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Showing posts from 2013

Experiences with the 5:2 Diet

Dr Michael Moseley, the BBC medical documentary presenter, invented a diet called 5:2 (there are inevitably also 4:3 and 6:1 versions), but the idea is to only eat a very limited number of calories for 2 days every week (600 for men, 500 for women - ha!). By doing this we can emulate how our bodies were designed to deal with the feast and famine existences of our hunter gatherer ancestors. On the remaining 5 days of the week, we eat normally. So there's nothing complicated about it, and while you're fasting you know tomorrow you can eat and drink whatever you like - unlike every other diet (that never ever work out). 5:2 makes good sense. Homo Sapiens have been around for at least 200,000 years (lets say 10,000 evolutionary generations). Our primate ancestors for a million or two more (say 100,000 generations). Waitrose and Sainsburys, on the other hand, have only been around for 2 or 3 generations. Our lifestyles, and nutrition in particular, are no longer dictated by survi

Great Atheist Cartoons, Quotes and Graphics

and if you ever thought about having a tattoo...brave girl!

Nanny State Job's Worths

I'm still fuming about our local council deciding to close a gap a couple of years ago in the central reservation of the A3 (a dual carriageway) which linked my village Thursley to Milford. This handy cut across the opposing direction of the main road enabled the residents of my village of Thursley (and beyond) to reach our local shops, schools, doctors surgeries and train station without having to travel several miles further North on the A3 as can be seen on the map below, and then doubling back - negotiating several busy roundabouts and traffic light junctions in the process. Google Maps has not been updated around here for nearly 10 years, so this image usefully shows the filter lane and the gap in the central reservation as it used to be (remember we Brits drive on the left, so the top carriageway is travelling from bottom left to top right). Today the slip lane and gap in the central reservation has gone. The filter lane is now part of a widened and continuous central res

Malala Inspirational... and Right About Solution

Did you hear Malala Yousafzai on the Today programme this morning ? Utterly inspirational. Not only incredibly brave, but such a clear mind, gently and eloquently expressed by someone with vision. Malala believes the Taliban and presumably therefore all crazed fundamentalists who believe their god requires stoneage knowledge (Boko Haram means 'Western Education is a Sin' in Hausa) can only be stopped by properly educating the next generation... YES! I've blogged many times that confronting ideologies with force only leads to deeper seated beliefs (on both sides), and ultimately more violence. Malala says the reason the Taliban and their political supporters do what they do to stop 'western' education, especially for girls but also boys, is because that is the one thing they fear - young minds believing an alternative 'truth' to the one they were brainwashed into believing by similarly brainwashed mullahs when they were growing up. Call it the Stockholm

Evil Deeds, not Evil People

Kenyan terror. Pakistan funeral bombings. Iraq, Syria and all the old favourites seem to be witnessing increased intensities of religious fundamental madness. Massacres all over the place. The people who are being slain and injured are presumably perceived as 'evil' in the eyes of the murderers - and therefore no doubt 'deserved to die' (or so their god tells them, one might imagine. Nice god). The world condemns these madmen (and women in Kenya we hear) as evil. Everyone hates everyone else and we all want to kill each other, whether inspired by voices, beardies, media and politicians, or just personal outrage. Marvelous. Blood begets blood. Kill a person and you anger their friends and family. They now hate you too. Sons, brothers and cousins sign up to avenge their death. Commit an atrocity, and watch the ranks of neo-nazis swell. Watch retaliations by Norwegian mass murderers, Muscovite thugs, Kashmiri tribesmen and Syrian 'rebels'. Feel your own blood b

I'm a Bigot - Damn, I Hate Bigots.

I'm about as removed from being a racist as any human can be. I believe very strongly that we are all one species exhibiting a rich array of genetic and cultural diversity. It's our duty and our right to live together in harmony, and collectively to solve the world's problems. Tribes need to share their understanding of the planet and collaborate, not fight. But last night, I experienced a testing of my determination to be indifferent to ethnicity and nationality. Here's what happened: During the week, my eldest son called to say he'd got some complementary tickets for 'Roger Waters The Wall' tour - he of Pink Floyd and horribly well preserved despite a lifetime of drugs and probably every other vice that fame and fortune offer. Free tickets can either be amazing - as in private boxes, free drinks, celebrity seats etc - or the unsaleable remnants that might as well go to appreciative homes. Though I was of course graciously grateful to my lad, ours were

