b3ta.com user Enzyme
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Manchester-based bioethicist and jurisprudentialist. Ummm... That's about it, really. Sad, isn't it?

For what it's worth...
This is my facebook page - do drop by to say hello.

I have been drawn by HappyToast -

- and flatfrog made me an ambigram:

Monty Propps made me this:

and I love it.

The Other Jeff Lebowski has been good enough to confer on me a medal for services to goat-baiting:

And I've got another medal as well...

Recent front page messages:


UPDATE, 4.i.12: Blimey! My first FP! Thank you, magic donkey!
(Tue 3rd Jan 2012, 16:16, More)

Best answers to questions:

» God

Let's get it out of the way
A message to the believers:
No, ID does not have sound arguments, and its claims are bogus. In no sense are they comparable to naturalistic claims such as one finds within evolutionary biology.
No, evolution is not "just a theory".
No, there is no reason at all to respect your beliefs. You, perhaps. Your beliefs, not so.
No, scientific uncertainty does not mean that we ought to listen to every single hypothesis. Some are clearly wrong.
No, you don't have a right to your beliefs. If they turn out to be mistaken, you have a duty to ditch them; and a person does not wrong you by correcting your errors.
No, your failure to come up with an explanation of the world that does not include god is not evidence for the existence of god; it is evidence of your ignorance.
No, the persistence of religious belief is not evidence that there must be something behind it.
No, the belief in god is not a prerequisite of morality.

To the agnostics:
No, sitting on the fence does not indicate humility and open-mindedness. It indicates intellectual barrenness. Grow up.

To the atheists: don't think you get off. You happen to be correct, but that isn't an excuse for being a prissy little blockhead - and being correct counts for nothing if it's not for the right reasons. You could get that from blind luck.
No, the persistence of evil is not an argument against the existence of god.
No, the persistence of evil actions by religious people is not an argument against religion.
No, you don't have a right to your beliefs, either.

And, finally, the hippies.
No, god is not "inside you".
No, your claims to be a "very spiritual person" do not demonstrate that you are "profound". They demonstrate that you are a cretin.
No, things do not happen for "a reason" if, by "reason", you mean something more than "mechanistic cause". If that is what you mean, your statement is trivial, and it doesn't make you sound deep. You are not even shallow.

It's going to be a looooooooong week.
(Thu 19th Mar 2009, 15:12, More)

» Evil Pranks

I killed my grandfather...
My paternal grandparents used to live - when they lived at all, that is - in a house with a large garden. And when I say "large", I mean "measured in acres" kind of large. It was ace; there were lots of rocky bits, coppices, paths through bushes and so on - everything a child could need for hours of adventure.

An obvious trope was to hide behind a bush or rock, wait for someone to come past, and yell "BOO!" at them. One day, that's exactly what I did to my grandfather.

My grandfather, I knew, had a slightly weak heart. I didn't take this into account. I was young.

I could see him coming; I crouched in a clump of bracken. Closer... closer... closer...


My grandfather looked startled for a moment - but only for a moment. He fell. He stayed fallen.
"Oh, Jesus H Macy; I've fucking killed Grandad," I would have thought had I not been only 9. "Oh, bother, I've flipping well killed Grandad," is what I probably did think.

Not knowing what else to do, I simply looked at his very still body for what looked like hours but can only have been seconds.
"Grandad?" I ventured. "Are you all right? Can you hear me? Grandad?"


More nothing.

Pinteresque nothing.

"BOO!" he yelled.

I was the one who had a heart attack that day.
(Fri 14th Dec 2007, 9:46, More)

» DIY disasters

Under the floorboards
I re-layed my dining-room floor last summer. On the concrete, before the laminate went down, I wrote in big black marker letters, "HAVE YOU FOUND THE BODIES YET?"

I'm quite proud of that.
(Fri 4th Apr 2008, 12:37, More)

» Accidental animal cruelty

Younger brother, previous cat
It's perhaps a good thing that my brother abandoned his plan to become a vet fairly early on. Although his intentions were often good, the execution thereof wasn't necessarily so.

My family has had a number of cats over the years. On one occasion, when we were both much younger, said brother discovered a zit on the cat's chest, which he attempted to pop.

Except it wasn't a zit. It was a nipple. The cat was less than happy.
(Thu 6th Dec 2007, 11:34, More)

» Kids

A Bit of a Rant
I was in the waiting room at Stoke station not so long ago; also there was a group of three chavettes. As is the way with these situations, I inevitably overheard, and listened into, their conversation. The topic that concerned them was whether they should get pregnant before or after doing their GCSEs.

The thing is, though, that they were asking themselves exactly the right question. Not because having a kid at 15 is a good idea in itself, but because, in fairness, it was possibly their best opportunity for a house and a tolerable income. (OK – welfare isn’t theirs: it’s paid to the mother on behalf of the child, but that doesn’t bother me for the moment.)

Here’s the deal: a working class kid at a bog standard comprehensive can make something of him or herself, but the chances are stacked against that happening. Instead, poverty, poverty of education and poverty of aspiration mean that, if you’re unlucky in birth, the chances are that you aren’t going to change your position any time soon. Why should the chav or chavette stay in school, when it won’t make the blindest bit of difference to their long-term prospects? Better to get a council flat and an income as soon as possible: you’re going to end up in a council flat with a welfare income either way, so why go to the effort of staying in school? And if that means having a kid, then so be it. It’d be dumb to do anything else.

That’s why the girls were asking the right question. But the fact that they were asking it indicates that they were bright: they were exactly the people who could make something of themselves, given the chance and a sufficiently broad horizon. Such a horizon is lacking in an education system that’s given up, though – that, at most, aims at training, which isn’t the same by a long shot. Useful is a virtue in Black and Decker tools. It’s not a virtue in people.

I spend a significant part of my time trying to convince working class kids to go to university – specifically, to do so to study things like philosophy, maths, physics, French, classics or whatever not because it’ll help get a job, but because it’ll make them better people. Sometimes it works. But there’s a devil on my shoulder that points out my bad faith: they’re not from wealthy backgrounds; there’s no grant; they’ll end up worse off, financially, unless they’re extraordinarily lucky or staggeringly determined. I’m lying to these kids. I’m widening their horizons in the knowledge that they’ll likely as not be unable to capitalise on that, because three decades of governments have given up on the idea of education and replaced it with gradgrindian utility calculi. In doing so, they’ve fucked the brightest and the best of the working class – like those girls at the station - and ceded their entitlement to the dumbest of the middle-class.

The kids are all right. Talk to them. They’re clever. They’re interested in the world. They want to be treated like mature human beings, they respond if that’s how you treat them, and they’re capable of amazing insight and engagement. Of course they break into your car and spray-paint your wall. Of course they’re twitchy and dope-jittery. What the hell else is there? Fuck it. They might as well be. I would. We’ve screwed them royally – they owe us nothing except contempt in equal measure to the contempt that we’ve shown them.

Apologies for lack of funny. I’m drunk, y’see.
(Thu 17th Apr 2008, 21:32, More)
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