Sunday, January 28, 2007

Taking a mini-sabbatical

Sunday 18th March

Yesterday I explained how I was able, in principle, to track down the anonymice and other pestilential pseudos who were leaving obnoxious comments on blogs within our small community ( at any rate, those using a certain hit counter). I mentioned (in passing )that since announcing what I was doing, the problem has disappeared, although that did not stop Bill Taylor and Richard of Orléans claiming I was the perpetrator, and was simply "covering my tracks". How charming, especially as we now know that Bill Taylor was all the time trolling under the name of "Lacombe Lucien", and remaining quiet when Richard of Orléans accused me of being "SH", "anonyhamster," and, guess who, "Lacombe Lucien". For the record, I repeat, once more, that I am none of these, and have not used a pseudonym at all in 2007, except for the one occasion on Sarah's blog (already mentioned) when I entered a conversation on "toxic relatives" as "Anonymous" to encourage (successfully I might add) a particular anonymouse to reveal themselves, long enough to track them down (to Ottawa), and to announce their cover was blown. We've seen no more of that particular presence , whom I suspect (but cannot prove) to be using the same computer as "Anne Gilbert". He/she too has been making themselves scarce since I've been tracking.

Hopefully, the malicious type of anonymouse is now a thing of the past. But for me, that is academic. I myself have withdrawn from personal blogging. Why ? Because I don't take kindly to having my protestations of innocence thrown back in my face. I don't like being stitched up. I don't like being demonised. I don't like the community remaining silent when Bill Taylor and Richard of Orléans spread their malicious lies and poison. In short, I consider the blogging community that developed initially on Colin Randall's Telly blog to be dysfunctional, and no longer wish to be associated with it. Sorry, but that's the naked truth, and there's no sense beating about the bush.

So it's now for others to take the baton where self-policing of blogs are concerned. Here, for convenience, are the links to use if you want to monitor who is visiting two of the blogs, Sarah's and Louise's . If a hostile comment appears, then by looking at the time, and referring to the visitor log, you can usually pin it down, if not on the first occasion, certainly after two or three when a clear unequivocal pattern is established.

I have added my own to the list, purely for archival purposes, but it no longer accepts comments, for reasons stated, although I'm still contactable by email at

I emailed Colin Randall, a while ago, suggesting that he should install the same hit counter on Salut, or make his own "open access", since I suspect that it offers the same features. I have yet to receive a reply.

Saturday 17th March

Last updated 13:20

Today's posting will be built up in stages. Hopefully it should not take more than a day, but I shall make a start now while most folk are in their beds (apologies though to N. American visitors).

The first thing to notice is that there's a new graphic at the top. It's a log of visitors to this site, up till about 40 minutes ago, when I did a screen capture, and then cropped to size.

I would draw your attention to No.5 in the list, "", who logged on to Dreams & Daemons at 10.25 pm French time. I shall be having quite a lot to say about that particular visitor. It's the computer belonging to Bill Taylor, aka "Lacombe Lucien".

It's largely on account of the hostile comments appearing on blogs from "Lacombe Lucien" , as well as the activities (at least in the past) of the pseudos and anonymice, that I have felt obliged to track visitors not only to my site, but to others that have the same embedded tracking software. Yes, some of you may not be aware, but simply by installing particular brands of hit counter on one's computer, one can track visitors to one's site, and also allow others to do so, if left in open-access mode. I first spotted one these enhanced hit-counters on Sarah's blog, when clicking on her Stat counter. It's still there (please don't uninstall, Sarah, at least not yet). I then installed it on mine - it's the plain yellow one at the bottom of this page. And I notice that it's recently appeared on Louise's blog too. Again, please don't uninstall Louise. I'm trying to perform a public service, whatever others might say ......

Click on the counter and up pops a simple summary sheet. But for real detail, click on the items in the margin, under the heading "Recent Visitors" and you get the graphic shown above. To find out more about each visitor, click on the number that shows their ranking in the list, eg 5 for You'll be amazed at the amount of information there, right down to their ISP and operating system.

To be continued

Update: Saturday 17th March 15:20

Having signed-off (so to speak) on Louise's blog earlier today, reiterating that I have now withdrawn completely from personal blogging, the following comment was added by Bill Taylor:

"My only comment here is to repeat something I said a couple of weeks ago: This guy has problems. He'll be happier behind his own little Iron Curtain. But I wonder who else will fail to re-emerge? "
3/17/2007 1:34 PM

Here we see the Toronto Star journalist in his Mr. Hyde mode, deploying his Joseph Goebbels-like skills to the full.

"The guy has problems" is the classic retreat for someone who's bankrupt of arguments. The reference to the Iron Curtain is also revealing (almost Freudian one might say, while we are in this psychiatric vein): the old Soviet Union did not pack its political dissidents off to jail. Oh no, far too crude. They admitted them instead to psychiatric wards.

Yes Bill Taylor: it's clear that you are now in full ex-tabloid journalist mode, lacing your prose with the weasel words. But let's not dwell on this aspect of your craft. It's the last comment that needs addressing briefly: "But I wonder who else will fail to re-emerge?".

This is your dog-eared old trump card, isn't it: that all the anonymice/pseudos that were plagueing blogs until about a month ago ( which promptly ceased when I announced I was tracking) were me, yours truly, even the highly malicious ones that were making threats, notably against yourself. And while I was rushing to your defence, what were you doing, Bill Taylor ? Why, you were posting hostile comments to my blog under the pseudonym "Lacombe Lucien".


Lacombe Lucien said...
THIS SITE TO BE DEMOLISHED Tenders are invited to pull down this unsightly eyesore
28/2/07 8:59 PM

And when your side-kick, the Toxic Anglo-Saxon , picking up your refrain, accused me of being said Lacombe, you remained silent, a clear attempt on your part to stitch me up, the pair of you.

I'll deal with that pathetic warped specimen of humanity later. It's you I'm focusing on right now, given your shameless weasel words today on Louise's blog. You are a very clever, calculating , sinister operator, Bill Taylor, accusing others of the very anti-social thing in which you yourself are engaged. You try to present me as an internet troll, when all the time it's you who's been engaging in the cloak and dagger stuff. What does that make you, Bill Taylor ? I'll tell you: a schmuck and a hypocrite to boot.

Is there anything you would like to say now in your defence, Bill Taylor, while I take a break and compose my thoughts on the sheer obnoxiousness of your internet presence ?

Here again is my email address:

2nd Update: Friday 16th March

Blogger is playing up: this is the second attempt to update, having lost everything last time !

Robert Colville's Telly blog is entitled "Why laziness rules the world". Skipping the lost intro, here's my tuppenceworth:

"Estate and letting agents are my particular bugbear. I once switched estate agents after the first one, with sole agency, kept telling me the market was slow, and not to expect obtaining my full asking price. The new agent agreed to me RAISING the price substantially, and, guess what, found a buyer within days !

But we weren't so lucky 3 years ago. The sole agent - a national chain- said the property had stuck, and finally found a buyer who offered a price at the bottom of our range. But we later learned that the agent had provided the buyer with a mortgage (no doubt earning a nice introduction/administration fee at our expense). What is more, our suspicions that the buyer was a speculator were confirmed in short order: the new owner did an immediate loft conversion, and sold the property after less than 2 years to a buy-to-let merchant. There are now 5 different residents in the one building, with no parking space for at least two.

So despite paying my agent thousands of pounds to obtain the best price, I suspect the house was sold to a known speculator for far less than its true value.

What is more I know three people, two of them close relatives, whose houses have stuck, and who finally caved in to proposals from the agent to "take it off their hands" for a fraction of the asking price. In two cases, the areas then immediately became property hotspots due to big redevelopment plans which probably only the estate agent knew about at the time.

Moral: if you think your house is taking too long to sell, and you are being asked to lower your expectations, then smell a rat, and be quite ruthless in dumping the agent, and finding a new one. Just watch the tie-in period that you sign up to. If they say three months for sole agency, tell them 6 weeks maximum, or you will look elsewhere.

Letting agents? I'll save that one for another day, once I can find the blood pressure pills."

Update: Friday 16th March

Your View in today's Telly invites views on Tessa Jowell's confirmation that the cost of staging the 2012 London Olympics has now spiralled to well over £9 billion - three times what we were originally told when the bid was entered. That's unbelievable - even for this bunch of incompetents and shysters who rule over us. Here's what I've just submitted:

"We the taxpayer/London Council Tax payer/ National Lottery player have all been conned, big time. So scrap the London Olympics NOW. Give the Games to Paris, while there's still time. Spend the 9 billion pounds where they are needed - hospitals, schools, Armed Forces, transport. Anywhere except speculators' paradise, north of Stratford. When will this squandering of billions of taxpayers' money end ?"

