Saturday, 30 April 2016

Labour’s antisemitism

The Labour antisemitism row rumbles on and on.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has said the past week has been dreadful for Labour, and that Ken Livingstone should apologise for the hurt caused by his remarks linking Hitler and Zionism.

Speaking after Labour announced an independent inquiry into antisemitism in the party, McDonnell said he wanted to prove that Labour was a party that tackled discrimination, but admitted the furore that led to both Livingstone and MP Naz Shah suspended may have cost it votes.

It seems to go with the Corbyn territory. Presumably it is also a consequence of electing Muslim MPs who may be tempted to dish out what they see as visceral appeal to those who elected them. The signals don’t have to be as crude as Naz Shah’s, but if one stoops so low as to tread that path then they have to be recognisable. In my view we’ll see more of it if Corbyn stays. The man's a fool.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kim's firework show

I see Kim Jong Un is still trying to cheer us up with his missile circus.

Seoul: North Korea tried and failed to test fire two powerful, new mid-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, ahead of a landmark party congress that opens next week, South Korean media reported.

The Yonhap news agency said the North made a second attempt to fire a Musudan missile in the evening, after a similar test in the early morning ended with the missile plunging to earth.

The Musudan is believed to have an estimated range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres (1,550 to 2,500 miles). The lower range covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.

The missile has never been successfully flight-tested.

So that range of between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres is rather closer to 0 kilometres. It all makes one wonder if there is any such thing as intelligence. Maybe the jury is out on that one but on the whole I think intelligence is one of those myths we cling to with such fondness.

After all, what on earth goes on in a chap like Kim's head? Where does he think he is going? Where does he think he is taking North Korea? Why is he so fat and what is that hairstyle all about? Deep questions I think you'll agree, but not easy ones to answer this side of eternity. Especially the hairstyle.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Plague graves

Five crude gravestones lie by the side of a path on the hillside above Curbar village in Derbyshire. Approaching four hundred years old, they are the graves of the Cundy family, all killed by a local outbreak of plague in 1632. The stones were overgrown and invisible for years until a local woman located and uncovered them in the thirties.

Just above Curbar is a footpath across the fields to Baslow. About 300 yards along this path are the Cundy Graves. The Great Plague came to Curbar in the 17th century, although 30 years prior to the more famous Eyam Plague. The Cundy family were from nearby Grislowfield Farm and perished in 1632. It is not known who buried the family but Thomas and Ada Cundy together with their children Olive, Nellie and young Thomas each have a slab carved with their initials.

I hope the kids died first. What a morbid thought that is, but I hope they did. Not that it matters now. Below is a closeup of Ada's grave.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Creeped out by the masses

Penetrating article from Brendan O’Neill in spiked. In his view the political left now favours the EU because it has become in O'Neill's words radicals for the status quo.

The thing driving these radicals for oligarchy is distrust and even disdain for the living, breathing practice of democracy. The further removed the left becomes from ordinary people, the more it sees aloof institutions or cliques of experts as the best guarantors of progressive change. The story of the modern left is one of utter disappointment with the little people. It is creeped out by the masses, whose passions and interests it simply does not understand. Where the left is increasingly identitarian, anti-growth, eco-obsessed and sneering about modernity, ordinary people remain stubbornly interested in jobs, growth, making ends meet, having more and more stuff, and seeing people as people rather than as identities. This chasm between the left and everyday people explains the left’s move towards being pro-state, pro-welfarism, pro-expertise and pro-Brussels: it doesn’t trust Us, and so it turns to Them, to try to secure a few social reforms.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Where trust is a design problem

From an alphr interview with Michael Gough, chief design officer in the Applications and Services Group (ASG) at Microsoft.

Take sound. There are people here who focus full-time on the personality of sound. Cortana is not going to be successful unless she is trusted, so what’s the voice of trust? What’s the vocabulary of trust? What’s the cadence of interaction to trust a voice? That’s a design problem, a really hard one.

Victoria Wood

Yesterday evening we watched one of those tribute shows about Victoria Wood. In general we still enjoy her humour and even saw her live show at Nottingham many years ago. Unusual for us because we are not celebrity buffs. She was very impressive, holding the audience for over two hours.

