Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chuck Norris for President

Chuck Norris, as previously noted, is a phenomenon.

Google won't search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don't find Chuck Norris, he finds you. (Hat tip, SimonB)

Actually, I have been delighted to find that the great man genuinely writes a weekly column here, which last year featured a wonderfully self mocking list of campaign promises he would make if running for President.

My favourite is:
Increase jobs in America by sending ninja teams to sabotage and steal them back from other countries.
He'd get my vote.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Charles Dance has been named best actor in the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for Shadowlands.

I went to see it a few weeks ago, and his is indeed a fine performance in a fine play.

The alchemy of acting, at least for me, resides in the communication of the spaces between the words; impulses repressed, fleeting reactions, inarticulacy even.

There is a moment in the play when Dance - as C.S. Lewis - is standing, with his hands in his pockets, downstage of Janie Dee as Joy as her character tells him some bad news she has received.

You can tell that he wants to reach out to her but somehow can't bring himself to do it, and looks down at the fists bunched in his jacket in a sort of reproach as if they don't belong to him.

I have no idea how one writes, directs or performs such a virtuoso manifestation of a scene, but it is a privilege to see it done.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Prepare For Glory

The World Cup still only seems like yesterday, but the Six Nations has rolled around again and Wales travel to Twickenham to take on England this weekend.

I've embedded a YouTube copy of the BBC's trailer for this year's competition above. It's almost a pastiche of the trailer for the movie 300 that came out over a year ago. If you also consider that "Meet the Spartans" - a 300 spoof - was number one at the US box office over the weekend, it is clear that the film has entered public consciousness - regardless of critical brickbats - to an extraordinary degree.

I wonder how many time schoolboys have kicked each other in the sternum shouting, "Madness? This is Sparta!" over the last twelve months.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blogging Early Monday Morning

Guy goes to work every day, eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Gets his nuts so tight in a vice that he starts questioning the very fabric of his existence.

Then one day, 'bout quitting time, Boss calls him into the office and says, "Hey Bob, why don't cha come on in here and kiss my ass for me, will you?"

Well, he says, "Hell with it. I don't care what happens, I just want to see the expression on his face as I jab this pair of scissors into his arm.

Then he thinks of me.

He says, "Wait a minute. I got both my arms, I got both my legs. At least I ain't begging for a living.

Sure enough, Bob's gonna put those scissors down and pucker right up.

See, I'm what you call kind of a "moral traffic light", really. I'm like sayin', "Red! Go no further!"

Sunday, January 27, 2008


My brother John having thrown down that gauntlet to me to me on a cross-trainer and barbell complex workout competition last week, I am hereby returning the favour by suggesting we go head to head on the United States Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test this week.

This consists of:
  • as many pull ups as you can do
  • as many crunches as you can do in two minutes
  • a three mile run.
Follow the link for notes on form. Scoring works as follows: five points for every pull-up, one point for every crunch, and one point is deducted from 100 for every 10 seconds slower than 18 minutes.

Scores are graded into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class (below 3rd you fail) according to an age adjusted scale. I choose to interpret this as meaning that I can still win even if I get fifty points less than John. He may disagree.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Contender Asia

Do you remember Peter Manfredo Jr fighting Joe Calzaghe last year? He came to prominence via "The Contender", a reality television series that followed a group of boxers as they competed with one another in an elimination-style competition.

Well the format has been adapted for Muay Thai in "The Contender Asia". Our interest was obviously piqued considering that my little boy has been taking Muay Thai lessons for eighteen months now, and I've even been doing it myself for nine.

The show started airing last week, but it's not available in the UK so I've been reduced to online craftiness in order to watch it. I really don't like pirating things, but as the official website presents the series as if it is playing out weekly - though it is obviously all in the can already - I really can't see any alternative if Ben and I are to sit down and every seven days and speculate on the how it ultimately turns out.

In the Internet age it seems to me that producers need simultaneous worldwide distribution, especially with special interest material. Then again, if I knew how they could pull it off, I'd probably be a lot richer than I am.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dr. Wilma Shaffer

I admit that Spamfighter has an excellent range of products and has reduced my stress level, but glancing at my spam folder this morning to check that it hadn't been over zealously weeding out messages I realised that I sometimes miss the unconscious vigorous poetry of audacious, sub literate invitations along the lines of:

Your woman lived you alone because of she had done it with your mate.
By reason of she has always dreamed about enormous jang.
Enlarge your male device and you'll be popular among chicks promptly.
This is your chance to change your sexual life.