Third Update: Thursday 15th March

As previously flagged, I have now decided to withdraw completely from personal blogging. Dreams & Daemons is now intended purely as a personal archive of my submissions to MSM blogs and the like. I am blocking the Comments facility to this blog immediately: apologies to those of you like Loui, Sarah, Louise and others who have been welcome here in the past. I hope you will understand why it's now time to stop providing a soapbox to those unwelcome visitors whose only interest is in badmouthing, or pushing their own agenda.

I am also renouncing a lifetime of adherence to humanism. The behaviour of certain individuals on the internet has completely changed my views on the nature of the human condition. I now realise that certain people behave in a manner that can only be described as robotic: the gap between man and machine is much narrower than I thought, especially with recent advances in cybernetics, fuzzy logic etc. Quite what will fill the gap vacated by humanism remains to be seen. It won't be a weird cult, or extreme politics, but it will definitely be something that fits with my growing right-wing tendencies. "Live and let live " is no longer a viable option in a world in which everyone thinks it OK to do their own thing, making up rules as they go along, or thinking that life can be lived without rules, whether self- or externally imposed.

I shall post something shortly , probably tomorrow, on how bloggers can monitor unwelcome visitors to their sites. The general principles will already be clear from those following Louise's and Sarah's blogs, but I may have one or two observations that folk may find useful.

I am still contactable by email:

Dreams and Daemons now ceases to be an interactive blog. Goodbye everyone.

Second Update: Thursday 15th March

David Bond's Sport blog (Inside Football) is entitled "Strange Ideas in the World of Football". It centres on Brian Mawhinney, now Football Association Chairman, but better known in his previous existence as a member of John Major's government. David Bond finds it strange, first that Mawhinney should have taken that job, and second, that Mr. Big is now pushing to have penalty shootouts as a means of avoiding drawn matches in the Premiership.

It's rare for this blogger to venture into an area about which he knows little. But having once had dealings with Mawhinney ( I needed to borrow an oxygen electrode from him, round about 1976 when we were both at Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine - he as a Reader, and me as a humble Postdoc' Fellow/ Honorary Lecturer) which meant an initial audience with his eminence, and then having to fight of his acolytes who kept coming to reclaim it before I had finished what I needed to do):

Here's my comment - first to go up:

"Like you, I was puzzled by Mawhinney's career move. The man has always impressed me, ever since seeing him perform prior to his entering politics. He was a Reader in Medical Physics at the London Medical school at which I did my PhD, and was highly impressive in the way in which he chaired Senior Common room meetings, like the hustings for a new Dean. Later on, I ran into a civil servant at a dinner party who served under him in Northern Ireland. He was known as someone who was highly focused, but did not suffer fools gladly.

He and John Major were close friends, representing adjacent constituencies (Peterborough and Huntingdon), so it may well be that with Major's departure from politics he felt he had lost an ally, and was probably more temperamentally suited to Government than Opposition.

Penalties ? I detest them, and don't understand what possessed so sharp a mind to suggest this method of draw-breaking.

My own solution, more to prevent goalless draws, is to abandon the practice of a single over-proficient goalkeeper: players would take it in turn to defend the goal. The appearance of a player known to be weak in goalkeeping skills would signal an intensive effort to net one or more during the 'window of opportunity'. "

Update:Thursday 15th March

There's an article in today's Telegraph entitled "Brown's tax increases hit family incomes".

My comment was the second to go up:

"It's interesting that the rise in National Insurance contributions some 4 years ago has been singled out as a major factor. Yet press comment at the time was fairly muted. A typical headline would have read " Budget special: Brown puts an extra penny on NI contributions".

NI contributions used to be levied at a rate of about 10p for every pound of eligible income, and that was raised to 11p. What's an extra penny ? For someone earning, say, £20,000 of eligible income, their NI deduction increased from £2,000 per year to £2,200. That was a whacking 10% increase, but the press reports of "an extra penny in the £ " made it sound like a mere 1%.

Thanks to lack of media vigilance (a reflection perhaps on poor numeracy) Brown was allowed to get away with an iniquitous stealth tax, and one moreover that was index-linked: his take increases year on year with rising incomes. But he stubbornly refuses to increase our tax allowances in line with inflation, and it's the same with the ceiling for stamp duty on houses, such that 'fiscal drag' nets him extra billions each year. My son has just bought his first house, and has had to pay the Chancellor some £5000 for the privilege.

A Chancellor who operates in this mean, grasping underhand fashion, is not someone I would wish to see become PM. The man's a creep, and gives me the creeps."

Second Update: Wed 14th March

Melisssa Whitworth has just posted in the Telly's blogs on a US-authored book entitled "The Evil Empire". Star Wars revisited ? Nope. It's us he's referring to, or what he calls "the English". Seems we're responsible for all that's wrong with the world. No, it was not written by Richard of Orléans. This guy has at least a scant regard for the facts. Mine is the first comment to go up. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be ....

"Sorry, not personally complicit in getting China hooked on opium ( blame my great great grandfather instead), but I accept that it was not Britain's finest hour. But we gave them back Hong Kong, and cheap Chinese goods have saved the UK economy from the rampant inflation that should have resulted from Gordon Brown's spending spree. So they can't hate us too much.

Not guilty either to creating slums (but my desk is a small contribution to that retro genre).

But I plead guilty to having helped take the soul out of rock-and-roll ( like attending those post-Bill Haley/Presley gigs at Eel Pie Island with ne'er a teddy boy in sight), and am still a fan of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and that entire 60s thing that originated on Merseyside, and which musically still leaves one reeling with its sheer inventiveness).

Oops - forgot about Buddy Holly, and one or two others Stateside, who preceded and possibly inspired them. But US druggie-influenced flower-power killed the Beatles and the life-blood of 60s music, so let's hear no more cr*p from across the pond, NY Times included, if you don't mind, about the Evil Empire.

Occasionally I think there's no God, but then I ask myself "Who do I thank for creating the Atlantic Ocean ?"

Update: Wed March 14th : Hey, guess what ? Shane Richmond has just issued an invitation to meet his team of Telly bloggers at the new Victoria HQ. It's down for the evening of April 12th. After a quick check with easyJet, and a headstrong flash of the plastic, I have just shot off this reply:

"Nice one, Shane. I must hand it to you folk at the Telly - when it comes to the human touch you are streets ahead of the competition.

I went to a similar hospitality "do" quite recently at the headquarters of Nice Matin, on the outskirts of (not surprsingly) Nice. That was most interesting - I've been meaning to post my video, complete with noisy soundtrack, but with my own modest blog in semi-hibernation mode, I have not got round to doing so yet.

Have just this minute booked my flights - in on the 12th, back the next day. I look forward to meeting you and your splendid team. PLEASE don't change your mind ....."

Is anyone else I know likely to be there ? Louise ? Sarah ? Let us know if you are.

Second update: Tuesday March 13th, 19:05 French time

There are now 283 comments on the Telly's Cameron thread. Most say the same as me: in becoming a born-again eco-fundamentalist , Cameron has deserted traditional Conservative thinking, and is becoming harder to distinguish from the Liberals/Greens in both Gnu Labour and the Lib Dems.

Here's my second contribution to the thread that has just appeared:

"Carbon dioxide is not a classical pollutant in the sense that sulphur dioxide is, which, incidentally Phil S. is the main culprit where acid rain is concerned.

CO2 is not toxic to human life per se, but is instead suffocating - depriving one of oxygen. But then the same could be said of any other gas that is not oxygen.

Carbon dioxide is only a pollutant in the sense that it is a greenhouse gas. But then so is water vapour !

Personally I dislike hearing carbon dioxide referred to as a pollutant as if it were sulphur dioxide.

OK, so we have probably overloaded the planet's mechanisms for removing it through excessive burning of fossil fuels. But that's because there are billions of us who expect to live in comfortable surroundings.

But while keeping warm or running a car may be personal decisions, there are vast amounts of CO2 poured into the atmosphere from industry, power stations etc where we as individuals have had no say, even when those same processes have produced classical pollutants that have caused acid rain, bronchitis, attacked buildings etc.

So it's a bit rich for someone whose party traditionally allied itself with the captains of industry to now turn on ordinary working folk, essentially making them scapegoats and thence tax fodder for their next Chancellor, simply because they/we want to holiday in the Maldives instead of Margate.

Living on planet Earth has always been a risky business - especially for those living in regions prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis etc. It is pathetic to see Little Englanders becoming doom-mongers purely because of a risk - still theoretical - of rising sea levels.

