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Everything posted by Clarkkent

  1. Clarkkent


    UKIP has come second in two Parliamentary by-elections and has come third in another. All were safe Labour contituencies. Is this a sign that the political landscape in England is changing? Or is it just a mid-term protest vote?
  2. I think that Mr Barton has been taking lessons from Rene, in 'Allo, 'Allo ....
  3. But what will they be doing on 22 December?  Their Christmas shopping?     I couldn't get the Huffington Post link to work. This one should: http://news.sky.com/story/1015889/doomsday-cults-banned-from-french-village
  4. I bought a Tefal Actifry from Argos a couple of weeks ago. It cost £119. In my case I wanted to be able to have fried food without using a lot of fat or oil. I have to say that - so far - I'm very pleased with it. It came with a USB key with lots of recipes and I have downloaded the English versions onto my laptop. They range from chips to bolognaise sauce and from beef stroganoff to risotto - and there are several chicken dishes. I'm looking forward to trying them.    
  5. [quote user="Quillan"] ... So basically the first term they are a bit careful in what they do (so as to get re-elected for a second) but in the second term  they really get to grips with what they want to do because at the end that's it, finished, no more Mr President. ....[/quote] Indeed. In the second term they are free from the need for electioneering. I think the state of permanent electioneering which characterises the American political system totally distorts the public perception of political reality. In order to be elected, politicians pander to the manageable prejudices of the electorate. The You Tube clip clearly shows the kind of prejudices and misconceptions possessed by the white, working class, right wing Republican constituency that the Romney campaign targeted. As a number of psephologists are pointing out, this constituency is gradually becoming a minority. Obama (it seems) attracted the votes of 75% of the Latino electorate. This electorate is growing at the rate of 500,000 voters a year. Freed from the need to attract support, Obama can now concentrate on proposing policies which will address the problems that the American economy faces. Unfortunately, due to the Seperation of Powers built into the antique Constitution, he will be battling a Legislature whose members will be more interested in securing a further term for themselves rather than being concerned with the long-term needs of the Union.
  6. Decades ago, I studied comparative government at university. Of the governance of the USA I arrived at the following conclusions: Each new American president arrives at the White House as a complete novice. There is no training for the job and no previous occupation or appointment which can give any useful experience for an incoming president. The Constitution, of which Americans appear to be so proud, is specifically designed to preserve the status quo and prevent any change. It was designed for the 18th century and is useless in the 21st. It ensures that decision making is most effective at the lowest, local, level of government. The Constitution seperates religion from government, but any politician - at any level - who does not make some religious commitment is unelectable. The American president is effectively politically impotent - his only real power is that of declaring war. That the USA is in a constant, unremitting state of electioneering. Obama has some experience of the presidency, Romney has none. On this basis, I hope that Obama is returned.
  7. [quote user="NormanH"]I am not sure that the WHO table reflects the current situation.(The data is pre-2000, before the introduction of the CMU in France in fact. )  I would be surprised of the current budgetary crisis in Greece, Portugal and Spain hadn't had some impact on their care systems.  .... I think that it is also about a mixture of things, not just quality as is sometimes supposed. ... [/quote] I think that you make some important points here, Norman. The original WHO report was based on a questionnaire sent out to member countries in, I think, 1999. It can hardly be used to make judgements about the current situation. Also, as you infer, it was not about clinical competency. I have met several people - and there are some contributing to this forum - who seem to believe that French doctors are somehow more competent, that French hospitals offer better clinical care than their British equivalents and have moved to France because they misunderstood the content of this report - or trusted the accuracy of blue-top headlines. Health care, and its cost, should be part of the equation determining desired place of residence but there are many more factors which should be included - climate, culture, accessibilty, infrastructure and so on. If I were asked where I would like to live given the choice, I think I would say the Algarve ...
