Archive for category If you tolerate this then your children will be next

Antisocial Networking

The latest Daily Mail Facebook Scare TM claims that “Using Facebook ‘can lower exam results by up to 20%’“.

In fact, a study found a correlation between Facebook use and lower grade-point average. This doesn’t mean that using Facebook lowers your exam results. As the article itself later admits:

Those who did not use the site also said they devoted more time to studying, spending an average of 88 per cent longer working outside class.

The correlation implies causation fallacy is one of the best known, and this article is a textbook example. The students who work hardest are less likely to have Facebook profiles, for any number of reasons, but that doesn’t mean Facebook played any role in actually lowering students’ scores.

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Ugly statistics

British women tourists are the ‘ugliest in the world’ says The Express today, while its stablemate The Star goes for the even more tasteful English female tourists are ‘fat slags on tour’.

Such a controversial headline must have some real substance behind it, right? Something to excuse the blatant misogyny of the articles themselves? Let’s see.

BRITISH women have been branded the ugliest in the world in an ­international poll.

They were slated for their bad behaviour, dress sense and drinking habits when on holiday.

Many are accused of being “rude”, “drinking pints of beer like men” and “ending up drunk in the gutter”.

They also shamelessly broke wind and belched while lying around hotel pools or on beaches, according to the survey for a respected holiday website.

Which “respected holiday website” was this? Well, you’d have to dig a long way through the articles to find out, but it’s in fact a site called “Real Holiday Reports” (check out the web design, circa 1999!). Never heard of it? That’s not surprising. It has a UK Alexa ranking of 11,882 (in other words, it’s 11,882th most popular British website) – by comparison, has a UK ranking of 132,  Lastminute has a UK ranking of 104 and Trip Advisor has a UK ranking of 86.

Still, I bet this survey was conducted in the most scientific manner possible, right? I mean, I’m sure they didn’t just stick a hastily slapped together instant poll on their front page, right?

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Grammar schooling

I’m about to be dreadfully cruel, I’m afraid.

So, the Express today has an opinion piece from Brian Sewell in which he bemoans the lax grammar of modern English.

Now, however, [the English language] is losing both its poetry and its precision. Grammar has been abandoned, construction is confused and any word will do.

Sewell also says:

the rot began with Mrs  thatcher’s abuse of the adjective “vocational”


though the statistics indicate that we have never been so well- educated, experience suggests that never worse is the true case.


If any- thing is written by hand it is not longhand but separate letters in imitation of the printed page, even in capitals, the greeting “hi,” and following the word “signed” the  signature is either an absurd calli- graphic display or the writer’s printed name – indications of little common sense and less education.


But who now has far the truer understanding of the political problems of Palestine, Iraq, Iran and afghanistan […] ?

Isn’t modern grammar and syntax dreadful?

Now, to be fair, it’s entirely possible that the appalling capitalisation and sentence construction on display here was introduced by a sub-editor trying to squash the article into its tiny column in the paper, or by the poor work experience student who was roped in to type up Sewell’s handwritten article for free. Still, you’d think they’d at least try to make sure a piece bemoaning slipping standards didn’t end up exemplifying them.

The rest of the piece, in case you’re wondering, is mostly made up of the type of narrow minded English exceptionalism and “things were better in my day” thinking that Express readers surely lap up.

[English] is the most beautiful of tongues, with a word for almost every shade of meaning, nourished by its roots in innumerable ancient languages, thus lending them an afterlife. at every stage in its development it has been as poetic as it is precise. Spoken, it is  capable of cadences subtle enough to move a man to tears.

As we all know, foreigners simply bark random made-up nouns to each other. No other language could ever come close to approximating the beauty and precision of whatever language Brian Sewell speaks.

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Miaow miaow miaow miaow miaow miaow

Do you remember the pointless clusterfuck that was the Mephedrone scare? Well, it may just be back. Ivory Wave is the new Miaow Miaow*, declares The Telegraph today, in what I am fairly sure is the latest round in a long running game of “Who can get the most ridiculous two-word phrase into the papers?“.

There are, of course, several holes in the story. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, Ivory Wave is not a legal high. “Ivory Wave” is a mixture of Epsom salts and a chemical called methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) which, as a cathinone analogue (PDF, p. 8 ) – i.e., a drug which operates by a similar route to amphetamines – is illegal.**

Secondly, it doesn’t really sound like a party drug. For one thing, the recommended route of delivery is to dissolve it in bath water, which presumably releases the MDPV as a breathable vapour. I’ve not been to many parties where everyone sits in bathtubs having a relaxing soak.

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Hooked on Phono


There’s a story I’ve tracking for a few days now, hoping and praying it would make it to the British press, and today, it finally has. I-Dosing is, supposedly, a way of inducing a mental high from listening to sound files, and my if it doesn’t have the tabloids up in arms – or at least The Sun and The Daily Mail.

They put on their headphones, drape a hood over their head and drift off into the world of ‘digital highs’.

Videos posted on YouTube show a young girl freaking out and leaping up in fear, a teenager shaking violently and a young boy in extreme distress.

This is the world of ‘i-Dosing’, the new craze sweeping the internet in which teenagers used so-called ‘digital drugs’ to change their brains in the same way as real-life narcotics.

Quick! Someone build a time machine and fly back to 1995! Film of the year right there. I mean, it’d be better than Hackers at any rate.

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