall, especially if they fall below the floor targets set by the funding bodies, then the course becomes a failing course. There are implications for the course, the college and me.

So the way to maximise my results would be to hold the strong students back and callously boot out the weak ones, while the way to minimise my results would be to allow the strong ones to flourish and to keep and support the weak ones.

And this is the fundamental problem with being data-driven all the time. It isn't, and cannot be, in the interests of the students.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Good doggie

I love this picture of Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. It says so much. The puppy-dog, big-eyed, lapping-tongue of Gordon Brown is the perfect evocation of an eager-to-please ,Golden Labrador while the hand-on-the shoulder, look-what's-happening-over-there of Barack Obama is the perfect portrait of a distracted, not-really-paying-attention-but-having-to-acknowledge-the-puppy, dog owner.

A fine quintet

Last night I went along to the second poetry event at Bilston Voices. It was a little less well attended than the first but the standard was uniformly high. Peter Hill kicked off with a short poem and a long entertaining fairy tale about why the leprechauns moved from Ireland to Bilston. It was inventive and well-written and had plenty of chuckles and a few laugh-out-loud moments.
Following Peter was Jill Tromans, a writer from the group that I sometimes attend*, who matched Peter's poem/story format with a poem that I've heard her perform before but which was still pretty funny second time around. Her story, about an incident in a charity shop, was perhaps a touch long but was funny enough to carry the length - playing to her usual strengths of character dialogue.
Roy McFarlane took us into the break. Roy has the twin advantages of being a great poet and a great performer. His poetry was half and half romantic and political and, for his final poem about the man who threw a shoe at George Bush, he strode up and down the room declaiming mightily and brandishing his own shoe in the air.
After the break we had a rather calmer performance from Marion Cockin. I don't always like everything she writes but the ones she chose for last night's performance were uniformly excellent. I was particularly taken with the quartet of poems about a cholera outbreak that claimed one in twenty of the people in my home town in 1832.
Finally Geoff Stevens gave us an entertaining and humourous mix of dialect and non-dialect poems that lightened the tone considerable after Marion's relatively sombre set.

Sometimes City Voices (Bilston Voices' progenitor) can be a bit of a mixed bag. It's never bad but the performers (myself included) range from quite good to truly excellent in both the work and the performances. This particular outing at Bilston Voices was at the top end of the scale throughout. An excellent night out.

*I used to attend all the time, never missed for years, but sometimes real life (and changed work schedules) can intrude on our hobbies.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Will you, won't you join the dance

When you are a collector - be it of stamps, music, books, matchboxes or straw donkeys - stuff to add to your collection pops up at the oddest of unexpected moments. Yesterday, in an attempt to vary our Sunday drinking routine, we went to a free gig in the Robin 2 in Bilston. The band was a rock outfit called Ebony Tower. They turned out to be pretty decent, managing to overcome a very muddy sound balance in the venue, and the thirty or so people watching them all seemed to have a good time. More than that though the guitarist - Wilson McQueen - turned out to be a serious fan of Alice In Wonderland. The first song was from the EP and titled "White Rabbit" and a subsequent one, also from the EP, was called "The Looking Glass War". One not on the EP, but that will doubtless surface on the forthcoming album, was "Alice". They even, at one stage launched into a chorus of "Will you, won't you join the dance" - the Mock Turtle's song from the book.
Of course I had to buy the EP - no great hardship as it was only a fiver and I'd really enjoyed the show anyway.
It was an unexpected bonus and the EP will join my collection of Alice related stuff even if the two songs on it have no discernable lyrical connection to the books.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Books I never finished: The Dan Brown Inheritance

It's book of rare, though perhaps not rare enough, quality that defeats me. Even the books that I am really not enjoying I tend to worry at - a dog with a bone - until I have managed to pick all the flesh from them, read the last page, buried the remains and stretched my metaphor to breaking point.

Numbered in this very short list I remember getting almost half way through Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon before realising that its ponderousness was causing me to lose the will to live. I had no such trouble with de Bernieres' Captain Corelli's Mondolin, a book I attempted three times, never managing to get through more than about fifty pages.
I'm sure there were others, though right now I'm struggling (though not very hard) to remember them. There is however Dan Brown. I have read the first few chapters of The Da Vinci Code and, in the bookshop only, the first few pages of Angels and Demons and of The Lost Symbol. It's hard to come up with an author that I like less and harder still to sit here and explain exactly why he's so awful.
So I won't.
Instead I'll give you a couple of links that do it far more savagely and efficiently than I ever could.

