Monday, 10 September 2012


  • Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?

    "Only science can build a car. But it can't tell you where you should drive it."
    Where one SHOULD drive depends on a priori assumptions. Given a definitive list and weighting of those assumptions, neither philosophy nor science has a difficulty with this question. Philosophy is a discussion (or argument) about the assumptions and their ordering, science (in this case) is an analysis of the results of those assumptions in the physical world.


  • Junk food banned in maintained schools is being sold in academies

    That is the problem when parents run a school: they can make choices rather than do whatever they are told by state bureaucrats. Not all of these choices will be good ones. That is, they will not always be those that you and I agree with. What are we to do? I know, let's make everything that is not compulsory forbidden.
    Or, we could just expose those choices and see if they rethink them when warned of the consequences. If not, THEN we can move in with totalitarian diktat.
  • Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?

    Interesting conversation  debate. I like the distinguishing of "why" and "how" questions, but I would make it: "why" and "under what circumstances." (Causality is a slippery concept; most scientific laws are statements that haven't been violated to date.) So the agreed something-or-nothing question is really: under what circumstances do universes arise containing something.
    As mentioned by the interlocutor, "why" questions are inherently unanswerable without reference to a reason (or a purpose, if you are a religious/intelligent design believer). Thus, they, are not really the province of science, absent empirical demonstration of a purpose.
    Yet 'why" questions are the most important when considering society, because society IS purposeful - created for "reasons" however right, wrong or misguided. Scientific method can assist in the analysis but it cannot resolve intent without assuming a fixed-fate universe, enlivened only by random fluctuation and chaotic functions.

TUC Congress: Mass Strikes Warning In Protest At Job Losses And Government Cuts

TUC Congress: Mass Strikes In Protest At Job Losses And Government Cuts

Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 02:02:57 in UK

Yeah! Just borrow more money. Our kids can pay it back, right?
Are Women Becoming The Richer Sex In Britain?

Are Women Becoming The Richer Sex In Britain?

Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 03:36:51 in UK Politics

It will be absolutely fine if women earn more than men. 
But I bet all whining about the need to close the "gender gap" in wages disappears overnight.
California Spending More On Prisons Than Colleges, Report Says

California Spending More On Prisons Than Colleges, Report Says

Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 04:25:14 in San Francisco

“They must like criminals, then. All the research shows that prisons do not deter criminals from committing crimes and do not do well at rehabilitation. About all it does for society is get crims off the street for a few years. The main function of prison (the function, NOT the intent) is to create better and more committed criminals. As this article shows, it is a VERY expensive way of doing it.

There are better and cheaper methods of both rehabilitation and of deterrence, but they are complex and difficult for a politician to explain. It's easier to go for the revenge vote, especially if you care more about winning elections than about serving your community.
Judge Peter Bowers Praises Thief At Teesside Crown Court For 'Courageous Break Ins'

Judge Peter Bowers Praises Thief For 'Courageous Break Ins'

Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 15:34:43 in UK

“Yes. And murdering someone takes even more courage, not to mention kiddie fiddling.
Who IS this guy and how did he get to be a judge?”

  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Luxury, treachery and a break for Belgium's border ·3 hours ago
    What? How dare he suggest that people have freedom of movement? I suppose we'll now need a law that says families cannot leave the country until their income falls below 2 million. How else will we keep these people working full-time for the government on a 25% commission? Then we'll need a strong border to enforce it. Perhaps we could call it an iron curtain?
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Hey teacher, leave them kids alone: Aggressive teacher gets kicked in the groin by humiliated little girl · 3 days ago
    I was not speaking of the Law, but of natural justice: poking someone in the head is assault.   Someone did it to me, he'd get more than a kick in return.   Yes, yes: I know that would land me in the cop shop. Price I'm willing to pay.    Not a choice a kid should have to make - it just teaches that might makes right.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Hey teacher, leave them kids alone:
    Teacher assaulted her, she defended herself.
    Hey, kids, don't try this at home. At a UK school you are more than likely be hauled into the cop shop.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Osborne: independent Scots could lose pound · 3 days ago
    The last time a Scottish Pound was tried, its value quickly feel to 12 Scottish - 1 Sterling.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in How Google Earth changed the world · 4 days ago
    "There will now be a proliferation of different versions of the world online,..."
    Uh oh: A Fox News version and an MSNBC version?