We found last night’s compilation amusing enough, but but behind it was that inevitable sense of loss and change. Comedy has a tendency to date and remain funny mostly to its own generation. Even last night the smiles and chuckles felt a little like cultural loyalty.

As for the channel swimmer sketch, it’s a strange one. Not really funny at all. Revealing and almost disturbing in the way it brings out the bleak mechanics of our sense of humour. What makes us laugh? Even the most gifted comedians don’t usually tell us. Not explicitly. Bad for business I suppose, but that channel swim sketch is explicit enough.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Heat Wave 1976

From the YouTube info.

Various shots of people walking around in T-shirts and shorts during the hot summer weather of the 1976 heat wave. The cameraman seems to focus on women.

Forty years ago but how well I remember it. Rot box cars, crappy beer and idiot politics. Happy days.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The dance

Isn’t there any heaven where old beautiful dances, old beautiful intimacies prolong themselves?
Ford Madox Ford - The Good Soldier (1915)

“Hi there, fancy another?” I ask holding up my empty glass. Nick sits alone at a nearby table so I make an effort to be sociable although one can’t expect much of a return from Nick.

“Oh it’s you.” Nick withdraws his gaze from the dance floor as if I’ve just invited him to a funeral. Moody as usual.

“Yes it’s me. I asked if you fancy another drink”. Taking my courage in both hands I move over to his table and sit down. Only joking about the courage thing of course. Nick isn’t that formidable. A strange sod with an occasional spooky stare but not formidable. The things he says, the ideas he come up with - most people steer well clear of him.

“I don’t mind – thank you.” That’s Nick for you; always polite, always well dressed. I leave him to it while I fetch the drinks. No need to ask what he is drinking – it’s always beer.

When I return he still stares at the dancers out on that vast floor. I never could watch them for long. Makes my head spin – too much noise and dazzle. I’d rather go somewhere else but everyone I know is here. At least I think they are, it’s hard to tell sometimes.

“Even more crowded than usual,” I say as I plonk down the drinks and take my seat. There is a buzz on the dance floor and many more people seem to be out there dancing their little socks off. Hardly anyone watching now, tables mostly empty, not much conversation. Again I take a look around. Yes – almost everyone is dancing.

“Freedom and Dignity is what I call those two,” Nick says after a good long pull at his beer. He points to a pair of dancers who gracefully whirl around each other then vanish from view in the melee. Old fashioned dancing I’d say although I’m no expert. I can barely see them now. The floor is so huge, almost insubstantial in its vastness. The music and lights don’t help although there is no point criticising.

“Have you noticed something about those two?” Nick adds in that morose way he has. The guy watches too many movies in my opinion. Although that’s impossible. Or maybe it isn’t.

“Noticed what?” I reply.

“The old style dancers – they keep drifting out of sight.”

“They would. So does everyone else. It’s the crowd.”

“Happens more often now though.”

“It’s a bigger crowd,” I reply. I wonder if Nick intends to turn the dancers into a heavy handed parable by calling them Freedom and Dignity. He does that sometimes.

“It is a bigger crowd isn’t it?” Nick stares at me with those blue eyes then looks away. “I’ve been watching them for quite a while,” he adds after a slight pause. “It was different before.”

“Before what?”

“Before now. Before any time you care to name. Things change but people don’t notice. Soon they’ll be gone and we’ll miss them.”

“Miss them? We don’t know them?”

“That’s right,” Nick replies, “but we did know them quite well once upon a time.”

“I don’t remember,” I reply, because I don’t.

“Of course you don’t remember, you never do - ”

At this point I decide to hit the off button and yank off the VR headset. I’ve had enough of virtual reality for one day. The app I’ve been playing is supposed to reflect your psyche. That’s what the app is called – Psyche. I’ve no idea who Nick is supposed to be.

Everybody plays Psyche these days. Everyone knows Nick in one way or another. He’s almost like an old friend but maybe I’ll go out instead, look up a few real friends for a change...

Or perhaps not.

I pick up the VR headset again. I could try another scenario this time. Nick will be there of course because he’s part of the app, part of Psyche, part of my psyche. Yes – Nick is always there – watching.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Spoofing for fun

I love this kind of thing, it sets so many hares running. Via Retraction Watch we have yet another delightful parody of academic pretensions. This one is a spoof philosophy paper which supposedly passed peer review. Almost worthy of the Guardian I thought.


