Monday, 27 April 2009

Comments - Bottled water

Hi Ashley,
Your posting on bottled water was a brilliant idea. The craze for bottled water started some years ago with ‘health gurus ’telling people to drink 2 litres of water a day. Goodness only knows how the entire population did not become extinct from dehydration before the invention of the ubiquitous plastic bottle. It is just another dreadful aspect of consumerism. I hate the effect all this useless plastic is having on the environment, it is toxic stuff. If institutions provided drinking water fountains, or jugs of tap water and glasses that can be washed and endlessly re-used we would not need all the plastic stuff. It might dent the profits of the bottled water manufacturers but it would be a lot better for the environment.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The consequences of lying

I don’t normally buy celeb magazines, not my sort of thing. But at the hairdressers today I ended up reading about Fern Britton in Now magazine. Fern has resigned from her £3/4 million a year job following all the stress cause after lying about her gastric banding operation.
Fern let the public think for ages that she had lost piles of weight by dieting, and was the ‘face’ of Ryvita. When it came to light that she had not lost weight through her own efforts she lost the trust of the public - Although the number of gastric banding operations has risen by 25% (so, a lot of happy gastric surgeons out there).
The public are fickle, so lying to them is not a good idea. People loose credibility, and popularity if they tell lies. If she had been honest about her surgery from the start , people would have respected what she was doing and she would not be in her current mess. The lies caused a rift with her co presenter Philip Schofield, and according to Now magazine she is having problems with her husband.
It is better to tell the truth!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy St George's Day

John Sentamu has proposed making St George's day an English bank holiday to promote unity. I think this would be a great idea, and we could all do with a holiday from the banking system.
Instead of a celebration today, we are left pondering the propositions in the budget, which taps into some of the bad behaviours on our module.
As usual smokers, drinkers and motorists are being hammered. People may feel this is morally acceptable. This group of people are soft targets for bailing out Britain’s debt problem. Research shows however that increasing the price of alcohol and cigarettes does not change people’s behaviour. The price rise is merely a cynical attempt to screw money out of people who chose to smoke and drink. Regarding petrol, many people have to use their cars to get to work (because the public transport system does not encompass everybody’s needs and is woefully inadequate in rural areas) - the price hike is unlikely to help the environment.
Britain is now sitting in the world’s pawn shop with staggering levels of borrowing. It is estimated that the government will need to borrow £175 billion for this year alone. This will culminate in less spending on the NHS and education. Our own University is being subject to cost cutting measures. This is imprudent and short sighted because healthy, well-educated citizens could create a better and more enlightened society.
Breaking promises constitutes a form of lying. In my opinion it is dangerous to make promises; circumstances can change, and promises may have to be broken. People feel let down and trust is broken. The government promised not to increase taxes, but have had to renege on this.
Robin Hood was lionized for robbing the rich to help the poor. At lot of people would consider this morally a good thing to do, although it is stealing, which is illegal. Now the government is taking 50% tax from high earners, knowing there cannot be a brain drain this time, because high taxes are a global problem; many people think it is a good thing for the rich to pay more.
The most immoral part of this however is that all of us, and innocent generations to come, will have to pay for the greed of the banking system.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Some more bad guys

Drug smuggling is potentially very profitable. Philip Doo from Brixham in Devon, and Christopher Wiggins from the Costa del Sol were caught smuggling drugs in their yacht, ‘Dances with Waves’. The pair had 1.7 tonnes of cocaine on board from South America, estimated to be worth a mind boggling £580 million. Luckily (or unluckily for them and their customers) they were picked up by the Irish navy, gardai and customs.
I cannot believe how incredibly profitable drug smuggling is. These fellows would have made an absolute fortune, so from their point of view their behaviour was understandable.
It is terrifying to think of that amount of cocaine on the streets. There are enough people in society suffering as a result of drug problems, not to mention the neglected children growing up with drug abusing parents who are too ‘out of it’ to care. I am sure the two smugglers did not give a stuff for the welfare of society when they set out on this expedition, they were just thinking of the money.
Congratulations to the intelligence agencies for their diligence in tracking this pair and bringing them to justice.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Comment - Money and greed

Hi Alex,
I share your views about money and greed. One recent example was the horrific incident at Osbaston House in Shropshire. Millionaire businessman Christopher Foster cold bloodedly murdered his wife, daughter and pets. This terrible act was committed because he had got into financial difficulties. The act was clearly premeditated as he took great pains to make sure the place was boarded up and had shot his family and animals before committing suicide. He did see his GP about feeling suicidal, but your posting does not mention if he was receiving counseling or treatment. His actions however, are those of someone with a ruthless, psychopathic streak.
The whole incident is sickening and shocking, and I cannot understand why he had to destroy innocent lives just because he had lost his money.
Surely his wife and child should have been more important than his bank balance. This was a terrible tragedy, and I feel very sorry for the extended families left to cope with this heartbreaking murder.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Is nicking knickers bad?

