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October 3rd 2009
Howdy folks. Just the one exam in this sitting, and it happened two days ago - it could have gone worse, but it could also have gone a fair bit better. There were three horrible part-questions that I dotted between, hoping that inspiration would hit, or that I would stumble across the answer if I tried enough things. Anyhow, I could have passed or failed, I really don't know. Next sitting is CA1 & CA3 (otherwise known as 'the scarily big one' and 'the one I keep failing'), followed by CT9, then an ST or two in September. At least, that's the plan. 2010 is the year of the exam as far as I'm concerned.
Having said that, the other day I noted down the exam sittings I've had, and there's been at least one every year since 2000. This is my 10th consecutive year of exams, in other words... urgh.
In other 'urgh' news, you may have seen that Wolves lost at home today... to Portsmouth, who had lost all seven of their games before this match. Come back, Steve Bull, we need you. But, Wolves and exams aside, today is a day of happiness and squirrels, as Steve & friends came over today! I haven't seen the chap in over a year - not since the famous occasion where Jimmy Lee half killed himself eating the 'London burger' - so that's chuffed me.
Speaking of which, I'll let Jimmy Carr take us out today. "I had a mate who was suicidal. He was really depressed, so I pushed him in front of a steam train. He was chuffed to bits."

October 4th 2009
You may or may not be aware that I am older than 18, which, in this Sceptred Isle, means I am a man. An adult, if you wish to be gender non-specific (which I generally don't. Check out the beard, for example). But there is more to being a man than living a certain number of years, and this week I crossed off another milestone - if you'll forgive the metaphorical jumble there.
Yes. I am now in possession of my very own vacuum cleaner. How grown up am I? This is like when I moved into number 67 and had a wheely bin for the very first time. This is not just a vacuum cleaner, it is not just a steal at 15 and it doesn't just suck up dust like it's got an addiction. It's a red, shiny, bagless landmark in my existence.
Well, there's your paeon for the day. I'll leave you with some poetry:

D'you wear a black armband
When they shot the man
Who said peace could last forever?
And in my first memories
They shot Kennedy;
I went numb when I learnt to see.

October 5th 2009
Those of you who have been keeping an eye on the football will have noticed that Darren Bent is scoring hatfuls of goals, whereas Emile Heskey hasn't scored since he was 14. And that wasn't even with a football, it was in a game of darts. However, Fabio Capello, the England manager, has picked Heskey rather than Bent for the England squad (again). I haven't got the foggiest why he's done this, but the odds are that he's made the right decision, because he's a very successful football manager and I'm an actuarial student. Sure, if we were debating the pricing of a European call option using the Black-Scholes formula, I'd fancy my chances against him, but he's got me licked here.
This is why we have experts to make decisions for us. A straw poll of England fans would stop Heskey from pulling on another white shirt - before or after Labour Day. I don't understand this joke, even though I just made it up myself, because I have no idea what Labour Day is and why it should affect how much white anyone wears. Anyways, England fans would also have kept Owen Hargreaves out of the squad for the last World Cup, and he was our best player. That's why we need someone like Capello.
And it's the same with the government, I'd say. We live in a democracy - for the time being we'll ignore the monarchy, ludicrous state that we're in - which means that we elect MPs as representatives, but it is too simplistic to say that they are there to execute the majority decision. Sometimes they simply know better than us; for example, a straw poll of Britain's citizens may come down in favour of capital punishment, or drug legalisation. Thankfully, the government is smarter than us, and knows - for the time being, at least - that neither should be brought into law. And maybe that's what's going on with the Lisbon treaty.
We, the British public, are not going to be allowed to have a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. Labour claims that it's because this treaty is not a European constitution, but the real reason is that we'd make the wrong decision. We'd stand in the way of the European Union simply because we've been told not to, and because we dislike the French (and the Italians, Germans, Belgians...). Already we've made ourselves look rather petty by prolongedly refusing to join the Euro; we now want to be the lone man standing against a unifying treaty across the EU. Even David Cameron, populist though he is, knows that we can't really stand in the way.
When a politican wants to do his opponent down, he accuses him of not trusting the British public to understand the issue at hand. Our party, he says, has a higher opinion of you than that. Except (I say) it doesn't. The British public, by and large, is pretty stupid. It watches X Factor, reads the Sun, shouts "C'mon Tim!" a lot (I hold my hands up for this one. I love Tim Henman) and thinks Little Britain is funny. The British public is a lot less intelligent than the House of Commons, and that's why we need to vote them in. Democracy means we choose them to make the decisions; it does not mean we make all the decisions ourselves.

