Category Archives: Random

The Lord Kitchener Poster myth?

One could perhaps expect something of an increase in news-stories about the first World war to pop-up in the run into it’s 100th anniversary. There will be the very human stories such as this from the Birmingham Mail about a Private Henry Tandey who could well have killed a wounded Hitler (and thus could have produced a very different 20th century) or this from the Daily Mail about a “Captain Robert Campbell” who was a POW in a German camp and how he was let out by the Kaiser to go see his dying mother. All very touching and interesting to read if i might add. And in addition to all that there will be the stories about individual historians that are trying their utmost (rightly or wrongly) to challenge a national consensus, for example the stories of Max Hastings’ new book which i touched upon in my last blog post which the things i said there will be subject to a critique by myself in the near future.

The following as reported by the Daily Telegraph certainly belongs in the latter camp, and there’s very little to say about it other than to point out the sheer sensationalism of the article and of the historian being reported upon here. Because according to it the Lord Kitchener poster, perhaps arguably the single most iconic army recruitment poster of either World war …. “never existed”!?

“..[N]ew research has found that no such poster was actually produced during the war and that the image was never used for official recruitment purposes. In fact, it only became popular and widely-used after the conflict ended. […] As part of his research, he [James Taylor] studied the official records of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, the body responsible for recruitment posters, in the National Archives at Kew. These documents provided details of the production of almost 200 official recruitment posters produced during the war and indicated which ones were deemed popular. The so-called ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster is absent. He also analysed thousands of photographs of street scenes and recruitment offices from the period in search of the image, again, without finding it.”

But is that true?

“Mr Taylor’s book shows how the Kitchener image did inspire similar posters, which were used, including one, which was produced by LO [London Opinion], with the word BRITONS, above the same picture of the Field Marshal pointing, with the words “wants YOU – Join Your Country’s Army!”, beneath, and the words ‘God Save The King’ printed along the bottom.”

To properly understand this one needs to have a look at both versions described in the paragraph side by side. The one on the left is the version being derided as being mythical, the one on the Right is the Kitchener poster being conceded as genuine.

Of course the way to prove that the poster on the left is a genuine poster is to find it within any old photo taken during the war but on the Internet that is not as easy to do as it sounds. Because of the modern popularity of the “poster” a “Google images” search will only turn out either with replicas such as a recent “Colman’s Mustard” advertising campaign or digitisations which is what you see on both cases above without substantial indications that what you’re looking it are taken from photos of originals. That being said i know of 2, and only 2, potential examples of the left poster. This and something akin to it appearing right at the beginning of this 1959 doc about the Great War here. I have to give credit to a good friend of mine for alerting me to these examples.

If you have any more examples of the left poster (as opposed to the Right one) in old photos, please feel free to share them. As for the rest of the Telegraph article it conveys truths that have already long been known about. The poster failed to halt a relative decline in recruitment in late 1914, and those who have seen my old poster collection thread will know the poster was later adapted by the Nazis, the Soviets, and indeed Churchill (among others) for their own propaganda purposes. So i don’t think i really have much more to say on the matter.

Appreciating Nature

I eased myself down the steep bank gently, trying my best to avoid stumbling like a buffoon and tripping on the exposed roots that created an almost-staircase out of the slope. The initial stretch of woodland was largely deciduous, without much canopy overhead. A nutrient-rich layer of broad-leaf litter and dead wood crunched underfoot. The absence of canopy during the autumn and winter has several effects on this area of woodland, firstly it provides the soil with lots of organic matter as the leaves decay—which gives a rich base of nutrients to ground flora such as flowers and shrubs. Another effect is the large amount of light that gets in during these months—which is also vital to the ground flora. A certain amount of precipitation (rain, mist, hail, snow etc.) is intercepted by the canopy during the summer, however the absence of cover throughout the winter months, allows a lot of water to enter the soil directly – which I noticed had made the ground rather boggy as I continued on my stroll.

A few Scots pines were looming tall over head—a species of coniferous tree with distinctive salmon-pink bark. They were sparse at first, being surrounded mainly by the broad-leafed trees, however as I slowly traversed along the path, the woodland gradually became more coniferous, under which the pine needles had created a thick mat over the forest floor. Pine needles do not decay very fast, and create a layer that does not incorporate into the soil—because of this, the soil is less nutrient rich than in the deciduous area I had passed through previously (due to an absence of organic matter being incorporated). In coniferous woodland, the canopy stays overhead all year-round, so unlike the broad-leaf area, interception occurs constantly and there is always shade cover. The ground flora was distinctly less varied, I noted; mostly ferns and nettles (which can cope with the low light levels).

I spotted a number of Silver Birch trees dotted among the pines, there didn’t appear to be many other species of tree around. I wasn’t sure why this might be, but it seemed as though the Birches were quite capable of competing (height-wise) with the pines, and perhaps other species simply don’t have quite the same reach (or have never had the chance to). Many of the trees had violently collapsed in the wind, and were now crumbling and being slowly devoured by detritivores, mites and fungi. Two deer swiftly bounced through the ferns just ahead of where I was walking, and a pheasant was calling in the distance. I turned back and started to walk home in a rather blissful state.