Since “gender” has been continually the name of a dialectics of the continued institution of gender into an ontological difference and the failure of gendering, it is worth addressing the prospects of any gender-neutral discourse through the tools of Badiousian ontology. As established by Badiou in Being and Event, mathematics – as set theory – is the ultimate ontology. Sets are what gendering processes by reactionary institutions intend to hold, in contradiction to the status of the multiplicities proper to each subject qua subject. This tension between subjectivity and gender comes to the fore through the lens of the ‘count-as-one’, the ontological operator identified by Badiou as the fluid mediator between set-belonging and set-existence. After having specified these ontological preliminaries, this paper will show that the genuine subject of feminism is the “many” that is negatively referred to through the “count-as-one” posited by the gendering of “the” woman. Maintaining the openness of this “many” is an interweaving philosophical endeavour. It is also a political task for any theory receptive to the oppressive load proper to the institutions of sexuation, as deployed through modern capitalism – that is, any queer theory. In its second step, the paper will therefore expose the adequacy of the Badiousian ontology to provide theoretical resources for articulating the field of a genuine queer nomination. It will finally appear that “non-gender” structurally corresponds in the field of a post-capitalist politics of the body to what Francois Laruelle (1984) designated as non-philosophie within the field of metaphysics.

Friday, 15 April 2016

In or Out

An EU perspective from regular commenter Wiggia.

Up to this moment in time I have received two pamphlets from the pro EU camp and nothing from the leave campaigners. Both leaflets read in the simplistic "leaving is bad for us" vein even to the completely discredited 3 million jobs ”could” be lost if we leave quote.

But it is not about the content or the words that come from these people. Anyone with a brain will have by now, if they are vaguely interested in the issue, seen through the malfeasance and the faux renegotiation and will have a view based on facts. Or those facts that are allowed to surface, for one thing that is very obvious is that anything that shines a bad light on the EU will be buried or adjusted for public consumption to be benign.

In a sane world the emergence of figures like Lord Kinnock to promote staying in the EU would alone assure a victory for the leave vote. Staying in the EU to preserve several large pensions for Kinnock is not a reason to stay. What else can the man bring to the table other than being along with his family a gross receiver of the EU’s largesse?

Unfortunately despite some stirrings amongst the population it will not be enough to influence a large section of them. The young don't care and have never known the country to not be in the EU so cannot connect with an out vote and see no reason because they are not interested. A large part of the population will vote on party lines as in a general election despite the apathy to all the major parties and lack of ability to think outside those parameters. Another large portion will not vote at all because like the young they are not interested and the whole thing is beyond them. The change in political thinking many of us hoped the UKIP surge would provide as a stimulus in politics seems moribund.

For me though there is an overriding reason to vote out. Yes all the economic, immigration and sovereignty issues are important, yet for me there is one thing else.

In 1975 I voted to join the EEC, I was convinced that a trade block with ease of regulations was a sensible move forward. Do you notice something there? The EEC, European ECONOMIC community, no mention of political or monetary union or binding laws drafted in a foreign country. Of course we now know that was the plan all along and our political representatives deceived us all those years until the moment someone cried "foul" and the answer came back “this is where we are at” and we should make the most of it, embrace it. It has been the line ever since probably the Maastricht treaty when so much came out and our eyelids were prised open to the fact we were not in something we had voted for, and the name conveniently went from the EEC to the EU as it was always planned to.

As a nation we are not prone to uprisings on political matters, even Cromwell failed to see through what he had started and the status quo to a large extent returned. So the likelihood of any major shift over the EU is possible but unlikely.

It would be fascinating for a list of those at the top table of the EU who have affiliations with far left socialist parties. The majority of the EU's major countries are socialist and many of the major game players heading up the EU are of the same political mind set. It may well partially explain Jeremy Corbyn’s about face on the EU when he now talks of a socialist Europe. Not exactly a democratic way of governing when countries who are not socialist are forever overruled by a socialist superstate for that is what it has already  become.