  8. [quote user="NormanH"]I have never been able to explain to French friends what a Coroner is. [/quote] A coroner is a judge who is specifically charged with the task of investigating any death whose circumstances may be suspicious. Perhaps a coroner could be seen as a particular kind of examining magistrate. A coroner may be either a lawyer or a clinician. Coroners' courts are the only English courts which follow the French inquisitorial principles - as opposed to the English accusatorial procedures. The decision of a Coroner is also provisional and an inquest can be re-opened at any time (as may well be the case in the Hillsborough deaths).   Edit Coroners are also responsible for investigating treasure trove.
  9. This is very sad news. It has a particular resonance with me because Pierre came from my home town and was a pupil at the school I attended. My thoughts are with his family.
  10. [quote user="Pommier"] I just cannot think of any good reason why the age of consent in Spain should be 13. A good many of the girls wouldn't even have reached puberty, let alone maturity! [/quote] I believe that it is generally agreed among theologians that the Virgin Mary would have been 13 or 14 at the time of the Annunciation. So what is good enough for God would be good enough for Spain. The age of menarche has been steadily reducing over the last hundred years or so. It could be argued that girls are biologically mature and possibly possessing strong sex drives earlier than the legal age of consent. It is quite likely that girls would listen to their own bodies rather than to legal dictat. By extending full-time education well into reproductive years may unwittingly encourage girls to experiment with sex as a rebellion against a continued, enforced childhood. This may encourage predatory older men to believe that their own behaviour is justifiable.
  11. It seems that the Thomson consumer products brand was sold to a company called Audiovox in 2007. Pierre's advice to just trust the main brands is sound (I would add LG to his list). I believe that many other brands are produced in a factory in Turkey owned by Her Majesty's guest, Asil Nadir - that doesn't necessarily make them bad - but it is possible that that quality control processes may not be as stringent as for the main brands, largely producing TVs in their own factories. Also (I may be wrong) - isn't 3D virtually dead in the water? I know that it had an enthusiast (now departed) on this forum but marketing effort on the part of manufacturers and sellers appears to be very low. I would suggest that the OP go for a 1080p LED smart TV from one of the main brands and forget 3D.
  12. [quote user="Rabbie"] In Ted Heath's case he may have been gay but there is no evidence that he was not celibate. Not so uncommon among gay men of his generation. [/quote]   ... erm ... Celibate means "unmarried". There is plenty of evidence that Ted Heath was unmarried.
  13. Savile and Peel may have liked young girls but that wasn't as bad as the former PM Ted Heath who was responsible for lowering the age of gay sex to fulfill his own wishes for young boys but we haven't heard so much about that. This statement appears to demonstrate an unnecessary degree of intolerance. That Ted Heath should have been homosexual comes as no surprise to me, but, frankly, is it any business of mine, or of anyone else? I thought that we were past the stage when people's sexuality could be used as weapons against them. The statement about his motives is pure speculation - perhaps he considered that heterosexuals and homosexuals should be treated equally in a fair society. The publication of a photograph of Ted Heath in an article about Savile is mischief and does not amount to evidence.
  14. Clarkkent


    I suffer from gout. In the UK got is treated by dealing with the pain and inflammation - usually by using indomethacin or other NSAID. Gout normally subsides after a day or so and this conservative treatment usually works. I had a bad gout attack in France and went to the local GP. He was very dismissive of the treatment I had been receiving and prescribed colchicine. He said that colchicine would neutralise the uric acid and that I would recover very quickly. True to his word, the gout disappeared within 24 hours. However, thanks to colchicine, I had painful stomach cramps and constant diarrhoea for about five days. I wouldn't touch the stuff with a bargepole!
  15. [quote user="Chancer"] British military officials in Afghanistan were today tight-lipped on the identity of the mother or the name of her son as they stayed inside the sprawling Helmand camp. “They might name him Harry,” one defence source told The Daily Telegraph. [/quote] Suggestion on the BBC News tonight that the woman may be from Fiji. That should increase the likelihood that she may be identied.
  16. Well. At least it didn't say "squaddie". I think that all soldiers heading for Afghanistan should be given pregnancy tests. And that should include the women as well.
