Thursday, 31 July 2008

Killers, Victims and Fat Arses — A Guide To Lazy Journalism

by Edwin Hesselthwite

Madeline McCann, Myra Hindley, and two girls in football shirts

Little Man, What Now? has long been intrigued by the iconic photographs that emerge in relation to any major media shit-storm. This occurs particularly in the case of murders, and the seedier side (is there any other?) of tabloidism. In a rolling-news event, certain pivotal photographs emerge and fall into a "public domain" defence that limits royalty payments. These photographs are then plastered on the billboards and front pages of the country for months, even years. I challenge any British citizen not to be able to recognise half the personable females in the above photographs.

It all comes down to royalty payments for photograph use, and the limited selection of available images in the photo-archives of each media group. The collective pool of photographs available is reasonably small, and sometimes you see the same pictures turning up time over time... For instance: somewhere in the country, a woman who was merely walking down the street when a photographer passed has become the public figurehead of Britain's supposed obesity epidemic.

Is this your arse?

We can see this delightful rear both here, and here. Two separate major media groups, same iconic image, I challenge you to spot more uses of this photograph to make us all feel really bad for not being sparrow-small.

The most amusing images occur when a figure of public outrage just doesn't look sufficiently evil to sell newspapers. However hard the press office tried to find a suitable photograph (the mug-shot is usually a good bet for evilness), the highest kill-count murderer in British history, Harold Shipman, just looked a bit too cuddly... Resulting in newsrooms going to unusual lengths to make him look a bit more intimidating.

Harold Shipman, and the version of this photograph used in the BBC's The Killer Doctor biography "Jeremy, do you think we can zoom in on this bastard's face a bit more for added evil?"

I was thinking about this today after noticing a new trend in such photojournalism... This style of iconic photography, which we will call The Humbled Enemy, aims to show a figure who was previously a subject of media demonisation. On falling into the hands of Justice and Western Civilisation they must be shown in the most degrading fashion possible, yet still be recognisable as the worst human-being since Judas. Hmm, Schadenfreude... The Little Man team isn't sure they've pulled it off with this one, he looks a bit too serene, but we still expect to see this photograph hundreds of times over the coming months:

Some old dude, with razor rash

We'll be keeping this file open...


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Mayhem

by Dom Glennie

Brian Micklethwait links to a post that reprises a quote from himself that we linked to when it was originally posted.

I like it, and shall quote it again.

"My favourite bad idea, so to speak, is the belief that the truth is obvious. Believe that and you land in a heap of trouble. Just for starters, neither you nor anybody else have any excuse for not recognizing the truth at once, or for ever changing your mind about it. If you disagree with someone, you have to be right (because you have no excuse not to be) and they have to be evil (ditto). Mayhem."

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Of Wonder

by Rabbie Macintosh

I recently had the good fortune to find myself in Germany.

For the F1.

Which Lewis Hamilton won.

And, being stood at the hairpin where almost all of the action happened, I wondered how my little holiday in Germany could possibly get any better. It was only the 2nd day, so really, I was expecting to be dissappointed.

Imagine my pleasant surprise to discover that I was wrong.

It was the first time for me to go to an F1 race in person, and it was awesome. I mean, like, wow, awesome. It helps that I'm quite the petrol head, but, still, an atmosphere like that should be experienced by all people, at least once.

Once I had slept soundly (at least 12 hours, you need it after a race weekend!), I started to do some exploration of the little corner of Germany that my Fiancee comes from.

It's an area known as the Spessart region, and it's quite possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth. It runs along the River Main, which winds through the frankfurt region and into bavaria.

Picture post-card is an understated phrase when trying to summarise this places beauty. It's something out of a fairy tale - in fact, it inspired a fairy tale! Snow White and the seven dwarves is loved in the region as they all believe that it originates from the area.

Whilst there, I had occassion to:

1) Drive through huge swarthes of Forest with my future father in law, with red deer, and wild swine (no boars unfortunately) freely bounding accross the forest.

2) Walk through some more forest with my beloved, on a day that was 33oC in the direct sun, but a far more pleasant 24oC in the cool, crisp forest.

3) Drink some of the "fest bier" at the Spessart Festwoche in the town of Lohr, which is a beautiful town, dating back to the 15th century.