It is arrogance of the highest order to imagine that we can fine-tune the composition of Planet Earth's atmosphere to suit our own comfort and convenience. Our first priority should be dealing with consequences, not causes, of climate change.

Sorry polar bears - you will have to take your chances. I'm more concerned about the Maldive and Canvey islanders ! "

Posted by Colin Berry on March 13, 2007 5:29 PM

Update: Tuesday March 13th

"Are Cameron's Conservatives still Tories?" is the question put in today's Your View in the Telly. Our Dave's predicament is admittedly not an easy one - political realism means one having to accept a degree of pandering and opportunism if he's to prevent Gnu Labour winning a fourth term of office. But his latest proposals on taxing air travel seem to me to show he's away with the eco-fairies, and unfit to be PM. My views on the man and his eco-religion suddenly crystallized yesterday, with this missive as a result, which appeared in the first crop of comments:

"What a disaster ! We have this execrable Government of ne'er-do-wells, addicted to self-serving spin. Yet the only realistic alternative is a motley crew of nonentities in thrall to gimmickry. And the particular brand of gimmickry - micromananging our use of fossil fuels - is one that will make increasingly greater inroads into our quality of life, since the proposed levies on air travel are clearly just for starters.

There is an opportunity right now for a brand new political party to replace the main Opposition party, the latter having been progressively sidelined by a succession of wannabee PMs with no real sense of political conviction.

The new party should be called simply The Low Tax Party. Lowering tax is just a means to an end - the creation of a society in which folk are less dependent on the State for handouts and encouraged to fend more for themselves. It's a concept that used to be called Conservatism, before the party was hijacked by the eco-freaks and lifestyle micromanagers.

On your bike, Mr. Cameron. You and your ilk are not what the country needs."

Second update: Monday March 12th Still on the subject of Telly blogs in general, and Christopher Howse's "language" blogs in particular, his latest post has a comment from the redoubtable "Dr. Deipnosoph". One or two other regulars (eg Ped), as well as myself, have tried in the past to blow the whistle on this superb piss-taker, but to no avail. Anyway, he appeared again today, and here was my reply:

Title: Fly -by- night character

Now there's a coincidence ! I was at the very same soirée in 1957 as you Dr. Deipnosoph, where I was seconded as part of my Grade 1 Guest Filtration Certificate (aka Bouncer's Stripe). We had been warned that you might try to gatecrash, but your arriving disguised as Charlie Chaplin had us all completely fooled: it just never occurred to us that you would assume the persona of a slapstick comedian - we are filled with admiration at the sheer audacity of your double bluff.

There was just one moment when a sliver of doubt entered our minds, which was near midnight when you slipped on a somewhat grubby raincoat, and did a circuit of the buffet area, grabbing all the uneaten caviar canapés, which you stuffed into a Tesco's carrier bag. But being the fools that we are, we just put it down to harmless eccentricity. But I'm broadminded: pinching the hors d'oeuvres is surely no worse than taking le pisse, if you see what I mean (as I'm sure you do).
Colin Berry at 12 Mar 2007 16:43

Updated Monday March 12th Have just got back from visiting relatives in the UK, and am catching up with my favourite blogs. Christopher Howse does one for the Telly, and his most recent topic is one that this iconclast could not resist: spoof publishers' rejection letters.

He provides two, the first addressed to Shelley, the other to Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Here's one I submitted an hour ago that has just appeared:

Title: Dear JRR

Dear Professor Tolkien

Further to my letter of 5th May inst, I have now heard back from my contact at the Institute of Vulcanology. He assures me that temperatures of magma close to the surface rarely exceed 1500 degrees Celsius. If that is the temperature needed to "unmake" the special ring around which your tale revolves, then there is an obvious objection: your "hobbits" presumably had blacksmiths, who with their bellows-assisted charcoal furnaces should have been able to achieve a similar temperature, thus negating the need for Frodo and his companions to embark upon so long and perilous a Quest to Mount Doom.

I fear the willing suspension of disbelief will not be achieved in your otherwise splendid trilogy.

Perhaps you should consider condensing your tale as a boys' adventure yarn, eg the kind that Eagle does in comic-strip format. Would you like me to drop Marcus Morris a line ? He's the editor, and a reverend gentleman to boot. He is always on the lookout for heroic adventures that have a hint of religious allegory.

PS I thought Gollum provided a welcome touch of light relief ....

Colin Berry at 12 Mar 2007 09:17

Updated Monday March 5th About those apples: did you know that apples can grow well, even in cooler northern climes. Take Canada as a case in point: until recently I used to think that there was only 1 variety of apple in that country - a red one from the Toronto area. Then yesterday I learned there's another, a green one, closer towards Ottawa. I won't bother you with their names, since I've learned that the names change, depending on where you are.

If you're really interested in the whole range of Canadian apples, good, bad or indifferent, here's the link:

Canadian apples

But if you're like me, you'll just concentrate on the ones you know best, in my case those two Ontario varieties, less than 250 miles apart.

BTW: Did you know that if you wish to enlarge a picture, like the one above, all you need to do is point and click ?

Updated Sunday March 4th Yes, the picture's been changed. Louise (see comments) was fed up with sight of those socks, so here's something a lot more sober, about which I'll say something later.

Sorry, " Lacombe Lucien ", as you presently like to be known - both here and on other blogs in the family - this site is not ready for demolition just yet. There are still those issues that need to be discussed, like moderation, censorship, self-policing etc etc. Oh yes, and how to behave like a decent human being. Incidentally, Lacombe, your location is shown clearly on the graphic, which may make you see red.

But it's European locations that are my chief interest at present. What's that Sinatra line about "little green apples" ? Your days are numbered, anonymouse/anonymice.

It's said that if you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. I wonder if the same is true of making folk aware of one that's been hidden at the back of a cupboard all the time, without anyone noticing it was there - until yesterday, that is.

More to follow.

ed: updated Tue Feb 13 at 21:15 French time (scroll to end, new text coloured in red for ease of locating- no flagging of emotional state intended, preferred colour blue being used already for links) : re Shane Richmond's latest Telly blog entitled "When is a blog, not a blog ?"

Here's a picture of the more photogenic end of my body, and yes, I've decided to put my feet up for two or three weeks, possibly longer.

Maybe it's a reaction to Will Lewis's description of bloggers as geeks who need to get out more*. Lewis, just in case you didn't know, is Editor of the Daily Telegraph.

But he discovered himself last week how handy it can be to have a blog at one's disposal, and used it to lambast BA for attempting to bump him off his flight to the Davos junket. Of course, once informed (or reminded) who he was, BA found him a seat in short order.

But there's a simpler explanation for my absconding: I just don't like treadmills, including self-created ones. With things being pretty quiet in these parts, I decided now might be as good a time as any to take a mini-sabbatical.

It'll be a chance to go out and explore the Greater Blogosphere, post a comment here and there, maybe get some new entries in those Links (aka Escape Routes) in the sidebar.

But don't drop your guard, Richard of Orléans. I'm still on the lookout for displays of Brit-bashing/quasi-racism/ hypocrisy/inconsistency and plain simple getting-your -facts wrong.

As for that Bill Taylor (Toronto Star): there's only one way to deal with a self-confessed wind-up merchant. Just don't give him the time of day. Pretend he's not there. Walk on by. Walk on byeeeeeeee.

* Re which I posted an unflattering few words to Julian Glover's thread in the Guardian's Davos coverage in its "Comment is Free" section.

ed: update Monday 29 Jan . Have just posted the following to Wordblog ( "MSM bush telegraph 2" in the Escape Routes) re the steady decline in the quality of reporting in the Sunday Times over many years.

"I still buy the ST, but I no longer read it with the same confidence and pleasure that it gave back in the 70s and 80s. In those days the articles were well-researched and authoritative. Then the rot set in. There were the instant post-mortems on every airline crash, pointing fingers of blame, that were not subsequently confirmed by the painstaking official enquiries. What gave the ST the right to sit in instant judgement on so emotive an issue as human tragedy ?

The ST then used to reveal astonishing ignorance in matters of personal finance, like not knowing the way building societies had long calculated interest on an annual basis.
I once wrote to them showing how as a result of this tradition, early repayments could earn one no credit in reduced interest for up to a year. The letter was acknowledged, shelved, and then the comments reappeared weeks later under a journalist’s byline with no mention of my tip-off.

They then got rid of Roger Anderson, the consumer champion, who won redress for many victims of scams etc (including someone in my own family). He was never replaced. Why ? Was he upsetting too many advertisers with his growing impatience and contempt for industry malpractices ?