There is nothing quite like surrounding oneself in nature. The experience is heightened immensely even after having acquired a rather rudimentary understanding of ecosystems, and forestry etc. I would advise anyone to spend as much time around nature as they possibly can, and to learn as much about it as they can. Its good medicine for your consciousness.

Have some vision!

As I might have said already, I’m training to become a teacher. In my studies, I’m often confronted with interesting kids (both negative and positive) and equally interesting colleagues (also both negative and positive).

The funny part? With kids, the positive outweigh the negative about 10:1 or 20:1. But teachers? It’s the other way around, 1:10 or 1:20. The amount of stupid, unmotivated, socially incompetent, bored and vision-less teachers I’ve met is appalling. I recounted the one event where a teacher declared us to be “different from other animals because we evolved”. That’s fairly stupid, but it can easily be corrected by a somewhat competent biology teacher.

But what happens if you get teachers who are unwilling to teach a certain concept simply because it’s “hard to teach”? No kidding, that’s what a teacher said on Thursday, March 7th. Note that this took place one day before International Woman’s Day. Here’s the conversation from a seminar. The teacher (~30 years of experience) was in the audience:

Teacher: So basically, I don’t teach students from other countries that it’s important to treat women in the same way as men because their parents will come to school and complain. Plus, the parents don’t even want to shake hands with me because I’m a woman so why should I bother?

* Nods of approval from the audience*

Me: I don’t want to sound offensive, but what you’re doing is actually against the law. The Austrian curriculum says, among other things, very specifically that we have to teach “tolerance towards others, minorities and other cultures”. I’d suggest that “others” includes women. A different law (which I’m unable to recall at this moment) also states that we have to raise kids to be “mündige Bürger”, which I’d translate as mature/responsible citizens. Part of that is adhering to the basic norms we’ve got in our culture, in this case treating women equally well as men.

The teacher wasn’t able to respond, obviously, so that was that.

Now I put it to you that this is not exclusive to teaching. You’ll have idiots in every job, people who’ll stall progress. But I’d also argue that teaching is so incredibly important that we have to single it out. We raise the next generation, we are responsible for the future. If we fuck up badly, everything is potentially fucked.

End rant.
My message? Have some vision! Don’t let other people wear you down, don’t forget the ideals you had when you were young. Stick to them, no matter how hard it is.

Me me me, it’s all about me.

Not wanting to be the chap to rock the boat, I thought I would follow in the footsteps of my fellow contributors and introduce myself.

My name is Rob, I’m 26 and 3/4 years old and I’m in training to become a teacher. Here I am playing the drums dressed as a shark.

I’m currently studying for my BSc degree in Natural Sciences (high five Laurens) and will be teaching a short Introduction to Evolutionary Biology course in Spring. Other than Biology I have a healthy interest in Religion and Philosophy and was even lucky enough to teach this at A-level for 6 months last year.

Other than my academic pursuits, I play the drums for a nautical themed ska-punk-folk-anti folk-bugle blowing outfit known to few as the seas of mirth, and I also do a fair amount of writing, involving reviews, promotional features and a book. My book is about how I’m joining 12 religions over 12 months. I have only just started. It’s terrifying.

The reason for me wanting to blog here, is that I want to do better at knowing things. I have always found that being shown to be wrong is an entirely wonderful way of learning, so putting my thoughts down and having you chaps show my errors and expand on certain areas was too good an opportunity to miss. Saying that however, I hope I can provide you all with something with at least a smattering of interest.

The topics I will most likely babble about will be science and the love of science, philosophy, psychology, politics and a whole plethora of other such things. I can be quite faddy so best not to set too much in stone now.

Can’t wait.

The Good and The Hatred

Just recently I discovered various videos of Dawkins, Hitchens and Dennett on YouTube (surrounding the AAI). They echoed opinions that are similar to mine and are quite harsh in their views on religion. I rediscovered this stance for me just recently again after a long time on hiatus. Now my experience is this: arguments on the ‘crimes’ of religions and their negative views are often met with justifications and relativizations; It is suggested that a position as mine is driven by hatred and intolerance.

There is the old question: How much tolerance for the enemies of tolerance?

Also recently, I found a documentary on the German church-critic Karlheinz Deschner (unfortunately not in English yet). It was titled: “the Hatefilled Eyes of Karlheinz Deschner’. The documentary is some kind of meta-discussion on his body of work which is, alas, not yet available in english, either. He basically wrote for 30 years, alone, on the “Criminal History of Christianity’ in 10 Volumes (!), currently writing the tenth and last one. Hopefull the whole is translated when he is done.

The title “the Hatefilled ‘¦’ is a quote of one of the Christian interviewees, who also appears in regular public TV sometimes. It reflects how some of the other Christian participants think. They are quite obsessed in trying to find a reason for Deschners engagement, trying to pull Ad Hominem Arguments against him. Deschner on the other hand is a rather gentle (very) old man, speaking softly and supports his work with tons of supportive evidence. He will probably not witness how his work is received and it may appear to him that it happens what the other side wants: that his book just collects dust (one of the christian interviewee says so).

