Friday, 12 August 2011

The Swarming of the Flies

The mistake was to think of “Lord of the Flies” as a work of fiction. When we were eleven my bosom pal Bobby Thompson and I were persuaded by a charismatic 13-year-old called Bunny Praeger to join his syndicate of schoolboy shoplifters. There were branches in six schools in the centre of Manchester and the more prosperous suburbs. It was a very well thought out network and we only stole to order. Predictably, my speciality was books. Our raincoats had pockets that went through to our suits. Bunny taught us to leave the coats open when we stretched over a counter so that the raincoat covered our busy thieving hands.
It was a great success, though short-lived. The reason it withered was our fear of punishment and the difficulty, seventy years ago, of inter-school communication.
We manage things so much better in this brave new world. We have banished discipline and given our children electronic toys which make communication instant. Now our deprived youths all have Blackberries and bikes.
The art of politics is a constant effort to repair the harm done by the preceding politicians. The problem of the Arabs was caused by their betrayal by Lloyd George’s government. It was the action of the Allied governments at Versailles that made World War 2 inevitable. Our feral youth and the fact that Britain has the highest figure of teenage pregnancy can be laid at the door of the parent of permissiveness, Roy Jenkins. Harold Wilson hid youth unemployment by opening universities to young illiterates. We support the Arab Spring despite the fact that Tunisia is now ruled by fundamentalists, the most coherent party in Egypt is the Arab Brotherhood and there is evidence of a heavy fundamentalist presence among the Libyan rebels.
Whatever the politicians tell us were the reasons for the recent breakdown of civilisation in England, we need to know nothing more than that every generation has criminal propensities and there are always charismatic schoolboys like Bunny Praeger to harness them.
Happily, that is not one of my worries.
There is only one thing wrong with old age. It does not last long enough. Only the old have complete command of their time. For most of life, doing nothing is frowned upon. Only old folk can muse with impunity. Or, for that matter, doze. I enjoy a nap after breakfast but only in my eighties can I indulge myself. We can ponder with impunity the sad truth that Western civilisation is going to Hell in a handcart but only really worry when the Co-op runs out of croissants.

ACCOLADE du jour
A friend boasts: “We switched fuel supplier yesterday and needed a credit check - the adviser told us we were more creditworthy than America.”
"Harry Potter dwarf spared jail over juggler's hat sex act" - Daily Telegraph of 29 July.

Readers write...
Two British solicitors, one of them high profile, have allegedly scammed around 100 UK investors out of the thick end of £2 million to finance a multi-billion government bond fraud against any number of European banks.

The attempted bank scam came to a sticky end in May when a 54-year-old Australian called John “Jack” Sparrow was handed a two year jail sentence in Barcelona and a hefty fine after being found, according to evidence placed before the judge, with 3000 fraudulent banking documents on his lap-top, and a further 1500 scanned images of genuine bank documents from which he could ‘cut-‘n-paste’ official bank seals, signatures and anything else he needed to make documents look genuine.

Greater Manchester Police fraud squad spent a year investigating the UK end of this fraud and concluded the activities of the two solicitors were ‘part of a fraudulent scheme’.

But in an attempt to satisfy the 100 innocent investors who are trying to come to terms with the fact they have more than likely lost £2 million, instead of arresting the pair, the fraud squad handed each of the two solicitors an astonishing letter.

It simply stated that if they did it again they would be nicked.

In a separate letter to a bunch of furious investors which include a prominent Lincolns Inn QC, the fraud squad stated in conclusion: ”We would ask that the decision we have taken is respected and that further contact is only made if you have substantial new evidence that would cause a review of our decision.”

When persuasive evidence was offered that the two solicitors were trying to borrow even more money to keep the allegedly fraudulent scheme going, the fraud squad pulled down the shutters of their HQ and refused to take a statement from the complainants.

Finally, after a frustrating two months trying to kick down the doors of GMP’s HQ, the Chief Constable, Peter Fahy, somewhat reluctantly promised investors he would look into their complaints.