Really, it was immense.

Suddenly, arriving back at Bristol airport, I realised why my Fiancee was less than inspired with our choice of residence. To her, all that wonderous stuff is common.

It made me realise a few things. Firstly, how lucky I was to be able to experience all that I did, and what it gave me with regards of what direction I'd like my life to take in the future (something I have never been certain of, and whilst no more certain now, I'm maybe pointing the tiller in a slightly different angle) - and then that it is possible to be used to something wonderous. If you grow up in such natural beauty, you cannot help but take it for granted.

After discussing this point with my Fiancee, we decided that we should spend more time trying to find something that could compete with the Spessart in the UK. It's a big ask in my opinion, not least because of my love of console games and beer, but also because the bar has been set quite high.

Perhaps a few suggestions could help, dear readers?

If not, then allow me to offer a suggestion to you:

Go somewhere wonderous, soon. Be amazed. It's far better than the last wonderous thing that you remember doing.



Write a story in six words....

by Rabbie Macintosh

Hngh,

Having recently returned from the land of fast cars, good weather, and cheap beer, I have been missing out on several things.

However, I'd like to add my offering to the Six word stories that I have read....

And so, I offer unto you now, a tale of woe, missed opportunity, and unpleasant abdominal wall discomfort:

"My accursed hernia! Alas, no revenge."

I hope it moved you.



Monday, 28 July 2008

Waiting for Batman (Again)

by Charles Pooter

I'm booked in to see The Dark Knight at the IMAX in Waterloo next Monday. It was almost entirely booked up until then. The trouble is it's getting increasingly difficult to avoid spoilers. I had to dive for the remote control the other night to prevent one of the droning heads on Newsnight Review ruining it.

This is all depressingly familiar for me. In June 1989 I was almost 11 years old and I was the biggest Batman fan in England. By this time I had graduated from the gateway drug of the Adam West Batman TV series through the mid-strength narcotics contained in Detective Comics right onto the really hard stuff like Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum. To my schoolmates, Batman was a camp Saturday morning diversion, a diversion they were starting to appreciate as adults should: for its absurdity rather than for its dramatic content. Only I knew how wrong they were. How this vision of the caped crusader was a distortion, nay, a perversion. I knew the truth of Batman's dark origins and I knew that I would shortly be proved right by a man named Tim Burton and by his new film and by the Batmania that was slowly sweeping across the planet.

And I was eventually to be proved right. Tim Burton's film did start to change the predominant view of Batman. Bob Kane and Bill Finger's original vision was restored and Adam West's portrayal is now an amusing footnote in the history of the character. But in 1989, a cruel twist of fate was to mean I was not to see Tim Burton's triumphant restoration of a darker Batman until much later. It was in 1989 that the British censors decided to start experimenting with the film classification system. Throughout the 1980s it had become increasingly apparent that there were large numbers of films being released that were aimed at teenagers, but which were too violent for the PG certificate. The solution was the new 12 certificate and the release of a dark, violent superhero film was the perfect opportunity for the censors to trial their new rating.

It was now August 1989 and no matter how much I begged, threatened, nagged or moaned, my parents refused to let me go with my older friends to see the 12-rated film. Batman was everywhere: the bat-symbol covered bus stops and advertising hoardings, every tabloid ran Batman promotions for a month and I had bought T-shirts, toy batmobiles and various editions of the comic-book adaption of the movie. But I still hadn't actually seen it. Most of my friends had seen it, their parents having no qualms about flaunting the rating system, or the children themselves being brave enough to sneak into the cinema. Now they all knew the truth, as I saw it, about the coolness of the character. But this was little consolation for me. I had to wait until much, much later until the UK VHS release. When this release finally happened I was over 12, but the 12 certificate did not yet exist for video releases and so the movie went out as a 15 certificate. Even my parents knew that to withhold the film at this point would be child abuse. I think I was the first person into HMV that morning and the bus journey home with the video cassette in my hands was longest of my young life.

The wait was worth it of course. I watched Batman so many times that I still remember almost all the dialogue to the that flawed, but still aesthetically impressive, film. And now I know patience. I can easily do this week-long wait to see Christopher Nolan's new film. After all, I waited a lot longer to see the Tim Burton film to which it owes so much.