Don't Join in Religious Wars - Educate Their Children

Religions create divides - Palestine, Northern Ireland, Syria, Egypt.... Children are collateral damage when religions fight. You can't stop religious hatred by killing religious fighters. The men wielding the AK47s are too far gone. Too indoctrinated. They hate their enemies too much to be persuaded that the brand of omnipotent supercomputer in the sky they're killing and dying for is an outdated idea. We can't rid these countries of deeply entrenched delusions by feeding them atheist arguments, no matter how eloquently presented. The only chance we have to begin to cure their collective delusional anger is to open the minds of their children. Perhaps today, amongst all the upheavals and suffering going on in and around religious war-zones, we uniquely have a chance to do just that. The minds of millions of refugee children who have mercifully escaped the evils of their homelands now have a chance to be opened - out of the reach of their religious leaders at home. But at

Teenage sleep deprivation... help kids pause games.

Just read a BBC report saying half of British teenagers aren't getting the 9 hours sleep they need . Not only does this affect their developing brains, it also means they under-perform at school. Also it would seem that many of the kids suspected of having clinical issues are actually suffering from nothing more than sleep deprivation. Here's an extract from the research: "People were being sent to me and were generally being diagnosed with Aspergers, and a lot were being diagnosed as ADHD," she said. "I felt the first thing we had to do was to work out a sleep programme for them so that they weren't sleep deprived. Once they weren't sleep deprived, some no longer had ADHD symptoms because the symptoms of hyperactivity and sleep deprivation are pretty similar. "I'm not saying they were all free of ADHD but it is a common mistake. Her pilot studies in three Scottish schools suggested 52% of teenagers were sleep deprived, and about 20% reporte

Don't Use My Taxes to Kill Syrians. Use Them to Educate Refugee Children

We (the UK and US) are about to start killing Syrians just like we killed Libyans, Iraqis and Afghans in the name of freedom and democracy... Only to end up with a bigger mess of warring tribes than we started with. We need to confront the reason they are killing each other, not perpetuate the hatred. Why do our press and politicians instantly jump to the conclusion that the only people who were likely to have used chemical weapons were the Syrian army? I believe it's because we still harbour the idea that if 'the people' rise up against their leaders, then we're witnessing democracy in action - and democracy equals freedom of choice... which we support. BUT when 'the people' are religious fundamentalists determined to enforce their brand of delusional beliefs and customs on their neighbourhood, should we really be supporting them? What's the difference between uprisings of these people in our own countries (London 7/7, 9/11, Boston Marathon etc), and u

There might be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap?

I love this saying. As a (volunteer) business advisor I have met hundreds of people who believe they have an idea for a business. Programmes like Dragon's Den and get-rich-quick examples of the likes of the Youtube and Instagram founders encourage people to believe that the way out of their poverty (or simply to change from being an employee to an employer) is to start their own business. I did it several times myself and this blog is littered with tales of how I slowly, and usually painfully, eventually learned how to do it moderately successfully . It also contains here and there , ideas about how we might help start-ups avoid the pitfalls that await many of them. The biggest mistake, in my view, is for a founder of a business to believe too strongly that they have a winner. This is counter-intuitive since passionate faith in your idea is usually the prerequisite advocated by every How-I-Made-My-Fortune book and entrepreneurial lecture or training course you'll find. These

Egypt is Condemned by Democracy

Who in their right mind could possibly have believed that democracy stood a chance of working in a country whose population elects religious leaders to improve their economic fortunes and protect the interests of minorities? Two years ago, some 52% of Egypt's electorate voted for the Muslim Brotherhood... There's a clue in the name. What in the world possessed the educated world, let alone poor, brainwashed, uneducated Egyptians, to expect that a bunch of beardies muttering incantations while banging their heads on little carpets stood the slightest chance of creating jobs let alone hospitals, education, roads, communication infra-structures, fair justice, and robust transparent finance systems. All these jibbering deluded fools care about are drumming the words written in ancient books into the malleable and frightened minds of children and their parents who have no intellectual weapons to use in defence. Words that teach nothing about IT, food production, medicine, media,