First there is this marvelous bit of sarcasm from Steven Poole.

Then there is this excellent top twenty worst bits of Dan Brown.

Friday, 18 September 2009

What is a number?

Today I came across these definitions of "forty" in the Quick definitions box of Onelook.

noun: the cardinal number that is the product of four and ten
adjective: being ten more than thirty

A number of things about it caught my eye. First there is the obvious question of why, apart from perhaps a needless quest for variety, they have given a "noun" definition in terms of a product but an "adjective" definition in terms of a sum.
The definitions are also temptingly circular. "Thirty - being ten less then forty". They seem to me to actually tell you very little.

However that was the least of my ponderings. When I thought about it further that I realised I could also question this use of "noun" and "adjective" because I'm not sure that "forty" - or indeed any other number - should properly be defined as either.
Let's consider the noun usage. There are usages that are nouns and some that look as if they are nouns - "Yesterday I saw The 300", "He's in the first eleven", "I was one of the ten who went to the party", "She's the one for me."
It's easy enough to come up with examples but how many of these are actually noun usages?
"He's in the first eleven" probably qualifies but this is a special usage. In this usage the word means "a team with eleven members". It's a highly specialised sports usage and arguably falls into the group that also includes "The 300" and "one of the ten" which is technically an ellipsis. "The 300" really means "The 300 Spartans", "one of the ten" (here) means "one of the ten people" and arguably "the first eleven" means "the first eleven members of the team".
These are not nouns - the noun is actually omitted. They are at best elliptical hints at what the missing noun should be.
"She's the one for me" is probably the most likely candidate for noun status because "The one" is conventionally used to mean "the single example". It's still potentially an ellipsis but at least it functions grammatically as a noun.

I'm even less convinced by the description of numbers as "adjectives".
Yes it sits in the same place in the sentence.

big cars
red cars
expensive cars
forty cars


shiny people
happy people
twenty people

It's doing a different job though. Adjectives describe qualities of a noun - bigness, redness, expensiveness, shininess, happiness... but fortyiness, twentiness? I don't think so! (And neither does Word, which just underlined them in helpful red for me.)

Functionally they work in the same way as "the", "a", "these", "those", "some".
"The one", "the forty", "the few", "the many", "the 300".

They are not, I'd contend, adjectives at all, they are determiners. Or do other people, with more heavyweight language credentials than I, disagree?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Eat Me!

I'm expecting my Alice in Wonderland collection to grow as rapidly as Alice herself in the near future. It's always a side effect of a new film about a popular character that there are large amounts of promotional material, magazine articles and such about it. The first that I have seen in printed form (as opposed to on the internet) for Tim Burton's forthcoming Alice movie is in this month's Fantastique. The article itself is reasonably interesting (without telling me very much that I didn't know already) and does contain printed versions of the publicity shots that were released from the production, including Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter on the cover. It's always nice to have stuff on nice glossy paper rather than just on the computer screen.
Anyway, the other thing that happens in these circumstances is that lots of other material becomes available, or becomes avaialable again. I've seen quite a few versions of the book that I already have reappear in the bookshops recently as well as a brand new version illustrated by Robert Ingpen which has some truly magnificent pencil and pastel artwork and, unlike many illustrated editions, has it in an abundance that would fill a gallery with some left over for the advertising posters.
I also picked up for a pound a DVD of an animated version I had never heard of. It's a very modern computer animated version from BKN which clocks in at 48 minutes. Like quite a lot of the cheaper versions it bears only a minimal resemblance to the Lewis Carroll originla and its simplistic computer animation has the look of a personal project about it. I can't complain for a pound, I suppose, though it's not a version destined to become a classic.

The Burton film isn't due until next March so I'm expecting a lot more stuff to become available soon, probably around Christmas. I suppose I ought to start allocating funds to collecting it all now.

Ring! Ring! ....Ring! Ring!

There are two ways that it goes, depending on my mood at the time.
The first way, when I'm in a good mood, is this.

The telephone rings.
I answer it.
Someone asks me if I am Mister Hale.
I reply that I am.
They launch into a spiel about conducting a survey/ not wanting to sell me anything/ offering me a free gift/ any one of a dozen other things.
I realize immediately that whatever they are saying they want me to buy something.
I tell them that I'm not interested and hang up.