...and Danny Elfman's theme is still the best ever Batman music.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Edgar Mitchell: nothing to see here

by Charles Pooter

I wish it were true. I wish a respected astronaut with ties to the upper echelons of the US military had come out and revealed the truth about a "cosmic watergate". But, with all due respect to the chap for walking on the Moon, Edgar Mitchell is not a source we can trust on all things extraterrestrial. He has always been an...enthusiast...for the paranormal. Let us briefly review his record on such things:

  • 1971: Whilst on the Moon, conducts unapproved private ESP experiments with friends back on Earth.
  • 1973: Founds Institute of Noetic Sciences(IONS) to "conduct and sponsor research into areas that mainstream science has found unproductive, including consciousness research and psychic events."
  • 2003: Claims he was healed of kidney cancer by a "remote healer".
  • 2004: Tells St Petersburg Times that a "cabal of insiders" inside the US Government were studying recovered alien bodies, and that this group had stopped briefing US Presidents after JFK.

In other words, this is not a new story. Edgar Mitchell is just repeating what he has said before. When it comes to UFOs, Mr Mitchell clearly subscribes to the extraterrestrial hypothesis. But he presents no new evidence and his status as one of the few humans to walk on another heavenly body should not make us ignore this fact.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Adam West nowhere to be seen

by Charles Pooter

New blog Eyes on the Stars has a bizarre report from the London premier of The Dark Knight.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Sherlock Holmes not needed

by Charles Pooter

From the Metro

A young mother is warning of the dangers of Facebook after her photos and profile details were posted on a sex website claiming she was a porn star.

Becky Spraggs, 22, discovered the pictures – innocent shots of her around the house – alongside explicit sex images with the message: 'I want to be used and abused.

But the unauthorised use of the photos, which she posted on Facebook, does not break any laws and police are powerless to remove them.

'It's devastating. I can't believe someone can destroy someone else's character like that,' Ms Spraggs, of Stevenage, Herfordshire, said yesterday.

The profile on 'FetLife', which describes itself as Facebook for people with fetishes, said Ms Spraggs would 'do anything' to become a porn actress and invited fans to call the mobile number of her manager to 'see more' of her.

The number belongs to Becky's ex-partner Paul Farrow
, 32, the father of her three children, who received 50 calls a week from fetish enthusiasts.

Neither of them has any idea who posted the pictures.[my emphasis]
Hmm, I have a strong intuition about who posted them…

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sinister

by Charles Pooter

"This website is run on behalf of: Home Office Identity & Passport Service"

Taxi Driver

by Charles Pooter

From Ananova:

A fake Robert de Niro was caught when he tried to use forged ID papers for the star during a routine police roadside vehicle check.

Police in Iasi, Eastern Romania, said: “He was even dressed up like the Hollywood star with a designer suit and sunglasses—but he didn't fool officers.

“We knew that Robert de Niro would not be driving alone around a remote part of the country. We guessed he was an imposter.”

Fake de Niro: “Is it that you is talking with me?”

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Alan Moore Interview

by Charles Pooter

Having just found the trailer to next year's Watchmen film, I've also discovered this interview with Alan Moore. In it he sings the praises of TV show The Wire (agree) and South Park (also agree) and attempts to explain his (now traditional) disowning of movie adaptions of his comic books. In this case he disapproves of the Watchmen adaption because it is masterminded by Zack Snyder who directed 300, a film (and graphic novel ) which Alan considers “racist,…homophobic, and above all…sublimely stupid”. I kind of agree on the first count, not on the second, agree on the third, but…historical context is everything and it was jolly stylish and exciting! I can't help thinking Alan should at least watch an adaption of his work before disowning it.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Pooter's Second Law

by Charles Pooter

Pooter's First Law

Pooter's Second Law:

“Anyone who compares their opponent's opinions to the reactionary editorials of the Daily Mail, to avoid engaging with the substance of their opponent's arguments, automatically loses the debate.”

Watchmen Trailer

by Charles Pooter

The first trailer for the film adaption one of the greatest graphic novels ever, Alan Moore's Watchmen:



Some of those shots look like they were lifted directly from the comic book page. Could this be the first Moore creation to be given justice on the big screen?

Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-Sharp minor by Franz Liszt

by Edwin Hesselthwite

As a brief lede to a piece I have been working on intermittently for the best part of 6 months, we at Little Man, What Now? would like to present you with several renditions of the second of Liszt's nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies, this one composed in 1847. Described by Wikipedia as containing “excruciating technical challenges... (that) led to its acceptance as the unofficial standard by which every notable pianist would prove his salt, usually as a smashing finalee” from the first date of publication, it is one of the most commonly played concert piano works.

This piece often forms the basis for seguing into other musical territory, and in the examples below the musicians have chosen to intermingle Liszt's ideas with (in the first example) a boogie-woogie sequence, and Largo Al Factotum from Rossini's The Barber Of Seville, (in the second examples) On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe, and (in the final version) progressing from Chopsticks by Euphemia Allen, personally I find the final version a little derivative, but he performs it well. Enjoy.

One further note: version's one and two were first performed in 1946, and are quite so similar in theme and emphasis that there was a significant scandal concerning plagiarism. History has not quite cleared up whether this was a case of parallel evolution or stolen ideas, but the second version did win an Oscar.





The Cat Concerto, directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for MGM pictures.





Chopsticks, released by some anonymous YouTuber.






That's All Folks.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A Shameless Post

by Tobias Gregson

The following was shamelessly stolen from a mailing list:

Character Test

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally.

The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.

Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.

Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.


The Situation


You are in England, York to be specific.

There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.

This is a flood of biblical proportions.

You are a photo-journalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.

You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing into the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.


The Test


Suddenly, you see a man in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.

You move closer…Somehow, the man looks familiar…

You suddenly realise who it is…It's Gordon Brown! You notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever. You have two options:

  1. You can save the life of Gordon Brown or…
  2. You can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the country's most powerful men!

The Question


Here's the question, and please give an honest answer……




Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

A Modest Proposal

by Charles Pooter

I have never owned or even used a firearm. I have no interest in weaponry and violence disgusts me. However, now that the UK Government has conceded that people have the right to defend themselves at home or in public, is it not time that Britain looked at the ability of its citizens to defend themselves?

This can be thought of as a matter of equality: equality between the sexes, equality between the young and the old and, more generally, equality between the strong and the weak. If we agree that people have a right to defend themselves against violence (and I think there is now a cross-party consensus on this), but we deny them the effective means of doing so, we create a society where the physically strong can feel more secure in their homes than the physically weak. We need to ensure that all people, no matter their strength or aptitude, can have access to the tools they need to make themselves feel safe.

I propose the gradual reintroduction of civilian ownership of firearms for self-defence in the UK. Obviously, this would need to be very tightly-controlled and the details would need careful consideration. Initially I suggest a pilot scheme involving previous victims of crime who are at high risk of attack in future. After basic psychological assessment, criminal records checks and thorough firearms training (perhaps from Police firearms officers), they should be issued with an appropriate pistol, ammunition and storage facilities. The possibility of electronic tagging of weapons should be investigated in this early phase to enable proper tracking of firearms within the population.

After a successful pilot study, firearms and training should be offered more generally to "pillars of the community" in areas of high crime. Initially the bar for weapons ownership should be very high, perhaps with many character references and a postgraduate education being needed. After this, more general ownership can be considered, but always with an eye on the dangers of gun ownership. The reintroduction of firearms should also be heavily advertised with a hard-hitting advertising campaign. The message should be clear that these guns are owned for defence of life, not for sport or any other reason. This will highlight the serious nature of gun ownership and act as a deterrent against violent crime.

It is all very well for the Government to reassert the right of people to defend themselves, but without allowing the vulnerable to own the effective tools, they are just empty words. It is time to even up the odds and reintroduce ownership of guns for self-defence.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Unmarked SATs: A Solution

by Tobias Gregson

The British education system still has a problem with many English SATs exam papers which remain unmarked and ungraded.

SATs were introduced for 11 year-olds by the last Conservative regime and have been maintained by Blair and Brown. The exams are good on the one hand because they annoy awful lefty teachers who can't teach, but bad because they enforce adherence to a narrowly defined National Curriculum that leaves little room for individual growth in pupils.

This year's SATs exam marking was contracted out to a faceless global corporation who were given a multi-million pound contract to take completed SATs exam papers and get them marked by the same middle-aged supply teachers who have always marked them. It seems the corporation in question has not fulfilled the contract as well as has been expected. Another triumph for public/private partnership.

