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About BurntBread

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  1. Best of luck, XYY: I was hoping that comment was a joke I didn't get ... but I'm struggling to read it that way. There's plenty here who know how bewitchingly nasty alcohol can be, and I've read some very profound things on this site which I have squirrelled away in case I need them - either for myself (heaven forfend) or a couple of close friends. As for anxiety: it's as concrete a reality as anything on earth when it's there, and as laughably insubstantial as summer mists, when it isn't. There are mental tricks to deal with the symptoms, like spending 15 minutes every morning trying to worry as much as possible, or "square breathing" or other meditation techniques. Then there may be ways to tackle the root cause: whether that's changing diet to straighten out the enteric nervous system, punching your boss in the face, or giving your brain time to adjust to a new chemical environment. As for the big existential questions, I doubt they're really a cause of anxiety, and you seem to have those as licked as anyone I know. Anyway, I hope I'm making a fool of myself by taking you too literally, but in any case, keep up the swearing: there's few who can deliver the cold slap of reality with better-crafted foul language.
  2. I think the greatest source of anxiety is hope. Pandora should have left that fucker in the box.
  3. I agree with GBDarmo here. If the ambassador was giving his honest opinion, confidentially (i.e. not responsible for the leak), then he's done nothing wrong and shouldn't be actually punished. However, that doen't mean he should keep his current job: he should be moved on to some other role, as he currently cannot perform the duties of ambassador. If diplomacy requires he be publicly reprimanded in some way, then I assume he knew that was the bargain when he took on high office in the diplomatic service. Still, I would expect him to be looked after well, behind the scenes; whether its a sinecure, or some lower profile role, back-stage. Politics and sausage making etc...
  4. Sounds good. Are you trying to imitate Domitian's black feast?
  5. Lagarde in the photo up-thread looks like a shrunken head. I'd go trawling through the internet for the particular image she reminds me of, but I'm afraid the quest would give me PTSD. Emma Thompson, on the other hand, looks fine to me ... although I can see what you mean. Maybe there's a necrophiliac filter on instagram which will morph her into a French banker?
  6. Appropriately, I can't remember who said it, but the quote that springs to mind is: ' "Education" is what's left after you've forgotten everything they taught you.'
  7. That's probably the heart of it, but if you were in charge for a day (or, more likely if spy were, since he almost got the UC contract already, and will probably be called in at some point to use his regex and haskell skills to rescue the integrated UK government IT system - once it's been completely migrated to excel and facebook), then it may be worth thinking about unintended consequences. I have a vague recollection that this "just train more doctors" thing was tried in the US several decades ago, with the explicit intention of bringing down heath care costs, which were even then getting monstrous. The result was, indeed, many more doctors, but the salaries went up. Instead of more "doctors", what happened was a diversification of specialisms. Clearly some combination of a fully-privatised system, perverse incentives from medical insurance, and the strength of the doctors' associations, managed to undermine the free market, but it would be worth understanding what happened a bit better so we don't replicate the problem here.
  8. In my experience, it also works the other way: you get used to living cheaply, and can be equally happy with a frugal lifestyle as an expensive one. However, in the frugal case, there are many more options for an occasional treat.
  9. Ex-KGB agent says "let people decide what they want to be". Putin sometimes says admirable & liberal (in the old sense) things, and sometimes when he says them, he isn't lying. However, he always has an agenda: firstly his and his family's wealth and power, and secondly the advantage of Russia. I will always try to disaggregate what he says, and not fall into the trap of thinking that because I agree with him on something, I can therefore trust him on other things. I find it somewhat distressing that I'm having to apply that same standard of trustlessness to our own politicians. It produces a huge amount of friction when there are political decisions that need to be taken, and I guess it's why there is often support for a strong man once one has been discovered who seems more or less in line with what you want. However, the real problem at the moment seems to be that instead of statesmen, the febrile nature of society sprouts duplicitous self-serving bastards.
  10. It could be worse. If we're talking about Indian ascetics, didn't Siddhartha Gautama eat his own poo?
  11. Not wanting to pick holes in a fascinating thread (it would be wonderful if there were a pre-YD civilisation, and I like the idea that most of the sites would now be under water, so there's still a possibility), but I thought they had found the limestone cladding from the pyramids at Giza. Wasn't it used to build the citadel in Cairo in the 12th century? Quarrying of large blocks always seems unimaginably difficult to me, but there seems to be many cultures who have managed it, so I'm not sure whether it's going to be a good argument for a previous civilisation. I agree with @ninjaborrower that the medieval stone buildings are breathtaking. I think I remember reading that the central span of stone in Kings' college chapel is as thin as 20cm ... and of course, if the lines of force pass outside the stone, then it will all topple over. Without diminishing in any way my admiration for the architects and master-masons, though, there are two things about stone buildings built on bedrock that helps to make this feat possible: if your building stands up for 10 seconds then it will stand for 1000 years (barring earthquakes), and if a scale model will stand up, then so will the full-scale building. That's not true for other forms of building. Talking of Africa, I seem to recall there were a few advanced civilisations (advanced by the standards of many parts of Europe) during the iron age, and there are remains of complex societies found in the Congo, where everyone assumed it had been untouched rainforest since the year dot. I'm very optimistic that there's a lot we don't yet know, and fascinated at the odds and ends you guys are turning up - like the vitrified forts - that I'd never heard of. I feel very ignorant.
  12. She looks nice. That picture has a strange, "moments before the disaster" vibe about it, though: what the hell has the cat seen?
  13. Question for the female dosbodders: what would be sensible career recommendations for a lady coming back to work after no employment for 10 years? I know that question is going to push a lot of people's buttons, but this is a bit more serious than "my child tax credits stop next year", and maybe should be on the other forum. However, I know someone who has been full-time carer over this period for her mother, who had an unusual form of dementia, and died last week. Absolutely harrowing for the whole family: a terrible disease, especially for the last 6 or 7 years. She (the daughter) has not had a career, but did work, mostly full-time over the previous 15 years, in various low-level jobs, like receptionist, nanny, and some retail work. I don't know whether she would want to do anything in health-care (although I guess it would be an obvious choice), but just wanted to tap the wisdom of dosbods for suggestions that might appeal to the fairer sex. I don't want to be more specific, but assume she's conscientious and good with people.
  14. Surprised nobody has mentioned Stanislaw Lem's "Memoirs found in a bathtub". Most of the book is Kafka-esque in a light-hearted way (so only enjoyable if you like that sort of thing), but the introductory chapter is absolutely glorious. There's a link here.
  15. There's a light-hearted popular-science book I read a number of years ago, with the premise that everyone suddenly vanishes. The book then charts what you would expect to happen over the next minutes, hours ... centuries. I think the conclusion was that one of the longer-lasting testaments to our civilisation will be the plastic nurdles left in sedimentary rocks near the coast. Here it is: The World Without Us. I think it was quite prescient ... not in predicting the end of civilisation, but in being early to the now popular environmental theme of highlighting plastic waste.