  17. I'm largely with Idun on this. I respect the right of every person to hold whatever beliefs they wish. That respect does not extend, however, to the beliefs themselves. This does not mean that I would defame those beliefs but merely reflects that they are based on myth and cultural history, often with little supporting hard evidence and frequently highly irrational. If it were possible, I would insert into the Human Rights Charter a clause stating that the concept of blasphemy has no place in a modern state. In much of the Islamic world, religion is used as a method of maintaining power over a subservient population. Much as it was when the Inquisition was used to keep Christians in order. Any religion which cannot tolerate critical examination of itself is not worth the space it occupies. Nor is any religion which blackmails critical non-adherents into supine silence.  
  18. [quote user="woolybanana"] Pondering Dr Johnson's words this morning, I wondered whether we could not come up with something similar concerning France, given the right pickle it seems to be in and conscious that the hand and suitcase man is going to Belgium if he can. The original is: "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." I thought perhaps: "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual or rich, who is willing to stay in France.When a man is tired of France, he is tired of State stupidity and taxes for there is in France little that he can now afford" But Norman who has a far sharper tongue than mine may be able to do a lot better! [/quote] Sorry to drag everyone back to the original posting, but ...     Many times, in France have I been obliged to listen as a resident Briton has assured me that "moving here was the best thing I've ever done. There is NO way you can ever get me back there ..." And, more often than not, on a subsequent visit, when I have enquired of that individual, I have been told that he or she has returned to the United Kingdom. This brings to mind the following quotation from Dr Johnson: Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keep his resolutions, nor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of time and frequency of experiment. Prayers and Meditations, No. 1770 (1785). The noblest prospect afforded the Frenchman is the prospect of the high road to the Eurotunnel terminal ....
  19. [quote user="idun"] I keep noticing that there is a very big fuss about an incestuous marriage between first cousins. Surely this is not incest. [/quote] Marriage between first cousins is not usually considered incestuous. First cousin marriages were usually the first choice among the royal families of Europe - including our own (Vicky 'n' Al). It kept the blue blood blue (and haemophiliac).
  20. I thought you might appreciate a comment from someone who bought en tontine and then suffered the loss of his spouse. When my wife died (almost a decade ago) I asked the estate agent we had used for any help he might be able to give. He did so without making any charge. We went together to the notaire who produced the appropriate documentation on the spot. The house had already been valued and was below the tax threshold. The best of my recollection there was a fee of about €500 for notairial work and tax registration. And that was that ... the house was mine to do with as I pleased. My children received no part of the property. The concept of "tontine" is identical to the English purchase method of Joint Tenancy.
  21. [quote]Have they not heard of skin cancer in the USA yet ?[/quote] I suspect that they have, but are more scared of parents threatening litigation for "assault".
  22. [quote user="PaulT"] Whilst you might be able to lower your dipped beams they may kick up on the left hand side so whilst the kick up is lowered when driving in France the kick up will be towards the oncoming traffic and not the kerb in the UK thereby still dazzling on comming traffic Paul [/quote] For years I dutifully used beam adjusters when I went to France. But I was still frequently flashed by oncoming motorists, clearly annoyed that I was dazzling them. Not too long ago I decided just to lower the beam and not bother with adjusters. The incidence of flashing has declined markedly. One problem of using the black tape method with many modern cars is knowing where to attach it - the headlamps are totally smooth with no area designed to produce rising beams.