Thursday, 6 September 2012



  • had_it   Amazon and Apple race to break a mapping monopoly,
    "There will now be a proliferation of different versions of the world online,..."
    Uh oh: A Fox News version and an MSNBC version?
    AvatarAvatarYou posted a comment in Exclusive: Balls - I'm planning a proper wealth tax ·11 hours ago
    An envy tax is a good idea. Why not just means-test everything: a progressive sales tax so that everything costs the rich more than it costs the poor? I get a pint or a Big Mac for 50p, you pay £1.50, he pays £8.75.
    We could get progressive in other things too: for example, we could charge people for road tax, train tickets and airfares by the kilo.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Joan Smith: We need female ministers not political wives · 12 hours ago
    Absolutely, Joan! A wife is a useless thing and being a mom is not of much value either. You tell 'em.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in How you can bring our ailing democracy back to life· 2 days ago
    Nice idea, but you need to get voters out of their comfort zone of voting for whoever they think will win. Next you need to find competent people who are willing to be pilloried by the main parties and have their private lives (and those of their friends and family) exposed in the press for the purpose of titillation.
    Would it not be easier simply to take the voting rolls in each constituency and select the parliamentarian by random lot. They would be more representative of the population and they could not do much worse than the current shower.Avatar
  • You posted a comment in GCSE exams not 'fit for purpose', admits Gove · 4 days ago
    In common with most people who use this phrase as a new buss-word, Mr Gove never says what the "purpose" is supposed to be.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Paralympics stars urged to denounce Atos · 5 days ago
    Denounce them! But take their money first.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Barclays makes £500m betting on food crisis · 5 days ago
    Yeah! Let's yell at the banks. It will make us feel so much better about all the food we throw away.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Mary Dejevsky: What the court battle of the oligarchs says about Britain · 7 days ago
    Well, maybe litigation tourism is a good thing - it could replace all that money we're going to lose as all those foreign students look elsewhere for their educational tourism.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in London Metropolitan University's future at stake as 2,500 students face deportation · 
    Brilliant own goal! This university (and universities in general) are not doing a good job of doing the UK Boarder Agency's job, so what should we do? I know! Let's see if we can't destroy the university sector's ability to attract students to their institutions here and damage their reputation so badly that their overseas branches will also lose customers.
    What? Not a good idea when we are trying to INCREASE exports and RETAIN jobs. Ooops. Sorry. 
    Anyway, this story has been all over the world, and don't they say there is no such thing as bad publicity?    What? No, I hardly think that mad-cow is comparable.
    Maybe we can gain some kudos by stepping in to ensure that all of these students find new places. Government to the rescue!        Whaddaya mean "Good luck with that."?
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Alex Brooker: Don't get hung up about being PC. They're tough, this is real sport – enjoy it · 7 days ago
    "Although I don't like using that word"  
    The problem with changing words is that the negative connotations always follow to the new word: from crippled, to handicapped to disabled (or countries from backward, to poor, to under-developed, to developing - or people from negro, to coloured, to black.) 
    Trying to avoid this means the words have to change once every generation. Ah well, small price to pay, I suppose. And it lets us point at those accustomed to the previous generation's word and say: "see, they are the problem, not I."

  • Avatar
    You posted a comment in Teen cannabis use may damage brain for life, warns major study · 9 days ago
    Interesting study, concluding that the results are "suggestive" of a causative effect.. After their controls were applied, the statistically significant 8-point drop reported in the press had Ns of 24 high-use subject being compared to 12 low-use subjects. (The differences in larger Ns (14 vs 60) were not statistically significant significant.) Clearly worth further research to see if the conclusions hold up with larger populations.
  • Avatar
    You posted a comment in Teen cannabis use may damage brain for life, warns major study · 10 days ago
    Now tell me about the effect of alcohol on the adolescent brain. Then compare the relative damage of the two.     Oh, sorry, that's asking for science, isn't it. I remember now, they fired the guy who demonstrated that horse riding was more dangerous than ecstasy.
  • You posted a comment in Hospitals to pay price for failure to innovate · 10 days ago
    it is simple: if you want more health care and/or more expensive drugs, you have to raise your co-pay or raise your taxes to pay for it. And that is, raise the price for EVERYONE - not just the rich, not just the poor: everyone. Get the same care and drugs you are getting now or pay more, full stop.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Even light drinking increases cancer risk · 11 days ago
    As light drinkers may have other life-style differences compared to non-drinkers, please write 100 times:   Correlation is not causation.Correlation is NOT causation.
  • AvatarYou posted a comment in Vatican urges G20 to convene crisis summit on food prices · 14 days ago
    "Holy See attacks grain speculators for profiting from the most poor and needy on the planet" Oh, you mean the way all those cathedrals got built?

  • Avatar
    You posted a comment in Naked pictures of Prince Harry published · 15 days ago
    Oh No! A Young Brit who likes women? What is this world coming to?
  • Avatar
    You posted a comment in Historian Niall Ferguson's high-profile hatchet job on Obama ruffles US feathers ·
    I think you mean the academic version of Michael Moore - but, either way, I agree,
  • You posted a comment in Don't let hospital turn off Dad's life support, family pleads · 16 days ago
    If they want to be involved in the decision do they also want to be involved in it's costs?