The second way, when I'm in a bad mood, is the same except for the last step, which is replaced by this.

I ask them their name and company.
I tell them that I am registered with the telephone preferences service and that by making cold calls without checking the register they are breaking the regulations governing their industry.
I hang up.

If I were in a really bad mood I might pop onto the TPS web site and register a complaint, though that hasn't happened yet.

The trouble is that this is what happens when I'm at home to receive the call. When I'm not at home my Dad answers the phone and that's more problematic. The trouble is that his generation consider both of my responses to be very rude. He feels, like so many of his age, that whether people are ringing you up or knocking on your door, you have to talk with them. You have to engage with them and only later, as politely as possible, hint - never state - that you aren't interested.
I got just such a call about an hour ago. I dealt with it with option one above. My father had heard the phone ring and asked about it. I told him what it was and what I'd said and he was horrified. I should, he told me, have enquired into what the survey was all about. I should have answered whatever questions they wanted to ask. Only if they actually offered to sell me something should I have indicated that I wasn't interested.
This is what he would have done, although his deafness would have probably frustrated the caller.
In vain I have told him that you should never engage in conversation with these people. He simply cannot grasp that people who are cold calling either at the door or on the phone do not have your best interests at heart. They wouldn't be calling if they didn't want something, usually money, from you. Engaging them in conversation simply encourages them and gives them a chance to convince you.

Of course the worst, the very worst thing about the way that he insists on talking to them, is that he inevitably ends up saying that I handle financial matters in the household and they should call back later and speak to me. Then I have to tell them I'm not interested and, when they have been led, by him, to believe that I might be, they often get quite agitated.
It would be so much easier if he just learned to hang up or to shut the door.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The future wears spandex

On the plus side all of the following are now listed as being "In Production".

Iron Man II
Green Lantern (sadly not the one with that awesome faux trailer)
Captain America
The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
Jonah Hex
Spider-Man 4
The Avengers
a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

and the following are all possible projects

a new version of The Crow
Doctor Strange
The Flash
a new version of Flash Gordon
two more Tintin movies
Green Arrow
Nick Fury
two more SIn City movies (God help us!)
another revamp of the Superman franchise
Wonder Woman
no less than four new X-Men franchise movies

and many more. Buy the magazine and read all about them.

Holy Discrepancies, Batman!!!

It's quite remarkable really.
Yesterday I bought a special edition of the science fiction magazine SFX that focuses entirely on cinema and television adaptations of comics. The bulk of it is taken up with an A to Z of such adaptations with reviews. What is quite remarkable about it is how many of those reviews have reached the exact opposite conclusion to mine. Some films that I like, they hate. Some films that I hate, they like. It isn't universal, and it's more marked for the films that they disparage, but it's noticeable enough.We do have some common ground on the middling stuff.

To just pull a few examples (not quite) at random.

Let's start with Blade:The Series. They are pretty disparaging about it in comparison to the first and second Blade movies (although, to be fair, they are even more disparaging about the third movie) but it's a decent enough piece of work. As with something like Robocop (not part of this sub-genre) the levels of violence that are in the films were never going to be shown on television but it does handle itself pretty well. They also don't like the way that the focus is often off Blade himself and on the other characters but then rather confusingly add that when it focusses on those characters it's actually better.
By contrast they quite like, though not whole-heartedly, Sin City - a movie that I found so totally devoid of heart and soul that it was almost unwatchable. It may be a visual treat but on screen it shows up the total lack of sympathy of the source material. Scoring a similar half-hearted plus in their review is Constantine which, though it's so heavily adapted that it bears almost no resemblence to it's source material, I really liked. And for a Keanu Reeves movie that's rare enough to merit mention in itself.
It's sequels that they most often go to town on. The Crow, a movie that they mostly like (though not as much as I like it) spawned three sequels. In the case of City of Angels, they give it the thorough slating that it deserves but for entirely the wrong reasons. It is, they claim, no more than an inferior re-run of the first movie. I beg to differ. Given the set up the basic plot outline of any Crow movie has to be similar but what City of Angels does is add a level of unpeasant fetishism to the procedings that is totally at odds with its setting. The two remaining movies Salvation and Wicked Prayer they like even less and this is just plain wrong-headed. Sure they all have similar plots. Certainly the budgets and stylised set pieces from the first film are missing but so what? The films are well enough played and a damned sight better than City of Angels.
Moving on Elektra they really dislike but I think it's a competent - though by no means wonderful - and entertaining flick. Flash Gordon (the Sam Jones version) gets a good review and the reasons listed are all the things I don't like about the film - its arch campness, its ridiculous action sequences, its inconsistent special effects, Brian Blessed: to name just a few.
We are however almost in agreement about Hellboy which has to date produced two terrific films. They prefer the second one to the first which is, in my view, back-to-front but its six of one, half a dozen of the other really. On the same page they give the customary one star to Howard the Duck but once I got past the terrible duck suit, I thought it was enjoyably daft.
It goes on and on. The TV movie of the Justice League is a weird blend of Superheroes and Friends but it's OK, though SFX disagrees.
They actually give the same, indifferent three stars to Ang Lee's Hulk and to Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk though the former deserves no stars and the latter four stars.
Judge Dredd they hate though it deserves a couple of stars just for the look of the film and another for how many of the comic book elements they managed to shoe-horn into a confusing plot. Doctor Strange, which I have recommended for years as really having the spirit of the original they call "woeful". The Mask they love but I see it as being just more of Jim Carey's irritating schtick.