  23. [quote user="You can call me Betty"]There's nothing wrong with a degree in any subject per se, but just how many JOBS are available in Media Studies? And how many people undertake a degree in something like that with a clear objective in terms of future employment? Yes, of course, the same applies to many courses. I obviously hit a very raw nerve with you by choosing only one.[:D]. I could have said "English" or "History", but I didn't. [/quote]   You haven't hit any nerve at all. But I fear you have missed the point that I was trying to make: that it does not matter what subject is studied, it is the development of intellectual, general, non-specific skills not vocational skills (which may have a useful life of only a few years anyway) which is important. These intellectual skills can be developed just as easily in Media Studies as in any other subject.   [quote]Just out of idle curiosity, have a look at the "Prospects" website, and you'll see that in 2004/5 there were more Media Studies graduates than those graduating in, for example, Electrical Engineering. There were more than double the number of Media Studies grads than Civil Engineers. I don't remember reading that the country was crying out for Media Studies graduates anywhere, though.[/quote]   I doubt that the country is crying out for English graduates, either, but I'll bet that there are even more of them. [quote]Graduate employers (generally speaking) are looking for people who have not only "skills", but skills applicable to their business requirements...many of them quite specific. In addition, they're looking for evidence of common sense and the ability to work well in a team, to understand and correctly interpret instructions, and  some track record of previous employment, even if it's only a long-standing holiday job or Saturday job. [/quote]   Graduate employers ought to be looking for people who can be developed into managers at some time in the future. The higher an indivdual progresses through an organisation, the less important their technical, vocational skills become. Their high level intellectual skills - the ability to define a problem, analyse its components, develop alternative possible solutions, evaluate those solutions and then convince the organisation to adopt the solution you have determined - are much more useful than technical skills. These skills are the important ones being developed by a university degree. [quote]When I was actively involved in graduate recruitment over a period of some eight years, one of the things I always looked for was the ability to write and spell. That's a fairly rare commodity regardless of the discipline studied.[/quote]   When I was teaching in a university business school, I, too, concerned myself with the ability to write and spell and developed assessment strategies which highlighted the importance of written (and spoken) language skills. I agree with you about their importance. I was also concerned with students' numerical skills and their ability to use quantitatative information effectively. [quote]I don't think you can generalise that any particular subject area produces people that are better at one thing than others, as much depends on the institution. For example, there was much ado about our local University (Thames Valley) releasing people into the world of work, clutching a Law Degree where the pass mark in finals was a whopping 23%. (That's "mark"..not a misprint). [/quote]   Interesting, but probably acceptable to the external examiners whose role is to ensure that the examination process is valid. What do you know about pass standards at other institutions, especially those which employ the external examiners?  What do you know about the process or circumstances which resulted in 23% being accepted as an appropriate mark? Or did the Slough Gazette (or whatever it may be called) present this story sensationally?
  24. [quote user="You can call me Betty"] Universities don't just produce a bunch of useless tossers, but there could do with being a fairly rigorous overhaul of the range of subjects available, and perhaps more families should be asking themselves whether they're pushing their kids to do a 3-year Media Studies course because it's the done thing rather than a wise choice. [/quote] And what is wrong with Media Studies? And why is studying for a degree in Media Studies less wise than studying for one in reading novels by dead authors? Or in extinct Mediterranean languages? (Or in pictures painted by other people, for that matter?) The main point in a university education (except in a few specialist areas) should not be that it is a fast track to a specific job but that it is a rigorous training in intellectual skills such as comprehension, analysis, application, communication, decision making and the development of ideas. The subject studied merely provides the context in which these skills can flourish. Any employer worth his salt will be looking for evidence of high level skills because the future of his business depends on them. It is also interesting to note that many of the "high status" subjects contain no quantitative content whereas the "low status" subjects produce people with good numerical analysis and evaluation skills - essential for any area of employment. All other things being equal, I would sooner employ someone with a degree in Media Studies than someone with a degree in English or Classics?
  25. [quote user="Hoddy"]The third thing I think that is sadly missing now is the firms who used to give apprenticeships, particularly to likely lads. The training they had from working beside decent working men taught them much about skills for life as well skills for a particular job. Hoddy[/quote] Times have changed. Apprenticeships provided individuals to work with an individual craftsman and so end up with all the skills they would need to perform their trade for the rest of their working lives. Technology, in particular information technology, has changed that. The industrial landscape has changed so comprehensibly that apprenticeship is no longer an appropriate training method. Its only large scale retention (in a disguised form) is in such things as the clinical component of medical training where students are attached to a consultant's firm. When I was young, manufacturing companies employed people as toolmakers and draughtsmen. These jobs are, in the main, long gone, replaced by CAD/CAM.
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