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[sticky post] 55 Simple Rules for Debate in the Modern World

It’s my own fault really. Because I like to see different sides to an argument before making up my own mind (see Rule 9 below) then I am unfortunately exposed to comments from people whose opinions are badly argued, uninformed, prejudiced, immature and just plain stupid. And this does annoy me at times.

I like to think that the 55 rules below are ones that I at least try to stick to when commenting online. I wish other people would too, even though a few of my ‘rules’ are actually opinions. Some of the rules are not so much rules for debate, more rules you should live by if you want me to value your opinion. Put it this way, the more of my rules that you break, the less highly will I rate your opinion.


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In the few days either side of the General Election, I made a collection of the funniest and most ridiculously ill-informed comments I saw on social media. These are from a variety of sources, notably LJ, Facebook, Change.org. various newspaper websites, Twitter and the odd blog post. I have resisted the temptation to add my own commentary, and leave them here just for your amusement. Spelling is the original poster's, not my own.

For my non-British readers who maybe don't keep up with British politics, I should explain that the election was won by the right-wing Conservative Party with a reasonably secure majority of seats won. The left-wing Labour Party did very badly, as did the centrist Liberal Democrats. The Scottish National Party (a regional left-wing party) did astonishingly well in that part of the country that they stood in, completeley thrashing Labour in what had been pretty recently safe Labour territory. The anti-European Union United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) got lots of votes but only one seat, while the extreme-left Green Party got quite a lot of votes but similarly only one seat. Pre-election opinion polls had predicted it was going to be very close with either a narrow Labour win or no party in overall control and some sort of coalition again. The previous government had been a Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition.

Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the opinions of various people who, believe it or not, were entitled to vote.

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Phligm Phlagm 2

Never swallow a porcupine whole.

And the lesson to be learned here is this: make a self-deprecating joke to a conference that could be misinterpreted as politically incorrect if removed from the context in which it was made, then it _will_ be removed from its context, selectively quoted and used by a social media mob to hound you out of your job, no matter how great your previous accomplishments. Richard Dawkins is angry about this, and really so should we all be. This is typical of the condemnatory articles that didn't think to check facts.

Doctor Who Online does look to be defrauding advertisers. They’ve tried this with The Shop on the Borderlands (we sell Doctor Who RPGs), but I was too sceptical. Combine a proprietary analytics system that massively overstates traffic with quite persistent selling, and yes, I think Mr Sandifer is on to something.

Half of households receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. (And that’s before you include the cost of state education, state healthcare, public sector salaries etc…)

Free market lessons from Scandinavia.

The man who invented trainspotting (sort of) has died.

Well Google, this is awkward...

Sir Nicholas Winton, the "British Schindler", has died aged 106.

Did Joss Whedon base Firefly on Traveller? This is a good examination of the evidence.

Holograms that you can touch (sort of). Next step, Holodecks!

This year's ENnie Awards (the RPG and miniatures industry awards)  nominees

So let me get this straight - Scottish votes for Scottish laws is right and proper; Welsh votes for Welsh laws is right and proper; Northern Irish votes for Northern Irish laws is right and proper but English votes for English laws is "racist".

Nice collection of photos of the British Grand Prix over the years.

I'm amazed that the Forth Bridge isn't already a World Heritage Site.

This is who we got to present the winner's trophy at this year's You're Hired! final. Seems a good chap.

This time it really is the end of the line for  the Avro Vulcan.

Long Overdue Phligm Phlagm Part 1

I haven’t done a Phligm Phlagm post since April. (Sorry, I’ve been really busy…) We have some catching up to do. Anyway, I hope you enjoy and / or are informed by these links:

The maths (and beauty) behind a perfect 147. Make sure you watch Ronnie O’Sullivan’s five minutes and 20 seconds 147 – one of the all time greatest accomplishments in any sport.

This is the sort of thing that should be in that Alanis Morrisette song instead of "rain on your wedding day".

Few people regularly make me as angry as this incompetent, ill-informed, hypocritical, leftard.

Great myths of British politics, number 745: "The NHS is the most efficient health system in the world". (According to the OECD, only Ireland and Greece could make greater savings from more efficient healthcare systems.)

Even among countries with similar healthcare systems, the UK's is "below average". (So can we please stop this “envy of the world” bollocks?)

"My obsession with a fictional Football Manager megastar." (I had to put this in quotation marks to make it clear that this wasn't me...)

Diane "divide and rule" Abbott tutting that the "Tories harp on about Mid-Staffs". (Yeah, cos it’s not as if 1,200 people dying because of neglect in a state-run hospital is something politicians should be concerned about…)

"We're a class project."

A Greek God Family Tree

Student union backs excluding white people from 'anti-racism' events.

RIP Yeoman Rand.

PwC is going to ignore graduates' A-level results when recruiting. (This surprises me. When I was being recruited as a trainee chartered accountant, and when I was recruiting trainee chartered accountants, it was generally accepted that A-level grades were the best indication of future success in ACA exams, far more so than class of degree.)

George Digweed, the greatest British sportsman you've never heard of.

You know those really expensive very large Lego Super Star Destroyers? What if you dropped one from a great height? And filmed it. At 1000fps.

10 typographic mistakes everyone makes (and which life is far, far too short to care about.)

Odd dream

I had a really odd dream last night.

I dreamed that I'd woken up this morning (and it was explicitly this morning - specifically the 31st March) and that I'd had a huge sale overnight - for over £5000. In the dream, I knew it was the 31st March because I remember thinking that I would beat my sales target for the month after all. At first, I was surprised that the order came to so much, but on closer examination, it included 46 copies of a biography of Bill Shankly, the former Liverpool manager. Clever people will realise that this would still mean that these biographies had sold for £100+ each. Cleverer people will wonder why a shop selling classic roleplaying games is selling biographies of football managers. Stranger still, the order was to be delivered to a stall at the Labour Party conference.

While I was looking at this order, another one appeared - I'd somehow sold several books on Greek and Roman History (I don't remember all of them, but one was definitely 'From Solon to Socrates', by Victor Ehrenberg and another was 'From the Gracchi to Nero' by H.H. Scullard, which were my two main A-level textbooks) to a Francis Urquhart. This order was for £588.83 (I remember the amount exactly). There was also a third order, but I don't recall anything about that one.

Thoughts:

  • I don't remember ever being aware of today's date in a dream before. Is this common?

  • Yes, I have been watching 'House of Cards' recently. I got the boxed set for Christmas.

  • Why would there be a stall at the Labour Party conference selling Bill Shankly biographies?

  • Why was I dreaming about Bill Shankly anyway?