Benita Veliz Speech Marks First Remarks From DREAMer At Democratic National Convention

Benita Veliz Speech Marks First Remarks From DREAMer At Democratic National Convention

Commented 6 Sep 2012 at 06:23:44 in Politics

She may be the first undocumented immigrant at a political convention, but she is not the first criminal. There have always been undocumented pharmacists dealing drugs, not to mention the undocumented sexual therapists who hang around the posh hotel bars.
Benita Veliz Speech Marks First Remarks From DREAMer At Democratic National Convention

Benita Veliz Speech Marks First Remarks From DREAMer At Democratic National Convention

Commented 6 Sep 2012 at 06:18:55 in Politics

Like you, I find their censorship annoying. However, it is a bit much to ask for "free speech" on someone else's commercial web pages. Kind of like saying freedom of religion means I should be able to hold a Wiccan ceremony in someone else's cathedral, a Salah in their temple or a Micha in their Mosque.
BBC Robert Peston's Wife Novelist Sian Busby Dies After 'Long Illness'

BBC Robert Peston's Wife Novelist Sian Busby Dies After 'Long Illness'

Commented 6 Sep 2012 at 05:20:49 in UK

What is the Independent trying to imply by putting "long illness" in quotes?
Mitt Romney's Swiss Bank Account Hammered By Democratic Convention Speakers

Mitt Romney's Swiss Bank Account Hammered By Democratic Convention Speakers

Commented 5 Sep 2012 at 16:58:30 in Politics

Jeez. So that's what's wrong with the other guy (we tell you this so you don't ask us what we are actually FOR). Sounds just like Fox News.
Internet Speed In United States Lags Behind Many Countries, Highlighting Global Digital Divide

Internet Speed In United States Lags Behind Many Countries, Highlighting Global Digital Divide

Commented 5 Sep 2012 at 16:54:16 in Technology

You just don't understand American exceptionalism. Just because we pay more for worse results doesn't mean our system isn't the "best in the world."  It's like health care.
Michelle Obama Speech: Being President 'Reveals Who You Are'

Michelle Obama Speech: Being President 'Reveals Who You Are'

Commented 5 Sep 2012 at 10:12:01 in Politics

How refreshing: someone who talks about what they are for, rather than who they are against.

Now if we could just elect 635 legislators who act that way, we might actually get something done in this country of ours.
Channel 4 Receives More Than 1,000 Complaints About Tom Holland Islam Documentary

Channel 4 Receives More Than 1,000 Complaints About Tom Holland Islam Documentary

Commented 5 Sep 2012 at 02:24:44 in UK

Those who make the most noise complaining are those who are the most insecure.

Muslims who know who they are and are comfortable with themselves and their faith may dispute the documentarian's methods and conclusions, but they will neither threaten nor whine about about the program.
Boris Johnson Attacks David Cameron For 'Simply Mad' Plan To Expand Heathrow

Boris Johnson Attacks David Cameron For 'Simply Mad' Plan To Expand Heathrow

Commented 5 Sep 2012 at 02:15:51 in UK Politics

Yes, Boris is simply mad, but it seems a bit impolite for Huffpo to say so in a 36-point headline.
I Agree With Nick: The Case for an Emergency Wealth Tax is Irresistible

I Agree With Nick: The Case for an Emergency Wealth Tax is Irresistible

Commented 2 Sep 2012 at 09:07:34 in UK Politics

Gosh, 75% were in favour of having someone else pay for their government services? How surprising!

As Maggers quoth: the only problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money.
Nadine Dorries Blasts David Cameron As 'Sexist' In Latest Barrage

Nadine Dorries Blasts David Cameron As 'Sexist' In Latest Barrage

Commented 2 Sep 2012 at 09:01:51 in UK Politics

Might look at some of her matronising rants before deciding who is sexist.
Nadine Dorries Blasts David Cameron As 'Sexist' In Latest Barrage

Nadine Dorries Blasts David Cameron As 'Sexist' In Latest Barrage

Commented 2 Sep 2012 at 09:00:48 in UK Politics

"I love Boris. He reaches the parts that other politicians can't. "
The amused-laughter-at-the-sublimely-ridiculous part?
Barack Obama Promised A New Kind Of Politics, But Played The Same Old Game

Barack Obama Promised A New Kind Of Politics, But Played The Same Old Game

Commented 2 Sep 2012 at 08:49:39 in Politics

But they loved it when it was proposed by Nixon and supported by Reagan, Gingrich and both Bushes. They even loved it when it was called Romneycare. That's politics.
Barack Obama Promised A New Kind Of Politics, But Played The Same Old Game