"Your woman lived you alone"; genius.
"Jang"; new to me.
"Promptly"; not the adverb I would have chosen, but on reflection an unimprovable mot juste.

PS If I ever succumb to World of Warcraft, my character will almost certainly rejoice in the soubriquet "Enormous Jang".

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Swingin' Affair

The Mack Big Band invites you free of charge to its public rehearsals every
Tuesday evening 7:30 for 8pm in the Colour House Theatre.

Come along, get a drink from the bar, and listen to 5 saxes, 3 trombones, 4 trumpets, piano, bass, guitar, drums and vocalists run through a classic big band repertoire.

That's where I went on Tuesday evening after getting back from Poole and doing my duty in the gym. Why not check it out?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In Which I Encounter Four Knaves

One day as I lay drinking in my sleep, and singing as I drank, four bravos, four down-at-heel rogues, entered my inn, the Horse of Bronze, in Remiremont under the Vosges. They came to steal my wallet, which contained letters to Sieur de Coquille-les-Baraquins. With one bound I left my bed and, seizing my sword, slit the cheek of the first, gashed the forehead of the second, pierced the left shoulder of the third, and pricked the fourth over the heart. I then trussed them up like fowls and rolled them into the cellar. At Jarnac I fought until I had nothing left to fight with but a one-inch stump of sword. At Ivry I had eighteen horses killed under me. At Arques I broke in the great doors of the castle with a blow of my fist. Yet let me not boast.

The Chevalier de Menfiche! Coeur-de-Fer! At your service. My honour insulted by omission from a list. A list of little conseqence you say? Allow me, in turn, to DEMAND satisfaction!

En Garde!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If life gives you melons

I'm off early for a long day today. Let me leave you with a notion:
Ours are ominous times. We are on the verge of eroding away our ozone layer. Within decades we could face major oceanic flooding. We are close to annihilating hundreds of exquisite animal species. Soon our forests will be as bland as pavement. Moreover, we now find ourselves on the verge of a new cold war.

But there is another threat, perhaps as dangerous: We are eradicating a major cultural force, the muse behind much art and poetry and music. We are annihilating melancholia.

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that almost 85 percent of Americans believe that they are very happy or at least pretty happy. The psychological world is now abuzz with a new field, positive psychology, devoted to finding ways to enhance happiness through pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Psychologists practicing this brand of therapy are leaders in a novel science, the science of happiness. Mainstream publishers are learning from the self-help industry and printing thousands of books on how to be happy. Doctors offer a wide array of drugs that might eradicate depression forever. It seems truly an age of almost perfect contentment, a brave new world of persistent good fortune, joy without trouble, felicity with no penalty.

Why are most Americans so utterly willing to have an essential part of their hearts sliced away and discarded like so much waste? What are we to make of this American obsession with happiness, an obsession that could well lead to a sudden extinction of the creative impulse, that could result in an extermination as horrible as those foreshadowed by global warming and environmental crisis and nuclear proliferation? What drives this rage for complacency, this desperate contentment?

Surely all this happiness can't be for real.

Sleep tight. Back tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Anthropology in Azeroth

As I sprawled on the couch during a rainy interval over the weekend, half reading my book, I was also watching the New Ninja Bomber playing World of Warcraft.

He met up with Rayburn - who was playing from Morden - and they took off by ship on a long and intricate quest.

I am still amazed at how comfortable he is with this sort of realm. Techy as I am I still don't get it.

I wonder if the fact that I am not - and have never been - much of a gamer is relevant. Perhaps Chris - a gentleman and a gamer of my vintage with a son around the same age as mine has an opinion? (I will pass on the message about Celts.)

One thing I certainly don't see is that games and computers are bad for kids or socially stultifying. My little one is happy in the park with his bike, a football, some chums, and happy rampaging in a digital virtual world. I don't like the implied either/or dichotomy that one sort of fun is necessarily enjoyed at the expense of the other.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anton Ego

I watched a moody DVD of Ratatouille last night.

I've known Brad Bird was a genius since The Iron Giant.

But what pray is the explanation of the extraordinary resemblance of the supercilious critic Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O'Toole) to our own Will Self?

I think we should be told.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bibi van der Zee (Whom God Preserve)

Body warmth to power heating. Trucks that run on chocolate. Floors coated with cheese. Bibi van der Zee looks at new ways of turning our waste to good use.

