You are viewing philmophlegm

[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.

Read moreCollapse )

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.


  • 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?

Postal scales

Had a fairly large order to post for the shop today - a whole bunch of 4th edition D&D books worth about £100 and weighing several kilogrammes. Interesting that while sending this in one parcel via Royal Mail would have cost in excess of £20 and only have been insured for £20 of value, by packing the order into four parcels of no more than 2kg*, it only cost £11.20, with each parcel being covered up to £20. Those postal scales I bought a while back have been a sound investment.

* One of them came to 1.964kg. It was close enough that I didn't even include the invoice to save on weight.
Generally I like LiveJournal and wish it was more popular. But there are one or two things that I don't like. One of those seems to be by far the most popular community on LJ - 'ohnotheydidnt .

I don't know if this works for all possible configurations of friends feeds, but on mine, there is a section on the right hand side of the page called LiveJournal Today which shows the most popular posts. Most of them (if not all) on most days will be posts in this community. Have you ever clicked on it?

If you're ever trying to convince a friend to give LJ a go, don't go near this community. It's like the worst kind of sub-tabloid celebrity gossip mixed with twitter/tumblr style extreme SJW political correctness. You rarely see a comment of more than a sentence in length. Most of the commenters seem to be illiterate. And just to top it all off, most of the userpics you'll see are animated gifs with a duration of no more than a second featuring some film star blinking or just moving slightly. No more than a second might be the attention span.


Genetic makeup of native British people

This Oxford University study is fascinating. I've read books on this subject before that came to similar conclusions, but I think I'm right in saying that this is the most detailed study so far:

There's all sorts of interesting stuff revealed. For example:

  • There's no real 'celtic' ethnic group. There is more genetic diversity between different culturally celtic groups than you'd expect.

  • Bernicia was clearly a thing, Rheged definitely so. Perhaps more surprisingly, so was the Kingdom of Elmet.

  • Cornish and Devonian populations are genetically distinct, and the boundary is pretty much the River Tamar (the modern boundary between the Duchy and the county). We live just on the Cornish side of the border. Most people I know from Devon wouldn't dream of living in Cornwall and vice versa. Clearly these attitudes have been around for almost 1500 years!

  • I wonder to what extent this signifies that the Cornish are an earlier population and to what extent they are Breton immigrants.

  • North and South Welsh populations are similarly distinct.

  • However, there seems to be an English marcher population stretching from the Severn Valley right up to the Wirral. Wasn't expecting that. Interestingly this population (marked with a purple cross on the map) also has three other very specific locations away from the Welsh frontier - one on the Isle of Wight, one in Kent vaguely near Maidstone and one in what might be Scunthorpe. Interesting.

  • Vikings can't have fancied local women much - there are almost no Norse genes. The one exception is (predictably) Orkney. (I'm assuming from the map that they didn't include Shetland and possibly also the Isle of Man.)

  • There's a clear link between Catalonia and North Wales.

  • There is a distinct 'English' ethnic group, but it only covers part of modern England. The line between the 'English' and the rest of the country is broadly where it was in 600AD which perhaps suggests that areas of 'England' beyond that line are conquered territories that were never truly settled.

Educating people about economics

Long-term readers of this blog may remember that a few years ago, I wrote a series of posts about economics with the intention of educating my fellow humans. After all, most people would consider knowledge of economics to be important - especially when deciding who to vote for - but few people study it at school or university.

I haven't done any of those posts in ages - mostly because I'm busier at the moment than I was back then. This post isn't one of my own, but it is a link to a remarkably good article that someone pointed me at. It's a post about economics on (of all places) an arts blog. The writer is "beseeching" art people to learn economics. He could just as easily beseech everyone else. Fab article.

Phligm Phlagm 1

Want to play in the NFL? How good is your memory? It’s very rare for people not directly involved in the game to ever get access to pro playbooks. This copy of the Oakland Raiders’ 1998 June mini-camp (a sort of short training camp before the main one) playbook was leaked / released recently. Yes, it’s a bit old (dating back to when the Raiders were good…), but it gives you some idea of the intellectual pressures placed on NFL players. 216 pages, thousands of formations and audibles and routes and options. Quarterbacks will have to learn every single permutation. Other positions will need to learn large parts.

Oxford rape and trafficking: Who were the abusers? Not long after political correctness was shown to have led to the gang rape of 1,400 young girls by muslim gangs in Rotherham, we have this. The names of the Oxford gang were Mohammed Karrar, Bassam Karrar, Akhtar Dogar, Anjum Dogar, Kamar Jamil, Assad Hussain and Zeeshan Ahmed. Yet, at no point in this BBC article, even though it is clearly relevant to the story, are these men referred to as ‘muslims’. When someone tells you that political correctness does not exist or that it isn’t anything to be ashamed of, show them this.

Question: How vain is Cristiano Ronaldo? Answer: Very, very vain.

"Fewer large companies are run by women than by men named John." Well, yes, but there's a good reason for that.

The racist and eugenicist history of the American minimum wage.

239 years of 'The Wealth of Nations'. Smith’s “greatest breakthrough was the realisation that we do not have to conquer people or make things in order to increase our wealth. We can also increase it by simply exchanging things.”

5 Economic Myths That Just Won't Die

Great image of the same supernova appearing four times because of the gravitational lens effect. (Thanks to louisedennis.)

The British charity that named the murdered Charlie Hebdo staff "Islamaphobes of the Year". Makes you proud to be British…not.