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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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Morkai Gate

The RPG campaign I'm currently running is an epic fantasy set in the Second Age in the far-east of Middle-earth. And since large-scale battles are an important feature of Tolkien's works, large-scale battles are an important feature of this roleplaying campaign.

Now while most fantasy wargamers use 28mm scale, that's far too big to look right for a big battle. (Unless you have a truly enormous space). So we use 6mm scale, in which a typical human figure is 6mm high.

This year, without giving too many spoilers to my players, the battle may well feature the castle which guards the only easy entrance to the mountain province of Angren. This is the Morkai Gate.

So, in my first ever work along these lines, I have made a 6mm model of the Morkai Gate.

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The Next Doctor

So Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who. I think that's a shame. I was greatly pleased when he was announced (so pleased in fact that I almost managed to scrub Rufus Hounds's pathetic pretence at being a 'superfan' from my memory) and I think he's been a good Doctor. He hasn't always had the strongest writing, but his acting and on screen presence has been excellent. His finest hour was 'Heaven Sent', undoubtedly one of the best ever Who stories.

Now it's time to think of a replacement. This is the sort of thing you can put bets on. (Question for scholars of Who and betting: Which new Doctor casting was the first to be covered by a high street or online bookmaker? How far back does this sort of thing go?)

I was greatly amused by this article from the Daily Mash, which pleasingly takes the piss out of those Doctor Who fans (and politicians) who maintain that the next Doctor "has to be" a woman. Harriet Harman even "demanded" that the next Doctor should be female. This woman used to be Deputy Prime Minister for god's sake. It's a good job that there's nothing else going on in the world for feminists to worry about at the moment... Thankfully nobody ever listened to her when she was a member of the government, and now she's a backbench member of one of the least popular opposition parties in history, really nobody listens to her at all except to poke fun at her when she says something stupid like this. Our actual Prime Minister Theresa May was also asked about this (she's a Who fan apparently (allegedly)) but replied rather more sensibly that it was for the programme-makers to decide. Having a state television company is bad enough, it would be really absurd if the Prime Minister was consulted on casting decisions...

You know what though? Go onto the more annoying parts of social media and search for #nextdoctorwho or whatever the appropriate shortcut is, and what do you find? Plenty of sensible suggestions (including some interesting leftfield ones, plenty of joke suggestions, plenty of people saying that it should be them (!), and unfortunately plenty of people saying that it has to be a woman and that anyone who disagrees is clearly a "misogynist". I really hope this isn't going to go on for the next few months.

I'm going to say it. I think making the Doctor female would be absurd. It was bad enough that they did it with the Master and turned a brilliant archenemy into a comedy freakshow (mind you, they did this with the Sontarans too). Making the Doctor female would be jumping the shark. It would hammer the ratings. Those fans (and 'fans') demanding a female Doctor might be loud and obnoxious, but they just aren't that common. Those who are into science fiction probably watch already. So making the Doctor female would gain no new viewers. But it would lose millions.

(And another thing it would lose: a positive male role model for young boys. A male hero who always tries to do the right thing, who prefers to avoid violence, who solves problems by being clever, who is brave, self-sacrificing and noble. If you are concerned about making society better (that 'social justice' thing that people are always talking about) then think about what happens when you remove one of the more obvious positive male role models for young boys.)


I do appreciate that there are fans who want to see an actress in the lead role in Doctor Who.

So I have a compromise. And, if I say so myself, it's brilliant.

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"75+ Hobby Ideas for Men"

Rather odd article from a website called The Art of Manliness (logo: handlebar moustache, so I approve of that bit at least). I daresay most if not all of these could be enjoyed by women too, so I thought this had the makings of an LJ meme.

Bold the hobbies that you regularly take part in and italicise the ones you’ve tried at least once as an adult. Ones that you do as part of your job, or did as a child, don't count. It also doesn't count if you did the activity as a chore rather than as a hobby to be enjoyed.

Copy and repost on your own journals, or just comment here. This might be a way of finding someone else who shares a hobby with you but never posts about it because they didn't think anyone else would be interested.