I could go on (and I'm aware that I already have) but all any of this goes to show is that a) nobody really agrees about this stuff anyway and b) you should never pay too much attention to reviews.

Even mine.

Friday, 11 September 2009

In the wake of...

There is a news item in the UK today about the extension of the CRB checks scheme. For those who don't live in the UK this is the law whereby people who work with children in any capacity have to be checked before they are employed to find out if they have a criminal record. The initials stand for Criminal Records Bureau. The need for such checks is being extended to parents who volunteer to drive children on school trips and the like.
Personally I can't see any real objection although, being subject regularly to such checks myself, I can think of all sorts of ways that the administration of the checks could be improved.
I'm more interested in a phrase that I have heard, in one form or another, on every news report about the topic. It is constantantly being stated that the extension is being introduced "in the wake of the Soham murders".

The Soham murders were the deaths of two schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, at the hands of school caretaker Ian Huntley. They took place seven years ago, in 2002. This seems to me an odd use of "in the wake of", which I would have considered to be only used following very recent events. The new checks may be right, just and sensible but I cannot see how, unless the legislation was proposed in 2002 and taken all this time to come to fruition, it can be considered to be "in he wake of Soham" or, indeed, influenced by it. Previous measures may well, of course, have deserved the description.

Monday, 7 September 2009

More Terrible Advertising

What is it about price comparison websites that causes them to make such dire adverts? The old series for one such site (I refuse to advertise for them by naming them) featured as unappealing a collection of weirdos and half-wits as have ever been gathered together in one place, in a series of vignettes involving giant cardboard cut-out props. The inescapable message was that only an inbred moron would be interested in their services.
They replaced this with a group of alleged "members of the public" extolling the virtues of a revamped website but these so-called real people were even less convincing than the previous phony ones and one of them - clearly meant to be quirky - starts wittering on about having to tell the insurance company about whether or not he has a beard. In its way it's every bit as moronic as the previous version.
Now, one of their rival companies has started a series of adverts in which people discussing the best insurance deals are interrupted by an annoying fat bloke in a tuxedo who sports a highly improbably moustache and sings a faux-operatic jingle about the company that rhymes "few clicks" with "spondulicks" which is, I suppose, creative enough but the ad is just plain irritating.

Of course they aren't as irritating as the ones that have started appearing recently from various companies offering to buy all the unwanted gold that you have lying around the house, but that's fodder for another post.

Poem-a-day Index

An index to my recent "poem-a-day" project.

for jerry
Then and Now: A Villanelle
Double Dactyl:Jim Morrison
How to Avoid Being Eaten By A Bear
Not Autobiographical
The Glory of the Leader
The Snail
Outside and Inside the Mountain
A Puzzle Poem
The Chef's Obsession with Mushrooms
Walking In My Mind
A Litany of Farewells

Sunday, 6 September 2009

As a matter of fact...