Recently I wrote to the ST Letters editor, pointing out that their so-called Facts feature on carbon monoxide in the aftermath of the Corfu tragedy was entirely wrong in suggesting the gas was heavy, and would sink to floor level. Link to earlier post. It was weeks before a correction was made, and then it was placed in the most inconspicuous place on Page 2 instead of appearing as a letter.

Years ago, there was a entire feature in the Magazine on Watson of “Watson & Crick” DNA double -helix fame, presenting him as an expatriate Briton who had been forced to desert his home country. I pointed out that he was a Chicago man. At least that made the letters column. But I now see so much ignorance and superficiality that I frankly don’t take a thing I read in the ST at face value.

Given the existence of Google and search engines, there really is no excuse any longer for this continuing sloppiness.

Given this paper now costs £2 in Britain ( and a skeleton version where in live in France is €5), I think we are entitled to better than this.

My wife is furious because they have suddenly stopped doing the national sections (Welsh, Scottish and Irish) , which she used to access online. At this rate, we’ll stop buying the ‘dead-tree’ version altogether. What price customer loyalty when one is taken for granted in this way ?"

ed Update Jan 29, 18:30. Yesterday the Sunday Telegraph ran the following article:

Profile: Britannia By William Langley
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 28/01/2007

A trident in her hand, a lion at her feet, and a nation on its knees. Is the lady for returning ?

I posted a reply mid-afternoon, but no new comments appeared after 1pm yesterday - most infuriating. Finally, a new batch of comments did finally appear today. But that's not much good, coming a day late !

Here, purely for the archives, was my contribution:

"Last November, I posted on my blog an article called "Re-discovered- our Britannian heritage". link It was a response to Stephen Oppenheimer's genetic studies, showing a large common gene pool between English, Irish, Welsh and Scots, derived he believes from Basque settlers arriving some 15,000 years ago. He is pretty dismissive of claims that the Celts were the original settlers of Britain, or that the English are of predominantly "Anglo-Saxon" stock arriving after the Roman occupation. I've always hated official forms on which one has to state nationality. Should one write "British" (too vague), or English (too specific). In future I shall write "Britannian" and see if there's any come-back....Posted by Colin Berry on January 28, 2007 2:59 PM

ed update 18:40 French time

Telegraph blogger Andrew Gimson has just posted on "Education and Class Angst":

Here's my comment: Look, I think what you guys have to realize is this - and, OK, I know what you're going to say, that here's a privately-educated man pulling up the ladder after him, but, seriously, under New Labour, it's something entirely different now from what existed under the Conservatives. Forget about these labels - Comprehensive, City Academy, Faith School, Independent, what you need to understand is that our modern society no longer works on the basis of how or where you were educated. It's WHO you are that counts, and what you can GIVE to society that matters. Believe me, I know, through meeting people in all walks of life who have made it in life without going to Eton or Fettes - pop stars, computer billionaires, friends of my wife, celebrities in all walks of life, just ordinary everyday folk, like you or me. As I was saying just the other day to Lord Adonis, or was it Prince Charles, bla bla bla bla ..........bla,bla,bla bla bla bla bla ..............

Posted by Colin Berry (on behalf of Tony Blair)

ed: update Tuesday 30 Jan at 12:10 French time:
Second contribution to the "Education and Class Angst thread:

Big Talk

OK, I hear what you guys are saying. It's clear from many of your comments that 10 years of New Labour have finally began to restore some much-needed confidence in the State system that suffered so much under Tory misrule. If I hear you correctly, what we now need to do is beef up the system a bit, so that brighter kids are not held back, and parents don't have to bankrupt themselves in putting their children into private schools(much over-rated in my opinion, having seen one at first hand).

Perhaps what's needed is a cautious return to an element of, let's call it talent-spotting, at the crucial pre-teen/teen interface. So children who are deemed to be academically-inclined would go to a dedicated kind of school, suited to their aptitudes.

They wouldn't be exposed to a lot of boring stuff, like grammar, that us previous generations suffered, so I thought of calling them "Non-Grammar Schools". There they would be freed from the constraints of the National Curriculum, and be able to study traditional subjects, like History, Modern Languages, Latin, separate Sciences even. Much greater emphasis would be placed on terminal exam, instead of Parent/Sibling/Internet/Teacher/Private Tutor -assisted coursework.

What to call the exam ? How about Optimum Attainment Level, or simply O-Level for short ?

Colin Berry (on behalf of Tony Blair) at 30 Jan 2007 10:54

Updated again, Tuesday 30 Jan at 16:00 French time

Shane Richmond's Telegraph blog is devoted to today's launch of Microsoft Vista. Yours truly decided to add his nerdish tuppence worth to the Comments with the following:

Let the buyer beware

One of the main determinants of a computer's performance is the available system memory (physical RAM). The one I'm using at present was recently upgraded from 256Mb to 512Mb, with a marked improvement. Despite that, there is still only 101Mb available physical memory when booting up, which reduces further to 72Mb when going online - barely adequate for anything involving multi-tasking.

When I discussed this with the chap in my local shop, he said I should have bought a laptop bundled with Windows XP Professional rather than Home Edition, but this was not offered as an option at the time. Given that XP Home edition can take such a big bite out of one's system memory, I, for one, will not be rushing to buy Vista, even on a new laptop with 1024Mb, until I know what the drain will be on memory.

For those not au fait with checking for working, as distinct from installed memory, one can find available RAM by going to Programs-Accessories-System Information, and then waiting for the table to come up, which may take a few seconds.

Colin Berry at 30 Jan 2007 14:32

Updated again, Tuesday 30 Jan at 23:55 French time

Andrew Gimson (Telegraph blogger) has just opened a new thread on Alec Douglas-Home who served briefly as Prime Minister before Labour won the 64 election, ending "13 years of Tory misrule".

I was working on the University newspaper at the time as News Features editor. Together with a colleague, we talked the new Education Minister Michael Stewart ( later to become Foreign Secretary) into letting us interview him at his lair in Curzon St. His manner was cautious and headmasterly, but then we were full of suspicions about Labour's real intentions. We even tried to sound him out on the possibility that grants might adjusted up or down to favour subjects that Labour considered fashionable ! The thought that they might one day be replaced with loans, and students charged top-up fees on top, never entered our heads ! Innocent youth !

Anyway, here's what I have just posted. It was delayed for several hours, presumably for legal clearance ( maybe the Telly moderators were worried about the unflattering references to Private Eye, but it's the Eye of the 60s that's being referred to, not today's relatively strait -laced offering).

There's one small error: Alec Douglas -Home was the 14th, not 13th Earl . Memory plays tricks after 40 years !

A man to be reckoned with

"Modest, maybe, but Alec Douglas-Home was no wimp or easy push-over. Let's not forget that this was the man who in 1971, as Foreign Secretary, decided the Soviets were becoming too brazen with their spying activities in Britain. His response: he expelled 105 of their diplomats, just like that. Everyone was gobsmacked, us, the Soviets, and probably his wife as well.

The crisis in Anglo-Soviet relaions blew over very quickly, perhaps giving the West its first real hint that the Soviets, for all their bluster, were pragmatic realists. Some might argue that John F Kennedy had maybe shown as much during the earlier Cuban missile crisis. Or was he just lucky ?

Private Eye was merciless with the so-called 13th Earl of Home. His was, after all, a surprise appointment, in the aftermath of Profumo, in the days when votes were weighed instead of counted. Everyone thought Rab Butler would succeed Harold MacMillan, but was later to become known as the "The Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had".

Incidentally, I went right off Private Eye magazine during Home's brief tenure at No.10. Admittedly he was not the most inspiring of figures physically, but constant reference to him as a "cretin" or "cretinous" when he was clearly a gentleman of the old school finally persuaded me that satire without fair play was the stuff of 5th form school magazines."

Colin Berry at 30 Jan 2007 19:21

Latest update: Wed Jan 31 13:40 French time

Toby Harnden has just posted on his Telegraph blog under the title "Obama and the racist smear campaign" ( accessible from my Links in the sidebar -"Escape Routes").

I have just posted the following comment, which will hopefully disabuse Bill Taylor (Toronto Star) of his bizarre idea that I am a closet racist.

"It's that last but one sentence which betrays the email for what it is: malevolent propaganda.

"Obama joined the United Church of Christ to help purge any notion that he is still a Muslim."

Note the use of the loaded word "purge".

Reading the email, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Joseph Goebbels School of Propaganda has been re-established, using ever more subtle techniques for controlling the "minds" of impressionable folk.

It was probably this kind of stuff, or the prospect thereof, that frightened off Colin Powell, making him arguably the Greatest President that America Never Had.

