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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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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.


  • 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.