Sunday, March 07, 2004

Ireland beat England 

We stuffed the world champions. Yes, I know it's bad form to gloat, but as the Sunday times says:
To paraphrase one Norwegian football commentator’s paean of victory over a bedraggled English side: “Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana, Maggie Thatcher, can you hear us? Your boys took one hell of a beating.”

Thursday, March 04, 2004

How people get here... 

Most people get here from links on other sites - especially Affirming Catholicism and Slugger O'Toole, but also a large range of other blogs which link here. A lot of people also come here by searching, especially Googling, for fogey or young fogey. But sometimes people get here by all sorts of strange byways.

Several people have come here because of my stories on Coke's Dasani mineral water nonsense and the Experian report into obesity (welcome, and please feel free to interact via the comment function if that includes you're one of these people). One of the Dasani seachers was looking for restaurants which stock Dasani in the vicinity of Lawrence, Kansas. I hope (s)he wasn't too disappointed. One searcher got here as the sole hit from searching for Schröder and "privilligierte Partnerschaft" on Google Austria. I take it that means my German spelling is wrong again.

Someone, presumably from Sackcloth Ministries, got here by searching for links to the Sackcloth Ministries website. I hope they weren't too offended by my rather sceptical view of Sackcloth.

Finally, there are two which are just strange:

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Fat, lazy, working-class slobs steal our NHS money 

Is not what I think, but it oozes out of every line of the coverage of yesterday's Experian report on the geography of obesity in Britain. Actually the report didn't measure obesity, but looked at Type II Diabetes which certainly has links to obesity, although not not absolute ones, as I'll come to in a moment. Anyway, Experian's Dr. Marc Farr (ah, Marc with a 'c', he didn't grow up on the Old Kent Road, did he?), certainly knows how to be gratuitously patronising
These are white working class people living in areas of council flats where diet is poor and exercise isn't taken regularly.
...not that you'd stereotype, or anything. Even more amusing...
"They are fairly old-fashioned communities, with more chip shops than Thai restaurants, for example."
Now, fish and chips is hardly a great diet if eaten every day, but spuds and fish are both healthy, nutritious food sources, whereas banana fritters aren't going to do one's cholestorol count any good.

Chapman is even funnier, between his mouthfuls of guacamole, when extoling the virtues of the middle-classes:
"They travel more, read different newspapers where health sections encourage them to try different diets and exercise.

"There are more gyms and they have money to join. Perhaps businesses are more willing to look after employees' health."
Obviously, the solution for obesity is not only to give the poor free gym memberships, but to get them reading the Independent travel section and taking their holidays in Tuscan chateaux as well.

The other very, very, interesting thing about the results are the complete absence of London and Scottish Boroughs in the top 20, and indeed the appearance of Glasgow in the lowest dozen.

Let's take London first. A number of London Boroughs - particularly in an arc from Camden in the West to Newham in the East - come close to the bottom of the English league table for life-expectancy, and indeed just about every other measure of poverty imaginable. All of them have very high ethnic populations - over 50% in the case of Newham. Other NHS statistics indicate that obesity is high in these areas. Is our high rate of Type II diabetes partly genetically determined?

Could this explain why Central Scotland - the siege et secours of white working-class culture doesn't appear here. You would not only expect Glasgow to be close to the top, rather than close to the bottom, of a list like this, but for it to be joined by other 'usual' suspects like East Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Dundee etc. Do the Scots have some genetic protection from Type II diabetes? Or more prosaically, does the Scottish NHS categorise it differently?

Finally, there's an interesting knee-jerk recommendation of organic food. Vide:
"If they are going to buy a loaf of bread, they may well have to choose the cheapest - and that is likely to be a large white loaf, rather than a brown organic one."
Now, I agree there are real benefits from organic farming in terms of pumping less paraquat into the soil and retaining animal habitats. But there really is NO evidence whatsover that organic food is ipso facto healthier than normal food. It highlights how important it is to distinguish real public health concerns, from the chattering classes using health issues to foist their attitudes on the working-class.

I'm all for educating people about healthy living, but coercive measures like the FAT tax are, to my mind, more to do with social prejudice and a busybody mentality than any attempt to improve the nation's health.

Oh Shit! 

I do not usually swear on this blog. But today’s bomings in Baghdad and Kerbala are, in qute apart from the apalling shedding of innocent blood, absolutely terrifying. Planting a bomb in Kerbala on the day of Hussein's death is to a Shi'ite like planting a bomb on the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday for a Christian. The only motive I can conceive of for this is to start a civil war. Iraq is starting to look really nasty. I'd love to say I told you so, but somehow that doesn't feel terribly appropriate today.

Oh, yes, and before I forget, Saddam's infamous human paper-shredder didn't actually exist...

Monday, March 01, 2004

Coca-Cola's new expensive bottled water comes from tap... 

As someone who quite enjoys trend-watching, it's been fascinating watching the sales of bottled water explode over the past few years - especially among, well, 'healthy' twenty-something women. You know, the type who eat organic food, drive to the gym and smoke Silk Cut because it isn't as bad for them.

I'll confess to drinking bottled mineral water myself - although generally only the fizzy stuff as I like the fizz. 'Still' mineral water has always seemed to be an amazing con. OK, London tap water is foul-tasting, but absolutely clean, and when I go back home to Belfast I rejoice in the delights of tasty North Belfast tap water, straight from Lough Neagh. Despite this, I'd say the bottled water craze is even more full on than in Belfast than in South Eastern England.

Therefore, I was delighted to hear that Coca-Cola's extremely expensively marketed Dasani mineral water actually comes from a mains tap in a Coca-Cola factory in Kent! Coca-Cola claim that it is then passed through three special filters using (and I apologise for the offensive level of nonsense):
"reverse osmosis", "a technique perfected by Nasa to purify fluids on spacecraft", is then used to filter the water further before minerals are added to "enhance the pure taste".

Finally, "ozone" is injected to keep the water sterile, the company says.
...sorry, excuse me while I clean the 200 kilos of crap that I've just been showered with off my waistcoat.

In the USA, where it apparently also comes from municipal sources, Coca-Cola sold 1.3 billion litres of the stuff last year. Now, I don't like indulging in national stereotypes, but can my American friends possibly see where the gullible Yank lampoon comes from?

I can just imagine the field day the No Logo brigade are going to have with this one - and much as I disagree with them on many issues, I can't begrudge them their day in the sun with Disani. Coca-Cola have been incredibly stupid - but not quite as stupid as the people who spend a pound of a half-litre bottle of tap water.

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