So are Americans going to let it happen a second time? What will the rest of the world conclude about America, given the common factor of neither of them fitting a white Anglo-Saxon template ?

Or is it really to do with religion rather than skin colour? If so, how happy is America with the perception that McCarthyite paranoia and witch-hunting are in the process of being reborn, albeit directed this time against an imagined taint of Islam ?"

Updated Wed Jan 31 a second time at 23:30 French time:

Submitted this second comment to the above thread (Toby Harnden) in response to a ferociously PC comment from Maddie.
"And every headline that asks 'Will Barack Obama Be The First Black American President?", is racist !"

So we are now required to pretend we're colour-blind, to avoid Maddie's charge of racism, even though we may detest discrimination on the grounds of race or colour, in any shape or form.

Being aware of colour, noting society's responses to it, positive or negative, is something entirely different from discrimination.

I agree with Maddie on a lot of things, but not on this one ! Preserve us from this kind of sanctimonious PC !

Would she brand as sexist a headline that asks "Will Hillary Clinton be the First Female American President?" ?

Update: 23:45

Oh dear. Egg on face time. Having re-read Maddie's entire comment again, I realize she was being ironical , so have had to send a quick chaser asking the Telegraph to cancel it.

I've moaned before about the Telly's policy of moderating Comments in reverse chronological order (last come, first served), but for once that may work in my favour, if they see the request for withdrawal before posting that misjudged comment!

ed: updated Thur Feb 1 at 08:40 approx French time

The Telly has just opened a new thread on "Your View" re William Hague's call for a reappraisal of our "special relationship" with the US. I have previously stated my own non-dewy-eyed views on this subject. here was an unmissable opportunity to put them into the public domain.

"It would be better, William Hague, just to concentrate on winning the next election, and then just doing it quietly, without fanfare (ie laying sentiment aside and going our own way).

The special relationship has always been an embarrassing media myth, one that will only be laid to rest when Britain is SEEN to act independently of the USA.

Yes, America came in on our side during WW2, but only after the fall of France and the Low Countries, after Dunkirk, after the Blitz and after the Battle of Britain. In fact Uncle Sam only remembered the so-called special relationship after Pearl Harbor, and the formal declarations of war by Japan and Nazi Germany on the United States. Up to that time, Britain had stood alone for over two years. And then, as the price of Anglo-American victory, our gold reserves were transferred to Fort Knox, and we were saddled with long-term debt. We have only just paid the last instalment.

The only thing special about the special relationship has been its durability, given its amazing one-sidedness.

The important thing in future when, hopefully, we once again plough our own furrow in world affairs (assuming the present Government can be dislodged) is to keep our senior Western partner in the loop, to avoid a repetition of Suez.

I like the emphasis on forging relations with India, China etc. If an economic realist wins the Presidency in France, and the new members like Poland pull their weight - and stay democratic - maybe Europe will be worth another look - but not before."

Second contribution to same thread at 11:30

Britain has the 4th (or maybe 5th) largest economy in the world. It's a hub for air-travellers, the City of London is a pre-eminent financial centre, we have some superb and varied scenery in a remarkably compact area, attracting tourists from all over the world etc etc . The population is 60m and growing. In what way is Britain a "small insignificant island" off the coast of Europe, "Grateful Expat" ? Have you looked at an atlas recently ?

Posted on February 1, 2007 10:22 AM

PS This will probably be the only addition today, since I'm off on a visit to Nice -Matin (newspaper) today to see how it's produced. J and I are going with our local Antiboulenc society. First, I need to brush up on some journalistic lingo !

Updated Fri Feb 2 at 11:40 approx

Roy Hattersley, one-time Deputy Leader of the Labour Party has some advice in today's Times for the present holder of that post, the hapless and wayward John Prescott.

John Livesey with his useful perceptive eye queries the sense of Hattersley putting his advice to Prescott into the public domain, but wasn't terribly precise in the reasons for his misgivings. Here's what I said:

"John Livesey has hit the right button, but understated the full implications. This article will make it harder for John Prescott to do the necessary, because Prescott will anticpate the retort: "Let me guess: it's Roy who's been putting ideas into your head, is it John ?

But I enjoyed hearing you speak, Mr. Hattersley ( Birmingham University Union, circa 1965 !)"

Last night's visit to see Nice-Matin and its sister papers (Var Matin etc) being produced was highly successful.. I was allowed to take photographs everywhere we visited, from the Pre-Press room, where the final decisions are made re layout, to the printing presses. And all preceded by an excellent supper in the staff "canteen". (There has to be a better, more upmarket word for a French "canteen", which is closer in its ambiance to a University refectory). The visit will be the subject of a future post, post-sabbatical that is. ated Feb 13

Updated Feb 13, 21:15

For those of us who like to philosophise about the meaning of life, and all that, there's a new post from Shane Richmond on the Telly blogs, entitled "When is a blog not a blog ?".

Yours truly, aka me, has already put up a couple of comments, the first directed to Shane, the second at some know-all /put-downer, aka Tim. Isn't it just like the good old days - attack, then watch your back......

There's a price to be paid, these days, for analysing. It's to be called a pedant. Musn't be judgmental: if I'd been born 20 years ago, and had attended a modern comp', I'd probably be saying the same thing, while watching the clock ( so as not to miss BB).


angela said...

Have a nice rest, Colin.
And no, re. my comment on your last post I wasn't being diplomatic merely saying that you covered a lot of subjects in that post.
PS Like those socks!

sciencebod said...

Correction acknowledged, Angela. But maybe I could make one of my own. It's to be a change, rather than a rest. But then you know what they say .....

Loui (and his mum!) said...

Hey Colin, great socks!
So now I have found your blog you are taking a break...not for too long I hope!

J x

sciencebod said...

Sorry to hear about your brush with those speed cameras, Loui( Angela's blog). It's electronic policing, of course. It's at least self-financing, so fits beautifully with the way we are now governed, by dictat, bureaucrats, targets, quotas, anything except proper policing to nab the real dangerous drivers- the mobile phone users, the tailgaters, those who don't signal, have misaligned headlights, drive without insurance, bald tyres etc etc.

I'd be interested to hear what happens tomorrow at your speed awareness course. And whether or not they treat you like a homicidal maniac for doing that reckless 34mph !

Loui (and his mum!) said...

Oddly enough Colin come the end of Feb there are new laws going to be introduced regarding the use of mobile phones while driving. If you are caught (if!) using a mobile without a handsfree kit not only will you be fined but you will gain 3 points too. I wonder if there will be a "using a mobile phone while driving" awareness course! I'll let you know how I get on later.
J x

sciencebod said...

Yeah, that course for the mobile phoniacs would make a lot more sense.

I'd also like there to be one for driving an elderly Rover while under the influence of missus in the passenger seat. We all know the tell-tale signs: dressed in a hat, scarf and gloves to look like a human being, and doing a constant 31.5 mph irrespective of road conditions, while all the time staring fixedly ahead, ignoring the build up of traffic behind. That's assuming that the Madame Tussaud's waxwork at the wheel ever swivels its eyes in the direction of the driving mirror to know what's behind.

Loui (and his mum!) said...

Hey Colin, I now drive like that lady with the rather attractive matching hat, scarf and gloves...sitting on 29mph (not in the middle lane I hasten to add!)just incase I get my photograph taken again!
Todays course was OK and actually informative. The amount of people who really do not know what speeds you should be doing in certain areas was scary. I now have my "mark" by my name at the DVLC to show I have completed my course and will never be offered another should I become reckless and exceed the limit again.

J x

sciencebod said...

Sounds as if you weren't made to eat humble pie, Loui, which is a small consolation.

But what would their reply be to this question? You are driving through a busy residential area sticking rigidly to the 30mph speed limit (and rightly so). You take your eyes off the road to check the speedo. Who's to say that in that brief time a small child doesn't run out in front of you from between parked cars ? Result : one injured or maybe dead child, but no points on your licence ......

We are expected to act like responsible citizens, and rightly so. But responsibility should carry with it the right to make one's own decisions, like whether to drive at 26, 30 or even 34 mph.
It's crazy that 30mph is legal (even if unsafe in certain areas) while 34 mph means a fine, points on your licence, higher insurance premiums, possibly a court appearance and/or your name in the paper, and having to take time off work to attend a speed awareness course. Welcome to Tony Blair's micro(mis)managed Nanny state !

Sarah said...

Enjoy your trip to Nice-Matin, Colin. Do blog about it upon your return!

sciencebod said...

Thanks, Sarah.