In fact it is a subject seldom broached when the EU is discussed. A short summary of a few at the top of the EU is revealing.

Jean-Claude Juncker whose main claim to fame when Luxembourg finance minister, is turning  his own country into a tax haven. He now denies doing it and doesn't want to talk about it.

José Manuel Barroso, a communist and former leader of Portugal’s underground Maoist group.

Martin Schulz who apart from being a “booklender” for a short period has never worked outside politics and has the career highlight of twining his town of Wurseley when he was Mayor there.

Guy Verhofstadt, another career politician who ended up as Belgian PM believes in a unified Europe and managed as PM to preside over the country that managed to slide to the state where it had no government at all. It has to be said neither he nor the government were apparently missed and out of work he became a shoo-in for a high profile EU appointment.

Federica Mogherini a Vice President, never had a real job, studied political philosophy at university and joined the communists that subsequently merged into the Italian SDP. Achievements nil apart from goading Russia with the stupid EU backing in the Ukraine. Feels Muslims and Islam are part of Europe’s future, and sheds tears easily.

And of course Angela Merkel who whatever anyone else says tells the EU what to do anyway. She has a strange background as her family migrated to East Germany in '54 at a time when people were literally dying to move the other way. Another professional politician with communist roots, whose recent achievements are well documented, inviting in all and sundry from the ME and beyond against a statement made in 2010 that claimed “multiculturalism has totally failed”.

These and many more are the people who run the EU. What on earth have they got in common with this country? More importantly they should have no say over this country. If voting to stay in is the right thing to do just look at Greece and what happened to them when they voted stay, thinking it would solve all their problems.

But I return to my main argument about our status with the EU, we simply were never asked if this is what we wanted, we were sold out and very many of those promoting stay are those responsible. In a fair society Madame Guillotine would beckon. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Unmaking history

Ashby de la Zouch Castle looking straight down from the Hastings Tower

We visited Ashby de la Zouch Castle yesterday. Interesting enough but we made the mistake of trying to use the English Heritage audio guide. If you haven’t used these audio guides, they are hand held devices linked to numbered information boards. They guide you around the place via commentaries, which expand on and complement what is written and depicted on the information boards.

Until now, all the audio guides we’ve heard have been straightforward often with some attempt at involvement via a narrator and an actor’s voice for historical figures. Rather like a simple radio play. Useful little gadgets, the one for Bolsover Castle being particularly informative.

Unfortunately the Ashby Castle audio guide uses a feebly comic double act, one straight and one camp. They spin “jokes” such as

This is the pantry.

What’s that, a place where they stored pants?

Aimed at children I suppose, but if so why wasn’t the audio guide shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants to give us a clue beforehand? I gave up and made do with the information boards. A chap doesn’t expect a dry academic exposition, but neither does one expect something so childish. Increasingly that’s what we get.

It’s a trend, this infantile presentation of history. Children have to be catered for and perhaps attracted to these places, but surely not at any cost. Museums have been going the same way for some time. No doubt the thumping beat of popular music will be next. The masses have to be entertained.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Brexit balls - the missing variety

In case you missed it, here is a Brexit comment on a WUWT post. Part of me wishes I could write with such passion, it clears the air and brushes aside all those nit-picking arguments. Perhaps our balls have withered after decades of political correctness.

Gary Pearse April 12, 2016 at 7:30 am

UK Brexit. Reject the EU before it is too late! I’ve been appalled at expressions by seemingly intelligent commenters talking about the risks of leaving! Fear from the greatest empire builder the world has ever known!!

Please, be afraid instead of what this sick continent will ultimately do to you. Indeed this could be the last referendum you will ever be allowed to have. These people never had an idea of freedom. It was invented by you guys! They invented the mouldy marxbrothers and it keeps rising from the ashes of every one of its failures.

You invented the industrial revolution. You and your English speaking progeny garnered most of the Nobel Prizes! Dig down and find your pride and the good sense you also invented. I’m just a prairie boy from Manitoba but I have the guts of a lion that you also gave us all. Don’t let us down! You have a whole world to trade and do business with. Remember you have a couple of billion people who have your language, values, energy, talent and ferocious desire for freedom! I wish this letter could be put in front of every one of you.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Why the Government believes...

