Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

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Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Posted @ 05:05How many types of people are there?

A late night — early morning — musing after spending hours recording guitar part for new song: I started to remember some of the "there are N types of people in the world..." statements I'd heard over the years. Then I thought of a few more (as you do). So I'm going to share them with you, whether you like it or not.

  1. There are three types of people in the world: those who can count and those who can't.
  2. There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.
  3. There are two types of people in the world, those who agree with me and ignorant, argumentative pedants.
  4. There are 6,000,000,000 types of people in the world (approximately): everyone's an individual (except me).
  5. There are three types of people in the world: those who create statements of the form "there are N types of people in the world", those who read & repeat such statements and those who have better things to do with their time.

As usual, comments in the same vein are greatly appreciated.


PS: I noticed this earlier: "Find the Difference". Have a go by following the link. I — of course — found all the differences (clue: start with the ship).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Posted @ 00:05An Interlude

Just a quick post for all those of you who've ever wanted a way to imagine 10 dimensions (yes, I know you've all been waiting for this). Go to "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" and enjoy (you get used to the slightly patronising American voice eventually). You'll need a Flash player and the volume turned up.

PS This is a way of imagining 10 dimensions, not a description of the 10 dimensions of string theory.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Posted @ 22:18A Super New Game


It's time for another of my irregular pastime inventions ("irregular" in all possible senses). This one has evolved over the past couple of months — partly inspired by my previous post (see below, no link, just scroll down) — in consultation with Mark "Mmmm, Stella" W (he claims it's not so much a game as an infection which he's caught from me). The only trouble I've really had with it (apart from such trivial matters as the rules, the method of scoring and the criteria for victory) has been thinking of a good name. After much consideration of the head-scratching variety, consultation with the oracle at Delphi, casting runes, examining the entrails of a recently slaughtered lentil, generating random numbers, playing the guitar, drinking coffee and other methods of avoiding thinking of name, I've decided to call it "Shouting At Adverts". This title amply summarises the aims (and — of course — those popular, supposedly disparate entities, objectives) of the game and, indeed, its rationale.

"So," I hear you ask, "what's this game all about? It sounds super. Would you like a cup of tea? How about a cheese & onion sandwich and some cheesecake? And a glass of wine? And have this £10,000 which I have no use for at the moment. And you might like to provide some entertainment for these neglected, scantily-clad young ladies..." (I may not have heard all of your words correctly). Well, to begin with, it involves shouting at adverts on television. It's therapeutic, socially & ecologically beneficial and a lot of fun (well, a bit of fun). In addition, it's also a sure fire method of ensuring world peace, restoring the ecology of this blighted planet, travelling to other planetary systems faster than the speed of light and wasting a few harmless minutes during the interruptions in "Lovejoy" on ITV3 (when I say "sure fire" I, of course, mean that there's a measurable, but possibly infinitely small, probability). Finally, it will provide nanoseconds of enjoyment for the entire family (except those members who aren't watching TV or have gone to the pub).


  1. The name of the game is "Shouting At Adverts" and the name of the game is "Shouting At Adverts" (but see Rule 2).
  2. At any time, including and especially those times when the game isn't being played (see Rule 3), any player may propose a change of name for the game. Other players are not obliged to agree with the new name and the proposing player may change their mind at any time. Other players may raise objection to the new name using the following categories of reasons for objection:
    1. The new name is crap.
    2. See Rule 2a.
  3. The game starts whenever there are adverts on TV in the room the players are sitting in and the sound is on. People who are visiting the toilet, fetching alcoholic beverages from the fridge in the kitchen or entertaining neglected, scantily-clad young ladies in the bedroom are not players (unless the the bedroom and kitchen are the same room and the TV is in it and you are currently "resting" between "entertainments" of the aforementioned young ladies).
  4. The game finishes when everyone is bored with it.
  5. The following "moves" are defined. Players are free to invent new "moves".
    1. In response to adverts containing the words "Call this number now", "Get your new car now", "Apply today" or other variants, shout "No!" or some suitable alternative. Profanities, whilst not generally encouraged, are permitted after the 14th-squillion repetition of the same advert in twenty minutes.
    2. Adverts claiming the advertised product to be a "product of the year" without mentioning the category, the year or the fact that the awarding organisation is funded directly by the manufacturers of the said products are to be seriously abused. Players are, in this case, encouraged to swear effusively — the more profane the better.
    3. All adverts for "no-win, no-fee" accident compensation claims are to be picked apart for such inconsistencies as: fork-lift trucks do not reverse unexpectedly, their drivers do that (thanks Mark); genuine accidents cannot be blamed in anyone, otherwise they wouldn't be accidental; not noticing that a ladder isn't suitable for a job you're qualified to do is an example of your stupidity not someone else's negligence.
    4. Stupidity like (thanks, Seany) "Nothing acts faster than Anadin" (therefore, I use nothing) should be indicated with a loud raspberry and communal guffaws.
    5. And so on... I'm sure you can think of lots of examples.
    All the above score 1,000,000 points for each player in the game.
  6. The winner of the game is me. Unless anyone can prove:
    1. That hands that do dishes can be softer than your face.
    2. That there really are girls like that waiting to discretely flirt (and more!) with me at £1,000 per second.
    3. That the free "Hidden Hearing Aids" have been found.
  7. Entertaining neglected, scantily-clad young ladies is better than playing this game, but tends not to happen as frequently (in truth, it tends not to happen at all, but I can dream, can't I?).
  8. You can play this game on your own but recent hearsay indicates that you may go blind. Rather like not playing with the frequently referred to young ladies.