Were you aware that none of the comments on your own blog are accessible right now ? Your posts are, but not the comments.

sciencebod said...

And now there's problems accessing Colin Randall's Salut!, which he knows about(see his latest post).

It's intermittent. Right now, I get this error code:


and it tells me to go to Blogger Help to report the problem.

But all I see on Blogger Help at the moment are messages from people who have previously got this error code, asking for help, but not getting any, at least none that I can see.

It seems no one at Blogger has thought of breaking in on this chatter with a word of explanation for us lesser mortals.

And the 2007 Award for User-Unfriendliness goes to ......

Loui (and his mum!) said...

They would reply that hitting someone at 30mph would not be as bad as hitting them at say 35mph! That extra 5mph realy does seem to make a big difference inbetween living and dying....scary really. You must remember though that I am now "aware" and a nightmare to have in your car as a passenger.

I agree about our Tone though....oh and Ken Livingstone up at Livingstone Towers. Dangerous combination I'd say!

J x

sciencebod said...

Yeah, a moving vehicle packs a big punch. I remember being taught the formula for kinetic energy in physics: it increases as the square of velocity. Double the speed and you quadruple the kinetic energy.

But I still think they're trying to blind us with science. How many motorists, driving at 35 mph, would actually hit someone at that speed ? Any responsible driver adjusts their speed for likely hazards, allowing themselves time to brake, so in the unfortunate event of there being a collision, it would be at a much, much lower speed.

I'll tell you what really infuriates me. It's driving carefully through a housing estate, say, at 20mph, where's there are parked cars, and then getting flashed five minutes later on an open stretch of road without another vehicle or pedestrian in sight. That's the injustice of it, and one of the main reasons why Labour would never get my vote until it scraps these stupid laws. They don't save lives: they just persecute and criminalise otherwise careful drivers. Oh yes, and generate revenue.

If you ask me (OK, Loui, so you didn't, which was a bit of an oversight on your part, since I like any oppportunity to fulminate against the sheer awfulness of Gnu Labour) this present bunch of oafs and ne'er-do-wells has taken all the pleasure out of driving.

Loui (and his mum!) said...

I so agree with your last comments but won't air my opinions here today! It's Friday and the works done for a few days and I am chilled....

J x

Louise said...

Well, I'm home and have rapidly admired your sox! Have a lot of reading to do!

sciencebod said...

Great to have you back, Louise, as I've just said on the Western Front (Orléans).

Not a lot has changed while you've been away. More's the pity ....

jeanne d'arc said...

What does "bouffiasse" mean?

angela said...

Just to say, Colin, that I was in Antibes last week and took a moment to look at the "paintings". They really are wonderful and were drawing a lot of attention.
Thanks for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

Sudden Infant Death Sydrome looks interesting.

At Oxford there is a press that publishes dictionaries.
You might want to take a look.

sciencebod said...

Did you see today's Nice-Matin, Angela ? There's an article on Page 7 about the pictures, entitled "Sur la route des peintres". And did you know there's also a glossy brochure available from the tourist office in the Place de Gaulle ? According to it, there are similar displays in Cagnes-sur-Mer (13 pix), Grasse (4), Le Cannet (3), St.Paul de Vence (3) and Villefranche-sur-Mer(5). Antibes has 10 pix.

Thanks for pointing out the typo, Anonymous, which is now corrected.

Louise said...

Have you changed your socks yet, Colin? Come on, get those slippers off!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lacombe Lucien said...


Tenders are invited to pull down this unsightly eyesore

sciencebod said...

Admit it: you're just jealous of my socks.

Louise said...

No, Colin, no-one is jealous of your socks - you've been wearing them too long!

sciencebod said...

OK, so they're novelty socks, Louise, and the novelty's wearing off. Bit like blogs, really, at least personal ones.

Looking today at what's been happening on Colin R's blog with one or more crazy anonymice, I'm glad to be out.

As indicated, D&D is in a state of suspended animation while I decide what to do with it. I may just use it as a back-up to blogging on the Telly etc.

Incidentally, there's an anonymous on Colin R's right now making references, apparently to your good self, in which the word Eiger appears. It could just be someone using the first Swiss metaphor that springs to (what passes for a) mind. But there's a possibility, albeit remote, that it's someone with more mischievous intent, bearing in mind that the Eiger has featured in one of my previous posts. All I would say is that I stopped posting to Colin R under "anonymous" in 2006, and my last post to Colin R was some 3 weeks ago to the day.

I continue to read and enjoy your Chocs and Cuckoos, but prefer not to leave comments for reasons already stated.

Louise said...

Yes, I have seen, and replied, to the posting - for the last time.

I don't care who wrote it and will never know anyway.

Silly remarks like that don't wind me up - it's just tedious.

Louise said...

I too have followed Colin R's example and blocked anonymous comments. I find this latest anonymous rather an unpleasant person. There are comments that I call 'digs' at someone, but I sense that this person is a nasty piece of work.

Louise said...

Have a good time in England!

sciencebod said...

Couldn't agree more Louise. There's a real sense of lurking menace about that individual, and I take no pleasure at all in having finally got others to see things my way on the subject of comment filtration.

But the current circumstances are entirely different. Everyone seems agreed on that (which is one in the eye for that stirrer).

If/when Mr (?) Nasty finally gets bored and goes away, I for one shan't hold it against you if revert to your open-house policy. But I'd probably continue to stay here in my shell ....

sciencebod said...

PS to Louise (and anyone else who still bothers to read the comments here):

I've recently discovered a way of finding where the trouble-makers are posting from.

For example, I now know with 100% certainty who "Lacombe Lucien" is (who sent the unfriendly comment above).

I did consider doing a journalistic exposé, but that might mean having to divulge the methods that I am using, which I don't wish to do while there are bigger fish to catch. So all I would say to Lacombe for now is this: you are rumbled, my friend, and are going to look pretty stupid if I quote back some of the things you have said recently, in the quaint belief that you were secure behind your mask.

My advice to you, chum, is to stick to your original name, the one by which you are usually known. And if you're thinking of adopting yet another identity, then think again. You'll just be adding to the indictment.

Sorry to sound like a policeman, folks: if it weren't for "Lacombe Lucien", and other malevolent folk who stalk the blogosphere, it would not be necessary to be wasting time like this on being a policeman (or detective).

But at least I'll have something worth saying on my next post. Title ? "Troubled by scumbags on your blog ? Here's how to track them down."

Louise said...

Colin - I think that if you have really found a way of discovering who 'people' are then you should tell us how to go about it. I think that most people suffer from unpleasant remarks on their blog from time to time and it would be good to know how to expose them.

I imagine that you can only 'expose' those with a 'real' name, not anonymice?

I don't think I am the only one who reads your blog, but still...

Fed up with those socks though! Buy some new ones while in England!

sciencebod said...

I have only just learned about this method Louise. It' s told me who is using LL, but I'm now hot on the trail of the anonymice. All will be revealed in due course ... Please be patient.

Sorry about the socks. I may replace them with another picture before I head off "home" on Tuesday.

PS Speaking of geekish knowhow, do you have a system that tells you when a new comment has gone up ? Like my previous one - you were very quick onto it !

Louise said...

Ha, Ha - now that would be telling, wouldn't it?!

No, I don't have a ping for when new comments are posted on other blogs! I read the paper online and then just waste an hour going round reading blogs.

As you are an early poster, as I am, I know that there is more chance of reading something from you than from some of the others, who are still snoring in bed!

sciencebod said...

I've yet to hear of anyone who has a "comment pinger", although I suspect they exist. Funny, isn't it, how useful know-how is jealously guarded by those in the know !

That's why the number of hits on a site can be so misleading. If a bit of a scrap starts, then all the rubber-neckers descend (myself included). Each time we check to see if B has been able to get one back on A, up goes the hit count by one extra digit. So people who run blogs on which there's a lot of scrapping are truly sad when they drool about their latest hit count.

Louise said...

I know that there are plug-ins so that one can monitor if new comments are posted on blogs of your choosing - I found one, but of course it had closed down! So yes, they do exist. You could probably ask on a blogspot forum.

I don't think I would add it, otherwise I would be sitting at my desk all day and I already do too much of that!

Louise said...

I have just googled 'Blog Alerts' Colin and Google let you do just that (probably others do too but as Blogspot is Google it is probably the most compatible).

I haven't looked at it but I imagine you type in the address and they alert you when there is a new post up.

I made one attempt at blogging on Windows the other day and blogspot is definitely windows friendly but I am so 'frightened' that my Mac will freeze for ever and ever on Windows, that I prefer the more limiting opportunities offered to Mac users by blogspot.

Louise said...

