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Risen to the Surface
February 2010
Tue, Feb. 16th, 2010 11:54 am

It one of those "a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on*" moments. The lie in question is that MPs get medals just for visiting Afghanistan and Iraq, there's a petition about it here - and Stephen Fry tweets about it, somewhat sceptically, over here.

The lie, predictably, is causing much self-righteous anger, for example:

"Rarely does anything make my blood boil but this one does the trick!

MPs get a campaign medal immediately they visit an area of operations - without any minimum time in theatre! Whilst there they are rarely, if ever, exposed to any real danger. It is laudable that they should go and talk with the troops and get an insight to what is actually happening but it should stop there.

On the other hand those engaged in the fighting have to serve a period - six months I am given to believe - before qualifying and then have to wait a few months more for it to be given.

It is time to stop this belittling of a token of active service." http://www.pprune.org/military-aircrew/405123-no-medals-mps.html#post5501128

The Internet is full of posts like this one. The truth is somewhat different:

"A number of MPs have received the medals at ceremonies as a reward for 10 years' or more membership of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS), a body which allows politicians to spend around 22 days a year with the military."


"So far, around 200 MPs have participated in the scheme - which is backed by the Ministry of Defence - but only between eight and ten have served the minimum of a decade to be eligible for the award.

Soldiers are only awarded medals if they serve in a war zone, serve in operations, or for long service or acts of conspicuous bravery."


The Telegraph article is still pretty critical, but you'll note that they admit that military does give out long service medals - here's an example. I think there are different types of medals for different purposes and I don't believe that a soldier's medal, of any kind, is devalued by an MPs medal any more than the Victoria Cross is devalued by the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Unfortunately, Fry's tweet "Surely this can't be right" which I read to be querying the truth of the allegation is currently being re-tweeted as if it's a fact and a terrible scandal. It's actually made me join twitter. I was the first in with a correction, but I'm glad to say that someone else has also sent more information and Fry has re-tweeted it. Hopefully people will notice. That tweet also points to an excellent blog post, which makes the point that these are unofficial medals:


To be fair, the outraged post I quoted above is then countered by people who can use Google to some basic fact checking, later in the thread on that discussion board. So maybe there is some hope for the temperature of people's blood.

*Winston Churchill, after Mark Twain.


Mon, Feb. 15th, 2010 02:28 pm

Blogging again. I'll see how long it keeps going.

I'd be quite surprised if I was still on anybody's friends list.


In the light of the crash in Belgium, the BBC are making a big thing of deaths on the rail, again.

There's a list here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6058202.stm

I make that to be 400 deaths in the EU (I didn't count Turkey and other non-EU countries) between 1997 and now, with a few down to road vehicles ending up on train lines. So, lets look over here at the EU figures for the same period:


from 1997-2008, 606,000 people died on roads in the EU. If we estimate for 30,000 for 2009 (the figure for 2008 is 39,000 and the trend is downward) and 3,500 for the first six weeks of 2010 then we get a total figure of 639,500 road deaths for the same period that the BBC article is talking about.

So in the EU, for the period 1997 to now, deaths as a result of rail accidents are 0.06% of deaths as a result of road accidents.

Of course road deaths are so frequent that they are hardly ever reported and rail deaths so rare that they always are (the Belgium crash is currently the top story on the BBC site, here is an idea of how they tend to report road accidents)


Wed, Oct. 31st, 2007 10:57 pm

Well, I was away, but now I'm back. If anyone remembers me, please say hello.

Some links:



More to follow, honest...


Wed, Aug. 2nd, 2006 10:16 am

American Tourist Girl: No, but he was the god of the sea...

American Tourist Guy: Yeah, but was he such a giant retard that he couldn't drag an iceberg down from Antarctica?

--in the shadow of the Parthenon


Sat, Jul. 22nd, 2006 05:32 pm

Best bit of last night's Blondie documentary on the BBC was when they said something along the lines of "then an incredible thing happened in Dunstable" - you probably have to have some experience of Bedfordshire to be tickled by this.

I'll actually be nearby, briefly, tomorrow (this is me doing my best continuity announcer link) as I'm flying out to Athens from Luton airport. From Athens I'll be heading down the coast to the island of Hydra, which is where Leonard Cohen lived in the early to mid 60s when before he went to New York to become a musician. So, I've filled up my ipod with his songs and I'll be taking a copy of "Beautiful Losers" with me. I won't be bothering with the Internet while I'm there, so there'll be a report and photos sometime after I get back (on the 3rd of August).


Fri, Jul. 21st, 2006 11:19 am

Valley Houses

I came to Leeds as a student in 1989 and I've haven't really left since (I got as far away as Ilkley for a year). So, it'll be 17 years in one place this October.