Dr Strabismus suddenly seems tame

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Fisher King

In the world of medieval romance there are many weird and wonderful creatures – there are golden dragons and green knights, sinister enchantresses and tragic kings, strange magicians and spears that bleed and talk. And yet, in all this panoply of wonder, few figures are more mysterious than the Fisher King. Entrusted as the keeper of the Holy Grail itself, he resides in a castle made of magic where he lies blighted by a wound that does not heal. He is a complex and poetic figure and has meant many things to many people. From the age of chivalry to that of psychoanalysis and beyond, he has been Christian and pagan, tragic and enduring, a sinner, a fertility god and a symbol of sexual fear and desire.
Melvyn's guest explainers on the consistently wonderful "In Out Time" this week included Stephen Knight, Distinguished Research Professor in English Literature at Cardiff University, and Juliette Wood, Associate Lecturer in the Department of Welsh, Cardiff University.

In honour of these academics from my native land I have decided to believe the more or less arbitrary assertion that the Fisher King is derived from the figure of Bran the Blessed in the Mabinogion, and is therefore Welsh.

1. It is impossible to read of "Bran the Blessed" without thinking of the robust and bushy bearded Brian Blessed. This is a good thing.
2. In his newsletter, Lord Bragg talks of the Fisher King's influence on Eliot's "The Waste Land" and observes that "with a book like Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road, the idea of a sterile landscape post some ecological holocaust is hovering at the edge of possibility". We're reading "The Road for the next El Grupo. This is a good thing.
3. Finding a lance in a tangled Welsh wood and storming the magic citadel of London. This is a good thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dramatis Personae

As the question has been asked:

Prodnose: humourless, reasonable oaf who interrupts the flights of fancy. (The name is journalistic slang for a sub-editor.)


Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot: well-meaning but ineffectual High Court judge, plagued by litigation involving the twelve red-bearded dwarfs.

Mrs. Justice Cocklecarrot: his wife. Very silent, until she observes that "Wivens has fallen down a manhole". An enquiry from the judge as to which Wivens that would be elicits the response "E. D. Wivens". After a worrying interval she reveals that E. D. Wivens is a cat. His Lordship observes that cats do not have initials. "This one does", says she.

Tinklebury Snapdriver and Honeygander Gooseboote: two counsel. The elbow of one has a mysterious tendency to become jammed in the jaws of the other.

Twelve red-bearded dwarfs, with a penchant for farcical litigation. Their names are Scorpion de Rooftrouser, Cleveland Zackhouse, Frums Gillygottle, Edeledel Edel, Churm Rincewind, Sophus Barkayo-Tong, Amaninter Axling, Guttergorm Guttergormpton, Badly Oronparser, Listenis Youghaupt, Molonay Tubilderborst and Farjole Merrybody.

Captain Foulenough: archetypal cad and gatecrasher who impersonates the upper class in order to wreck their social events. Educated at Narkover, a school specializing in card-playing, horse-racing and bribery.

Mountfalcon Foulenough: his priggish nephew, who brings havoc to Narkover and "makes virtue seem even more horrifying than usual".

Vita Brevis: debutante frequently plagued by, but with a certain reluctant admiration for, Captain Foulenough.

Dr. Smart-Allick: genteel, but ludicrous and criminal, headmaster of Narkover.

Miss Topsy Turvey: neighbouring headmistress, courted by Smart-Allick.

Dr. Strabismus (Whom God Preserve) of Utrecht: eccentric scientist and inventor.

Lord Shortcake: absent-minded peer obsessed by his enormous collection of goldfish.

Mrs. McGurgle: seaside landlady. Fearsomely British, until she decides to reinvent her house as "Hôtel McGurgle et de l'Univers" to attract the tourists.

Charlie Suet: disastrous civil servant.

Mimsie Slopcorner: his on-off girlfriend, an ill-informed and irritating social activist.

The Filthistan Trio: Ashura, Kazbulah and Rizamughan, three Persians from "Thurralibad", two of whom play see-saw on a plank laid across the third. They have a series of contretemps with British bureaucracy and the artistic establishment, in which the trio generally represents the voice of reason.

Dingi-Poos: the Tibetan Venus. She obtains desirable commercial contracts by using her charms to hoodwink visiting British envoys, principally Colonel Egham and Duncan Mince.

Big White Carstairs: Buchanesque Empire builder, with a tendency to mislay his dress trousers.