Little Man, What Now? would like to suggest an alternative method for grading SATs and would be willing to take on the contract for a competitive fee.

Instead of carrying out the long labourious task of actually marking the papers, we suggest using a simple formula based upon information about the pupil in question:

M = TG(100 - S) - N

Here is an explanation of the symbols used in the equation:

M = Mark. The pupil's final mark out of one hundred.

S = School variable. A number to be subtracted from the mark decided by the type of school attended by the pupil. The methodology used for deciding these values was to eavesdrop at the window during middle class dinner parties and listen to parents with annoying voices droning on about catchment areas. The higher the number, the lower the mark:
  • Public School= 0
  • Catholic School= 2
  • Grammar School= 4
  • City Academy Run By Tescos = 6
  • City Academy Run By Creationist Nutter = 8
  • BSC (Bog Standard Comprehensive) = 10
T = Teaching method coefficient. A number assigned to the method used to teach the pupil to read (or to not read as the case may be). These values were based upon the latest research, which has come to the astounding conclusion that children learn to read most effectively by learning the sounds made by different letter combinations, rather than attempting to learn the shapes of thousands of words as if they were fucking Chinese ideograms. "No shit Sherlock", as they say. The lower the number, the lower the mark
  • Synthetic Phonics = 1
  • No Particular Methodology = 0.8
  • Whole Word Method = 0.5
G = Gender multiplier. Since most primary teachers are female, it is unlikely that they will choose books for their classrooms which contain stories about pirates, robots or footballers. This puts the young male brain at a disadvantage. The lower the number, the lower the mark:
  • Female = 1
  • Male = 0.8
N = Given name variable. A number to be subtracted from the mark depending on the given name of the pupil. Stringent anecdotal evidence has shown that a person's first name is a significant indicator of future social status. Actually, I once knew a professor named Sharon, but the exception surely proves the rule. A complete list will need to be compiled, but here are some examples of the values attached to male names. The higher the number, the lower the mark:
  • Zhi = 2
  • Rupert = 4
  • Simon = 6
  • Moon Unit =6
  • Wayne = 8
So, as an example, let us take a child with the misfortune to have been named "Wayne" but with the good luck to have been born Catholic. He attends a Catholic primary school where his teacher, an elderly Priest, taught him to read using encouragement and occasional violence. This would count as "no particular methodology". This information yields the following values:

M = 0.8*0.8(100 - 2) - 8
= 54.72 %


So, the positive influence of his Catholic schooling and his teacher's lack of modern teaching qualifications have given Wayne a solid C grade. This is despite the burden of his proletarian Christian name.

This demonstrates that we can grade SATs to the satisfaction of all involved without any examiners actually having to miss EastEnders to mark papers. Result.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Nicotine withdrawal haiku

by Charles Pooter

I resumed smoking
Now I have stopped it again
No sleep for two nights

Monday, 14 July 2008

Instead of the Olympics

by Tobias Gregson


The British state is intent on wasting billions on the circus that is known as the London 2012 Olympics.

When you get as ancient as me you learn to be sceptical of the utility of public works projects in general. They often seem to be the economic equivalent of paying men to dig holes and fill them in again. Even when they have seeming utility they inevitably distort local markets, subsidising the few at the expense of the many and creating winners and losers in the process.

But if money is to be spent, it is fun to fantasize about what else it could be spent on (if it were not being pissed down the Olympic drain). What genuine good could this vast sum of money do for the metropolis? My favourite idea is this: a tube system for South London.

South Londoners have long been second-class citizens when it comes to the London Underground. Historically this is because South London had a good overground rail network before most of North London. But now the lack of tube infrastructure in the South is a great hindrance that has led to a top-heavy city.

And the South of the river has much to offer all Londoners: huge green spaces that rival the Royal parks, incredible museums such as the Horniman in Forest Hill and unique buildings such as Eltham Palace. But many will never see these things because they aren't on the tube.

And isn't the tube our best bet for what they call "social inclusion"? What is going to help our stab-happy South London youth more: some short-lived enthusiasm for triple-jumping or quick access to all the culture and job prospects that the nation's capital has to offer?