Come October, though, I'll be in New York - for at least 3 months. It should be longer as I'm hoping that I'll manage to sort out a Networking (as in Internet Routing, Cisco style) job. But if it doesn't work out, I'll be heading to London in the new year. So, either way, it'll be goodbye to Leeds.

So, I'm planning a series of walks around Leeds, and will record them in photographs. It's a way of marking my time in Leeds and winding things down towards a new beginning. I'm not sure if it'll mean much to anybody other than me, but the first walk is on Flickr here.

Also, I spent far too much time last night, mapping the locations of the walk onto Google Earth; you can download them here or here, if you love scrutinising maps as much as I do.


Thu, Jul. 20th, 2006 10:57 am

It's easy to characterise the religious right in the US as, well, a bit crazy and stupid; but I still find myself assuming that there must be some logical reason that I'm not aware of that leads them to taking a particular stance..

For example, this is how I see the whole stem-cell research thing:

1. The US has IVF treatment programmes

2. IVF treatment requires the fertilization of a batch of eggs which leads to a number of embryos, which are frozen

3. The embryos are implanted in the mother's womb one at a time until a successful implantation (the success rate isn't especially high)

4. Once a child has been born, there are probably other embryos left over that are no longer needed

5. The embryos that are no longer needed are destroyed

6. Scientists would like to be able to use stem cells from the embryos that are to be destroyed for research

As far as I'm aware, nobody is talking about fertilizing an egg especially to create an embryo (though I wouldn't have any issues if they were) so what, exactly, is changing here in terms of the supposed right to life of these embryos? What am I missing?

I was going to leave the post at that and see if anybody could explain, but I had a look at Bush's veto speech (on the BBC site) and I think I have it now:

The embryos should be kept frozen indefinitely just in case somebody decides they want to adopt them.

In fact, the children that surrounded Bush when he made his speech had been adopted in this way.

Which leave me thinking that the religious right in the US are, well, a bit crazy and stupid.

A couple of other thoughts:

The dramatic manner in which he made the announcement suggests that he's trying to galavanise (or, possibly, shore up) the religious right support ahead of the mid-terms without having to roll back any legislation (I'm sure they're disappointed that he hasn't outlawed IVF yet and that Roe v Wade still stands).

It's interesting to hear Bush talking passionately about the "dignity" of human life in relation to a few human cells that have absolutely no self awareness and no great significance to anybody yet (in other words cells that are not that far away from being eggs and sperm) and yet, not hear this same passion when it comes to fully grown human beings (you can provide your own examples).


Wed, Jul. 19th, 2006 10:38 pm

Evening all.

Back to blogging, possibly regularly.


For now, I'm just stopping by to record some daytodayesque news reporting on the BBC 10 o'clock news just now. As part of the "isn't it an incredible heatwave, how are we coping?" feature (much to the bafflement of various Europeans and Americans, I should think); they reported on a London kitchen where the staff were working in 55C temperatures. With apparent sense of shame, the narration went as follows:

"They can't stand the heat...

...and they can't get out of the kitchen,"


Mon, Apr. 17th, 2006 01:43 am

Well, I plugged the radio show in the last post, but:

Here's most of what we played in those 4 shows, in picturesCollapse )

I've stayed up far too late doing that - and I'm sure I'm behind the times with this posting album covers stuff, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Off to bed now.

Current Mood: tired tired


Sun, Apr. 16th, 2006 06:07 pm

"I was fretting in my job and then I lost my job and heaven knows I'm quite jolly now."

I got made redundant from Cable and Wireless (nee Energis nee Planet Online) about a month ago.

Because I was there for 6 years, I'm fine for money for a while.

My plan (not disclosed here earlier than this) was to move to New York in September, anyway. It's still my plan: I'll be there for 3 months, longer if I sort out a job (which I'm hoping to).

In the meantime I'm studying for Cisco qualifications (and that's the only time I'll mention them) and rediscovering creative pursuits.

The next few months should see the fruits of my endeavours appearing on my website, I'll post details here.

Also hoping to post here more often, anyway.

I don't usually use this journal to post about how I'm feeling; but, if anyone's curious, I'm pretty happy at the moment.


Since late last year, I've been a semi-regular co-DJ on Chapel Allerton Hospital Radio with the_space_eater the show is called "A Mixed Bag" (I'm not sure if the_space_eater knows that this implies that some of it is rubbish, but hey...). It's a little rough and ready sometimes and we are pretty much making it up as we go along; but there is some entertaining wibbling, I think.

There are MP3s and playlists of four of the shows here:


if anybody fancies a listen.

Further shows will be added, as and when.

That's all for now.