We received our EU referendum propaganda pamphlet today. Unlikely to be worth reading so I won't, but having a technical mind I weighed it instead. It's about 40 grams by our kitchen scales, so what does that come to if 27 million were printed?

A quick calculation suggests we are talking about roughly 1000 tonnes of paper, so not a trivial operation. How many trees does this equate to if we assume it isn't recycled paper, which it may well be but the pamphlet doesn't say. From one source we are told -

One ton of coated, higher-end virgin magazine paper (used for magazines like National Geographic) uses a little more than 15 trees.

The pamphlet seems to be printed on high quality coated paper so 1000 tonnes of paper equates to about 15000 trees if we also equate a tonne to a ton. Oops - if it isn't recycled paper that's another bout of disgruntlement on the horizon and who would believe them anyway?

Monday, 11 April 2016

Dew ponds

The dew pond is another mystery commonly encountered while out walking hilly areas.The photo shows an old dew pond on land above Monyash in Derbyshire. I guess it is about 1100 feet above sea level.

How dew ponds work still seems uncertain even though they appear to be a very ancient way of watering livestock in hilly areas. I suspect rain is the main water source rather than dew. Not for any scientific reason but somehow it isn't easy to see dew creating enough water. So it's rain for me. Not only normal rain but that misty rain often encountered in hills. More info here.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Caer Caradoc

This is a view from Caer Caradoc, a hill we climbed one fine afternoon during our recent Shropshire hols. The earthworks of an iron age or late bronze age hill fort are still clearly visible on the summit. Caratacus is reputed to have made his last stand there against the Roman invaders, although that may be little more than local legend.

This is me climbing the first part of the hill up to Three Fingers Rock. Not difficult, but I can easily imagine the effort required to carry food, water and other supplies to the fort. There are easier approaches but one way or another the hill had to be climbed if the fort was to be supplied. Not only that, but it was cold and windy when we were there in early April. The views were superb, but living up there would be grim during the colder months.

Part of the Caer Caradoc earthworks

So what was it, this mysterious fort? Was it a temporary place of retreat in case of attack? A status symbol controlling the local area like a Norman castle? Some hill forts were clearly fortified habitations but those I’ve seen perched on top of hills seem to be more basic and too small and logistically inconvenient to have been permanently occupied.

It’s the lack of evidence which is so fascinating. It almost encourages us to spin plausible stories within the uncertain boundaries of what little we know.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

When confusion reigns

Towards the end of the nineteenth century Émile Zola wrote an interesting novel about Lourdes, the claimed miracles, the character and visions of Bernadette Soubirous and the huge pilgrimage site Lourdes became. He wrote the novel through the eyes of Pierre Froment, a priest struggling with his loss of faith.

The passage below shows how in Zola’s view confusion can be a vehicle for human hopes and passions even when faced with the stark realities of death and incurable disease. Over two centuries earlier Baruch Spinoza saw confusion as the essential element of misguided human thought. Whatever one thinks of the Lourdes phenomenon, it is very far from being the only area where confusion has bypassed painful or inconvenient realities. 

Pierre had now begun to understand what was taking place at Lourdes, the extraordinary spectacle which the world had been witnessing for years, amidst the reverent admiration of some and the insulting laughter of others. Forces as yet but imperfectly studied, of which one was even ignorant, were certainly at work — auto-suggestion, long prepared disturbance of the nerves; inspiriting influence of the journey, the prayers, and the hymns; and especially the healing breath, the unknown force which was evolved from the multitude, in the acute crisis of faith.

Thus it seemed to him anything but intelligent to believe in trickery. The facts were both of a much more lofty and much more simple nature. There was no occasion for the Fathers of the Grotto to descend to falsehood; it was sufficient that they should help in creating confusion, that they should utilise the universal ignorance. It might even be admitted that everybody acted in good faith — the doctors void of genius who delivered the certificates, the consoled patients who believed themselves cured, and the impassioned witnesses who swore that they had beheld what they described.

And from all this was evolved the obvious impossibility of proving whether there was a miracle or not. And such being the case, did not the miracle naturally become a reality for the greater number, for all those who suffered and who had need of hope?