O. Thake: man-about-town.

Lady Cabstanleigh: Society hostess.

Stultitia: her niece, a playwright.

Boubou Flaring: glamorous but vacuous actress.

Emilia Rustiguzzi: voluminous (both in bulk and in decibels) opera singer.

Tumbelova, Serge Trouserin, Chuckusafiva: ballet dancers.

Colin Velvette: ballet impresario.

"Thunderbolt" Footle: handsome, socially celebrated boxer (who can do everything except actually fight)

The M'Babwa of M'Gonkawiwi: African chief, who occasions great administrative problems in connection with his invitation to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Clam of Chowdah: oriental potentate

Mrs. Wretch: formerly the glamorous circus performer Miss Whackaway, now wife to Colonel Wretch and "horrible welfare worker".

Roland Milk: insipid poet

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Human Skateboard

The New Ninja Bomber's favourite YouTube video.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Laziness, Impatience and Hubris

From PaperPools (via Light Reading) we learn the
Virtues of a programmer, according to Larry Wall, Randall L. Schwartz and Tom Christiansen in the second edition of Programming Perl.
  1. Laziness - The quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful, and document what you wrote so you don't have to answer so many questions about it. Hence, the first great virtue of a programmer. Also hence, this book. See also impatience and hubris.
  2. Impatience - The anger you feel when the computer is being lazy. This makes you write programs that don't just react to your needs, but actually anticipate them. Or at least pretend to. Hence, the second great virtue of a programmer. See also laziness and hubris.
  3. Hubris - Excessive pride, the sort of thing Zeus zaps you for. Also the quality that makes you write (and maintain) programs that other people won't want to say bad things about. Hence, the third great virtue of a programmer. See also laziness and impatience.
You can't say you haven't been warned.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How We Live Today

‘The wife will kill me if she finds out I’m smoking again...’

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Smart Women

Feeling the weight of your overdraft after Christmas? Merryn Somerset Webb, author of Love Is Not Enough: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Money, takes a lighthearted look at how you can save the pennies this year

Prodnose: Where are we going with this?
Myself: Indulge me for a moment or two.

1 Drink less coffee out. One latte a day will add up to nearly £500 over a year.
2 Breastfeed your babies.
3 Never order cocktails. Stick to wine or beer in bars. Better still, never buy your own drinks!

Prodnose: Monstrous!
Myself: You sir are no gentleman.

4 Keep your weight constant: if you rarely change size you can buy quality pieces of clothing and wear them for years.
5 Wash more, dry-clean less: whatever it says on the label, woollens don’t really need dry-cleaning. Even pashminas come out of the woollen cycle just fine as long as you iron them when a little damp. Wash cashmere on a gentle cycle and lay it flat between two towels to dry.

Prodnose: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, I'd like to hang this out to dry.
Myself: Actually the list is a little short on thrills, but what do we find 28 hints later?

33 Buy your bike from The site auctions property that the police have either seized from burglars and the like or had handed in and not been able to find the owners for.

Myself: That's right Prodders old man, it's expressed in language up with which I shall not put, but according to, our very own site was mentioned in the Western Mail yesterday. The prophet is not without honour in his own land!
Prodnose (coldly): Be still my beating heart.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Blank spaces count

If you ever get an SMS from me, there is a strong chance that it will be exactly 160 characters long. This is because I generally type into the Nokia Text Message Editor on a PC, overrun the SMS message limit and then edit them back down. It is also typical of the mad tasks and constraints I am forever setting myself.

Courtesy of Sir Normblog, I have learned of text-message poems (verse which makes a virtue of this limit), and this winning example from Sophie Hannah.
Blank spaces count as characters. It's true.
I wasn't sure. And then I thought of you.
I'm delighted with this idea and, having given you my Haiku some time ago, I'm sure I'll be posting an example soon. In the meantime I like the way that the discipline clips a famous stanza from Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat in a way that emphasises the poem's message, to wit:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of
Supply your own regret after the abrupt truncation.

Next stop - or maybe the same thing - keitai tanka.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Games at - Campaign Game
Campaign Game

Back a candidate and gain the support of the regions to win the Presidential Election.

Play this free game now!!

Much to my astonishment the 7 year old New Ninja Bomber has become a great fan of the US Election game above.