Nice to see those socks have eventually found their way into the washing machine!

I don't know that you will be able to track the anonymice with the world map thingy. You can hunt them down to perhaps their town, but I don't think you will be able to go any further. We all know where 'we' live, so perhaps if there is an anonymous comment from Verbier (this is just an example so that no-one gets upset), you could say it was me, but perhaps there are other people living here that read the blogs...promise, I've never written an anonymous comment!

Take Antibes for example - on my travels through the blogs there are at least six people whose blogs I have read who live in Antibes...

Still, might be interesting...

sciencebod said...

What the anonymice and other malicious posters do not seem to realise, Louise, is that they cannot post under their real name one day, and then under "anonymous" the next. By posting under their real name they give away their unique web identity, right down to their ISP, and whether they are using a PC or Mac, and even which browser .
Indeed, there is one individual who posted under their usual blogging identity and "anonymous" in the same lengthy (55min) session, making identification a real doddle.

If I were the impetuous sort, I would have have named and shamed already, based on what I have been able to deduce from detailed logfiles that anyone can access (if they know which keys to press). But I'm cautious by nature, and I like to think fair-minded too. So I'll continue doing my homework, checking and re-checking, and watching for further appearances that can nail the wretches once and for all.

In the meantime, if anyone out there wishes to come clean, instead of appearing in the Dreams & Daemons Rogues Gallery planned for the next post, then they know what they have to do.

I suppose this could be called blogging vigilantism. But the internet in 2007 is still the Wild West. What are the alternatives ? Give in to the outlaws ? Never !

Louise said...

I thought, obviously naively, that one could post in one's name, and then on posting another comment, just press 'anonymous'...I didn't realise that there was all kind of info included in one's name etc., ISP and all the tralala.

However, I will let you sort all that out - much too complex for lazy people like myself!

Loui (and his mum!) said...

Ooooh 'er Colin, seems you are having a bit of a palaver in one way or t'other!
I am sitting here waiting nicely for your next post after your sabatical....when you coming back? I do keep checking back here too! Seems I only just found you and then you disappear! :-(
Hurry up back and don't decamp without letting me know where!

Jackie x

sciencebod said...

Hi Loui

Great to hear from you again. I was wondering only yesterday where you had got to, but I've had my hands full recently as you can see. Loui- you and your faithful human companion are the kind of bloggers that I had in mind when I set mine up, so it's nice to hear you haven't been scared off, despite all the palaver, as you so aptly describe it.

I recently discovered a handy bit of IT tracking knowhow. I don't want to say too much about it right now, for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that when the graffiti writers of the blogosphere like "Lacombe Lucien" drop by, purely to deface one's site, and attempt to spoil the friendly atmosphere, then they should know that they are leaving a trail of footprints wherever they go, and that I can now follow them all the way back to their home - not literally, I hasten to add - but with a view to naming and shaming. Nuff said on that for now.

There's no point in trying to reactivate this blog while there are still trolls, unhinged anonymice and others with chips on their shoulders. But we are finally making progress ("we" being this blog and the others with which it previously networked). The block on anonymous comments helps (and can hopefully be lifted soon), but as indicated it's still possible for someone to troll under a registered username, as LL did earlier.

I'll try to restore normal service ASAP, but in the meantime I shall have to continue wearing my Sherlock Holmes hat.

Do keep in touch, and I promise to call in on your kennel soon.

Louise said...

If your system works, Colin, the sooner you track down AG and the anon that posted on CR's site last night (and I suppose sent the anon deleted remarks to Gigi) the better.

sciencebod said...

That is disturbing news indeed, Louise. As you say, Gigi needs to remove her email address straight away. Mr.Nasty stll has it, presumably, but she can ask her ISP to trace back.

Sorry, but what's this about Colin getting something in the night ? I missed that. There's no sign of it right now.

I shall email Colin Randall today, telling him what he can do to track AG when he/she visits his site.

There are anonymice out there who write in the same style as AG. That doesn't mean they are AG, of course, but with what I know about them, and what ColinR can find if he follows my advice, we should be able to decide if AG is just a bit unhinged, or is something more sinister. Nuff said for now.

Louise said...

Yesterday evening there was a posting from AG I think, or it might have been anon, that was just gross and totally incoherant.

sciencebod said...

Ah, I know the one you mean, Louise, having spotted it just before AG removed it. It was indeed bizarre, and quite out of character for someone who objects to the slightest hint of coarseness in others.

No one has yet commented on the fact that she bid Colin R a final farewell just a week ago or so, and is now back as though nothing had happened. There's a crise de quelque chose located somewhere above the organs of speech, but I wouldn't care to say precisely where.

Louise said...

Hey, Colin, who keeps bidding everyone farewell?! Only a joke...

richard of orleans said...

Put up or shut up Mr. Berry.

Since you are the worst offender of using 'anonymous' and noms de plume my assumption is that you are trying to cover your tracks.

Can you deliver or can't you?

sciencebod said...

I shall leave Richard's comment up until tomorrow morning, when I depart for Britain. I'd be within my rights to remove it now, since it's a personal attack, and one entirely without justification. But we all know what would happen if I did that. R of O would then start depositing his verbal turd around all the other blogs, claiming he's been denied his right to free speech.

It is true that I used to post anonymously and under short-lived pseudonyms. I have made no secret of that, and as soon as Colin R announced he was leaving the Telegraph, I immediately "owned" up to being a number of pseudonyms that began as a play on words ( Colin Berry = Robin L Ryce = Rob the Reveller etc etc). They were all adopted whenever I felt a thread was going stale and was in need of a bit of livening up. It was intended in fun, and although there may have been the odd dig or two at others, usually in self-defence, there was never any malice intended, or the kind of systematic sniping that we have seen from some other pseudonyms.

But as I told everyone before departing from Colin R's blogs some 3 weeks ago, I had not used anything other than ColinB for posting purposes in 2007. I made an exception yesterday for reasons that will be described in my next post, when I intend to expose someone who does snipe from cover, namely "Lacombe Lucien". That is especially reprehensible given the man's hypocrisy, but more about that later.

I think it bad enough that Richard should be so distrustful, and think that it says more about him, and his paranoid fantasies, than it does about me. Folk who know me in the flesh, so to speak, instead of a mere internet presence, will tell you that whatever my faults, untruthfulness is not one of them. The usual charge, in fact, is one of brutal honesty. Colin R was to experience that at first hand, with my promised critique of his "No Offence 2", but that will now have to wait. Sorry to keep you in 'suspense' Colin. The basic complaint is about aloof headmasterliness, but you are man enough, I'm sure, to take as well as give stick.

No, I am not trying to cover up any tracks, Richard, since there are none to cover. You are the one making these idiotic and wholly unsupported allegations. You are the one who should put up or shut up. You are the one who must put up or shut up, because you are venturing into dangerous territory. Unlike you, I blog under my full identity. It's easy for you to defame others, when you are immune from similar attacks yourself. You are an exceedingly unpleasant individual, Richard: a fanatic and propagandist who attemts to turn someone's blog into a kangaroo court. If this were America, you would probably have been on the receiving end of a writ or court injunction a long time ago.

I previously banned you from this blog when it first started on account of your thoroughly obnoxious behaviour, here elsewhere, with your single-issue Anglophobic rants, with their taints of racism and sexism.

I now say this: either you cease being the toxic Anglosaxon that you are, or future posts here will be immediately deleted. You you can then whine pathetically as much as you wish, but this is my blog, my space, and when you come here, wou will play by my rules.
The same applies to "Lacombe Lucien" , who would be well-advised to come out soon on his real identity, or I shall feel obliged to do it for him.

sciencebod said...

Apologies for the repetition and typos: a touch of righteous indignation intruded towards the end, with the reult that I prematurely hit the Send Button. Hopefully the meaning is clear !

richard of orleans said...

Who is being sanctimonious? The man who impersonated a vicar.In my book that puts you in the lowest decile of humanity.

If you want to regain a microgramme of credibilty in the blogosphere you would do better to stop your blackmailing innuendo. Come clean, name names and give proof.

Personally, given your track record, I don't believe you. Leopards don't change their spots.

sciencebod said...

As I have already said, Richard, this is my blog, not your kangaroo court.

So stop wasting everybody's time, go away and do something constructive for a change that contributes something positive to the community.

My contribution will be to explore ways in which personal blogs can be self-policing. We need to reduce the amount of unpleasantness that we've been seeing of late, especially on Colin Randall's blog. I have emailed him today with a suggestion.

But your kind of unpleasantness is something else. There is no defence against someone as determined as you are to find fault where it does not exist. Sorry, but you seem immune to reasonable argument. You act like a man possessed.