Isn't it time we redressed the Underground inbalance? If we spent the Olympic £10 Billion on a South London tube system instead--a proper one, not poxy overground extensions--how near could we get to the fantasy depicted in this fun image?:

London does not have a knife problem

by Charles Pooter

London does not have a “knife problem”.

At home I have a drawer full of deadly, murderous weapons capable of cutting out a man's heart and liver. I regularly use them to cut through flesh.

They are called steak knives.

London does not a have a “knife problem”, it has a murder problem. London will not solve its problems by “dealing with knives”, it will solve them by dealing with murderers.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Write A Story In Six Words...

by Edwin Hesselthwite

So, in response to the challenge offered by both Ben Locker and Charles Pooter... I give you my own science fiction inspired offering:

The Martian Colony failed, no peppermint.
I won't tag anyone, since it would be unfair for the Little Men to spam the entire blogosphere between us, but I am looking at you Rabbie, Thaddeus and Ted.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Write a Story in Six Words…

by Charles Pooter

…that's the challenge set by That's So Pants. We've been “tagged” by Ben Locker to do the same. Hemmingway solved the problem thus:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn
Here's my attempt:
“...his evil twin. The defence rests.”
Obviously I invite all the other Little Men to give it a go, but in addition I'm tagging:

100 Metre Coughing Fit

by Tobias Gregson

As Peking's smog problems show no sign of abating, perhaps the Olympic committee would like to consider these alternative events:

  • 100 Meter Coughing Fit
  • Flem Spitting
  • Three Day Convulsing
  • The Blind Javelin Throw
  • 200 Metres Hurdles (with gas masks)
  • The Short Jump (off a high cliff)
Something positive might come out of this anyway: if all the competitors take part, despite the smog, there may be many more entrants for the next Para-Olympics.

Alternatively, the world could abandon this farcical waste of time and money right now:

Timing is everything

by Charles Pooter

I assume it is no coincidence that this unprecedented press briefing by MI5 (the Security Service) came only one day after Brown's "frank" discussions with the Russian President.

Monday, 7 July 2008

More Copywrongs

by Charles Pooter

The 20th Century content distributors will go to any lengths to protect their broken business models:

Among the amendments are calls to enact a Europe-wide "three strikes" law. This would see users banned from the web if they fail to heed three warnings that they are suspected of putting copyrighted works on file-sharing networks.

In addition it bestows powers on governments to decide which programs can be "lawfully" used on the internet.
It is almost as if a reductio ad absurdum argument from an anti-copyright polemicist has somehow made its way into the real world.

But really, when we live in a time of information abundance and unaccountable supranational governments, the anti-logic of copyrights and so-called "intellectual property" can only ever lead us to these absurd conclusions.

H/t: DK

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Co-payments: I don't understand

by Charles Pooter

Pollard has posted to CIF about "co-payments". For our colonial and foreign readers, my understanding of this rather arcane detail of Britain's Stalinist healthcare system is as follows:

The state has an approved list of drugs that its guild-recognised healthcare minions can prescribe to patients with serious conditions. The list is based on medical effectiveness and supposed value for money. In other words new patented drugs can be expensive, demand is potentially unlimited and cash supply is limited by the Exchequer. Essentially, it is the historically common way that central planners attempt to introduce a smidgen of economic sanity to a supply mechanism with no price signals: rationing.

Anyway, some people with fatal diseases have wanted to "top up" their state-approved meds with privately-prescribed drugs that the relevant QUANGO has not yet sanctioned. The state finds this unacceptable and, wanting a level playing field in death, threatens to withhold the state-mandated drugs from anyone who augments them with a private prescription.

But, I just don't get it. If I have cancer and I'm getting a regular NHS prescription for Genero-drug and then one day my Doctor says "The Genero-drug is working quite well, but did you know that there is another drug named Expensicillin, which may help with your condition even more. Unfortunately it has not been approved by NICE yet, but I can give you a private prescription." What I don't understand is this: how does the NHS know that I'm getting the private prescription as well as the NHS one? Surely the only possible way the NHS could know is if my Doctor tells them.

But wouldn't that be a total betrayal of Doctor-patient confidentiality?

Oldplay

by Charles Pooter

This from Mr Micklethwait made me lol.