Continue reading The Good and The Hatred

I have a few Questions about arguing with idiots

Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me introduce you to “Onefodderunit” [I’ll call him OFU for short]. He is by far and away the most Batshit crazy person i and my friends have ever had the displeasure of arguing with [the debate in the comments section of the video]. He’s a 9/11 truther. He’s a Creationist who regards atheism [and presumably Darwin’s ideas] itself as a “belief in Coincidental Chemical Creationism.” [Im not kidding] even though he also claims “Im not religious”. He’s a Holocaust denier. He regards the Nazis as Socialist [A silly piece of anti intelectual history revisionism in and of itself that i can deal with] and clearly regards himself given his “Anti left” rhetoric as something of a right winger. I regard him as a Neo-Nazi lunatic due to the clear and deep anti-semitism he displays though he denies he is a Neo-Nazi. Well at least to me he proves his type belong on the Far Right.

But in Short, He’s all my Nightmares wrapped up in one disgusting cowardly person who’se level of insanity approaches and possibly exceeds that of a “Nephilimfree” or “VenomFangX”

Continue reading I have a few Questions about arguing with idiots

Experiment time again

Yes, it is time for another ill-conceived and most likely fundamentally flawed online experiment to test something that in all likelihood no one else is remotely interested in other than me and which is presented with all the get up and go of a dead camel stung by a poisonous grave scorpion. Oh the fun. This time around we will be testing the pseudoscientific claim that by recording what we say and playing those messages backwards we can tell if someone is lying or not.


This strange claim is put forward by David Oates who runs an organisation called Reverse Speech Technologies. Reverse Speech is the idea that when we talk normally our subconscious minds encode messages into the words we choose that can only be identified by recording what we say and playing it backwards. These backwards messages are said to contain the true meaning of what we said as well as always speak the truth. Amongst the various uses for Reverse Speech Oates claims that Reverse Speech can be used to detect lies. Well them sound like fighting words to me and so I have put together a very simple experiment to test that claim. And that’s where you guys come in.


In order to test this claim I have put together a video, well technically two videos but who’s counting, that contains five statements, four of which are factual and one of which is a complete fabrication. After each statement is played you will hear it again only this time in reverse. If the claims of David Oates are accurate then you should be able to hear in the reverse versions of the five statements clues as to whether they are truthful or not. Once you have decided which of the five statements you believe is the false one then all you need to do is vote for that statement in the poll that you can access from a link in the information box below the second part of the video. Unlike my pervious experiment the results of how people have voted and the details of which statement is in fact the false one will be accessable immediately so you don’t have to sit around for ages waiting for me to make another video explaining how everything went.


Ok so it is not as sexy as testing psychic powers or debunking homeopathy, however as far as I can tell this is the very first time this specific pseudoscientific claim has been tested which means you will be a part of something no one has ever done before. To get involved, and I hope you will, go watch this video and simply follow the instructions you will find there. Sorry my video presentation is somewhat less than dynamic, that is really something I have to work on.


There’s A Reason The Metro Is Free

Most of you will have realised that I get the vast majority of my newsing from free London rag The Metro, distributed around the Underground every morning in order to allow bleary-eyed businessmen to further realise that the world is falling gracelessly towards the sun. I don’t think the Metro is a bad little paper, really; the quality of writing is generally good, and it catches stories earlier than other papers you might come across in the day. And you’ll find articles of comparable quality on the same subjects in “real” newspapers.

However, you develop an unfair bias of a newspaper when you peruse it mainly to find new nonsense to write about in your blog. You ignore all rational articles about politics\current affairs\crossbows to the face and concentrate only on articles that guarantee a spout of vitriol frothy enough to incur a transparent sense of self-righteousness. And as a result, your perception is that the chosen paper exists only to print stories about religion, druids and the supernatural. Unfair, since the Metro regularly dishes out reasonably informative articles about modern science and astronomy.

Continue reading There’s A Reason The Metro Is Free

Lisa, I Would Like To Buy Your Rock

It goes like this:

[Item] or [practice] nullifies or negates the effects, presence, activity or consequences of [entity], [energy], or [phenomenon]. How can you tell? Because absolutely nothing is happening, and so the [item] or [practice] is a legitimate success. This stone keeps away bears. You can tell because you don’t see any bears around here . . . yes, this stone IS for sale. How expensive? Completely. Continue reading Lisa, I Would Like To Buy Your Rock

A Hitherto Unheeded Level Of Tact

Usually I refrain from pouncing on superstitious or irrational beliefs for entirely selfish reason. If a woman mentions an interest in astrology, I’m more than likely to tone down or censor entirely any strident protests along the lines of “You what? ” unless I have no superficial manly interest in her at all. For the record, it would take a brick wall in a dress before I stopped wanting to make with the penis.

Continue reading A Hitherto Unheeded Level Of Tact