Barack Obama Promised A New Kind Of Politics, But Played The Same Old Game

Commented 2 Sep 2012 at 08:45:17 in Politics

They all start, on both sides of the aisle, with the best of intentions,
It doesn't take two years before they are captured by the need to raise campaign money and and will settle for the rare and occasional good deed.
Stevie Wonder On Frank Ocean: 'Some People Who Think They're Gay, They're Confused'

Stevie Wonder On Frank Ocean: 'Some People Who Think They're Gay, They're Confused'

Commented 1 Sep 2012 at 11:01:36 in Gay Voices

“What is "shocking" about this? I am absolutely certain that some people who think they are gay (or hetero or bi) are confused. With all the hype and constant yapping about sex in our media and our culture, I only surprised there aren't even more confused people.
Clint Eastwood Speech: Movie Star Talks To An Empty Chair (VIDEO)

Clint Eastwood Speech: Movie Star Talks To An Empty Chair (VIDEO)

Commented 31 Aug 2012 at 21:02:58 in Politics

Sad. I have a lot of respect for Mr Eastwood, both as actor and as director - he creates very good entertainment. Both in his professional and personal lives, Mr Eastwood has embodied courage and a willingness to give it a go.

So sad to see him in a failure of courage: interviewing an empty chair. Why didn't he have the guts to go see Obama and ask him these questions face-to-face?
'Invisible Obama' Fully Visible In RNC Speeches

'Invisible Obama' Fully Visible In RNC Speeches

Commented 31 Aug 2012 at 20:56:39 in Politics

This is one of the key problems in American politics: people are more interested in who they are running against than in what they stand for.
GCSE Results: Ofqual Report Finds January Exams Were 'Graded Generously', Students Can Re-Sit English

GCSE Results: Ofqual Report Finds January Exams Were 'Graded Generously', Students Can Re-Sit English

Commented 31 Aug 2012 at 20:51:59 in UK Universities & Education

I am sure that the January tests WERE too leniently graded.
Who will be fired for this damage to our society and our nation?
Cecilia Burns Dead: Benefits Campaigner, Who Appealed Against 'Fit To Work' Report By Atos, Dies

Cecilia Burns Dead: Benefits Campaigner, Who Appealed Against 'Fit To Work' Report By Atos, Dies

Commented 31 Aug 2012 at 20:50:15 in UK

If she had been declared unfit to work, would we imply that benefits killed her?
Cannabis Use Can Lower Teenage IQs? - It's High Time We Take This Seriously

Cannabis Use Can Lower Teenage IQs? - It's High Time We Take This Seriously

Commented 30 Aug 2012 at 09:01:47 in UK Lifestyle

“Wrong! As Cliff would say: Just as predators improve the quality of a herd by eating the weakest members, alcohol kills the weakest brain cells, thereby improving the quality of those that remain. This is why one always feels smarter after a couple of beers.
(PICTURES) 'Spectacular' and 'Deeply Human' Opening Ceremony Launches Paralympics

(PICTURES) 'Spectacular' and 'Deeply Human' Opening Ceremony Launches Paralympics

Commented 30 Aug 2012 at 08:54:47 in UK Sport

“Pretty good. Much better than the senseless, tasteless, ill-informed inchoate mess that opened the Olympics. This ceremony had a theme that made sense and floor antics that were not too unrelated to that theme or to anything else.

The soprano was marvelous but why does it seem so hard to find any rock singers who can actually sing?

The only clunker was when our heroine Miranda, after taking a bite or two from her symbolic apple, simply tossed it over her shoulder, rather than putting it in a bin. Bit inconsiderate, that.
London Metropolitan University Stripped Of HTS Status; 2,000 Students Face Deportation

London Metropolitan University Stripped Of HTS Status; 2,000 Students Face Deportation

Commented 30 Aug 2012 at 08:44:26 in UK Universities & Education

"It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by politicians who seem either incapable of understanding, or are simply uncaring about the impact of their decisions on individuals, universities and the UK economy."

It is disgusting that international students continue to be used as a political football by the NUS who seem either incapable of understanding, or are simply uncaring about the impact of their position on individuals and on the UK economy."
Patient Experience Must Not Be a Postcode Lottery

Patient Experience Must Not Be a Postcode Lottery

Commented 29 Aug 2012 at 14:28:44 in UK Politics

Sounds like you want the McDonalds of healthcare: same experience everywhere.

The Future Of Current Accounts - Will We Have To Pay Up Front In Future?

The Future Of Current Accounts - Will We Have To Pay Up Front In Future?

Commented 26 Aug 2012 at 18:07:50 in UK

“No, you will not be FORCED to pay more - you can always just stop using them.”