Thirty-nine year old Paul Whitaker from Yorkshire was found guilty of stealing ladies knickers from washing lines. Police found 1,000 pairs of ladies knickers in his home.
In December 1997 police arrested him in a field where he was found prancing about skimpily clad in a bra, lace knickers, suspender belt and stockings. On another occasion he was wrestled to the ground by an angry householder after helping himself to six pairs of knickers from a washing line.
He was caught performing sex acts with knickers on his head in changing cubicles.
He is also a part-time flasher.
Judge Hall asked Whitaker why he did not buy knickers instead of stealing them.
I expect that Mr Whitaker gets a buzz of sexual gratification from his deviant behaviour, and buying packs of knickers from Marks and Spencer’s would not produce the desired effect.
Although the antics of this sexual deviant sound comical, his behaviour is clearly annoying for the people he has stolen from. He probably frightened the women who were subjected to his flashing episodes (and I expect he got a misogynistic thrill and power trip from this). His sex acts in public changing cubicles are bound to have caused distress to staff and shoppers, and many people would have found his behaviour offensive and disgusting.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Comment - creativity and addiction

Dear Sid,
I enjoyed reading your posting on creativity and addiction; you have done a thorough piece of research into the subject. I totally share your thoughts about substance misuse. It is difficult to understand how these writers managed to create anything under the influence. Being stoned or drunk wastes a lot of valuable time, and these talented people could have been more productive, and healthier, without their addictions.
I don’t see that people gain any special insights from the chemical alteration of their brain biochemistry – dreams and nightmares can produce similar psychedelic and surreal states, without causing all the medical sequelae of substance misuse.
It is possible that some of these famous writers may have had underlying mental health problems or personality disorders. The substance misuse may have been their way of handling distressing thoughts, feelings and emotional states.

Bad e-mails

Damian McBride, an advisor to the prime minister, has been forced to quit his job after e-mails he sent to Derek Draper who runs Labour List, got into the public domain and caused a furore. Mc Bride had suggested creating salacious stories about Conservative politicians. There is no harm in exposing people’s bad behaviour – providing that the stories are true - that is the bedrock of journalism. But printing blatant lies about people is totally stupid. The lies could cause a great deal of distress for the victims and their families. The incident has also made Draper and McBride look like a couple of idiots. What puzzles me is how something that may have been meant as a bit of silly fun between friends, has ended up splashed across the media, in which case, why did it not stay as a private matter. Or if it was intended to be a serious proposition, then one has to worry about the scruples and behaviour of people in positions of power.
Also who is leaking all this stuff to the press?
Who is to be trusted?
Are people's on-line communications safe?
Are we just steps away from the Orwellian nightmare of the (e-mail )'thought police?'
It seems that people need to be careful about the content of e-mails and blogs, - some people are obviously unscrupulous about respecting the confidentiality of their friends.

P.S Please could politicians and their entourage concentrate on creating a better society, not this sort of nonsense!
The blogosphere is deadly
I have just found another link on this subject which suggests that blogging is the new political weapon, and information that is of dubious veracity can be disseminated rapidly. The news reporter in this extract described the blogosphere as deadly.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Comment - Alcohol

Hi Walter,
I liked your posting on the effects of alcohol, especially the illustration, which made me smile. Congratulations on becoming a street pastor. I agree totally with your views that drinking should be fun and done responsibly.
Sadly, because of the binge drinking culture in the UK, this is often not the case. Alcohol excesses can lead to behaviour that is definitely in the ‘bad’ category; including fights, reckless driving, domestic violence, unprotected sex, and general mindless stupidity. It is not very appealing watching drunks throw up in the street, and it is very worrying when young people fall asleep in public places, making themselves vulnerable to all sorts of unpleasant consequences. There is also the issue of alcohol related disease, and the increased risk of taking impulsive overdoses under the influence. Not to mention the increased drain on the police force and health service.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