Businesses Need Free Fast Advice

I have just come off the phone with a very helpful lady at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB - staffed by volunteers - bless 'em all). As a business mentor I needed a quick piece of advice from Trading Standards (the government department responsible for making sure businesses in the UK trade within the law). The only phone number you can find on the web for advice is a call centre designed exclusively for consumers. The first two options on their IVR greeting is for utility supplies, the third and final option is 'anything else'. Naturally I got "All our operators are busy, but leave your name and number and we'll call you back...". So when she called me the next morning I briefly explained the issue my client is experiencing. She stopped me and said the CAB are only able to offer advice to consumers, not businesses. She then gave me a number for Surrey Trading Standards who apparently will give me an hours free consultation and then charge me £67 for subsequ

If business could behave like religions

Religions are businesses: They all have brands and logos. They sell products and use incentives (forgiveness, blessings, afterlife, comfort etc). Most have high street outlets. The Church of England has 16,000 branches in the UK. They employ sales and marketing professionals to sell their brands (we call them priests). They issue product manuals (bible, koran etc). They provide aftersales support (worship, confessionals...). They use recruitment campaigns (christmas, festivals, brainwashing in schools...). Their officials have uniforms. Their founders are worshipped. But there are also a number of differences between religions and businesses: Their license to trade is often protected by laws such as blasphemy. They are permitted to brainwash children (no broadcast watershed for religious messages). They are even allowed to take control of children's entire education through branded faith schools. There is no equivalent to Trade Descriptions or checks on claim

Genital Mutilation - This Evil Madness Must Be Stopped

If someone cut off part of your child's body, without anaesthetic, because they heard voices that told them to do it, there would be an international outcry. It would make front page news in free media throughout the world. If caught, the perpetrators would be strung up from lampposts for extreme child abuse or at the very least locked away for the rest of their sorry lives - and in solitary confinement for fear of fellow inmates finishing the job that the baying lynch mobs would have obliged the public on the outside. Evil, evil people use knives on children. Period. But if the people who commit this horror are the child's own parents, the whole world turns a blind eye because "it's their tradition". We can't interfere with a parent's right to butcher their children if bearded nutters put the instruction in so called sacred books. Collective and total madness in the name of preserving balmy cultural heritage. It is estimated that over 20,000 young gir

We don't enjoy flying, we endure it

Like most first world inhabitants, I use planes more than buses. Actually I never use buses. I use elephants more than buses. But that's not the point of this post. I have probably flown at least once every other month for the past forty years. Say around 500 flights somewhere and back. And on every flight, two things always happen: The captain invites me to enjoy the flight - or hoped I enjoyed it I didn't I loathe flying. First there's the airport. It's a shopping mall preceded by long queues where I'm instructed to take off my belt and shoes to check if they can blow up. Them I'm frisked in case I'm an Islamic terrorist and once again likely to blow up. Once through, I'm assaulted by over-priced shops in which there's nothing I ever want to buy. Gone are the days when you didn't pay duty in airports (unless you are leaving the EU, in which case your booze is cheaper than in the UK, but not as cheap as where you're going). So to avoid

What Criminals, Artists and Inventors have in Common

Did you hear Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 this morning ? Damien Hirst was chatting about his life and the music that inspired him. To be honest I only caught 10 minutes of the show, but it was enough to realise that I knew nothing about his world. Although my home is littered with modern art, none of the art itself is by a 'name' - at least as a far as I am aware. Perhaps when me and the Mrs have shuffled off our mortal coils (what is a 'mortal coil'?) and our kids put our stuff up on ebay, someone somewhere will shriek "it's a Bill Plonkworthy... a genuine Bill Plonkworthy!" and bid a fortune for it along with the 500,000 other twitter followers of said Bill P. Well I've never heard of the Bill Ps that Damien and his fawning interviewer fondly and respectfully name-checked throughout my 10 minutes of casual attention, so I can't claim I was enthralled by the programme, nor did I want to catch the 20 minutes I missed (his choice of music was

A Positive Slogan for Atheism

Regular readers will be under no allusions that I don't favour putting blind faith in stories percolating through the minds of ancient bearded-ones. They brainwashed children and terrified poorly educated adults who were never encouraged to ask:- 'is this likely?' If you're reading this, you're probably already an atheist - otherwise why search for writings about it when atheism simply means 'no faith in fairy-tales'. It's a non-subject... unless you happen to be imprisoned in some barking mad regime like Saudi for failing to chant some meaningless bollocks from a holy book with enough conviction to fool the faith police. What sort of god has to  force people into believing 'his word' and then punishes them if they question it? So much for omnipotent and merciful.   And if faith makes so much sense, why issue laws to prevent people from worshipping someone else's nonsense? Surely if your brand of faith is right and it works for you, it is a n