Heavy session

Bad statistics and binge drinking – as much a commentary on sloppy journalism as anything.
Follows on nicely from a discussion we had at the weekend over dinner when a friend revealed that his doctor now considers him a problem drinker just because he said that he’d had quite a bit to drink at a dinner party recently. We concluded that, as with estimates on spending by one’s spouse, doctors take your admitted level of alcohol consumption, add five and double it.
Example: a wife comes home with a new handbag and says "it only cost £20" – the true cost was £50 (20+5=25; 25×2=50)
Example: you tell the nurse that you usually drink 10 units per week. They write down "drinks 30 units per week" in your notes, thereby making you a problem drinker. (10+5=15; 15×2=30)

Ken Clarke

Apparently, Ken Clarke is unspinnable, according to his aides. I reckon that is because of too little exercise, too many cigars and too much whisky.
He certainly can put the fear into New Labour. But he is also likely to be a competent and safe leader for the Tories and that counts for a lot in politics (even if it is something that wouldn’t have been thought of ten years ago). A strong and competent leader is what the Tories need, because opposition parties don’t win elections – incumbents lose them.


Channel 4 is to launch a new digital channel, called More4, which is clearly set to rival BBC4. (via linkbunnies).
What next? EvenMore4? More4Still? 4Ever?

News highlights

To make up for the lack of airport blogging (due mainly to my tardiness in getting to the airport on both the outward and return legs of the journey, thereby depriving you of an interesting commentary on the new Pier 6 of Gatwick’s North Terminal – which is gorgeous, by the way – or a long ramble about the flight out which was one of the most turbulent I’ve ever experienced and has left me with a rather stiff neck), I’ve culled a few interesting snippets from the news:

  • Doctors should be bold and honest with patients and tell them about the "lack of benefit" from homeopathy, says an article in The Lancet. Astonishly, the best response the homeopaths can come up with is
    It has been established beyond doubt and accepted by many researchers, that the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.

    Say again? What they mean to say is "we refuse to accept scientific means of testing the efficacy of the treatments we promote as being valid". If their methods do not stand up to rigorous testing, then they have no validity or purpose. Period.

  • Meanwhile, the latest installment of this website’s occasional Mad Despot Watch reveals that our old friend President Niyazov of Turkmenistan has banned lip-synching in his country. Dear old Turkmenbashi wants to protect Turkmen culture from "negative influences". Personally, I think we’ve just found the best person for the job of producer for Top Of The Pops.


I’m currently using the trial version of MultiTranse, which looks to be extremely useful, and good value at only $20. The problem is that I don’t speak any of the languages concerned, so have no means of judging the quality of the translations. I don’t expect them to be wonderful, but they might be useful in order to get by. Has anyone else used this program?

Taking a Leek

I guess if your name is W.C. Leek, then the toilet hire business is for you. (Spotted in Amsterdam, April 2005).
W.C. Leek


When we visited Amsterdam in April, we passed the front door of this organisation:
Any idea what they do? It has to be a made-up name.

Hello Amsterdam, my name is Fernando

I’m off to the Netherlands this afternoon to visit a trade show in Boskoop tomorrow. I’ve got a few meetings lined up with the great and good of European and American horticulture – a real encouragement to find that, after two and a half years of doing this, the biggest companies now make a point of talking to me at these events to see what I have to offer them. When I started out it was more a case of me banging on their doors and saying "hey! talk to me!"
My mum is coming over to keep H company. H is worried about being on her own whilst 18 weeks pregnant. I’m not sure that there is really anything to worry about, as the pregnancy has been running smoothly of late (just the usual tiredness to contend with and the fact that none of Hels’s clothes fit anymore), but if it reassures H then it’s fine by me.
Maybe H needs practical help looking after the cats. We’re cat-sitting for the in-laws at the moment, and it isn’t something that I plan to repeat as she (Kitty, the in-laws’ cat) persistently picks fights with Monty and Treacle who are so soft and mild-mannered that they don’t know what to do (other than be frightened).
I really should mow the lawn before I head to the airport. Nah, it can wait.

More exciting blog entries soon, kids! Blimey, this is getting boring, isn’t it? perhaps it’s time for another one of those long airport rambles?