Periodically over at wordcraft debate arises about some aspect of prescriptive grammar, usually apostrophes, and sometimes it can get a little... shall we say... spirited. The current discussion is one we've had before (and doubtless will again) about "imply" and "infer".
Now let me say at the outset that when I use "imply" I mean "suggest" and when I use "infer" I mean "deduce". I am completely in line in my usage with the strictest interpreter of the strictest British style guide. However the historical facts aren't on my side. People have always used the two interchangeably (***oversimplification alert***) and continue to do so. Would I like everyone to use them as I do? I don't really care as long as I know what they mean. Do I think that my usage is correct and theirs incorrect? No, I don't. The OED prefers the distinction as I have described it. Webster also lists it this way round first but allows that "infer" is also used to mean "imply". I probably hear "infer" to mean "imply" at least as often as I hear "imply" itself, though the other way round is much rarer.
The facts are that people use the language in all sorts of ways, some of which go directly against other peoples opinions.

And that, rather than a replay of the eternal prescriptive/descriptive battle, is what I want to talk about. Opinions and facts. This year it seems I may be forced into teaching lower levels than I'd like and the question won't arise but when I teach the upper levels I try very hard to make this distinction clear to them. I have a lesson that I call "Lies, Opinions and Facts". You might think that the three are, at least in definition, easy to distinguish.
Lie: a statement that is known to be false made with the intention to deceive
Opinion: a statement that is believed to be true by the person making it but which other people may not believe to be true or of which other people may well believe the opposite to be true
Fact: a statement which is true.

Ah, if only things were that simple, and its all the fault of those pesky opinions. People become so wedded to the idea that their opinion is right that they treat it as fact. They become utterly convinced that people who mix up imply and infer are just plain wrong. Beyond that they become convinced that the people who say "hang on, the facts say otherwise" are also plain wrong.
In matters of linguistics this is all really rather trivial. But what about in the real world?
What happens when someone mistakes the opinion "democracy is the best form of Government" for a fact? I happen to believe this opinion myself (although I'd suggest "least bad" rather than "best") but I am aware that I could be wrong. I know it's an opinion. But if I really, truly, absolutely believed it to be fact would that give me the right, or even the duty, to impose it on someone else?

In my lesson I stick to a fairly trivial way of dealing with the topic - I use adverts, preferably from TV but print will do, and get the students to discuss whether the information presented is fact, opinion or lie. I do this intentionally because I have found in the past that weightier topics can cause actually argument in the class. This isn't so much from different opinions as from the flat out refusal to accept that a sincerely held belief can be just an opinion.

The biggie is "is there a God". I happen to believe, and believe strongly, that there isn't - but I accept that I have no way to demonstrate this, that I can logically never have a way to demonstrate this that will convince a believer, and that it is - however firmly I may believe it - an opinion. I only once attempted to use this as an example of the difference between fact and opinion. The mainly Islamic class united against me in a strong a demonstration of the confusion of opinion and fact as I have ever seen. To them the existence of God isn't an opinion, it's a fact. It's as much a fact as if you hit your thumb hard enough with a hammer it will hurt.
I have never used the example since. I prefer my lessons to generate light rather than heat. And they generally do. And that's a fact. :D

Saturday, 5 September 2009

And that will achieve what, exactly?

So, when the English Defence League held their anti "Islamic Extremist" protest in Birmingham today, there were sporadic violent clashes with various Anti-Fascist groups, were there? Who would have anticipated that then? Sarcasm aside, the EDL claim that they are not a fascist organisation, not a racist organisation and not a violent organisation. They are, they say, simply protesting against extremists and that any Moslems who don't support terrorist extremists should applaud them rather than opposing them. Of course the flipside of that disingenuous nonsense is that any Moslems who don't support the EDL must be opposing them because they support the terrorists.
But leaving all that aside too, what I'd like to know is, even if they are as they claim, what on Earth can an anti "Islamic Extremist" protest conceivably be for? Who is going to take any notice of it?
Imagine the situation reversed for a moment and that a group of English terrorists are planning an attack in, for the sake of argument, Afghanistan not such a far-fetched scenario, given that every country and every religion and just about every other group of people has its own home-grown varieties of nutcase. Does anyone seriously believe that a rag-tag bunch of "anti-English extremist" protesters in Islamabad would have the slightest effect on them or their views?
Of course not.
And if, and I stress if, there are any Islamic extemists knocking about I wouldn't expect them to take any notice of the protesters in Birmingham, beyond maybe either laughing at them or perhaps seeing it as confirmation of their opinions.

Somewhere in a cave at this very moment Osama Bin Laden is probably not discussing the English Defence League.