To the extent that the world is waiting for my reaction to the winners in the New Hampshire primary, please be informed that I can't be doing with Xanthippe Rodham Clinton at any price. The dynastic implications of a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton series of presidencies are ridiculous. What will they do next? Marry Chelsea off to Bilawal Bhutto?

I kinda like the cut of McCain's jib though. There is such a thing as moral authority. We should pay attention when someone who has been imprisoned and tortured takes the high ground on Guantanamo and waterboarding. I admire him for it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

One Year Later

It's a year today that John and I started recording our workouts. Looking at January 2007 I can see that I'm only five pounds lighter than I was then, despite keeping at the exercise pretty consistently.

I celebrated the anniversary with an early morning run along the Wandle today, and hated every step of it. (I'm going to step up roadwork in January and February before skiing in the first week of March.)

Looking on the bright side, I feel a lot stronger and fitter so I imagine that I have probably lost around half a stone in fat, and it is certainly better than being heavier than I was a year ago.

Also on the bright side, HELP YOUR HEART WITH EXERCISE - AND BOOZE says the Guardian.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


You better beware, you better take care
You better watch out if you've got long black hair
He'll come from behind, you go out of your mind
You'd better not go, you'd never know what you'll find

Aah, aah
You look in his eyes, don't be surprised
If you don't know what's going on behind his disguise
Nobody knows where Lustre goes
He'll steal your woman out from under your nose

Does anyone know the way, did we hear someone say
We just haven't got a clue what to do
Does anyone know the way, there's got to be a way
To Lack Lustre!

The cops are out, they're running about
Don't know if they'll ever be able to Lack Lustre out
He's gotta be cought, he's gotta be taught
'Cos he's more evil than anyone here ever thought

Does anyone know the way did we hear someone say
We just haven't got a clue - ow!
Does anyone know the way, there's got to be a way
To Lack Lustre!

Lustre, Lustre, LackLustre!

Prodnose: You just go from bad to worse.
Myself: Why shouldn't I sprinkle as much fairy dust as I please on Sweet's glam classic? We Brits may have taken it in with our mothers' milk, but over the pond it peaked at No. 73 in the Billboard Hot 100. It's practically my patriotic duty to promote it.
Prodnose: Then why the puerile changes to the lyrics?
Myself: An architect may pray in his own cathedral: I shall laugh at my own jokes. Ha ha, and for that matter, hee hee.
Prodnose: But the whole sordid spectacle, isn't it rather undignified for a man of your age and girth?
Myself: Certainly not, but bear with me; this blond page boy wig, these gold platform shoes, and yon satin catsuit are needed to give you the full effect. God is in the details old boy.
Prodnose (thoroughly unmanned): Ah, ummm, I think I may have left the oven on. Bye.
Myself and the Entire Company (reprise: to the wail of a siren and the stomp of boots): You better beware, you better take care ........

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The New Guard

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

Prodnose: I'm sorry, I don't see the relevance.
Myself: No, I suppose you don't.
Prodnose: You are humming a nursery rhyme.
Myself: Guilty as charged. Perhaps there is a deeper meaning. Once more with feeling, riddle me this Boy Blunder.


Monday, January 07, 2008

My Unwritten Books

Book Description
George Steiner, the eminent professor of English at Cambridge and Geneva universities, has outlined seven books he has never written, but has always wanted to write, in seven sections.

In this fiercely original and audacious work, George Steiner tells of seven books which he did not write. Because intimacies and indiscretions were too threatening. Because the topic brought too much pain. Because its emotional or intellectual challenge proved beyond his capacities. The actual themes range widely and defy conventional taboos: the torment of the gifted when they live among, when they confront, the very great; the experience of sex in different languages; a love for animals greater than for human beings; the costly privilege of exile; a theology of emptiness. Yet a unifying perception underlies this diversity. The best we have or can produce is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind every good book, as in a lit shadow, lies the book which remained unwritten, the one that would have failed better.

Much as I love the brief spoof book descriptions in "The Best of Beachcomber", Amazon outloons them again and again.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I'm trying out a new browser called Flock which is advertised as integrating social networking, photo and video sharing and blogging services.

That should really be a boon if it works as advertised.

Watch this space.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

BBC News: From our own correspondent

From good Queen Liz, great white chief far over the water, a bale of Hudson's Bay blankets for new President Huckabarack Omaha.

Smoke pipe of peace at IOU Caw-cawaassough.

This mugwump not war chief like Bushitler.

