Monday, 27 July 2009

Gratuitous and sporadic rants

Sporadic rants today.

Ever noticed how a male suit is tailored on the premise that men never raise their arms above the horizontal? The minute you do the whole things goes hideously out of shape.

A parliamentary committee is criticising the UK government for having reacted far too slowly in setting up the swine flu telephone helpline. That’s like criticising them for being too slow in setting up an elephant stampede telephone helpline, or a nettle sting helpline – something which simply isn’t necessary. Most intelligent people know when they have flu and they also know that going to the doctor is a total waste of the doctor’s time as the condition will clear up in a few days.

As for prescribing antivirals over the phone for whoever wants them, I can’t believe the stupidity of this approach. Most of the people who will take them won’t finish the course or will take them mistakenly thinking they will prevent an infection, which they won’t as they’re not a vaccine, and as a result the swine flu strain will become resistant – just as bacteria are increasingly resistant to antibiotics through needless overuse.

So – to sum it all up, a swine flu telephone hotline serves no purpose other than to stop hoards of congenitally stupid people clogging up doctors’ surgeries, which seeing as that hasn’t happened yet means it was not set up too late.

I think there’s good cause for prosecuting some sections of the media for stirring up needless panic. If someone in a crowded cinema were to shout: “Fire!” for no good reason and people died in a stampede, they would rightly be prosecuted – regardless of their claim to free speech. Even if no-one died they would still be prosecuted for causing needless panic. Free speech must be limited when the effects of that free speech become dangerous to the public – as with the media spreading panic about swine flu.

Do you find all this sanctimoniousness hand-wringing about the dwindling number of WWI veterans getting your goat? My father once told me that he found all this hero-worship senseless due to the fact that the people who went to war were not heroes; they were ordinary people who simply had no choice but to go – they were conscripted and the consequences of not going didn’t bear thinking about. He said that the real heroes were those who won VCs and the equivalent, and while proud of his campaign medals from WWII he treated them as nothing more than recompense for having been forced to be there. No, while not decrying what these people did, the overwhelming majority of those who went to war in WWI and WWII did not make willing sacrifices – they were either willingly sacrificed by politicians, or went to their deaths through plain naivety. In the words of Karl von Clausewitz, war is an extension of politics by other means – it is also a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs as it’s an admission that politics have failed.

Why does the mob want to make heroes out of ordinary people? Why does the mob turn celebrities into demi-gods? The mob is hideously fickle – it creates heroes one minute and turns on them the next. The Duke of Wellington feared the mob for that very reason and never pandered to it or listened when it was adulating him. Did you know that he is called the Iron Duke not because of anything he did at Waterloo, but because he fitted Apsley House, his London residence (which at the time had the prestigious address of No. 1 London), with iron shutters to stop the mob breaking his windows.

We were watching Nigella Lawson cook some muck on TV the other night. Hay commented that given the ingredients she was using it would be cheaper to take your guests out to dinner.

About a month ago I had a problem with my Barclay’s debit card and couldn’t get money from an ATM – a Barclay’s ATM – yet I’d had no problem anywhere else in purchasing goods. I duly sent off for another card, but due to the problems associated with changing all the numbers on Amazon, e-Bay, PayPal and several other e-services which hold my debit card number, I decided to continue using my old card until I hit another problem using the card. A month later I still hadn’t had a problem - despite using the card at least a half dozen times a week – until I went to a Barclay’s bank to draw out some cash. Now the only answer I can arrive at is that while banks champion Chip & PIN, they don’t actually use it themselves and continue to use the magnetic strip in their ATMs.

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a new chocolate which doesn’t melt below 55 degrees C and is ultra-low in calories. That probably means it isn’t chocolate at all and more likely a revolutionary new type of plastic.

Here’s an idea for a TV reality show which cashes in on people’s penchant for home make-overs: a TV programme offering to cost-effectively reduce people’s home energy consumption by 40 or 50%. The problem is that the makers would end up using the same products time after time, which wouldn’t necessarily make good entertainment. With decorative make-overs you can use a plethora of suppliers.

The gap year – what’s the point? I find the concept incredibly self-indulgent and middle class; something done by parents who buy Waitrose Essentials cut lilies along with their Waitrose Essentials pate de foie gras and Serrano ham. I suppose it’s a reward for a child taking two years to achieve the intellectual equivalence of a slug before progressing to the arduous task of having a 3 or 4 year holiday at university and learning what an A-level student of 30 years ago would have known before going there.

I was horrified to find over the weekend that Timothy Spall, whose father was a postal worker and mother a hairdresser, has a son called Rafe. I thought only inbreds and people who shopped at Waitrose called their children Rafe. Rafe is apparently in a relationship with the unfortunately surnamed Elize du Toit.

Did your know that Kirk Douglas is a blogger?


  1. There is an awful lot of ranting going on today across the blogosphere!
    Have you joined a debating society? If so, I'm avoiding it! :o)
    Top ranting, Chairman.

  2. Wonderful Bill, absolutely wonderful. I sat here and laughed out loud (much to the surprise of the dog). Agree with practically everything you say. I have a good cartoon on swine flu which I will have to send via Facebook as I don't think I can embed it in a comment. It was the gap year paragraph which eventually caused me to laugh out loud. Well said.

  3. Kabbalah: Many thanks Kab.

    Alan: By the tone of your blog today we must have the same rant infection.

  4. Soon Waitrose will be selling Essential Organic Tamiflu...

  5. Scarlet: Along with pro-biotic tissues.

  6. This is a good one. I'm with you all the way.
    There has been a swine flu break out at summer camps this year from what I heard on the news Sunday. The camp staff are taking care of the kids just fine. Parents can't be found they are on their own vacation...
    Anyway, it's basically a couple days of fever and feeling poorly. Nothing too outrageous that any of us haven't dealt with before.
    Plus they said you are contagious for 10 days before you even know you have it.


  7. Joy: That last bit is so pertinent.