Yesterday (Friday Aug 5th) Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Shenton, Head of the Serious Crimes Division, announced:” I have commissioned the review referred to and expect this to be complete no later than Mon 22nd Aug, when you will be notified of the outcome.”

You may wish to watch this space……

Best wishes
Peter Reece

HELL AS EXPLAINED by a Chemistry Student

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:

(1). If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
(2). If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number
(2) must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'

Chris Sheridan


News Item: Wenzhou train crash: It was first reported that on-the-spot death toll was 35, and the remaining deaths were in the hospital due to ineffective medical treatment.

According to the Central Chinese Government directive, if more than 36 people die on the spot, then the responsible Communist Party secretary will be removed. Only on-site deaths are counted for this purpose. Now some historical data:

April 1993, Dashiqiao City, Liaoning Province, train and bus collided, 35 people were killed.
March 1995, Anshan, Liaoning Province, mall fire, 35 deaths.
November 1995, Shandong Province, more than 40 counties (cities) suffered storm hit, 35 people were killed.
June 1996, Yunnan Qujing the case of alcohol, 35 people were killed
.May 1997, Shenzhen Huangtian airport crash, 35 people were killed.
August 2001, Xinjiang, a sleeper bus crashed into the bridge in Xinsha, 35 people were killed.
July 2003, Hebei Xinji fireworks factory explosion, 35 people were killed.
July 2003, Shandong Zaozhuang coal mine flooding, 35 deaths

August 2003, Sansui County, Guizhou landslide, 35 dead
February 2003, Liupanshui gas explosion, 35 people were killed
December 2003, Liaoning Tieling fireworks factory explosion, 35 people were killed
August 2004, Shanxi Linfen mine, 35 people were killed
March 2005, the territory of Jiangxi Shangrao highway explosion, 35 people were killed
December 2005, Xinan, Henan coal mine flooding, 35 deaths
April 2006, Shanxi Xinzhou explosion, 35 people were killed
July 2006, Hunan tungsten ore zone Yaogangxian floods, 35 people were killed or missing
July 2006, Guangxi typhoon, 35 dead
July 2007, heavy rains in Chongqing, 35 people were killed
July 2007, Shandong storm, 35 people were killed
November 2007, Bijie gas outburst accident, 35 people were killed
November 2007, Hubei Yichang-Wanzhou Railway rock fall, 35 people were killed
May 2008, a tour bus suffered landslides in Aba County, 35 people were killed
July 2008, Wei County, Hebei coal mine explosion, 35 people were killed
November 2008, Yunnan mud-rock flow, 35 people were killed
September 2009, Pingdingshan mine, 35 people were killed
June 2010, Fujian, Guangxi and Sichuan floods caused 35 dead
June 2011, heavy rain, Hubei and Hunan, 35 people were killed

Or to put it another way;

.. 1993年4月,辽宁省大石桥市列车与大客车相撞,35人死亡


I have personal experience about the weather in major cities in China. I have encountered really hot days in places like Shanghai, Nanjin during steaming summer. The temperature broadcast was always 39.8, 39.5, 39 deg C. I was quite amazed. Later on someone told me that there is a rule in China that when the temp goes above 40 deg, civil servants can take the day off and go home. That is why. Well, of course, unless that is really hot, well above 40.

Guys in HK can check really easy whether this is a phenomena like the “35 casualties - rule”.

“But as the fresh evidence ... demonstrates, coercion, terror and systematic violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.

"Thanks to the often meticulous reports compiled by the party itself, we can infer that between 1958 and 1962 by a rough approximation 6 to 8 per cent of the victims were tortured to death or summarily killed - amounting to at least 2.5 million people. Other victims were deliberately deprived of food and starved to death. Many more vanished because they were too old, weak or sick to work - and hence unable to earn their keep. People were killed selectively because they were rich, because they dragged their feet, because they spoke out or simply because they were not liked, for whatever reason, by the man who wielded the ladle in the canteen. Countless people were killed indirectly through neglect, as local cadres were under pressure to focus on figures rather than on people, making sure they fulfilled the targets they were handed by the top planners.”
Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962, by Frank Dikotter.