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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

September 2013

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Monday 30th September 2013
'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'

Or, as the modern version goes ‘I have some good news and some bad news. What would you like to hear first?’ I’ll start with the bad news.

One of the advantages of the modern world is that you don’t have to watch a TV programme to know what happened. Thanks to IMDB I know in synopsis form what happened in last night’s final part of 'Breaking Bad'. And it was, it seems, every bit as bad as I feared...more

Saturday 28th September 2013

I have far too many websites in the ‘favourites’ folder of my web browser. I tend to see a site that looks worth further exploration or could be a useful reference and pop it into ‘favourites’ for later. Then, when I want more on that topic, I’m more likely to do a new search online rather than sift through the folder to find what I’ve already got.

Sometimes, I try and go through and weed out the sites that have long since ceased to be or the ones that, after all, aren’t as interesting as I expected but I never complete the task and I’m pretty sure I’m adding new sites faster than I’m removing old ones...more

Friday 27th September 2013

We all make mistakes. What matters is not the mistake but what you do about it. If Richard Nixon had come straight out and said he’d joked about bugging the Democrats never thinking his staff would take him seriously, he’d be remembered as the US president who opened relations with China. If Chris Huhne had accepted his speeding offence, he’d still be in line to become LibDem leader. How a person or organisation responds to errors tells you a lot about them.

While I was writing about the difference between the media’s approach to the Centre for Social Justice’s recent report and that from Release it occurred to me that I might be guilty of taking a different approach to the two myself..more

Monday 23rd September 2013

I’m struggling to find the right words. I almost went for ‘an emperor’s new clothes’ situation’ but I realised that there is an unacceptable degree of arrogance in that because I am not for a moment suggesting that I am right and everybody else wrong. In any case, the emperor’s new clothes story concerns one person going against everybody else. That’s not the case, here.

It seems to me that the world is split in two; those who’ve never heard of ‘Breaking Bad’ or never bothered to watch any of it and those who, having watched it, think it is remarkable television. That seems to put me in a minority of one because I have watched ‘Breaking Bad’ and I don’t like it...more

Sunday 15th September 2013

Another Sunday, another report about drug policy. Unlike the one from The Centre for Social Justice that I wrote about two weeks ago, this one comes, not from a pseudo-independent group pursuing a fixed agenda, but from a group of academics based at the University of Essex.

The Institute for Social & Economic Research (ISER) calls itself a ‘world-class team of survey and research experts’ and its list of publications runs to twenty-one pages and goes back to 1991. The lead author of today’s report, Professor Stephen Pudney, has an impressive collection of publications covering a wide range of subjects...more

Monday 9th September 2013

There is a problem with the ‘laws of nature’ and that is nature has never been told what those laws are. Just when you think you’ve understood how plants work and do the things they do you’ll come across one that completely ignores the ‘rules’.

The theory says that you need to put a plant into good quality soil and feed and water it well for it to thrive. My Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade, plants have completely gone against that this year. The plants in a proper bed next to the pond have died back almost completely, though they are carrying a few ripe berries. The ones that I left in a pot because I thought I didn’t need them, still have green leaves though they don’t look that healthy...more

Sunday 8th September 2013

I don’t agree with the apparent general consensus that MPs are either stupid or just in it for the money, or both. But, after last week, I’m close to revising my position on the issue.

My attention was directed to this transcript on the They Work for You site of this debate in Westminster Hall. It concerns plain packaging of tobacco products and reading a number of the contributions it is hard not to think that the MPs understand very little of the issue or they understand only what they are told by some lobby group or other...more

Tuesday 3rd September 2013

There was quite a bit of activity on Twitter, yesterday, about the CSJ report I wrote about. I can’t speak for the whole of Twitter, of course, but I can say that my timeline contained little about it that was complimentary and that little concerned the report’s attitude to alcohol.

Prof. Alex Stevens, of Kent University, had some harsh, but wholly justifiable, comments and called it ‘regrettable’ that the CSJ received more media coverage than last week’s report from Release (‘the national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law’) on racial disparity in law enforcement..more

Sunday 1st September 2013

If you are a regular user of social networks, or the Internet in general, you are probably aware of its many shorthand ways of saying things. After the amusement arising from the Prime Minister’s evidence to the Leverson committee, there can’t be many people who don’t know what ‘LOL’ is supposed to mean. Actually, I have a little sympathy for David Cameron because expressing ‘lots of love’ as ‘LOL’ would be perfectly reasonable if it didn’t have another more widely understood meaning as ‘laughing out loud, laugh out loud, or sometimes lots of laughs’.

Less familiar, perhaps, is ‘tl;dr’. This means ‘too long; didn’t read’. It began, apparently, as a means of suggesting that a poster on an Internet forum was full of his own importance but, these days, it tends to be used on Twitter when someone wants to pass on a link but doesn’t want to face criticism if the linked article contains something stupid...more

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