As an antidote to all the bad behaviour discussed on this blog, here is someone who is a wonderful role model for a better society, John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. Last night Radio 4 did a profile on him.
John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu was born in Uganda in 1947. He came from a poor family, and had to cycle thirteen miles a day to get to school. His diligence paid off and he was a high court judge at the age of twenty-five. He had to flee Uganda after standing up for people’s human rights against Idi Amin. He came to England and obtained a PhD in theology form Cambridge. He has been outspoken on many issues, and is a charismatic, and much loved theologian.
Here is a person who works for the good of others. He is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, even if others threat him badly. He has offered the hand of friendship to those who have abused him.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Drugs and creativity

Last Thursday Dr. Carlin talked to us about the use of drugs by some literary figures to enhance their creativity. Is this a bad thing to do?
One of my favourite poems is ‘Frost at Midnight’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Sadly Coleridge became addicted to laudanum. The use of laudanum was widespread in the nineteenth century. It was used for pain relief, insomnia and diarrhoea. It is difficult to find out if Coleridge was a victim of the medication’s side effects, or whether he deliberately set out to abuse the substance in the belief that it would improve his writing. He was a very talented man, and I would speculate that his dependence on opiates actually robbed him of his true potential. ‘Frost at Midnight ’is a beautiful poem, but ‘Kubla Khan’ seems like the distorted ramblings of someone ‘off their head’. As a result of his addiction, Coleridge alienated his friends and became estranged from his wife.

Comment - Graffiti

Hi Karen,
Your posting on Graffiti was very informative.
I think graffiti is a brilliant means of self-expression, and a lot of graffiti is very artistic, attractive and thought provoking. Where I live in Shropshire one of our local ‘artists’ did a series of pink triangles on a roundabout by the hospital, a few years ago. He also created some smiley-faced pink worms with scarves on another of the many mind-numbing roundabouts we are blessed with here. He enhanced a very boring rock outcrop by painting it in bright colours. I loved his work. It made me smile every time I passed his creations. I never forgave the council for removing them. His work made a very dull place interesting. I think graffiti can be a very positive and creative force that enhances the environment. In the case of our local artist, I think the council was behaving badly by removing his much loved attractions - especially as they wasted thousands on a load of uninspiring lumps of twisted scrap metal, rocks and lavender on the island near the retail park. It wasn’t a patch artistically on the free ones by our local hero.

Comment - Captain Pugwash

Hi Karen
I had a look at the YouTube videos of Captain Pugwash – they were brilliant. The stories about the suggestive names of the characters are sadly urban myths. The creator of the Pugwash stories, John Ryan, won a successful libel suit against the instigators of the rumours. I think the urban myths were great, and made the series a lot more entertaining. A case where being bad through lewd suggestion is a lot more fun than the sanitized reality.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Comment - Cyber-stalking

Hi Laura,
I was very impressed by your posting on cyber-stalking. Facebook and other social networking sites are a great way for friends to stay in touch and share photos. It is worrying however that so many people use it to stalk their exes, and check up on new partners. Is it wrong to be nosey? I suppose it is just human nature to be fascinated by the lives of others. Facebook supplies a lot of personal information. It speeds up disclosure. In the past people would have taken a lot longer to get to know each other. Using social networking sites has benefits and drawbacks. Sometime ago it was reported in the news that employers had hacked into their employees sites, and people had lost their jobs as a result of expositions of drunken debauchery. I suppose this infringes a person’s right to privacy, but people need to be mindful that they are publishing in a medium that is in the public domain. I heard a story that someone had bragged on Facebook about not doing an essay. Somehow his tutor found out and he got into trouble – scary!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Benefit fraud

It is fascinating what you can find out chatting to people whilst out walking the dog. A lady I spoke to this morning told me all about her job at the benefit fraud office. Benefit fraud is a form of stealing and it deprived the state of £800 million pounds last year. This is a staggering amount. I think it is morally wrong to steal, and it is obviously illegal. It diverts money away from other needy causes, and it is another example of stealing from honest taxpayers. The benefit fraud agency relies on members of the public to shop their neighbours. It relies on us being ‘a neighbourhood of voluntary spies’. It is totally anonymous and phone calls are not recorded.
A lot of the calls are form people wanting revenge on nasty ex-partners who have lied, cheated or ill-treated them. This is a brilliant way of getting your own back on someone who has hurt you; it is also totally legal and you will be doing your duty as an honest citizen.
Unfortunately some people misuse the system and report neighbours out of jealousy, spite or for other dubious motives. My source at the benefit agency assured me that the innocent have nothing to fear.
The number of calls to the agency rises exponentially after TV ad campaigns.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