Now you know how to play, get on with it.


As usual, comments are appreciated as well as reports of games you have played (interesting new "moves" are particularly sought). Introductions to neglected, scantily-clad young ladies (or, at least, photographs of the same) will also be welcomed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Posted @ 05:05Phrases of our Times

This piece was originally conceived back in March. For various reasons, it's being lying about not getting published. As I'm very much in the communicating vein again, I thought I'd finish it up and unleash it on the world before getting down to some newer stuff.

Better — or, at least, more widely-known — commentators have dealt with the mind-numbing banality and sheer ignorance of such cliché-utterances as "political correctness gone mad", "another example of the nanny state" and "it's only common sense". I, on the other hand (as opposed to this hand), wish to deal with some phrases which seem to be authoratative, necessary and meaningful simply because they are none of these things.

Some will, no doubt, accuse me of pedantry, others of stupidity. Go ahead, enjoy the moment.

"Hygenically removes germs"

As featured on a bottle of liquid soap.

The soap in question is clearly marked "Antibacterial". So one may safely assume that it removes bacteria (i.e., "germs"). This is a prime example of the unnecessary adverb. Why "hygenically"? If the removal was unhygenic — with which one must assume the makers wish us to contrast the action of their product — what would that mean? Would it mean that that not all (or not a significant proportion) of the germs were removed? In that case the product would be inefficient. Or would it mean that the removal process itself was unhygenic? This would imply that the removal process somehow made things worse.

So does "hygenically removes germs" mean that the process is hygenic or the process is efficient? If the process is hygenic then that does not imply that the result of the process is improved hygene, merely that the process doesn't denegrate hygene. If the process is simply efficient (i.e., resulting in improved hygene) then the phrase is meaningless since it is irrelevant how "hygenic" the removal process is, so long as it works.

One suspects that the makers really meant to say that the use of their product improved hygene: "Removes germs and improves hygene".

A stunning piece of meaningless twaddle. But not dangerous.

"Unauthorised use of these waters can be dangerous"

As featured on Alexandra Dock, Grimsby.

Doesn't this imply that authorised use of the water is safe? Or, at least, not dangerous. Why doesn't it simply say "These waters can be dangerous"? Which, I assume, is what they mean.

This appears to be an attempt to endow the sign with some "authority". It's the meaningless twaddle that is the direct result of trying too hard to say what you mean. Wake up, all stretches of water can be dangerous if one is stupid enough; "authorisation" is no proof against stupidity.

"For adult use only"

As featured on cigarette packets.

This either means "only for use by adults" or "only for use in and adult manner". As it stands it is another piece of twaddle which needs erradicating.

The only reason I can see for the double meaning is so the manufacturers of such products can use whichever interpretation appears convenient in any situation.

"Based on a true story"

Or, "Inspired by real events", etc.

A man walks into a shop, buys a chocolate bar and walks home again. This is a true story.

The film has a man walk into a shop, buy a chocolate bar and get kidnapped by aliens.

This phrase proves nothing since your never know which bits are "true" and which bits the "story".

This is a dangerous, devisive phrase which attempts to inject veracity into the drug-induced meanderings of the mindless idiots who write the sort of sick-making emotional potboilers to which this phrase is applied.

As usual, comments would be appreciated. And, of course, further examples of twaddle-speak would be very much enjoyed.