You don't like my blog - OK, then the solution is simple. Just go away. I suggest that you devote some time and effort to improving your own blog.

sciencebod said...

PS Sound of barrel-scraping there, I would say.

My "Rev Rob" was an attempt to send-up your gushy internet-savvy C of E vicar with his Alpha Course (aka social networking). This one wanted the world to know of his plans to develop its successor - the Omega Course. Richard is the only one I know of to date to have taken exception to it.

richard of orleans said...

Colin I have already talked about my longstanding contributions to the French community and your Johnny come lately sponging.

Not a good subject for you to broach I fear.

sciencebod said...

OK. We'll let you have the last word, Richard. But understand one thing - that is your last word.


Gigi said...

er - just sneaking in here to change the subject, if indeed there is a subject...where were you in West Africa, Colin? I was in Nigeria for two years in the early eighties.

Just interested.

By the way, the anon who sent me the missing sequence of posts, sent them as a post on my blog - not as an email. I just deleted it because it was nasty.

sciencebod said...

Thanks for the change of subject, Gigi ( I used to refer to them as rottweilers, but these days they're more like bad-tempered corgis !)

It was Accra Academy, 67-69, where I taught Chemistry to A Level. It was a boys' secondary school, with a few token girls in the 6th form.
In those days about a third, possibly a half of the staff were expatriate - from USA, Canada, Europe, India etc.

I never made it to Nigeria - closest I got was a long weekend in Lomé, capital of Togo - a delightful place.

Were you teaching ? How did you find it ?

Gigi said...

I was doing VSO - just a two year stint teaching in a village in Plateau State. Most of my colleagues were from Ghana - I think one or two were from Kumasi and probably Accra too but I can't remember. I was supposed to go to Lomé one Christmas but...I couldn't be bothered! I just stayed in the village and celebrated Christmas the local way - ie, food, palm wine, beer, food...and more palm wine.

I lived a very simple life while I was there and I miss it. But it was a long, long time ago :-)

sciencebod said...

First Christmas in W.Africa was given over to the obligatory rite of passage for my group of expats - a solo trek into the northern savannah. I got too close to the borders with Upper Volta (as it was then called) and Togo, and was held overnight in the police station - made to sleep on the floor.

Stayed in the rest house at Gambaga for Christmas, using the local chophouses. Then went down with violent dysentery - ended up at a Southern Baptist mission hospital for a week.

Spent a day with Peace Corps volunteer touring local villages, trying to persuade the farmers to join a cooperative and cut out the middle man. Local brew from calabashes at every audience with the village head - but the Dutch courage helped one deal with the comedy spectacle of white man being required to join in the tribal dance ( am I stll allowed to say that ?).

It's eerily quiet in our corner of the blogosphere tonight.

sciencebod said...

PS I am taking off for the best part of a week, folks, as I mentioned earlier.

In view of recent events I've decided - very reluctantly - to leave this blog in pre-moderation mode. By all means leave comments (Toxic Anglo-Saxon excepted), but they won't appear immediately.

Colin R: what say you to my suggestion ?

Loui (and his mum!) said...

Hurry back.....


Louise said...

Hope you had a good trip to England, Colin.

I just thought I would bring a couple of things to your attention regarding the tracking of anonymice et al. Fortunately the blocking of blogs seems to have calmed down the recent spat of hate mail.

I recently added a NeoCounter onto my blog - not, I hasten to add, to 'track' anyone, but just to jazz up my blog somewhat. I first saw it on Mouse's blog and thought it looked rather snazzy!

When you sign on for these things it would appear that the city name, if you choose to use it, is actually related to your ISP provider, so it doesn't necessarily mean that the person comes from that city - just that their ISP is situated there.

On Mouse's blog for example, when I post there, Verbier doesn't exist - there are other places in Switzerland mentioned and I suppose that Zurich is where my ISP is situated. I also have a Mac ISP - goodness knows where that is!

Having said all this I must hasten to add that I didn't read all the geeky info that comes up when you open an account!

sciencebod said...

Hi Louise

Yes, the trip back home went well. We managed to work in a visit to daughter Miriam in the Midlands, as well as attend a wedding in Scotland - at which I was one of the few fellas not wearing a kilt !

I spotted your snazzy NeoCounter yesterday. Sarah used to have something similar on her blog, showing a flag to represent each person currently visiting.

But as you say, certain stat counters can tell you a lot more about folk who visit one's blog - and others' too. I suspect that some of the malevolent pseudos/anonymice have cottoned onto that fact, which may be another reason why they are making themselves scarce at present.

I plan to post something on that in about a week's time. There are, as you say, certain pitfalls for the unwary.

PS Sorry, but have to say I'm not hugely enamoured of your "Black Magic".

Louise said...

You're not the only one! But you will have to bear with me for a little while until I find better. Shame, as on my screen it is very dramatic! (Makes up for the lack of quality!)

sciencebod said...

Colour is a funny thing, as anyone who has tried to design a website from scratch knows only too well. You start thinking there's a huge number of choices and permutations of colour to consider - the entire rainbow spectrum. But the reality is different - one finds oneself rejecting colours and hues in quick succession. I guess it's something to do with the way the brain is wired - particular colours go with certain moods, but a web -page should be largely mood-neutral.

If you look at the money-no-object sites, like the BBC etc, you'll find a careful balancing of colour - hot reds with cold blues etc etc. Maroon is surprisingly common, despite its association with sadness, but it's got to be the right kind of maroon re hue and saturation. More geekishness!

Louise said...

I've just added a NeoCounter world map - it's quite fun but I'm not sure that it's very accurate. When I downloaded it they decided I was in Bulle (so that is where my ISP is!) which isn't too far away (an hours' drive), so it's sort of on target. I'll see what happens over the next couple of days.

Louise said...

Just wondering Colin if you could start a new 'comments' section? I can never remember how many comments have been posted so each time I have to scroll down to the end and then scroll back up again to post a comment...just a thought!

sciencebod said...

Admittedly this thread of comments is getting quite long, Louise - it's presently at 67, basically because, as you know, my blog has been parked (sabbatical mode etc).

But some of your own posts have attracted over 100 comments, so I don't think length is the real problem.

Like you, I sometimes have trouble remembering how many comments were up last time I looked. But I have a cunning plan. I bookmark favourite threads under a short tag, and then follow that with the number of comments at the last count. It means using "modifier" (right click) to update the current total on my ISP's software each time I exit, but that's better than trying to keep six or more counts in my head at the same time.

PS Much prefer your new blue livery. Blue is ambiguous - cool alpine look, but associated with clear skies and sunshine. Yellow font was smart thinking.

Several big hitters (Barclaycard etc) have plumped for the blue/yellow combination.

Louise said...

My posts that were on the 100 mark were almost 'chats' though, weren't they? All over and finished within 48 hours...

Blue and yellow like Ikea - oh, no, please not! Will have to change the colour!

sciencebod said...

PS: Louise, just an afterthought. Were you aware that I have inserted a shortcut to Comments at the top of the post ? It saves having to scroll down to find Blogger's link to Comments at the end. It saves a second or two....

Louise said...

That sounds quite fun - would like to have a snoop round. It all depends primarily on price of ticket - as it is school hols they are bound to be far too expensive - or maybe it is time for me to try out the train. Will give it a thought.

sciencebod said...

We normally book further ahead for the UK, and get a better price with easyJet, Louise. But J reminded me we had friends coming into Nice to visit on the 13th. So we economised two ways. I will go alone, and return from Gatwick on the red-eye flight (6am !), which costs next to nothing, and if I'm in no fit state to greet friends at Nice in the afternoon, J will go on her own to meet them.

It would be great if you and one or two others were there. Hope you can make it.

If DC becomes PM, I too may have to use the train to get back home. Hopefully it would go non-stop from Antibes to Waterloo under the new régime, without changing at Lille.

I posted yesterday on the Telly's "Your View" on the disappointment that Cameron represents to those of us who are reluctant Tories (refugees from His Toniness/stealth-tax Brown, style of government) .

Louise said...

Had a quick look on ESY - it's silliness to spend so much money for an evening at the Telly! But we shall await your photos and comments with impatience!

Sarah said...

Er, I don't think I can pop over to see Shane on April 12, unfortunately. I saw that blog and thought how jolly it was to come up with the idea, but finances and being a working cog prevent me from joining in the party. Say hello to Shane from me though, please! :)

Sarah said...

Of course, if he'd like to pop over to the south of France for a Euro bash, I'll be there!

Louise said...

Good idea, Sarah - and much cheaper for us! Suggest it Colin!

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.