October 23rd 2009
Question Time is generally, in my opinion, a rather dull show. Each member of the panel answers the same question with the most asininely populist answer they can conjure up, and receives a predictable round of applause for their efforts. It's not uncommon for a 'popular figure' to appear, who knows nothing about politics other than the fact that 'it's time the bankers began to take some responsibility'.
Yesterday's show was a little different, as I'm sure you're aware, since Nick Griffin - leader of the BNP - was on the panel. Much of the build-up to the programme had been about whether or not the BBC should let Griffin appear - a ridiculous question, since it's patently obvious that they were right to do so. "Don't say that Cliff Richard is rubbish if you've never heard his songs; by the same token, don't say that Nick Griffin is racist if you've never heard his views. And I'm betting that most of the protestors hadn't." Forgive me for quoting myself, but those were my words on this page in December 2007, and I stand by them still - Griffin has been democratically elected, meaning that a small but significant percentage of the British public support him. They are not second class citizens.
But not like that. I disagree with most of what Griffin stands for, but he was treated absolutely shamefully by the panel, the audience and - perhaps most of all - David Dimbleby. From the start Griffin was bombarded with questions and accusations, and then not allowed to answer most of them. How many other panelists could be accused of celebrating Hitler's birthday and have to content themselves with shaking their head? Even when he was allowed to answer an accusation, he was interrupted by any or all of the panel - Sayeeda Warsi was particularly vocal - or by Dimbleby himself. When Griffin was accused of sharing a platform with someone (I think it may have been a KKK member), he started to say that he hadn't done, when Dimbleby asked sarcastically if it had been someone else in disguise. What Griffin had been trying to say - and they let him in the end - was that he had been arguing with this individual; I guess you might as well say the Bonnie Greer 'shared a platform' with Griffin.
I don't know why they felt they had to treat Griffin in such a manner; it will have helped his cause more than damaged it. Most of the panelists summed up the night by claiming that Griffin had been 'evasive', when in fact he was anything but. When he wasn't being interrupted, he was being interrogated on the smallest detail; Bonnie Greer complained that he couldn't name the opinion poll that he was referencing, but no one asked Chris Huhne (no, the Lib Dems weren't really taking this seriously) where he'd come up with the claim that '1 in 2 Afro-Caribbean [sic] children in the UK have one white parent'.
Of the other panelists, Huhne was as irrelevant as you might expect a Lib Dem to be, Warsi was a trifle too hysterical - and, let's be honest, it was a little childish of the Tories to put forward their most high profile female Muslim - Jack Straw was very disappointing; evasive and all too eager to launch into rants about racism, and Bonnie Greer was your typical non-politician. And hopefully not thinking too hard about why the BBC had placed next to Griffin.
All in all, I was amazed that the BBC actually managed to make me feel sorry for Griffin, since I by no means share his views. That's not just because they're vile, but because they're ridiculous. He claims that he is promoting the indigenous English, rather than white people per se, and whether or not that's true - and there's reason to disbelieve it - it's still ludicrous to say that hundreds of years of settlers should no longer live here. He also, rather disingenously, suggested that he'd be happy for the man of Asian descent (I believe) to remain in Britain. I understand the BNP has a policy of 'voluntary repatriation' - though one has to wonder how voluntary they actually envision it to be.
Anyways, not content with the witch-hunt (even if it's a witch you're hunting, it's still a witch-hunt) on the night itself, the press continued it today with myopic interpretations of what went on - for instance, the Mail claims that Griffin ''was forced to deny he had said that black men 'walk like monkeys'", when he'd actually voluntarily supplied this as an example of the press making up lies about him.
The most obvious and frequent nonsenses in today's press were the headlines condemning Griffin's attack on Islam. Putting aside the fact that anyone who's not Muslim is by definition against Islam (OK, agnostic folk, you may have an out here), Griffin didn't say anything that I haven't seen several times from the pens of left wing columnists - he condemned Islam's attitude toward women and non-believers.
Griffin certainly isn't a Christian - skin colour, nationality and ancestory are unimportant under Christ - and (I repeat) I am firmly against his party, as I ever was. But it remains a disgrace to pillory him without permitting a response; to accuse him of things he has not done; to mock him for his sensible statements as well as for his vile ones. The BBC had a chance last night to be even-handed and impartial, to show the BNP for what they are. Instead we got a mass of hysterical recrimination that will only go to persuade BNP supporters further that they are the victims of a left-wing media.

October 25th 2009
Tomorrow, Yahoo! Geocities closes down permanently, with the loss of all web pages currently held there. This is why I've spent the last few weeks, off and on, copying all my old diary pages onto this site, so that everything in my diary archive is now held here. Check out the archive for more - rather than list all the months down the right hand side of every page, I'm instead linking to year indices. There are probably some broken links, because I've had to do this a lot, so please report any to me. Also, almost all the pictures from old diary entries won't work, because I haven't copied them across. A man has limits.
Another time I'll tell you about my recent holiday in Coventry, but I'm a bit tired right now. Instead, be amazed a my burger-eating prowess: on Friday I went to the Jolly Fryer in Filton (near work) and managed to eat the UK's largest burger. Check it out here. I think there are a few errors in the article - I certainly wasn't the first to finish the thing, though it does prove too much for most - but the basics are true. I didn't feel great afterwards.

October 29th 2009
Simon has produced this offering from wordle.net (I have to tell you how amazing they are in order to show you this). Long term readers may recognise it as coming from an old entry on this page - Simon's favourite here, I believe - about an eventful bus journey I once had (October 19th 2006). Anyways, I think it's pretty neat, so thanks Simon.

Wordle.net - like happiness, but better

what was I listening to?
Empire Records soundtrack
what was I reading?
The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan
what was I watching?
Empire Records
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