Friday, January 04, 2008

With Your Tongue Down My Throat

Oh, to be young again! I could practically feel myself slouching (pimplier, moodier, and greasier) as I read this celebration of the first hundred issues of Granta, a tiny Cambridge journal that "rose to conquer the literary world".

Reminiscing over the back issues, the first I can remember reading is Granta 12: The Rolling Stones and the last is Granta 22: With Your Tongue Down My Throat. That is two and a half years' worth of a quarterly.

We drifted apart after that, never having regained the intensity of our relationship after the peaks scaled by Granta 20: In Trouble Again: Redmond O'Hanlon in the Amazon jungle, Salman Rushdie in Nicaragua, Colin Thubron in China, Ryszard Kapuscinski in Angola, Martha Gellhorn in Cuba, Peregrine Hodson in Afghanistan. Plus: Amitav Ghosh, Norman Lewis, Timothy Garton Ash, Hanif Kureishi, and Orville Schell.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Battle at Kruger

Chris having already taken care of documenting the next lot of books we are to read, I thought I would commemorate my trip to Swansea by digging up a YouTube video Dave recommended. It has been viewed over 23 million times to date.

Wikipedia: The video begins with the herd of buffalo approaching the water, unaware of the lions resting nearby. The lions charge and disperse the herd, picking off a young buffalo and unintentionally knocking it into the water while attempting to make a kill. While the lions try to drag the buffalo out of the water, it is grabbed by a pair of crocodiles, who fight for it before giving up and leaving it to the lions. The lions sit down and prepare to eat, but are quickly surrounded by the reorganized buffalo, who move in and begin charging and kicking at the lions. After a battle which sees one lion being tossed into the air by a buffalo, the baby buffalo (which is miraculously still alive) escapes into the herd. The emboldened buffalo chase the remainder of the lions away.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

At the point of delivery

Gordon Brown has delivered a New Year's message to the National Health Service. We are promised
a new constitution of the NHS setting out for the first time the rights and responsibilities associated with an entitlement to NHS care.

This is an ominous development. What can the word responsibilities possibly represent in this context other than a threat that those who adhere to what are deemed bad habits may be refused (or receive reduced) NHS care?

We live in an age of stultifying orthodoxy in which Ministers of the Crown fall over each other to issue us with guidance on - and pass judgement on - any number of issues that are none of the Government's business.

If we let 10 Downing Street foist the principle on us that, for apparently trivial example, people who smoke or are fat are failing in their responsibilities to the Health Service, and that in return the Health Service's responsibility to them is commensurately reduced, then we will have abandoned something precious.

What would there be to stop a future administration of a different ideological stamp deciding that, say, people who became infected with HIV for want of taking responsibility for precautions were in breach of their contract with the NHS and thus ineligible for care?

Loads of potential examples spring to mind. It is a bad idea.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Eros and Thanatos

I met up with quite a few of my peers from the old days back in Wales over the Christmas and New Year break. Satisying as it was to note that I was probably trimmer and more limber than is average for my contemporaries, I couldn't help but notice, as we were drinking in rounds, that I certainly conistently put more booze away more quickly than average as well.

I therefore call upon you to witness to the fact that I am giving up the demon drink for January.

Prodnose: That's not very erotic.
Welsh Born (with considerable dignity): I beg your pardon.
Prodnose: The news that you are going on the wagon for a month; what has Eros to do with it? Your title is a come-on hinting at carnality.
Welsh Born: Dunderhead! According to Sigmund Freud, humans have a life instinct - which he named 'Eros' - and a death drive, which is commonly called (though not by Freud himself) 'Thanatos'. This postulated death drive allegedly compels humans to engage in self-destructive acts. I used the title, a tad melodramatically I'll grant you, to compare and contrast my daily habit of training and then undoing my good work in the pub. Better people than you enjoy these classical references. Did you think I meant country matters?
Prodnose (looking like a fool): Uh no. I mean yes. I see.
Welsh Born (protesting too much): I suppose I could have used Apollo and Dionysus in the sense that Nietzsche uses the terms Apollonian and Dionysian in The Birth of Tradgedy: Apollo, as the sun-god, represents light, clarity, and bench presses, whereas Dionysus, as the wine-god, represents drunkenness and ecstasy.
Prodnose et al: ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Welsh Born (astride hobby horse): The Dionysian, which corresponds roughly to Schopenhauer's conception of Will, is directly opposed to the Apollonian, which corresponds to Schopenhauer's principium individuationis ...........................