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Phligm Phlagm 3

Applying that decluttering bollocks to a post-apocalyptic world.

This guy really didn't like this year's Sherlock. (SPOILERS in the article.) I gave up on Sherlock years ago. Much prefer the ITV series.

Most A/B testing is bollocks.

"'No regrets': Pakistani mom promised her daughter a wedding reception. Instead, she burned her alive. Nice…

Always funny: posh students completely unaware of quite how patronising they are.

The best and worst memes of 2016.

On the question of whether the government should tell women what they can and cannot wear, Americans are very liberal, and Germans are really illiberal.

A truly bizarre BBC article attacking Donald Trump for being teetotal. That’s not the most ridiculous part. The worst is that they quoted Ted Kennedy explaining why Jimmy Carter being teetotal was so bad. TED KENNEDY??? I bet Mary-Jo’s family wish that Ted had been teetotal too!

"Taliban bomb expert accidentally kills himself and 4 sons" I question the use of the term “expert” in this news story…

CIA assessment of British politics from 1985 "The Labour Party is in the hands of urban leftists given to ideological extremes with only fringe appeal". It also identified Jeremy Corbyn’s links to Marxist guerrillas in El Salvador. Since that’s only mentioned in passing, I assume that everyone already knows that Corbyn is friends with mass murdering scum…

Some really nice photographs of trees.

Trump returns Churchill's bust to the Oval Office.

Life in a nutshell according to Google. (Thanks topum.)

The Tunguska Event might not have been a meteorite impact.

The best day to trigger Article 50 would be March 25th. For the lolz.

Aspects of British Culture Poll Explanation

I asked my non-British readers which of the following (important or perhaps less so) aspects of British culture they were at least vaguely familiar with. Sixteen people took part in the survey, which I think is enough to draw some conclusions. Here are the results of the poll:

Cadbury's Creme Eggs 15
'Carry On' films 9
Slade 3
The Raleigh Chopper 3
Coronation Street 12
Lord Sugar 6
Barbour 6
Marks & Spencer 12
Last of the Summer Wine 8
The Boat Race 9
Clotted cream 12
Ant & Dec 7
White Van Man 5
The chip butty 9
Sir Cliff Richard 8
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British Culture Poll for Non-Brits

For my non-British readers:

Poll #2061146 British culture poll for non-Brits

Which of the following aspects of British culture are you (at least vaguely) familiar with?

Cadbury's Creme Eggs
'Carry On' films
The Raleigh Chopper
Coronation Street
Lord Sugar
Marks & Spencer
Last of the Summer Wine
The Boat Race
Clotted cream
Ant & Dec
White Van Man
The chip butty
Sir Cliff Richard

Best British Cheeses

Here's an interesting article with the author's take on Britain's Ten Best Cheeses.

Here's his top ten:

  • Appleby's Cheshire

  • Beauvale

  • Berkswell

  • Cornish Yarg

  • Keen's Cheddar

  • Sparkenhoe Red Leicester

  • Stichelton

  • Stinking Bishop

  • Ticklemore

  • Tunworth

It's a pretty good list. I didn't know about Stichelton, but it sounds interesting. I always think that Yarg is overrated though. Beauvale and Ticklemore may well have made my list.

To that list, I'd want to add:

  • Westcombe or Montgomery Cheddar (the other two proper cheddars, and I feel slightly superior to Keen's)

  • Sharpham - a very soft, brie-like cheese. Ideally left to mature until it can be eaten with a spoon.

  • Elmhirst - like Sharpham, but with added cream. Possibly my favourite cheese.

  • Cremet - a bit like Elmhirst, but using goats' milk.

  • Shepherds Purse Mrs Bell's Blue - very strong, very sharp (especially when mature) blue cheese.

  • Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Mozzarella - excellent mozzarella made by the 1979 Formula 1 World Champion. (Yes, really.)

  • Cropwell Bishop Stilton - you can't beat a stilton for melting.

  • Vulscombe - creamy soft goats' milk cheese.

Anyone else like to suggest a cheese?