More on Sir Fred

Sir Fred’s pension continues to cause anger. Yesterday, RBS shareholders voted overwhelmingly against Sir Fred’s large pension payout. Sir Fred is fully entitled to his pension, as it was in his contract of employment. The shareholders have no powers to alter that decision. Legally he is not doing anything wrong. Morally however, many people are disgusted with his intransigence in insisting on keeping the full amount, given the global fiasco caused by the banking system. On the BBC breakfast programme Simon Fanshawe commented that Sir Fred would be ostracized from polite Edinburgh society, which apparently is a fate worse than death.
The RBS has announced further job losses, but the current chairman Sir Philip Hampton stated that he will ‘leave no stone unturned’ to find a legal loop-hole in the pension issue. This will no doubt cost a fortune in legal fees. Sir Fred’s behaviour could be seen as imprudent, as he could become a target for further violence, and his decision not to capitulate could prove to be reckless.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Bad Hospitals

Hospitals are still hitting the headlines for failing to get the basics right. Today twenty-one Trusts have been shamed for falling way below accepted standards. Infection control procedures need to be rigorously applied at all times. If they are not, patients die. My mother went into Staffordshire General Hospital four years ago for a routine operation. The operation was successful but she nearly died as a result of two hospital acquired infections. A friend of mine worked there as a junior doctor two years ago and was severely reprimanded on numerous occasions for daring to complain to the hospital managers about poor infection control and other negligent practices that were putting patients lives at risk. He was branded a trouble maker for trying to protect the public. People have a right to be safe in hospital – not to come out more ill than they went in.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Hi Chull,
I love your blog and can’t wait for the next installment of Zippy’s escapades. It is a change to see Zippy lost for words with his mouth zipped up; normally he is such a convincing liar. Your local police Boggle and Toggle are to be congratulated for arresting him so promptly and for taking Kitty seriously. They could teach the Met a thing or two about catching stalkers.

Brothers are bad for your health

According to an article on the BBC news health site, having a sister is more conducive to good health than having a brother. The article says that sisters spread happiness whilst brothers spread distress. The researchers from Ulster University found that having girls in the family facilitated openness and communication, and girls were more supportive during difficult times. Brothers on the other hand are more inclined to internalize their problems, and clam up, leading to poorer communication in families. The researchers found that people growing up in families with sisters were happier and had fewer psychological problems.
I thought this was a fascinating bit of gender-based research, and wondered if other people think that sisters have a positive influence on psychological health and family behaviour?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Addendum to rape and stalking

I may have been a bit harsh in my comments on the Metropolitan Police force. According to my sources at the local nick, rapists are getting harder to catch because they use condoms, shave their heads and take greater care not to leave DNA samples.


Bullying is the abuse of one individual by another, using behaviour designed to denigrate, intimidate, humiliate, frighten, or injure the victim. Bullying can occur at home, school or at work, and no age group is immune. Beneath the tough exterior bullies usually suffer from low self-esteem, and feel inadequate, threatened or jealous.
Bullying behaviour creates a cycle of fear for the victim, leading to tearfulness, avoidant behaviour, stress-related illness and loss of self-esteem. Many victims ask ‘why me’ and look for ‘failings’ in themselves, rather than taking a hard look at the bully’s short-comings.
Unfortunately a lot of bullies are very crafty and pick on people when there are no witnesses. They can behave like ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, depending on who is watching. This can make it difficult for a person to prove that they are being bullied, especially in a work-related environment. Victims end up dreading having to go to work or school. A bully somehow ‘gets inside their head’, pervading the victims entire waking life in a pernicious way. Bullies can be psychopathic, and have a callous disregard for the feelings of others. It can be difficult to stand up to a bully. Sometimes the only solution is to walk away, but this leaves the bully with a message that his/her behaviour is acceptable. Unfortunately they will go on to seek out new victims.