Émile Zola – Lourdes (1894)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Life's too short


So J Sainsbury has decided to drop its tedious brand match promotion where shoppers receive time limited vouchers for as little as 1p if the branded goods they buy are more expensive than Asda.

Sainsbury’s is ditching its Brand Match promotion later this month as it prepares to cut more prices on everyday products.

The supermarket is understood to be planning to end the scheme, which it introduced in 2011, because changing shopping habits mean it now applies to less than a fifth of transactions.

It is switching investment to cutting prices on basics such as bread, cheese and household cleaning products rather than the Brand Match scheme, which gives shoppers money-off vouchers if they could have bought branded goods cheaper at Asda.

This story reminds me of a recent Sainsbury's shopping trip. A chap in front of us at the checkout was asked if he had a Nectar card. "No," he said firmly, "life's too short." He was right.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Winter in Halifax

The first few minutes are grim, but then we get to people going about their daily lives. Quite a few appear to be cheerful enough, even on a cold January day in Halifax. Check out the impromptu boxing match from about 6:50.

If we watch old movie clips of ordinary people getting on with their lives, cheerfulness seems to break out fairly easily, especially when the camera is spotted and especially when children spot it. Why is that when they have so much less than we have?

They don’t know they are missing antibiotics, television, mobile phones, central heating and modern dentistry. They are completely adapted to their times because that’s what people do. We adapt and in adapting it becomes difficult or impossible for us to look back without distortion. Adaptation creates a veil over other possibilities, other lifestyles. We cannot easily tell how those Halifax folk could ever be cheerful without our standard of living and our health care. We cannot easily tell why we are not far more cheerful as a result.

It doesn’t mean we’d be better off in old Halifax, but those long dead people may have been as cheerful as we are in spite of everything we tell our children about the horrors of life in’t mill a century ago. Not that the horrors weren’t real. They were real but our perspective magnifies them because we haven’t adapted to a hard life. We can’t see their lives through eyes adapted to their times and not ours.

Does it matter? Yes it does because it doesn't only apply to historical times. We vote for powerful people because we place them in our world and put our eyes into their heads. We don't see ourselves through their eyes. If we did we wouldn't vote for them. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Mossack Fonseca

This Mossack Fonseca caper is interesting isn't it?



Not even mildly surprising is it?

Friday, 1 April 2016

A novel in which the ego is the hero

Theseus and the Minotaur

Below is a typically profound passage from Santayana. He says we cannot be scientific about our own thought processes and he is right. Worth dwelling on in a world obsessed with narratives.

Philosophy fell into the same snare when in modern times it ceased to be the art of thinking and tried to become that impossible thing, the science of thought.

Thought can be found only by being enacted. I may therefore guide my thoughts according to some prudent rule, and appeal as often as I like to experience for a new starting-point or a controlling perception in my thinking; but I cannot by any possibility make experience or mental discourse at large the object of investigation: it is invisible, it is past, it is nowhere. I can only surmise what it might have been, and rehearse it imaginatively in my own fancy. It is an object of literary psychology.

The whole of British and German philosophy is only literature. In its deepest reaches it simply appeals to what a man says to himself when he surveys his adventures, re-pictures his perspectives, analyses his curious ideas, guesses at their origin, and imagines the varied experience which he would like to possess, cumulative and dramatically unified.

The universe is a novel of which the ego is the hero; and the sweep of the fiction (when the ego is learned and omnivorous) does not contradict its poetic essence. The composition is perhaps pedantic, or jejune, or overloaded; but on the other hand it is sometimes most honest and appealing, like the autobiography of a saint; and taken as the confessions of a romantic scepticism trying to shake itself loose from the harness of convention and of words, it may have a great dramatic interest and profundity. But not one term, not one conclusion in it has the least scientific value, and it is only when this philosophy is good literature that it is good for anything.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

Five years

I recently noticed that today is this blog's fifth birthday. Not old for a blog, but when I began I never imagined I'd still be blogging five years later. Why I chose April 1st as launch day I'm not sure. I'll think of a reason one day.

Many thanks to all those who pop round for a read. Knowing I actually have readers makes it all worthwhile, especially if folk are kind enough to leave comments, often when I haven't even mentioned sex, sport or celebrities.